Nothing says “good times” in the summer, quite like a party on a beach. However, the sand, waves, and blue skies are not always accessible, especially for people who live far from the coast.
When you can’t get to the beach, why not bring the beach to you? With careful planning, any venue or event can become a beach party. With some fun, food, family, friends, and a little magic, you can have a blast.
A beach-themed party can be as elaborate or as low-key as you like, making it a good option if you’re short on budget. A basic beach party can be a casual get-together among friends and family, while stronger themes can be used for occasions like birthdays, graduation, anniversary, spring break, bridal showers, baby showers, and even unique winter celebrations.
Beach-themed parties can also take place in any location. If you’re at a real beach or near any body of water, it’s already a great spot for a beach party. But a beach theme is also perfect for pool parties and summer picnics, even if there’s no real beach or sand. It can also be done indoors, even at home – it will all boil down to the decorations and execution.
Here are some ideas on throwing a beach-themed party:
When it comes to summer soirees, beach or tropical themes are popular. A basic party with a barbeque or picnic menu and a few games can be easily arranged, but an elaborate theme can be more fun and entertaining. Here are some great options:
- Luau – Tropical luau-themed parties are perfect for casual or even formal parties. Leis, tiki torches, and grass skirts are the perfect accessories for this theme.
- Under the Sea – Make a splash without getting wet, with an under the sea theme! With patterned tableware and decorations, your guests can feel like they’re under the sea. Keep the color scheme blue, and stick some green crepe paper to the wall to look like seaweeds. You can also use a disco ball to create the illusion of shimmering water on the walls.
- Fun in the Sun – Think about beach balls, flip flops, and sunglasses with this beach theme. Host some fun outdoor games that are most likely done at the beach.
- Nautical – A nautical theme is perfect for any occasion. Decorate the area with fisherman’s nets, captain’s wheels, sailing ship, lighthouse, and sailor costumes.
- Mermaid – Popular with young girls, a beach-themed mermaid party can include fantasy mermaid decorations and some swimming fun. Add a little bit of makeover for your party activities.
- Beach bash movies – Choose your favorite beach movie or TV shows and make a splash with this theme. Popular options include Baywatch, Gilligan’s Island, Spongebob Squarepants, and Blue Hawaii.
- Seashells – Seashells, starfish, sand dollars, and tropical fish make elegant decorative accents for a sophisticated and minimalistic beach party.
Always send invitations that fit your theme. In the case of a beach theme, there are many ways to present your invitation. Here are some ideas:
- Make sophisticated notes embossed on an elegant shell or palm leaf.
- Make easy artwork by writing or pasting the party’s details on a beach ball, flip-flops, or sandal-shaped paper.
- Get some scrolls and write the party details on them. Insert it in a bottle, scoop in a bit of sand, and secure with a cork. Hand-deliver your messages in a bottle!
- Tie some raffia around the top of a simple handmade invitation, and hang some starfish or shell charms on it.
- Print or write the party’s details on an inflated beach ball. Deflate the ball and send it to the guests you want to invite. Instruct them to blow up the beach balls for details.
- Design your own invitation on the computer using photo editing apps, then send it via e-mail or Messenger.
- Order up some beach-themed invitations and write party details inside.
The decorations you choose for your beach-themed party must match the overall theme. For instance, mermaid props are not that fitting for a luau. Meanwhile, sails and rope nets are great for almost any beach theme, but it is best suited for a nautical theme.
Here are some decoration must-haves that are suitable for any type of beach party:
- Piñata – A piñata exists for any beach party theme. You can find something shaped like beach balls, sharks, fishes, watermelon, hula girls, tiki statues, and seahorses.
- Backdrops – If you can’t have a party at the beach, backdrops are essential to establish the party theme. Bring the beach to you with decorative backdrops, especially those that have a beach scene or an underwater scene.
- Decorative tablecloths – The tablecloths you use on the luncheon or dinner table and the buffet table must be well-thought of. How you decorate the tables using tablecloths can set the scene. If you’re hosting an under-the-sea party, look for a table cover that features ocean waves. If it’s a luau, choose one with tropical prints and palm leaves, or choose grass table skirts.
- Centerpieces – Centerpieces add to the atmosphere of the party. To set the tone, you can add things like plastic buckets with sand adorned with shells or a bouquet of lollipops. You can make food your centerpiece, like a sandcastle-shaped cake or fruit kabobs with sticks inserted in a pineapple.
If you’re going to have a party at the beach, then you don’t need much in the way of decorations. The ocean is already a perfect backdrop. But some accessories like tiki torches here and there and bunches of balloons tied to chairs and umbrellas can set the party atmosphere. Some battery-operated lights will look perfect if the party is set at night. If you need some beach dinner party ideas, check this out.
Plastic beach toys and colorful balloons make great decorations for a kids’ party, but an adult-oriented event might call for something more subdued.
If you’re looking for simple yet beautiful decorations, look to nature for inspiration. A few pieces of driftwood with seashells glued in between can bring the right amount of beach into your tablescape without making it overly cheesy. Rocks, shells, sea glass are also great options. Plus, they are free.
You can transform an old surfboard into a makeshift bar by placing it atop two sawhorses or other suitable bases. Skimboards make great side tabletops.
Also, don’t forget to decorate the table. Besides using a tablecloth and centerpieces, you can sprinkle seashells and sea glass around the buffet table. Use small aluminum buckets and fill them with sand, then put a small, white pillar candle inside each bucket. Place these buckets around the table.
You don’t need anything too fancy for a beach party. Whatever you serve must be easy to eat. Here are some menu ideas:
- Seafood – Seafood is always appropriate for a beach theme party. Crabs, lobsters, and shrimps will be very much welcomed.
- Grilled foods – Have a surfside cookout with grilled foods like burgers, hot dogs, kabobs, and pizza. Grilling some franks to perfection is one of the best things to do for food at this kind of party.
- easy-to-eat appetizers – Always have some little nibbles and appetizers ready for everybody. You cannot go wrong with finger foods like bruschetta (since tomatoes are at their peak during the summer), crudité with dip, Vietnamese summer rolls, mozzarella sticks, bite-sized crab cakes, and skewers. Don’t forget chips with guacamole, salsa, and different kinds of dip!
- DIY food station – A do-it-yourself food station works well for tacos and sliders. Ice cream or a sundae bar with different toppings would also be a perfect option for a beach-themed party.
- Sandwiches – Sandwiches are a filling food to serve, which is perfect if your party is a luncheon. You can serve tuna steak sandwiches, grilled cheese, roast beef sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, and Caprese sandwiches.
- Side dishes – Complement your mains with yummy sides. Prepare ahead side dishes like potato salad, coleslaw, watermelon and feta salad, and fresh green salads. If you’re grilling, add corn and veggie skewers to the menu. When serving burgers and hotdogs, don’t forget chips and fries.
- Desserts – Get creative with your dessert by prioritizing fresh fruits like watermelon, pineapple, bananas, and strawberries. An ice cream sundae bar with various toppings and cones will surely be a crowd-pleaser. You can also serve summer favorites like key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, peach cobbler, and of course, s’mores. Popsicles, especially homemade ones made from fresh fruits, are also a great beach-themed dessert.
- Cupcakes – Cupcakes are a classic go-to for parties because they’re an easy sweet treat to serve, and it allows lots of room for creativity. Decorate your cupcakes with beach-themed elements like starfish, shells, anchors, fishes, or mermaid tails, depending on your theme. You can simply use crushed graham crackers to cover the icing of a cupcake to make the illusion of sand, then place a mini cocktail umbrella on top.
- Saltwater taffy – To add to your offerings on the dessert table, serve a buffet of saltwater taffy. No other candy conjures up images of the beach and sea the same way.
A beach-themed party is not complete without refreshing drinks. On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than cold drinks.
Keep your drink options simple. Ice-cold beer, wine coolers, soda, and water, would be perfect. Serve bottled drinks in ice-filled beach buckets. If you’re feasting on a Mexican fare, margaritas are a must. If you want to go a tad fancier, serve a pitcher of sangria with fruits. Check out these drink ideas for a day at the beach.
For the non-alcoholic front, make sure there’s plenty of water. A jug with berry or lemon-infused water is effortless but looks extra fancy. You can also serve lemonade, iced tea, and fresh fruit juices.
Party music is helpful to establish the theme, especially if you’re not at the beach. Fun and lively music are perfect for a beach party. Reggae, The Beach Boys, steel drum hits, 70s beach party music, and other summertime hits are appropriate.
A casual party at the beach or pool may not need any planned activities beyond relaxing in the sun and surf. But a more structured party or a beach-themed party indoors can include treasure hunts, beach ball volleyball, swimsuit contests, and other activities that can be done at the beach. If it’s a party for adults, some beer pong and a bonfire will keep the gathering going well.
Classic games that have beach and underwater themes can also be adapted to add interest to the party, such as:
- Limbo rock
- Starfish ring-toss
- Ocean-themed scavenger hunt
- Mermaid sack race
- Water balloon volleyball
- Squirt gun tag
- Decorating seashells
- Crafting with beach or tropical themes
- Sandcastle or sandman competitions
A photo booth will also be great to have for a themed party. Provide props like goggles, snorkels, big sunglasses, flippers, and fishing poles.
Party favors give each guest a piece of the party to enjoy long after the event has ended. Send guests home with cheery mementos that are fun, useful, and age-appropriate. Place these things in favor bags, mini treasure chests, plastic buckets, or beach-themed favor bags. Here are some items you can give:
- Floral leis
- Collectible shells
- Mini beach balls
- Miniature boats
- Squirt guns and other water toys
- Beach-themed magnets, bookmarks, or can openers
- A thank-you message in a bottle
- Sea creature stickers
- Sea creature bathtub toys
- Flip flops
- Sunscreen and other summer skincare essentials