Your pontoon boat is the premier location for your upcoming soiree. Whether you’re planning festivities for family and friends or a professional party for clients, your pontoon boat is equipped with the amenities and ideal atmosphere to entertain and delight. Pontoon boats’ spacious decks are perfect for guests to mingle, and their versatility allows for leisure and sports, making them fit for all types of get-togethers.
We’re convinced your pontoon boat has the potential to be transformed into a floating fiesta, but some of us might need a little help with party preparation and planning out on the open seas. Fret not, we’ve consulted party planning, cooking safety and event designing experts to ensure your next pontoon party will be an utter success.
- Throwing a party on the open water is an exhilarating experience for hosts and guests alike. However, whether you plan on cruising to the middle of a lake or prefer to stay securely docked at shore, it is essential that attention be paid to the safety and well being of passengers.
- Make sure your pontoon boat is equipped with the proper safety gear such as lifejackets, a first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
- Be sure to adhere to the maximum number of people allowed on your pontoon boat.
- Make sure that when you’re operating a grill or cooking utilities that the boat is either docked or anchored.
- If grilling, ensure that your grill has a very stable base and specialty legs or that it is specifically designed for boating and has a locking device to be attached to the side of the boat, facing inward.
- Avoid using glass serving trays, cups, and other breakable items.
Whether planning a professional outing or a close get-together for pals, food has the ability to make or break the festivities. Pontoons have the ultimate boat setting for dining, as there is ample seating and room to move about. Still, certain types of food are better suited for boat parties than others and planning must be done in order to ensure you have everything you need. We consulted Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker of www.thedeckchef.com for some food preparation and safety tips.
- Prepare food in advance when necessary. Cut, marinade, boil and bake meat, and veggies beforehand.
- Make sure all utensils, serving trays and other necessities are on board prior to the party, as it will be more difficult to get these things once you are afloat. Consider filling a plastic tub to store under your boat seats with: A spatula, stirring spoon, can opener, corkscrew, bottle opener, tongs, knives, a hot pad, and mini cutting board, as well as unbreakable eating ware: plastic reusable plates, bowls and cups; plastic silverware; salt and pepper and foil
- Finger foods, Hors d’oeuvres and premade treats are portable and keep clean-up to a minimum.
- When storing cold and hot foods on your boat, make sure to keep them separate of each other. Keep raw, cold foods like meat in a separate cooler that won’t be opened and closed often. Make sure you have plenty of ice, and that you keep your cold coolers shaded.
- According to the USDA, after two hours in the “danger zone”-between 41 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit-food becomes unsafe and should be thrown out.
For more in depth suggestions and tips, we consulted a few experts party planners.
“For a family get together, I think picnic style is always best. Foods will have to be selected that can be premade in advance to prevent them from getting soggy or stale. A good choice would be kabobs with meat and veggies…or for a refreshing summertime kabob you could include fresh fruit and cheese that is chilled in a cooler,” says Celebrity Event Planner & Designer Sacha Patires of Whimsical Weddings & Events.
Patires recommends, “Premade cups of chilled pasta salads can be served in cute and festive disposable cups. For a more formal affair, try serving items in disposable champagne or margarita flutes. The stem makes it easy to hold onto and the bowl shape of the cup will make it so that food does not spill out should a wave come your way. Premade tea sandwiches are also a great food to serve. They are small, not messy and portable.”
“For cuisine, try some edible chocolate cups. They can be filled with strawberry bisque and served as hors d’oeuvres for a cocktail style party or you can serve them with chocolate mousse, a sliver of cheesecake or fresh berries for a dessert. Additionally, items that are already placed on serving ware are great options. After they are used, they are disposable. The forks make it so the food will not slide off in transit. A combination disposable plate and wine glass make it easy to be social while still having a free hand to hold on to a railing or shake hands with cocktail party guests.”
Event planning and public relations expert Apryl of Memorable Events by Apryl suggests, “shrimp cocktail and bruschettato are great options for a classy party, or you can keep it light with chicken drummettes, a crudite platter, assorted dainty sandwiches or lumpia.”
All day spent on the water with nowhere to discard any trash can make for a messy boat. Use these tips to make sure your boat stays clean.
- Carry a tote full of clean-up supplies on your pontoon with items likes handy wipes (for hands and surfaces), trash bags, hand sanitizer, rinsing water if possible and small towels.
- Double bag any trash to prevent trash spills and odor from ruining your bash. Keep any bags of trash under your boat seats or in another compartment to ensure nothing blows out of your boat, into the water.
- Trash is hard to avoid, but you can limit the amount you end up with by using reusable plastic dishes and silverware.
Pontoon boats have all the hardware to be converted into a vivacious party setting; all you need is the right decor. However, weather and water conditions must be taken into consideration during the party preparation stages.
- Try to avoid glass, but look for heavier, reusable plastics to prevent flatware (which can be found at www.smartyhadaparty.com), tablecloths and decor from flying away.
- Avoid wax candles if you plan on moving from place to place a great deal.
- Be mindful of electrical outlets and which decorations may need them.
“Something to keep in mind is that it can be windy and turbulent at times on lakes so care must be taken to not have a lot of decor, tableware, tablecloths or dinnerware that will fly away. It is detrimental to the environment and an annoyance to guests,” says Patires.
Whether you are simply enjoying the company of family and friends or entertaining clients on the water, you may have thought about creating a theme for your party. Here are just a few theme ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Fourth of July
- Mardi Gras
- Game day/tailgate on the water
Whether you throw a fun, south-of-the-border style fiesta or just have a few friends out on the pontoon, take our advice to enjoy a pleasant, hassle-free day on the lake!
This post was contributed by Mike Hall