DIY Summer Staycation

It’s officially summertime and if you’re like literally anyone else on the planet, you’re watching everyone’s epic summer getaways via social media. That one friend who spent a week in Italy… the other who hosted a rager all weekend in Palm Springs. We get it. You’re all super cool and fabulous and rich.

I especially understand. For me, this is my busiest season of the year. I can’t just take off to the Italian Riviera in the middle of July… let alone afford it! So my dear friend Cara helped me come up with an idea for you all… how to throw an EPIC and insta worthy – staycation this summer. Save your pennies on hotels and airfare, and spend some quality time locally with the ones you love… throw in a few of my DIYs and ideas and you’re set!

First up – set the scene: a a place with a pool at the very least to host you and your pals. No need to fuss over extra frills… just buy some super LARGE balloons and attach them to weights to add a pop of color to your pool I bought these and they were perfect!

Next for the scene – make sure you have some sort of “home base” table for people to sit, grab some snacks, a napkin, or a new straw.. or even a drink floatie for the pool! Plus they add instant decor to said table! It may seem “extra” but spending a few bucks at the dollar store will get you some fun colored straws and I’m telling you – they give your cocktails that “i’m-sipping-a-pina-colada-at-the-hotel-pool-vibe” and you won’t even remember you’re in the backyard!

Last up on the “setting the scene” item – pool floaties!!! They are super affordable these days and it’s fun to get them in a theme like we did – we got mostly all citrus inspired floaties and it was so fun and colorful and everyone loved them. Again – saving money by getting items that serve a purpose as well as adds to the decor is always a win!

Step 2: What’s extra fun to order at a hotel pool… but after three will run your credit card bill upwards of $50? Cocktails! They are fun, they are sometimes fruity, they come in cute glasses and sipping them by the pool is the quintessential move on any vacay. But how to you get artisan style cocktails on a budget in your backyard? And how are you supposed to make them without a bartender onstaff all day? Don’t worry friends – I’ve GOT you! I don’t want you out of the pool for 20-30min at a time chopping fruit, infusing herbs and missing out on all the fun while everyone else is sunbathing on an orange slice shaped floatie… these recipes are quick and SIMPLE!

It has everything to do with custom simple syrups! I made three and they were more than enough for our group of 8. Here’s how to make your own poolside bar:

Simple Syrup how to: put equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. I did 1 cup of each. Add your fruit/herbs – either a handful of herbs or 3-4 slices of fruit. Bring to a boil. Then, take off of the heat and let sit for 20-30 min. Strain out the fruit/herbs and put in a sealed container.

The 3 combos I made were: Rosemary Lemon // Nectarine Basil // Orange Mint. The idea was you could mix vodka, gin or tequila and soda water with a splash of either of these and voila! You have yourself a perfect summer cocktail! You’re out of the pool for 5min max and back in the pool and ready to party! If you’re still not sure about it – here’s a full recipe:

  • 1.5 oz hard liquor : I recommend vodka, tequila, or gin (the tequila goes great with the nectarine basil!)
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • top off with sparkling water
  • splash of simple syrup – this part if totally up to you. Small splash if you like your drinks stronger, add a little more to make it sweeter
  • We squeezed a quarter lemon slice

I got the containers you see here from World Market for only $6!

You might be thinking… why the hard lemonade sign? Well.. I have a lemon tree in my backyard and we always have WAY too many lemons… so we basically had fresh squeezed lemons in every cocktail… so they were all a form of lemonde.. in a way haha

I made the labels on my cricket machine with white vinyl from 651 Vinyl (the BEST and the best price!) I also made these cute little cocktail cups with lids for my girlies! The cups were on sale at Michaels but I found similar ones HERE and I made the citrus stickers on my cricket with colored vinyl – they turned out SO CUTE! I made each girl her own color so we always knew whose drink was whos.

This next tip is ALLL my friend Cara’s idea: grab a cute basket and put all your sunscreens/oils/lotions in it and keep it in one place throughout your stay. This will keep your backyard looking clean and organized (for all the cute IG pics you’ll be taking) but also when all is said and done, you won’t be searching everywhere for the sunblock! We added a little palm in the basket for decor ;-)

That’s it guys – 3 easy steps:

  • Step the vibe
  • Use pool toys as decor
  • Make your own cocktails!

Invite the right crew, cook some bomb burgers on the grill, and you have a full on vacation in your backyard. Easy peasy!

All photos are by: Joe+Kathrina… and a few are from my cell phone ;-)


  1. This is wonderful! Can’t wait to try this super easy cocktail recipe. Thank hoh’n

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