During the summer months, avid boaters love to spend entire days out on the water. We run the gamut of the usual ski sports and tubing activities, still searching for ways to liven up the pontoon boat. It’s as if you think the fun’s over once you pull into your slip and come home to a quiet dock.
But what some boaters don’t realize is that we frequently miss opportunities to use our pontoons for more than simply being on the water. There are numerous occasions and everyday activities you can transport from home to boat instead.
If you have a family movie night planned, just take some equipment to the dock and set up a small cinema. You already pack lunches for a day on the water, so why not dine al fresco more often? And did I mention fireworks? They’re not just for Independence Day, ya know.
For the next cause for celebration, think outside the box and plan a party around your pontoon! Each suitable for both adults and kids, here are three ideas of how to do just that.
Crowdpleasing Pontoon Ideas
1. Host a Movie Night!
Affordable cinema set-up
Okay, you can create a cinema in one of two ways: Expensive or affordable. I vote affordable, so here’s how to make it happen on the cheap.
For projecting the movie, there are several options. You could just use a laptop with a larger screen, standing it up on a chair or table. Just make sure you’re good and charged or you might ruin a climatic ending.
Another affordable option is a projector that attaches to your phone. You can even check with your local library and find out if they have one for rent. (Maybe don’t mention that it’s going on a boat though, okay?)
If you really feel like investing in something—check out more affordable projectors like the mini CHEERLUX option shown above (click to see current price on Amazon).
- Cheerlux C6 Mini Projector is Ideal For Home Theater Cinema ,Gaming ,TV ,Backyard movie nights ,party ,and window display of Christmas and Halloween .
- Media Interface : HDMI port(Support 1.1-1.4) ;USB2.0 port (USB2.0 support most 1080P Video and Image format ) ; TV (Analog TV or can connect with TV SET BOT through HDMI or AV input) ;Composite A/V,VGA (Connect with Laptop ,Computer) ;Headphone Jack 3.5mm
- Compatible with more devises such as chromecast ,iphone 5s /6 6s plus/7 7s 8 plus ,ipad mini1234 pro air ,android smart phone ,laptop ,xboxone , ps1234 ,blu-ray dvd , satellite TV ,TV set box and more.
- Easy and quick to set up ,C6 Projectors all come with Remote Control . Variable throw distances: 50''at 1.7m,72'' at 2.4m,100'' at 3.3m . C6 can play movie video music and read image pictures direct from a USB flash driver. It's Light Weight only 2.07lb and Mini Size 8.0inx6.1inx3.3in that you can take it anywhere on Travelling .
- Safe Product : C6 mini projector has a 75 celsius degrees temperature control switch ,it will be power off when the projector is overheat.
When using a projector, you’ll need to have a screen. A simple and affordable way to do this is to hang a white bed sheet from your bimini with towel clips. Easy! Done!
If you don’t have Bluetooth marine speakers (check current price on Amazon), you’ll need an additional way to cast the sound. You can purchase a waterproof Bluetooth speaker and get more play out of it on the water. If you’re in the market for new speakers, check out this marine speaker review and comparison.
- UPDATED FEATURES: This audio stereo kit is unlike others. It comes w/ a Bluetooth marine receiver, 4 pieces 6.5" waterproof speakers, a remote control & a radio shield. Has a CD player & slots for MP3/USB/SD reading. It can also use AM/FM radio
- WATERPROOF MARINE CONSOLE: Made for marine use that's why all the inclusion of this stereo set are waterproof or water resistant. The receiver is an in-dash console that can be easily installed & all are universal standard OEM sizes for easy upgrade
- PREMIUM BLUETOOTH RECEIVER: The receiver has Bluetooth connectivity that can wirelessly connect to iPhone, Android Smartphones and all other Bluetooth devices. The wireless range is within 16ft. Also has a front loading CD player and USB/SD readers
- POWERFUL 4 X 50 WATT: The powerful 6.5" speakers offer full range stereo audio. w/ waterproof ability has 4 Ohm Impedance and 80Hz - 18kHz frequency response. It's rated at 4 x 50 watt, so each speaker has plenty of independent power
- HANDS-FREE CALLING: Has a built-in microphone for easy and hassle-free hands-free calling. With such feature, this marine receiver is perfect for boat, marine watercraft & other off-road vehicle use. It also has a 3.5mm aux jack input for headphones
Who’s your audience?
You might want to ask yourself who your audience is going to be. Is the movie rating suitable for kids? Is the story’s plot about a fish named Nemo or Jaws? Make sure nothing is going to scare kids from going into the water (or bore parents out of their minds).
If it’s more of a family and friends gathering, find something everyone can enjoy. If it’s a date night for mom and dad, I’m sure you’re already used to compromising.
Treats and sodas are good for nibbles during a flick. Don’t bring anything you wouldn’t normally on your boat. If you have rules about red juices to keep your carpeting spotless, stick to that. And chocolate candy might be a big no-no.
2. Casual Weekend Brunch Cruise
Think no-mess meals
The biggest problem you could have with packing any meal on board is the mess it could potentially make. Don’t expect sunny side up eggs today—instead, keep it simple and bring along something a bit less messy.
Donuts work great (though maybe not the powdered kind) as well as foil-wrapped breakfast sandwiches or wraps. You might even manage some other finger foods, but I’d avoid anything syrupy with kids around.
Bring some handy wipes to clean up any messes. Or just take a jump in the water once it warms up.
Cooler of cocktails
Pack your cooler with a couple of plastic bottled juices (or some juice boxes for the kiddos.)
For adults, pop a bottle of Prosecco and top off that juice to make a bubbly Mimosa. Or if you’re more of a Bloody Mary fan, bring along canned tomato juice or cans of V8 and spice it up yourself.
For designated drivers and those of us who need to stick with coffee—or who just need coffee to survive the day—you can brew it at home and pour it out into a thermos or insulated carafe to keep it piping hot.
3. Fireworks Show
Check with your state and county to find out if fireworks (or certain types of them) are banned. It could be a temporary ban due to droughts or have restricted zoning, but make certain you wouldn’t be breaking any laws or sending out beacons to DNR or Coast Guard to come crash your party. That’s a hefty fine!
If fireworks are indeed banned, don’t fret! Sparklers aren’t considered fireworks. They’re nonhazardous, capable of shipping by mail, and you can pick them up almost anywhere. You won’t have the same stars and stripes and rockets’ red glares, but if you just want to see some glitter for a birthday celebration—sparklers are perfect!
Also be careful lighting fireworks! It’s best to light them on your dock and out toward open water. If you’re fearful of damaging your boat, don’t hold them in your hand. Just set them off at the dock! And always keep a fire extinguisher on board in case a rocket strays or backfires!
Of course, fireworks have to be set off in pitch dark, so if you’re considering taking the pontoon out, follow some nighttime navigation rules and make sure you have the proper safety lights and all the necessary safety equipment.
Fun for kids and adults!
There are many occasions to launch a few rockets: Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve and Birthdays. But good fireworks can get expensive. What we do at our lake is invite the neighbors from community docks or down the shoreline to join the party. Let them know you’re going to light some fuses and invite them to watch and pitch funds into the pool if they want. Most people love a good fireworks display!
One thing to note here is while most people love fireworks, pets become very anxious. Loud sudden noises are just too much for them; I recommend leaving them at home with a chew toy. Even though you take precautions to keep your pet safe on the water, fireworks are another element!
A Few Extras Accessories You May Need
- Injection Molded Plastic Seat Frame
- High Compression Foam Padding and Mildew Resistant and UV Treated Marine Grade 28 oz. Heavy Duty Vinyl
- 16 Gauge Brite Dipped Anodized Aluminum Frame Features 8 Legs for Stability
- Rubber Leg Caps and Locking Bracket in Rear
- Height: 30", Width: 26", Depth: 24", Seat Depth: 15.75"
- Four-position reclining backrest
- Includes carry strap and reinforced attachment straps for tethering to bleachers and canoe seats
- Folds flat for carrying and storage
- Supports 225 lbs. yet weighs only 3.5 lbs
- Heating pack pockets; includes two heating packs
If you need more seating aboard your pontoon, purchase a few extra Wise foldable deck chairs (check price on Amazon).
In fact, if it’s a movie night, create stadium seating with a few legless cushions by Rio Brands (check price on Amazon) so patrons down in front don’t block the view.
Blankets for night
In the morning for breakfasts and even at during nighttime fireworks, it could get a bit chilly. Pack a few blankets to keep warm.
At night especially you’ll need some bug repellent. Even during brunch, it could keep the bees from going after the sweet smells of the juices. If you go out in the middle of the lake far enough, you might not have this problem.
One Last Thought
With a little pre-planning and simple inexpensive touches, you can host a small group of friends and family for any occasion!
My aunts and cousins began a yearly girls-only weekend around Halloween, often hosted at our lakeside cabin. Although it’s typically a bit chilly in autumn, we encourage guests to use the pontoon and dock as an extension of the house. We set up the dock invitingly and decorate–although sometimes the cobwebs are real–and everyone has a crazy good time! The best part is it’s become a tradition!
And just like that—a one-off occasion can become a memorable tradition you’ll all look fondly back upon. I hope you come up with your own fantastic ways to keep boating fun for kids and adults alike!