Pontoon Boat Party Ideas: Top 10 Gathering Suggestions

Sure, lounging about on a pontoon boat can be loads of fun. But if you and your guests want to try something new, there’s a lot you can do other than just fishing, tubing, and soaking up sun. After all, the pontoon boat wasn’t dubbed the ultimate recreational watercraft for nothing.

From fun family get-togethers, to adults-only extravaganzas, there’s no limit to what kind of fun you can have on a pontoon. But if your creative juices just aren’t flowing and you need pontoon boat party ideas for your next big gig, here are some you can give a whirl.

Our Top 10 Party Ideas

1. Casino on the Lake

casino boat party props

If you’re hosting some of your closest friends for a night of fun and free flowing drinks, why not try a floating casino? There are loads of fun games you can get online to achieve that casino experience aboard your pontoon. With a deck of cards and a set of casino table felts, you can play four of the most well-known casino games around.

Of course, you can also get chips and even a slot machine if you’re willing to go the extra mile. And since it’s going to be a fun night of luck and chances, you can also try a few new drinking games like Shot Roulette that takes the traditional game style to new heights.

You should consider getting the 4-in-1 Casino Game Felts, Trademark Global Slot Machine or the Bo-Toy Drinking Game Glass Roulette.

2. Overnight Boat Camping

For boat owners looking for something a little more family friendly, overnight boat camping can be serious fun. With a sky full of stars and the gentle calming waves of the water cradling you to sleep, boat camping can bring you closer to nature without having to worry about the icky sticky discomfort of sleeping on the dirt.

If you’ve got enough space on deck, then you can just lay out a few sleeping bags and sleep under the stars. But if you’re expecting more guests than your deck can accommodate, you can always anchor near the shore and sleep on dry land with your boat floating nearby.

3. Movie Night

There are better ways to enjoy movie night on a boat than with a laptop and some popcorn. To mix things up a little, try using a full-on projector and a white sheet to serve as your screen. If you’ve got a blank wall on your pontoon, then you could use that to cast your favorite movies for everyone to see.

Something like this Mini Portable Projector will work great on your pontoon for hosting movie night.

outdoor movie projector

Keep your boat docked so you can fully enjoy the film. If you’re hoping to make it a little more special, you can also try sending out invitations designed like movie stubs which you can collect before entry to your boat. You can also fashion a popcorn claim stub to make it extra fun and authentic.

4. Formal Dinner Party

It doesn’t hurt to get dressed up for a fancy night with family and friends every now and then. A docked pontoon boat can make a wonderful venue for an intimate, formal dinner party. Some boat owners even host their boss and workmates with this fancy party format.

Prepare finger foods, a few entrees, and of course, some good old bubbly to keep everyone satisfied. For boat owners who really want something fancy, you can even hire a crew to serve food, clean up after guests, and provide dining assistance for the evening.

5. Themed Parties

You really can’t go wrong with a themed party. For the most part, these celebrations work great for kids, effectively bringing the imagination in to reality. Choose from a variety of themes like pirates, mermaids, sailors, tropical, or even Halloween. Then you can go ahead and buy corresponding party favors to highlight your theme.

Then again, you don’t really need to buy everything you need. Pinterest is overflowing with DIY projects you can try to make your own themed party favors. Cakes, pastries, and other goodies fashioned to bring your theme to life can help make the experience just that much more memorable for your guests. Remember - every detail counts.

6. Pup Parties

dog design balloons for boat parties

These days, pets have become nothing short of full-fledged family members. So whether you want to celebrate your dog turning a year older, or if you just want to give your family and friends a reason to take their dogs on a boat, you can host your very own pontoon pup party (or cat, or any other pet).

Obviously, you’re going to want to decorate to match the theme. From doggy balloons, to dog themed drinking bottles, and paw-decorated goodie bags, the options are endless for your event. You also won’t want to forget the main guests, so see to it that you have goodies and giveaways your four-legged friends would enjoy. As for the food, make sure you’ve got options for both humans and pups and keep them separate to avoid confusion.

We really like to decorate with Walking Dog Balloons, use Dog Bone Themed Cups with Straws and put Midlee Dog Tennis Balls as favors in the Puppy Dog Paw Print Treat Bags.

7. Water Sports Extravaganza

pontoon slides

Parties don’t always have to be about the food and the endless chatter. For families that enjoy more activity and movement, you can host a water sports party. Bring along the tubes for some good old fashioned tubing. And if you don’t already have one, try to get your hands on an inflatable pontoon boat water slide.

Try to get creative with your party and look for games that fit the event. You can try water gun tag, float race, water basketball, and of course, giant ring toss. Just make sure you prepare enough towels and save a whole day for post-party boat clean-up.

Check out the Rave Sports Pontoon Slide.

8. Fireworks Show

There’s no better place to watch fireworks on New Year’s Eve or the 4th of July than from the clear skies atop a quiet lake. If you know a place in your area where you can get a view of the sky on your pontoon, you can go ahead and invite your friends. Not only will it be absolutely free, it should also give you a more immersive view of the celebration than ever before.

There are some boat owners however who take it up a notch and set off fireworks from their deck. While that can be a possibility, you might want to make sure your local authorities approve of it first. You can also try smaller fireworks like sparklers and roman candles that don’t pose much of a hazard. Just make sure you don’t toss the used ones into the lake.

9. Milestone Celebrations

Whether it’s an engagement, a bachelor or bachelorette party, a graduation, or a birthday, a pontoon can make a wonderful venue especially if you’re hoping to keep it intimate. Celebrating milestones on a pontoon boat also means you get a better chance of capturing more memorable shots against the backdrop of a beautiful, calm lake or beach.

While the food and decor would be entirely up to you, milestone celebrations call for a special photo set-up where guests can stand and showcase the reason for the celebration. Choose a space on your boat where you can set up a backdrop, some balloons, streamers and other decorative pieces for guests to stand and take photos as memorabilia.

10. Brunch Cruise

Maybe not one for the kids, but a brunch cruise can be tons of relaxing fun for the grownups. Take your pontoon out to the middle of the lake on a cool, breezy day. Bring along some snacks, food, and other picks you might want to serve and prepare when you get to your mid-lake destination.

There you can grill up some fresh fish or steaks (with your trusty pontoon grill), and crack open a bottle of champagne. Just make sure your designated driver doesn’t take more than a sip. Then you can enjoy the calm ebbing waves, the cool wind, and the picturesque venue as you talk and laugh with your closest family and friends.

Tips for Hosting a Pontoon Boat Party

pontoon boat party on a lake

There are unique challenges to hosting a pontoon boat party because of the distinct environment that surrounds a boat. That said, you’re going to want to make the right preparations to ensure that your guests are satisfied, comfortable, and happy throughout the event.

Check Weather Forecasts

Nothing can water down a celebration like bad weather. Before you set the date, make sure you check the weather so you won’t have to worry about rain, strong winds, and large waves. It also wouldn’t hurt to schedule your party during the summer to make the chances of bad weather even less likely.

Have a Plan B

You never know when mother nature might throw a curve ball. So even with all the weather checks and careful scheduling, you still might find yourself in the face of bad weather. In that case, you’re going to want to have a contingency plan in place.

Since you can’t really reserve a party venue ‘just in case’, it’s always better to just move things over to your house. Keep your home ready to accommodate guests in case the need arises.

Anticipate a Mess

Expect lots of spills, so be ready with cleaning materials, wet wipes, tissues, and other essentials you might need to do a quick cleaning job. It also doesn’t hurt to have a bunch of garbage disposal points on board where guests can toss biodegradable and non-biodegradable trash.

Get Strategic with Food Planning

One of the challenges of hosting a pontoon party is how to keep the food fresh during the event. You can set up a bunch of tables where you can place chafing dishes to keep food warm. But really, the best way to guarantee freshness would be to prep your food the day of the event.

That said, you’re going to want to schedule your party for lunch or late in the afternoon, giving you more time in the morning to cook up fresh food. Of course, you could always cook the night before and reheat them in the morning. But just make sure your food choices aren’t likely to get soggy when you put them in the fridge overnight.

Stock Up Lots of Drinks

As the old adage goes, if you’re not overprepared, you’re underprepared. There’s no telling how much your guests will want to drink under the glare of the hot sun. So see to it that you have enough drinks aboard to keep them satisfied. Set up a bunch of coolers in strategic locations to keep beverages cold and accessible.

If you think you’re going to need more drinks than you can keep on board, you might be better off parking your boat in a marina slip where you can easily run to the local store to get more drinks for your party guests.

Prepare for the Unprepared

One of your guests is going to forget their towel, their sunscreen, their bug repellent spray, or just anything they might need on a boat. And it’s your job to make sure you have those things at the ready. Pack up extra boating essentials to fill in whatever items your guests might have forgotten to pack.

You also might want to consider other essentials like seasickness medication, sanitary pads, or even an extra rash guard. Having these things on hand helps ensure that all of your guests will enjoy their stay and won’t have to cut their attendance short.

Instruct Your Guests

Right before the festivities begin, make sure you brief your guests on the do’s and don’ts on a pontoon boat. Sure, some of them might have been on a boat before. And some of them might even have their own boats. But for the benefit and safety of everyone on board, it doesn’t hurt to give them a few reminders.

Tell everyone the protocol when the boat is underway (stay seated and wear your life vest), and give them the run down of what to do in case of an emergency. You might also want to hand out the number for the local coast guard so everyone on board can make the call in case you might need to.

Read Your Manual

Your pontoon boat might seem like the strongest, sturdiest thing on the planet. But it has a weight limit. Packing lots of supplies, food, coolers, and other hefty items will account towards that capacity. Add in all the people you plan to take with you, and you could easily reach well over the limit.

Before you even come up with your guest list, read your manual. How much weight can your pontoon boat safely carry? Even the biggest boats might not be able to handle much more than 20. So if your guest list involves more than just 20, consider a party at the dock where guests can enter your boat for food and swimming while the rest can enjoy chatter and bonding on dry land.

Designate a First Mate

It’s hard enough to operate a boat, much more a boat with an on-going party. That said, you might want to commission someone to be your first mate. This person should be in charge of keeping an eye over your guests or steering the boat in case you’re unavailable.

Both you and your first mate should avoid any booze for the time being (sorry!) and focus on keeping everyone safe and satisfied. See to it that you briefly meet with your first mate prior to the festivities so you can give them a run down of everything they need to know before you get started.

What You’ll Need for a Pontoon Boat Party

Your pontoon boat might have all the essentials you and your family need, but it’s probably not too well-equipped for a party. Try to cop a few of these necessities to make the festivities more comfortable for your party guests.

Pop Up Changing Room

portable changing room for your pontoon boat parties

This provides extra privacy for guests who want to slip into a swimsuit or change out of it. You can also get a portable toilet and place it in your pop up changing room to serve as a temporary on-board bathroom.

We like the GigaTent Pop Up Changing Room Tent and it's also handy to have the Camco Portable Travel Toilet readily available for your guests.

Inflatables

inflatable boat

Whether you’re planning a water sports party or not, people are going to want to enjoy the water. See to it that you’re prepared with enough inflatables for kids and adults to get the best of their dip.

Check out the Poolmaster Inflatable Boat and the Intex Giant Inflatable Floating Mat.

Recyclable, Non-Breakable Plates and Cups

unbreakable plates and utensils for boat parties

There’s going to be a lot of movement on your boat. But remember that single use plastics might not be the best choice if you’re looking to help the ecosystem. Choose reusable or compostable cups, plates, and utensils instead to avoid breakage and stay eco-friendly.

We recommend the Premium Quality Plastic Bowls and these Compostable Paper Plates Set.

LED Lighting

led flood lights for boat parties

If you’re hosting a night time shindig, you could enhance the ambiance with LED lights. Fairy lights add a whimsical feel to boat decor, while color changing outdoor LED strips can set the mood and improve visibility under the nighttime sky.

Checkout these Novostella LED Flood Lights, LED Fairy Lights from Govee or Addlon LED Outdoor String Lights.

It’s Gonna Be a Blast

Make the most of your boat by hosting a pontoon party every now and then. Offering a brand new take on celebrations, parties atop a floating watercraft can be double the fun with a heaping serving or memories to last a lifetime. And hey, the next time you feel like your creative juices just aren’t flowing, check back on this ultimate guide to give you fresh pontoon boat party ideas for your next big shindig.