If you've got a pool or access to a great swimming spot, throwing a cool birthday party is a piece of cake.
Pool Party Pointers
• Ask guests to bring their own towels (to minimize postparty laundry) and hand out plastic trash bags for toting wet things home.
• Set up a big self-serve cooler filled with cold beverages.
• Have plenty of sunscreen on hand.
A Splashy Bash
This clever invite turns into a mini aquarium--just remove the paper wave from the plastic bag, pour in water, and presto, the expanding sponge capsules become sea creatures that beckon you to a fantastic pool party. To make the invitation, trim a piece of blue paper to fit loosely inside a sealable sandwich bag. Cut a wavy pattern across the top. Print the party info on the front. On the back, write: "Remove this card, pour in 1 cup of warm water, and seal the bag." Seal the wave in the bag with a few sponge capsules (sold in most craft stores).
Start off the festivities with a quick project that lets guests use fabric markers to transform T-shirts into hip cover-ups they can wear later when they get out of the pool.
Sunny Smile Photos
This photo opportunity is sure to bring on warm smiles--and provide the kids with some fun party mementos.
Cardboard Palm Tree
Laden with balloon coconuts, this tropical tree helps set the party mood and serves as a centerpiece to pile birthday presents under.
Counting your cubes before they melt is the key to success in this invigorating cool-off game.
What you need:
Two large plastic bowls or a small pails (one for each team)
Large bag of ice cubes
Inflated pool doughnut
For each team, nestle a large plastic bowl or a small pail in the center of an inflated pool doughnut and set it afloat in the pool (another option is to shape a foam noodle into a ring and secure it with a rubber band).
Once everyone's in the water, quickly dump a large bag or two of ice cubes into the center of the pool.
The team that gets the most cubes in its bucket within 3 minutes wins. If it's extra hot out, you may have to limit the time to 2 minutes or less.
Rubber Duck Races
In this swimming race, the victor always wins by a nose--that's because contestants use their noses to nudge bobbing toy ducks all the way to the finish. First, make the ducks for the race.
Swimming Send-offs: "Wave" good-bye with grab bags filled with inexpensive sunglasses, bubble solution, and rolls of Life- Savers candies.