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Summer Parties – Beyond the Pool

Summers for our family seem to be filled with one birthday party after another. My husband and youngest daughter both have birthdays in June and my father-in-law and oldest daughter are both July birthdays. For years when my girls were younger, we had many, many pool parties. Now, there is nothing wrong with pool parties, as a matter of fact I love them, but my girls grew a little tired of the same thing over and over. You know…same song, different verse kind of thing. I thought I would recap a couple of our favorite past summer birthday parties that varied from the traditional pool party. 

  • When my youngest was around the age of 14, she had an obsession with Lily Pulitzer. In fact, we made a special stop in Key West on a summer vacation just to go to the Lily Pulitzer store. I am telling you…obsessed! Anyway, she decided to have a Lily Pulitzer-themed birthday party. Now, I’m not sure if you have priced anything in the Lily line, but it can be quite expensive, so I did what any good mom would do…I improvised. I based the party around one of the Lily patterns and colors and focused on the details. First, let me back up. We decided to rent the soda fountain at The Fort Smith Museum of History for the venue. It was super cute and worked great for the party.

We added touches of Lily throughout with paper flowers and lanterns.

We finished off with balloons in coordinating colors and fresh flowers in vases filled with lemons and limes. For the cake, I sent a picture of the pattern and a general idea of what I wanted the cake to look like.

As always, Sweet Boutique delivered something better than I could even imagine. For the craft, the girls painted white sneakers with Lily Pulitzer as their inspiration. The girls had finished off the party with ice and soda from the soda fountain.

My oldest daughter made Lily dress inspired cookies for Grayson to give as favors to her guests. Grayson still talks about that party today and she is 18 years old!

  • Another time Gracie was obsessed with anything French (well, she still is, one of her majors is French). We had a Paris-themed birthday party.

The guests were asked to dress in vintage dresses. I found a great deal on Gracie’s at Designer Again in downtown Fort Smith.

As they arrived, they were greeted with an easel board written in French.

Since this was a sleepover, as they entered the house I had a table set-up as if they were walking into a hotel. I used French flags, Eiffel Towers, flowers and balloons for decorations.

We ate French food on the china and had yet another fantastic cake from Sweet Boutique.


These two parties rank up there with our top five favorite parties. Of course, we have had countess luau-themed pool parties, which are always lots and lots of fun. I love luau-themed, because it is easy and fun for all guests. In my opinion, the key to any party is in the details. Focus on the details whether your budget is big or small. Simply picking one or two colors or aspects of a theme to really hone in on makes all the difference. Use the luau for example, I have gone to luau-themed parties that really went all out right down to fresh orchids everywhere and I’ve gone to others that didn’t get that elaborate but had nice little touches throughout like paper lanterns, grass tableskirts and tiki torches. You know what? I had just as much fun at both and I thought both were fabulous. Each had unique aspects special to that particular party. Again, it’s all in the details! So, when deciding on a party-theme, first, set your budget and then focus on one or two aspects of the theme and go for it!

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