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Pool-Free Pool Parties Just Might Be Our New Favorite Party Theme

Three years ago, we decided to throw a summer bash to create rad installations, celebrate our Wild Flower Club, and come together with incredible vendors and friends to just have a ball! The intention was to make it a pool party, but we immediately ran into a bunch of obstacles – safety, capacity, and available pools! So we went back to the drawing board and decided to still throw it (including all the fun parts of a pool party) without having an actual pool.

It was such a smash that we made it an annual event and gave it a different theme variation each year. Last year was Retro Tiki; this year was Mod Palm Springs! It's such a fun challenge each year making sure it feels like a pool party without the obvious component of a big ol' pool at the epicenter. We certainly follow a few guidelines, but it's a good exercise in not limiting yourself by your surroundings. Most people, of course, don't have a pool, so below are our tips and tricks for throwing a super rad pool party WITHOUT a pool! Less sunburn + bikini action, more mojitos + limbo.

Reporter: Meg Blancato of Native Poppy

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Most pools are outside, so when choosing a venue, look for something with either an outdoor component (giant roll-up windows, patio, etc.) or outdoor vibe! We loved Building 177 because of how bright and spacious it is! It almost felt like you were outside because the ceilings are so tall and it's just such a light, airy space.
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Rentals Are so Important

Having the right rentals for a party really sets the tone, especially for a No-Pool, Pool Party! Opt for lots of outdoor furniture – patio sets, pool lounges, umbrellas, etc. Because this party was an ode to Mod Palm Springs, Folklore helped us select items with a retro feel, like the amazing Spun Fiberglass set and Rattan Chaise Lounges!
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Flowers + Decor Bring a Party to Life

If the venue and rentals are the bones of designing an event, flowers and decor are really what smoothes everything out. We decided to spray paint a ton of palm fronds to commit to a color-blocked design, as well as carnation/marigold garlands (our fave!) that were hung by our installation guru Ashley Renuart. We also used lots of desert flowers like Banksia and retro-looking cuties like Zinnias in the arrangements!

Other elements like the rad lights provided by Socialights, the cutest signage ever by Four Things Paper, and plenty of inflatables add so much character! (Yes, we always have an inflatable pool. No, we don't fill it with water. Yes, people always get in it to take pictures and spill their drinks).
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Yeah, But What Are We Eating?

Just like if you were in and out of a real pool, the food should all be bite-sized, easy to grab, and fairly light! Having a theme also helps narrow down what you're going to serve – we loved having dishes like deviled eggs and bites on skewers from Olive It. They felt both retro and pool party-appropriate.
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Cheers to Summer Inspired Cocktails

Make a drink menu that isn't too complex and has a few consistent components so you don't have to buy three hundred different ingredients. Also, opt for really refreshing flavors to help beat the heat. Please & Thank-You Bar tweaked some classic cocktails by adding ingredients like watermelon and cucumber for a summery spin! There are also some pretty legit canned wines on the market now – we're pretty obsessed with the Simpler Wines line from Trader Joe's!
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Bring on the Sweet Treats

We followed similar guidelines for food + drink when selecting desserts: easy to eat, (fairly) light, and refreshing! The bite-sized dessert table by Hey There Cupcake gives guests tons of tiny options that don't require forks or plates (and her work is always stunning), cotton candy from Get Fluffed Up is about as light as it gets (plus it's interactive and magical), and who doesn't want a Hammonds mini ice cream cone on a hot day?!
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To DJ or Not To... Actually Scratch That (Pun Intended), Definitely DJ

Music is a must, and a DJ can make or break the vibe! Dan from The New Ivy League has SO much energy – you are really getting an MC and a DJ in one. Plus, we linked activities to the music as well; our annual limbo contest gets pretty heated!
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Dancing and Games and Beauty Bars! Oh My!

Especially if there is no swimming at this party, having a few activities for your guests is key! The beauty bars are always a huge hit – this year we had nail art, lashes, lips + liner, and a hair volume bar (see list below of vendors for all nail/ hair/ makeup artists). Since you are not getting in the water, none of it will get ruined! Croquet and Mini-Golf were a fun nod to Palm Springs and a great addition to the party.
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Capturing the Moment

Setting up a photo booth encourages your guests to take pictures without putting the pressure on any one person to remember to do so! Amigo Booth is so easy to use, not to mention the photo quality is *insert excellent hand emoji here* & Backup Backdrops (who also did our epic DJ booth) creates such rad backgrounds!
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Vendor Credits

Host, Floral & Decor: Native Poppy | Installation: Ashley Renuart | Venue: Building 177 | Photography: SoCal Standard | DJ: The New Ivy League | Rentals: Folklore | Lighting: Socialights | Bites: Olive It | Cocktails: PTY Bar | Ice Cream: Hammonds | Retro Desserts: Hey There Cupcake | Cotton Candy: Get Fluffed Up | Backdrop: Back Up Backdrops | Photobooth: AmigoBooth | Hair: Berlynn Hair, Brigid Jean Howse, Mosie Boyle-Gardner and Gia Contin | Makeup: Shelby Henry, Makeup By Lacie, Cynthia and Alyssa O'Dell | Nail Bar: Hello Birdie | Custom Lettering: Four Things Paper | Invitation Design: Samantha Aker

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