(LifeWire) -- As Labor Day approaches, there's still time for making the last big splash of the summer with a pool party.
Party planning guru David Tutera suggests filling your pool with floating beach balls of all sizes.
Whether it's a chic party for adults, a rowdy splashfest for kids or something in between for the teens, a pool party is a great way to take advantage of the remaining weeks of warm weather.
Party-planner David Tutera suggests choosing a color for your party theme, and exploiting it for maximum impact.
Tutera, host of "Party Planner with David Tutera" on the Discovery Home Channel, has created Gatsby-esque pool parties in white and patriotic tributes in red, but he says, orange is the shade of the moment.
"What's great about this party is you can strap it to any color you want. Orange is the hot color now, but you can take any color and make it your party," Tutera says.
While Las Vegas hotels and spring break venues have turned pool parties into bacchanalian free-for-alls, we're going for something more subdued.
To begin, Tutera suggests you fill the pool with as many as 200 floating orange beach balls of all sizes. Don't worry about not having a place for adults to swim, that's not why they're there, Tutera says.
For a sunset or evening party, Tutera offers these instructions for some mood lighting:
"Surround the perimeter of the pool with tall glass cylinders filled with sand and tuck orange pillar candles into the sand," he said. The glass vases or cylinders should be about 12 inches tall, and about 4 to 6 inches wide.
"Put the sand in 2-3 inches in depth," Tutera advises. "You want the candle to be at least 4 inches lower than the top of the glass so the candle doesn't blow out." Place the glass-enclosed pillar candles in clusters every three feet around the pool.
Next, buy a flat or two of zinnias or marigolds. Both flowers come in brilliant oranges. Tutera says to transplant the flowers into small pots and place them around the pool, on the tables, the bar and the buffet. You can keep them for yourself after the party or give them away as party favors.
Food and drink
"Serve a fantastic color drink," Tutera says, and keep it simple. Make a pitcher of martinis or margaritas. Try a margarita sunrise recipe with orange juice. With martinis, Tutera suggests garnishing the glass with a slice of orange or candied orange peel. Clear acrylic barware (which you can find in the home or party section of most all purpose retail stores) is best.
Next up: the buffet
"I would do a great salad with fennel, endive, cranberries, mandarin oranges and maybe a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. It should all be light food...and grilled. Grilled corn on the cob, grilled asparagus, grilled pineapple, grilled flank steak," Tutera says.
A nice cool refreshing dessert will delight your guests. Tutera suggests slicing oranges in half, scooping out the inside, and placing a dip of vanilla ice cream in the half. Keep them in the freezer until serving time, then drizzle with orange syrup and add a fresh sprig of mint. Also create a mini-buffet of mini-orange cupcakes, orange candy slices, orange lollipops and orange M&Ms.
By all means, don't forget the orange napkins -- both cocktail and dinner napkins.
As with any celebration, you'll want to set a budget ahead of time. Keep costs in check by shopping at discount stores, buying in bulk, and using inexpensive plastic and paper supplies instead of buying extra plates and glasses. Your party should be festive and fun, but not expensive.
Just for kids
For kids, you'll want to take a different approach to the pool party.
Paolo Benedetti, principal owner of Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa in Morgan Hill, California, just south of San Jose, has two boys ages 8 and 11. Between the boys and his business, he's learned that kids want to spend most of their pool party time in the water.
Benedetti says pirate themes as well as Caribbean ideas and party accessories such as steel drums, tiki torches and piñatas are popular.
Teenagers still like the traditional water basketball and volleyball, but there are plenty of other games, too.
For example, he says, there's the greased watermelon, where each team has to get the greased watermelon to the opposite side of the pool. Then there's diving for treasure, where parents throw coins in the shallow end of the pool. A classic game of hide-and-seek, like Marco Polo, can be enhanced with spray-painted, no-peek goggles. Kids also like water balloons and squirt guns, he says.
For party favors, Benedetti said "every kid gets a beach towel with their name embroidered on it." Keep the food simple. Pizza or hamburgers will do just fine.
Have other parents help you supervise the fun; if that's not possible, hire a lifeguard. The American Red Cross Web site provides a range of pool safety tips and links to local chapters that might be able to put you in touch with lifeguards for hire. E-mail to a friend
LifeWire provides original and syndicated lifestyle content to Web publishers. Linda K. Harris is a freelance writer and former lifestyle editor for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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