Pontoon Party: Tips for Your Pontoon Party Boat

A family of four eating a meal in their pontoon boat while docked.

Throwing a pontoon party will always be an unforgettable experience. It’s not every day you get invited to a party on a boat or even get to throw one! However, it would be best if you made it memorable for all the right reasons – a bit of planning goes a long way.

We’ve put together ten pontoon boat party tips to help you remember everything you’ll need to host an unforgettable night and have your guests asking when the next time is. Check it out.

1. Theme

A pontoon party is an excellent choice for special occasions. Of course, you don’t need an occasion to buy a pontoon boat – it’s a great choice if you just want to throw a fantastic night for your friends. Still, thinking about the theme in advance will help you plan decorations, your guest list, and more. Here are some leading themed boat party ideas:

  • Birthdays
  • 4th of July
  • Anniversaries
  • Halloween
  • Mardi Gras
  • New Year
  • Graduation
  • (Small) weddings

We’ve specified smaller weddings for two reasons. First, you can only fit a limited number of guests on most pontoons; see entry #9 to learn more. Second – well, check out our section on guest lists at #4.

Whether you’re celebrating an occasion or not, choosing a fancy dress theme for your get-together can also be fun. Some occasions, like Halloween, come with an established dress code. However, here are some great themes for any occasion.

  • Pirates (bonus points for anything nautical)
  • Navy
  • Casino
  • Tropical
  • Pick a decade (the 80s etc.)
  • Favorite films or TV shows

Choosing a theme helps you pick appropriate entertainment and food and send off themed invitations. You should consider the type of guests you’re inviting before choosing – an older guest list might enjoy a classic casino or tropical-themed party, while a younger audience might enjoy a theme based around a popular TV show or a fun choice like pirates.

2. Entertainment

Be prepared to put on a show. The type of entertainment often corresponds to your theme. For example, if you’re hosting a casino-themed get-together, set out some tables for blackjack and poker. You might also want to find a friend or hire someone who knows how to moderate these games! Likewise, a 4th of July-themed night lends itself to a firework display. Again, you should make sure the person running the show knows what they’re doing and is sober – and you should have an appropriate fire extinguisher on hand.

More laid-back options include a movie night or simply a nice dinner. Hiring a band might be a good bet if you’ve got space and the budget for it. Again, it pays to consider your guest list before choosing your entertainment choices.

Bonus tips: don’t hire a magician unless you’re sure they’re very, very good, and when we say “hire a band,” we don’t mean your friend who started learning guitar recently. There’s no quicker way to sink a pontoon party than with boring entertainment.

3. Food

Family sharing bags of chips on a pontoon boat in a river.There should be plenty of food for the guests. A pontoon boat party is great fun while the drinks are flowing, but it’s hungry work out there on the water, and you need enough accessible snacks for everyone.

Of course, you could hire a catering company to put on a buffet, but there are plenty of homemade alternatives. Making a variety of dips that are best served at room temperature is a great way to spice up a few bags of chips. If there’s space, you might also be able to set up a grill – if you’re renting a pontoon boat, ensure that its provider is happy with this. Again, you should have appropriate fire extinguishers available.

Make sure your grillmaster knows their stuff – this is a great way to involve dad if you’re throwing a graduation party!

4. Guest List

Guests who don’t get along are always a recipe for disaster, but this is especially important here. A pontoon party means that people will be in pretty close quarters, and if an argument breaks out, everyone will know about it. It’s also hard to “storm off” a pontoon, at least, without putting yourself at considerable risk.

This is why we recommend only throwing a pontoon boat party for smaller, more intimate weddings. Unfortunately, large-scale affairs featuring relatives who don’t get along are just a bit risky.

Conversely, you’ll see that a pontoon boat is a perfect venue for small, intimate gatherings. There’s nothing like being out on the water, secluded with a group of people you truly love – and who all get along. It’s a magical feeling, so we recommend carefully planning your guest list.

5. Invitations

Have you told your guests that you’re throwing a pontoon party, or is it a surprise? If it’s the latter, you can put hints in the invite. A boat-shaped invite isn’t exactly subtle, but you could also slip in some nautical wording and hint to your guests about what they can look forward to.

If there’s no secret, it’s fun to theme your invitations around the party type and location. People often hang onto invitations as mementos, so make yours stand out as a reminder of the great night you put on.

6. Weather

Planning for weather is necessary if you’re throwing a pontoon boat party. Many boats have a bimini top to keep off light rain, at least on part of the boat – however, a downpour will certainly dampen everyone’s spirits. Take extra care to ensure your party falls when rain or high winds are unlikely.

This is also essential if you take your boat out on open water. Large lakes and even the ocean’s shallows can become very rough when the weather turns foul, and a pontoon isn’t designed for stormy seas. It’s not worth the risk.

7. Kids

Avalon Ambassador Elite with windshield out on the lakeIf you’re bringing kids aboard, make sure there’s enough entertainment for them. Smaller children generally don’t get on very well with boating – there are two major risks:

1.        You might find yourself with a bored child who
throws a noisy tantrum

2.        They might suddenly realize that they need the
toilet. It’s much harder for kids to hold on than adults!

If you have kids around, don’t go too far from shore and make sure there’s somewhere you can pull in easily to drop them off – ideally with toilet facilities. This is also a nice touch, so you can invite your friends with young kids without making them worry about causing a scene.

8. Litter

Throwing a pontoon boat party is a great chance to let your hair down, but you must never throw trash overboard. Bring adequate refuse bags for all your waste and try to provide recycling sacks for empty cans or bottles. Let all your guests know where to put their trash as they arrive.

A pontoon party is nowhere near as fun if your boat is navigating through floating debris. Think of your fellow sailors and keep the water clear and litter-free.

9. Safety

This is one party you really don’t want to turn upside-down. If you’re renting a pontoon, check the maximum number of passengers or total weight with the owner. This is also an important consideration when buying a boat – consider how many people you’ll want to take aboard. You might want to upgrade to a slightly larger, sturdier model if you’re near the limit.

Your guests should know to avoid overcrowding one side of the boat – think of this when setting your entertainment up. If there’ll be an occasion where the guests have to gather together, make sure it’s towards the rear center of the boat to avoid tipping.

This is the other reason pontoons aren’t necessarily suitable for larger weddings. It’s easy to say “we’ll only let X many people aboard” in advance, but in the swing of a celebration, people often forget safety in favor of generosity. Only invite as many people to your pontoon party as the boat can hold.

10. Backup Plans

Nobody likes to think of a party being canceled, but if inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances arise… sometimes it has to be. It’s best to plan an accessible backup location in case the worst happens.

You could research the best local restaurants or hotels and find out if anywhere offers short-notice bookings. You could seek out similar-themed entertainment – if your casino party gets canceled, you could just go to a casino! Alternatively, if one guest has a large house, you could approach them in advance and ask if you can celebrate at their place as a fallback.

This is also why buying a pontoon is better than renting – you don’t have to risk losing your investment if you need to cancel. You can simply reschedule your amazing pontoon party for a better time!

Final Thoughts

Our pontoon boat party tips are designed to help you have the best time you can with friends and loved ones with minimal risk. Planning your pontoon party in advance enables you to navigate the choppy waters of argumentative guests and a lack of food and instead enjoy one of the all-time great party experiences.

Avalon provides the finest pontoon boats you’ll find, and they’re perfectly designed for parties and small gatherings. Plan your party, create your guest list, and purchase one of our entertaining pontoon boats today!