Stock up the essentials for voguish beach parties

Crate & Barrel outdoor living collection

This hot and sunny day inspired me to write about party essentials around the pool or at a lake. I am taking about sophisticated party scene that you can set up at home. The look I am going for is part boutique hotel, part exotic vacation.

With design oriented stores for the masses getting almost the norm lately, it is possible to create a fabulous outdoor space on a small ordinary budget. I went to Crate & Barrel to dig up the inspiration shots. I love their collections.

Natural materials are a must for beach parties. Wood is instinctively associated with the beach. You want things that passed the Test of Time.

The furniture shown here is made of eucalyptus. If you like the eucalyptus aroma, hide some foliage under the bar just to tease the nose when you are near.

Basically what you need for a voguish beach party is a high bar table, large jars filled with prepared cocktail mixes, one or more galvanized party tubs and nice outdoor dinnerware. Filled jars and party tubs allow you to have fun with your guests. Get some bamboo service trays and bamboo dishes to add an exotic touch.

The low hardwood table on the left top corner is so fun. This is a collapsible table that you carry in a bag. Resort to your patio table for the buffet. Get several collapsible wood tables; they are only $39.95 at Crate & Barrel. These low tables create an elegant picnic atmosphere.

Complete it all with a few extra picnic blankets which can double as ground table for when you are entertaining larger group. The Sausalito Stripe Picnic Blanket, available at crate & barrel, fits perfectly for the Table in a Bag. Having cushions is more polished but people can also sit on their towels.

Having several pre-arranged tote bags for your guests is the ultimate gesture. You can put sunbathing towels and sun lotions that your guest may use at will during their stay. Live the bag empty if your guests bring their own stuff. I you want to be fancy lay the tote bag in a cute way on a table near the pool or beside the changing room.

Chinatown and Dollar stores are good sources where to get tote bags for cheap. Look for end of line or annual sales helps to reduce the acquisition costs. I would not lessen the quality of the sunbathing towels as the best ones will last for such a long time. Buy your towels all at once so they look the same. We are going for the polished look after all.

Make up a color scheme for your beach party bits and pieces before buying anything. You can mix and match colors for your towels but do not use more than 3 colors/patterns in total. To achieve the boutique hotel look, one color or pattern is the way to go. Medium shades will look clean for the entire duration of your event. If you prefer pale tones, use medium or patterned towels at least for children. Think about having smaller towels for young children. For a distinctive look, children can have their own patterns or colors.

Even if you do not do the tote things, there will always be people that forgot to bring something. So have spare bottles of sun lotions, a pair or two of cheap sunglasses plus a couple of sun hats. Never underestimate the sun especially if you are on water all day. A good host makes sure that everyone is protected against the risk of insolation.

Tell me, how do you design your beach or pool party? What are your best pool party accessories?

Link: Summer 2007 outdoor trends at Crate & Barrel