how to throw a pool party

‘Tis the season for fabulous pool parties. And Fred Baby and I had just the excuse to host a pool party of our own: our Palm Springs housewarming!

Luckily, as a Skinnygirl Cocktails Insider, the cocktails (and popsicles!) were a cinch.

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[Kristen, Dee, Sydne, Annette, me, Leah, Devon]

Read on for fun pool party ideas, decor tips and tricks, plus delicious food and drink recipes for making a splash at your pool party.

And, check out photos from our Slim Aarons-inspired pool party in Palm Springs!

pool party ideas


A fab pool party requires two things: 1) a pool and 2) delicious, cold drinks.We had three signature cocktails, all served in large drink dispensers so that guests could easily help themselves (which saves you, the hostess, from being stuck behind the bar all day and gives you plenty of time to enjoy with your guests). We served Pink Grapefruit Margarita PunchLemon-Lime Mojito Sparklers, and White Wine Sangria Spritzers, all quick and easy recipes made with Skinnygirl Cocktails. We labeled each and let guests enjoy.

{Recipes below…}

skinnygirl margarita

Cute striped straws (which I snipped to be smaller to fit the size of our glasses) add a fun touch to cocktails, which were served in yellow cups (from Ikea) and in cute mason jars with lids that my friend Kristen, the queen of DIY, brought as a housewarming gift. Not only are they adorable, they also don’t spill when tipped (bonus!). Check out Glitter N Glue for the Mason Jar DIY.

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In the hot sun, it’s nice to keep the food light (no one wants to be bloated in a bikini!). To start, we set out lots of hydrating and healthy fresh vegetables and fruit such as grapes, baby carrots and cucumbers, and placed strawberries and blueberries in cute berry baskets. A few salty snacks like chips with dip and we were set on appetizers.

Tip: If it’s as toasty outside as it is in Palm Springs, keep the food inside so it won’t melt in the sun.

madhouse michael aram; stylish paper plates; cute paper platespool party decorskinnygirl cocktails

Because a pool party isn’t a pool party without something tasty on the grill, we served sliders, which are both easier to eat, fewer calories than full-sized burgers, and more fun (anything miniature is by default more fun to eat, don’t you think?). We also had some mini portobello mushroom caps on hand to toss on the grill for those who preferred a vegetarian option. A sprinkling of feta cheese on top makes for a delicious veggie slider. Hawaiian rolls make perfect slider buns.

Tip: The trick to making yummy sliders and hamburgers is not to overwork the meat (we simply mixed ground beef with mustard gently with a fork and then formed patties), and to not smash the burgers or press on them when grilling (as that lets all the juices escape and makes for a dry burger). Less is more and means less work for you!

how to make slidershow to make sliders

I always get nervous we won’t have enough food (I’m not the only one, am I?), but I didn’t have the time or space to make anything else (we had about 25 guests so our fridge was filled to the brim), so we also picked up some store-bought chicken just in case. To glam it up (and to trick your guests into thinking you whipped it up!), we served the chicken in ice buckets (from Trina Turk and vintage stores), which matched our Slim Aarons ’60s-glam theme.

Tip: Keep chicken warm in an oven at 175 degrees until ready to serve. Then, line ice buckets with parchment or wax paper before filling with chicken.


For sides, we served watermelon salad and pea, mint and feta salad. The more colorful the food the better!

In lieu of plain paper plates, we used these chic MADHOUSE by Michael Aram plates from the Lemonwood collection, as well as MADHOUSE napkins and cutlery (the tray above is MADHOUSE too). Small touches like this make all the difference.

peasaladhow to make popsicles

For dessert, homemade popsicles were a refreshing treat. Simply use pink lemonade, pureed frozen berries and a dash of Skinnygirl Cocktails Sweet & Tart Grapefruit Margarita.


Tip: With the exception of the sliders, we made all food the night before, so all we had to do was put it out and enjoy. For the sliders, you can make the hamburger patties ahead of time and place in a dish lined with parchment paper in between layers.

what to wear to a pool party

Dress Code

On the invitations, we asked guests to channel Slim Aarons and the glamour of the 1960s by wearing caftans, tunics, patio dresses and Trina Turk prints over their swimsuits. We also encouraged large sun hats, both for style and for sun protection (and were so pleasantly surprised to see guests go all out by fashioning turbans!). It’s fun to have a suggested dress code, as it not only makes for more cohesive photos to look back on, but for more fun at the party. On the invitations, we also requested that everyone bring their own beach towel, but kept extras on hand for those who forgot.

white flamingopink flamingos

I wore a vintage-inspired white crochet coverup from Deja Vu that channeled my favorite Slim Aarons photo, along with a sun hat that I picked up last year in Brazil (and that I wear all. the. time. Why didn’t I buy a few extras?! Ah well…).

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The theme was Slim Aarons, the shutterbug of chic, and we decided on a black and white color palette spiced up with zesty hues like lemon and turquoise. For decor we lined the lawn with a flock of vibrantly hued flamingos and brought out the ever-popular giant swan (you can find a giant swan pool float here). The swan not only adds a glamorous touch to your fete, but makes a fun photo booth of sorts, too (everyone wants a turn with Swannie Golightly!).

slim aarons pool partyskinnytowels

Under a shade tree, we placed a drop cloth which made for a great picnic blanket and outdoor rug of sorts (drop cloths are inexpensive and large and demarcate an area nicely). We topped our makeshift picnic blanket with fab Skinnygirl Cocktails beach towels and used striped towels, a vintage picnic basket and straw tote bags filled with beach towels to help hold down the edges.

A vintage wicker bar cart on wheels made for the ideal outdoor bar, in which we placed drink dispensers and glasses. We also filled a few inexpensive styrofoam coolers with ice and set an ice scoop in a berry basket on top of a Skinnygirl beach towel, so guests could help themselves to cold drinks. To style up the coolers (it’s impossible to find a stylish cooler!) we used bright yellow duct tape to create a stripe on each cooler. Couture coolers, anyone?


We also used a second drop cloth as a tablecloth and utilized pineapples as decor (one on each side of the table adds symmetry, kind of like lamps!). An outdoor table was covered with a patterned tablecloth and was held in place with clamps to combat the errant breeze.

skinnygirl bottlescute drink holders

Multiple seating areas, from vintage chairs to picnic blankets to lounge chairs, make for comfortable guests. Drink holders add a Gatsby-esque touch.

Party Hashtag

Finally, we used a dedicated party hashtag to be able to see all photos from the party (snapped on smartphones) in one place. We chose the hashtag #DrinkLikeALady, naturally (see pics on Instagram here — scroll down).

It was so much fun and I’m so thankful to our dear friends who made it so special and for coming all the way from LA to help us celebrate. And a big thank you to Skinnygirl Cocktails for sponsoring our pool party to make my Slim Aarons dream a reality.

Here are some great cocktail recipes for your own pool party:

pink grapefruit margarita recipe

Pink Grapefruit Margarita Punch

4 parts Skinnygirl Sweet ‘n Tart Grapefruit Margarita
2 parts orange juice
2 parts pink lemonade
1 part fresh lime juice
sea salt to taste

Serve cold over ice

skinnygirl mojito recipe ideas

Lemon-Lime Mojito Sparkler

2 parts Skinnygirl Mojito
2 parts lemon-lime soda
Fresh mint
Lime wedges

Serve cold over ice


White Wine Sangria Spritzer

4 parts Skinnygirl White Wine
4 parts ginger ale or club soda
Fresh slices of strawberries, peach wedges, and blueberries

Serve cold over ice


Grapefruit Margarita Popsicles

1 part Skinnygirl Sweet ‘n Tart Grapefruit Margarita

1 part pureed frozen berries

Combine ingredients in popsicle maker, freeze and serve

how to make popsicles; best popsicle recipes

Art direction + styling by Kelly Lee for Kelly Golightly

Photography by Fred Baby

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Skinnygirl® Cocktails

© 2013 Skinnygirl Cocktails, Deerfield, IL; Avg. Analysis:  All Products:  Protein 0g, Fat 0g; Vodka with Natural Flavors (per 1.5 oz.):  Calories 75.6, Carbs 0g; Cocktails (per 1.5 oz.):  Calories 35.2, Carbs 2g; Sangria (per 5 oz.):  Calories 132, Carbs 22.5g; Wine (per 5 oz.):  Calories 100, Carbs 4.7g

All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that make Kelly Golightly & fun posts like these possible!

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