How to have a summer beach party, with or without the beach

One of my favorite summer activities is going to the beach. I grew up in Iowa, and even though I live in Connecticut now, the novelty of living so close to the coast has not worn off. If you live on the coast, you may be planning to have a beach party or two before the fall semester begins. But say you’re miles from a real beach?

What do you suggest bringing to a beach party? (Credit: Goa Streets)

What do you suggest bringing to a beach party? (Credit: Goa Streets)

You can still embrace party themes celebrating all things beachy by organizing a beach party. Have a budget? No problem. You can select party games, foods, and decorations while keeping everything on the cheap. Check out these ideas for indoor or outdoor beach parties this summer.

Beach party at the beach

If you grew up on the coast, you more than likely have more experience throwing a beach party than I do. But here are a few tips I’ve picked up since I moved to the shoreline:

  • Public beaches are often town-owned and may have town-provided resources: picnic shelters, picnic tables, volleyball nets, outdoor grills and more. Check with the website in your town to figure out what kind of restrictions there are on using the resources.
  • Sandcastles never get old. Grab some buckets, shovels and maybe a sieve or two and you can probably entice your friends into creating sand art. Especially if you throw in a competition element. It can be an honorary title (winner of the golden shovel!) or an actual prize if you get everyone to chip in a buck to enter.
  • Frisbees are great as long as the beach isn’t crowded. Pack big space games like Frisbees, volleyballs or badminton, but keep in mind that on a crowded day, you may not be able to play.
  • Check for food and drink regulations at the park before heading out. Some parks have strict rules about alcohol, and the worst way to end your beach party is with a hefty fine from the local authorities, or worse.

If you can actually have the beach party at the beach, the location does most of the work for you. People enjoy sand, sun, food and friends (or, if they don’t enjoy all of them, they enjoy at least one of those four!). Tell people where to meet, what to bring (or what to chip in) and have a great time!

Inland beach party

But say there’s not a beach available? Not to worry: you can turn any public park into a makeshift beach with a few items and a little imagination.

  • Pick up a beach umbrella. The cheapest one I found recently was on Amazon for $14.99 (and free shipping if you have access to Amazon Prime). But check local dollar stores, second hand stores or big box stores to see what they have in stock. This might be your most expensive decoration, but you can still score one on the cheap.
  • Grab beach towels and toys for decoration. Again, your local dollar store probably has beach kits of some kind to include in the fun: beach balls, shovels, buckets and sieves, among others.
  • Use the beach buckets from the dollar store as serving bowls. You can have goldfish as one of your salty snacks to accompany dinner.
  • Even if you can’t grill out, you can get burgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob. To keep your costs low, ask friends to contribute one item to the menu: buns, chips (or goldfish!) or coleslaw can take some of the responsibility off you without being too much of a burden for your friends. If your location is alcohol friendly, label your party BYOB to keep down your drink costs.
  • Ask your friends to wear costumes, or grab some accessories for them to wear when they arrive. Dollar store sunglasses and beach comber or bucket hats might help everyone embrace the beach theme even if they don’t come in their suits.

Bring the beach inside

Worried about getting rained out? I have a friend who is an expert at throwing indoor movie marathon parties on all sorts of party themes. For a beach party, you can use the food and décor ideas for outdoors, but grab some of these films to replace your party games:

  • Gidget, Hot Rod Gang or Beach Party, if you want to go with the classic beach party genre
  • Disney Channel’s Teen Beach Movie
  • Endless Summer (a surfing documentary)
  • Blue Crush, The Beach or Point Break
  • Jaws

How would you host a beach party? Tell us in the comments.

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