South African summers are meant for pool parties. Braais, fun and music. That’s the way we do things here from December right through to March. With daytime temperatures averaging 29 °C, the pool (or beach) is the best place to be.

But what is a pool party without the ones you love? Having family and friends over can be the best or worst part of the holidays. It all comes down to preparation though. If you’ve put your hand up to host a pool party, make sure you’re ready for the troop by planning ahead. Here are some ideas to help you get through that to-do list.

Just lounging around

Arrange enough chairs, cushions, umbrellas and sun loungers around the pool. You can usher your guests straight to the pool area to put their bags down and relax. Tell them to make themselves comfortable while pointing to the drinks table and encourage them to help themselves. This can also serve as an opportunity for them to put on their sunscreen. You won’t have to worry about keeping them entertained while you welcome other guests or tend to final preparations.

Bring on the floats

Make sure there are enough lilos, inflatables and other pool toys in the water. Cooling down and having fun go hand in hand. You can set out an array of toys to cater for the grown ups and the kids too.

Get your chows on

Decide what your main meal is going to be and set a buffet when it’s time to eat. Until then, guests can nibble on treats from a snack platter and enjoy the drinks that you’ve laid out already. Remember to have plenty of ice on hand or place the drinks in an ice bucket.

Dry station

This idea is totally up to you. Some people prefer using their own towels. If you want to supply your guests with towels that they can use and leave behind, you can roll a few towels and arrange them on a clothes stand or table near the pool. The most attractive idea for the guest here is the thought of not having to cart a soggy towel home.

Kids downtime mat

If your guests have little ones who’ll be in and out of the water, then a kids downtime mat is a great idea. You can be as creative as you want to. All you need to do is add some art and craft activities or toys on the mat for the children to use. These can include finger painting, crayons for drawing or building blocks to keep the kids occupied.

Turn the volume up

Remember to create a playlist of your favourite summer hits on your phone. You can connect your phone to a bluetooth speaker play those tunes all afternoon long.