Pool parties are excellent ways to spend hot summer days. But things can get chaotic if you don’t have a plan of action for the gathering. Pool party games can keep things running smoothly throughout the day. Plus, if you play these games with the kids at the party, they’ll be likely to organize some fun for their friends when they’re hanging around the pool on other days.
This game is ideal for playing with five or more people. You need one person to be “it.” The other players must choose a color, but they should keep it to themselves.
All of the players, except for the person who is “it,” line up in one end of the pool. They should have their hands on the edge of the pool. The person who is “it” stands outside the pool, with their back to the other players.
The person who is “it” shouts out a color. Then, anyone who chose that color must try to swim to the opposite side of the pool. They need to be quiet about it, though. If the person who is “it” hears them, they can jump into the pool and try to tag them.
If the person who is “it” catches a player, they trade places, and the player becomes “it.” If the person who is “it” is wrong and none of the players are swimming, they must take a step away from the edge of the pool so that they can’t hear as well when they call their next color.
2. Pick Up Sticks
Glow sticks are a fun addition to a pool party, especially at night. Buy them in bulk, snap them so that they glow, and toss them in the pool.
Then, have players take turns trying to grab as many as they can without making any of the others move. All of the other players can act as referees to make sure that the glow sticks stay put. If someone makes a glow stick move, then their turn is over, and the next person goes.
This game sounds easier than it is. If you swim quickly through the water, glow sticks are bound to move around. Try dropping all of the glow sticks in one place to make the game even more challenging.
3. Float Your Boat
Float Your Boat is an excellent game for kids. It involves learning and science, and they won’t even realize it.
Bring out things from your recycling bin, like bottles and plastic boxes. Add other miscellaneous items, like balloons, corks, and Popsicle sticks. Give kids duct tape, glue guns, scissors, and strings, and have them build some boats.
Then, place all of the boats in the pool. Load them up with small rocks. The vessel that can hold the most stones without sinking wins.
You can also adapt this game to get your ship across the pool instead of trying to keep it afloat. Make a boat with or without a sail—pool noodles, toothpicks, and fabric sails work well. Then, hold a race. Use your breath, kicks, and waves to move the boats across the pool. You’re not allowed to touch the vessels directly, though.
4. Pool Noodle Joust
Do you have a large pool float that takes up too much space? Typically, it would get in the way if you had a lot of people in the pool during a party. But you can pull it out for this take on a medieval game.
Have two people sit on the float. Each one should have a pool noodle in their hand. They can use the noodle to try to push the other person off of the raft. The first person to fall off the inflatable loses.
You’ll need to discuss some rules so that no one gets hurt while playing this game. For example, you might not allow anyone to use the noodle in a slapping motion or touch the other person above the shoulders.
5. Pool Noodle Jenga
Have you ever played Jenga? You usually play this game with rectangular wooden pieces. You stack them up in perpendicular layers of three pieces each. Then, each player tries to remove a piece from the stack without collapsing the entire tower.
However, it’s even more fun when you play with pool noodles. Cut several noodles into foot-long sections. Stack them up on top of the water. You might need extra hands to hold everything steady while you stack.
Then, take turns removing one piece from the stack. You can try to keep the tower going by placing the piece that you removed somewhere toward the top. This is a wobbly game that’s likely to topple down.
6. Water Balloon Toss
A water balloon toss is always fun, but you can give this one an extra splash by having players stand on opposite sides of the pool. Keep the players out of the water. They’ll have to toss the balloons back and forth to one another. The balloons are likely to break open if they hit the deck, so be careful!
This game gets really fun when people start jumping in the water to catch their balloon. No matter what you do, you’re bound to get wet.
You can add a unique twist to the game by partnering players up. Each pair will hold the ends of a beach towel. Use the towel as a hammock to catch and release the water balloons.
You can also try playing a water balloon ring toss. Instead of throwing the ring onto an object, try to get the water balloon through a ring, such as a hula hoop. Play this in the pool if you don’t want your water balloon to keep breaking.
After a day of playing with water balloons, enlist the kids to help clean up your yard. Offer a prize to the person who brings back the most balloon pieces so that they don’t end up in the sewers.
7. Collect the Balloons
Inflate approximately 50 balloons in at least six different colors, and throw them into the pool. Give each player a color. That player will need to gather as many balloons of that color as possible.
On the count of three, send players into the pool. Give them 30 seconds to collect as many balloons as they can and return them to a home base.
Although this game sounds rather simple, it can get out of hand quickly. Watching people try to hold onto multitudes of balloons while swimming is hilarious. You’ll never guess where some people try to stash their balloons.
8. Slippery Watermelon
Grabbing a wet watermelon may be hard. It’s even more difficult when you grease the watermelon with something slippery, such as petroleum jelly or baby oil. Use one of those substances to slather the watermelon. Then, throw it into the pool.
The watermelon will float. It’s tough to keep your hands on it, though.
People can take turns trying to wrestle the watermelon out of the pool without having it slip out of their grasp. If you play this game with kids, you can use a smaller watermelon. Sometimes, a large one is hard for kids to carry, even if it’s not slick.
You can also play this game as a race. Place the slippery watermelon in the water at the deep end of the pool. Have players roll and push it to the opposite end of the pool without touching the bottom.
9. Water Balloon Ninja Course
Divide your party into teams and fill up one water balloon for each team. It should be large enough that it can roll somewhat easily. Using a wooden stick or spoon, maneuver the balloon through an obstacle course by rolling it.
You can navigate under chairs, up and down ramps, and across the pool. Get creative. Just remember that if you roll the balloon over an extremely hot surface, it may pop.
If the balloon does pop for any reason, that team must start at the beginning of the course with a new water balloon. Once the teams get good at the game, you can try timing them. Encourage them to beat their best time on every round.
This is a game in which everyone wins. Have a bunch of party guests stand in a circle in the pool and hold hands. It works well in a circular pool, but you can adapt it to a rectangular pool.
Start moving in one direction, rotating the circle. You’ll begin to form a whirlpool. Eventually, the current should become strong enough that it lifts the people’s feet off of the floor. When that happens, everyone can relax and float in the whirlpool.
You can make this a game by designating one person to stand in the center. When the current picks up, see if that individual can swim out of the whirlpool without getting pulled into the centripetal force.
11. What Did You Say?
You can play this game with only a few people. It’s an excellent way for a couple of friends to spend some time together in the pool. Once you introduce it to your kids, they may entertain themselves with this game all summer.
Have both people go underwater. One must deliver a message to the other by speaking while submerged. When both players come up, the listener must repeat what the speaker said.
Here’s a hint—if you cover your mouth with both hands, leaving a gap of air but sealing the edges of your hands tightly to your face, your partner may be able to understand what you’re saying better. But don’t do that if you want to win.
12. Ball Throw Tag
You can play this game in and out of the water. To begin, designate someone to be “it.” Have them throw a ball high into the air. While the ball is out of their hands, all of the other players must move as far away from the person who is “it” as possible.
Once the person who is “it” catches the ball, everyone else has to freeze. The person with the ball must then choose someone to tag by throwing the ball at them. That person cannot move to evade the toss.
If someone is tagged with the ball, they become “it.” If no one is tagged, the game repeats with the same person as “it.”
This game works better with a lightweight inflatable ball than a heavy one. A lighter ball will stay in the air longer. Also, it won’t hurt the players when you tag them.
13. Water Balloon Dodgeball
Dodgeball gets a little more fun with water balloons. You can play this in the pool to avoid breaking a lot of water balloons. Play it out of the pool if you have plenty of balloons to go around.
Start with one person as “it.” That individual must throw water balloons at the other players. Anyone who gets hit joins “it” and gets to throw water balloons at the other players. The players must move around to evade the tosses. The last person standing is the winner.
Make this game harder by setting boundaries. You might make a rule that the players must stay in the pool, but the people who are “it” can toss water balloons from the edges.
14. Find the Water Bottle
Clear, disposable water bottles are hard to see when they’re submerged in a pool. Fill one or several with water. Then, place it in the pool while everyone’s eyes are closed. Allow the bottle to sink to the bottom of the pool.
When it has, yell, “Go!” The players must search for the water bottles at the bottom of the pool. You can make a rule that the first person to find the water bottle wins. If you’re playing with more than one water bottle, encourage the players to try to collect the most.
To make the game easier, play it at night. Insert a glow stick into each water bottle. They’ll be easier to find, which can help if little ones are playing.
15. Red Light, Green Light
This is a popular game on land. It becomes a bit harder to play in the pool because it’s not that easy to stop swimming.
One person will stand at the front of the pool. Everyone else stands at the opposite end in the water. When the person at the front yells, “Green light,” everyone may move toward the front of the pool. When the person yells, “Red light,” everyone should stop.
If someone doesn’t stop or go at the appropriate time, they’re out. The first person to reach and tag the individual at the front of the pool wins.
16. Beach Ball Races
You’ll need at least two teams for this game. Have one player from each team begin on one end of the pool. They should have a beach ball and a water gun.
Place the beach ball on the surface of the water. Shoot at it with the water gun. The aim is to get the beach ball all the way to the other side of the pool without touching it with your hands. Then, another person from the same team can take the ball back in the opposite direction.
This game becomes tricky and hysterical when the balls start floating into the path of the other team. It’s tough to move a beach ball straight across the pool with a water gun!
17. Frozen Treasures
At least one day before the party, freeze several small toys in a large plastic storage container filled with water. They’ll turn into huge blocks of ice.
On the day of the party, give one block to each player. You can also divide people into teams and have them work on each ice block together. Encourage them to get creative to melt the ice block and retrieve all of the treasures.
Many of the kids will probably figure out that one of the fastest ways to melt the ice is to get into the pool with it. This is a great way to offer treats to kids at a birthday party instead of handing out goody bags.
18. Sponge Fill Up
Split your party up into two teams. Give each team a large sponge and a bucket. Have players from each team dip the sponge into the pool and then run to the bucket, which you should place a significant distance away from the pool. Squeeze the water from the sponge into the buckets. The first team to fill their bucket wins.
You can adapt this game into a leaky cup race by giving teams a plastic cup instead of a sponge. Punch some holes in the bottom of the cup first. The players will have to move quickly in order to fill up the bucket before all of the water runs out of the cups.
19. Overhead Splash
Divide players into two teams and have the teams line up with the pool at the front of the line and a bucket behind the last player. Each individual should hold a cup. Have the first player dip their cup into the pool. Then, they’ll bring the cup over their head and tip it backward. The player behind them should try to catch as much of the water as possible.
Continue in this fashion until you reach the last player. They’ll try to fill the bucket with the amount of water that’s remaining in their cup by pouring it over their head and into the container. If that’s too hard, you might allow them to turn around and fill the bucket while they’re looking at it.
20. Sweat Pants Race
This game is hilarious to play and even funnier to watch. The aim is to have players transport as many water balloons as possible from a starting point to the finish line. However, they must put all of the balloons into a pair of sweatpants.
Buy a few pairs of cheap, large sweatpants for this activity. They should have elastic at the ankles to prevent the water balloons from falling out. Fill up the sweatpants with as many water balloons as possible, and then run (or hobble) to the finish line. Whichever team moves the most water balloons wins.
21. Silent Marco Polo
In the traditional game of Marco Polo, the person who is “it” has their eyes closed. Everyone else can keep their eyes open. The person who is “it” shouts, “Marco!” When the other players yell, “Polo,” the person who is “it” gets a sense of where they are and has to tag them while keeping their eyes closed.
In silent Marco Polo, the other players don’t shout. They can make noises, such as splashes, but the person who is “it” has to rely much harder on their sense of hearing and intuition. There will probably be lots of giggles. Just don’t laugh too hard, or you’ll give yourself away.
22. Sea Horse Races
Grab two pool noodles. Have players fold them into a “U” shape and sit on them as though they’re sea horses. Have them race from one end of the pool to the other. This is harder than it looks. You have to keep the noodle from slipping out from under you. At the same time, you’re using your hands to paddle and your feet to kick.
You can make this a multi-player game by playing it as a relay. When the players reach the end of the pool, have them hand the noodle to the next person. That player has to return to the other side.
23. Pop the Balloon
Give each player an inflated balloon, and have them hop into the pool. The goal is to pop the balloon using only your body. Although you can play this outside of the pool, it’s much harder in the water. There aren’t many hard surfaces when you’re wearing a bathing suit. Plus, the balloons get slippery.
The first person to pop their balloon wins. If you’re finding it difficult to pop the balloons, make sure that you blow them up quite large so that they’re easier to break.