Author Archives: Tracy Kunzler

About Tracy Kunzler

Tracy Kunzler knows relaxing like no other. As a young woman, she studied relaxation at Radford University in Virginia and then devoted herself to a career in relaxation, earning her LCT (License To Chill) status early on. Consequently, she has developed a high level of relaxation skills few can match. Tracy lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia where she regularly relaxes and entertains beachside and at her backyard pool with husband Neil, their twin sons Cole and Duke (when not away at college), and their beloved mixed breed Bogie.

Treat Mom to a Poolside Garden Brunch This Mother’s Day

by Tracy Kunzler

Mother's Day Brunch Ideas

Cupcake bouquet:, Blooming table setting:, Smoked salmon platter:

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 11 which, coincidentally, is about the time many of us open our pools for the season and have gardens bursting with their first blooms! So, it’s the perfect time to celebrate Mom with a pretty, poolside garden brunch! After all, where would we be without moms? I think you know where! Half of us would be dead since we jumped off cliffs just because our friends did or because we were denied life-saving medical procedures after getting ourselves in car accidents without having good, clean underwear on! Thanks to moms, everyone knows surgeons will deny life-saving surgery to anyone not wearing good, clean underwear! (Of course, I often wonder how underwear stays “good” and “clean” after a terrible accident.)

Yes, without moms, we’d be in big trouble! So let’s thank all the mothers in our lives – grandmothers, aunts, special friends and neighbors – by giving them a special, EASY celebration! Remember, the name of this page is “Relax.” Even if you’ve never boiled water or tied a bow, you can put together this delicious, gorgeous party! Even the youngest members of the family can help!

This year, show mom you’re grateful you have the good sense not to jump off cliffs and to wear good, clean underwear by honoring her with a special garden brunch she’ll be especially thankful for!

Check out Tracy’s Mother’s Day poolside garden brunch series via the links below!

Follow SwimWays’s board Pool & Beach Party Ideas on Pinterest.


Mother’s Day Poolside Garden Brunch: Set the Scene

by Tracy Kunzler

From the editor: What better way to enjoy Mother’s Day than being poolside enjoying crisp, fresh spring air? Check out these mom-pleasing decor ideas from our relaxation expert, 

While it may still be a tad chilly to jump in the pool, it’s the perfect time to dine poolside, taking in the beauty of spring. Picture this: a beautifully decorated table alongside your newly-opened pool turned into a “garden pond” with the Mother’s Day gift of pretty, floating lotus lights, swimming fish and lily pads! Here’s how to easily set the scene:

Turn your pool into a pond

Decorate your pool with floating flower decor, or motorized swimming fish! Mom will also love receiving them as a gift and using them all season long.

Complete the pool-as-pond setting with some large, floating lily pads cut from green fun foam you can buy inexpensively at craft stores like Michael’s and A.C. Moore. This is a fun activity for the younger members of the family. Place small toy frogs on them for extra charm!

Don’t forget to have mom’s favorite music playing on a portable music player. You could even borrow some CDs of classical music or nature sounds from the local library for a soothing acoustical backdrop!

Create a tablescape that doubles as a garden

Even if you have very few flowers blooming in your yard on Mother’s Day, no worries! You’ll have a table bursting with blooms with this fun, easy and inexpensive table setting!

First, cover your table with a length of artificial grass which can be found at stores like Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s. Decorate it with flowers from your local dollar store. Add accents from around the house and garden like garden gnomes, toy frogs and turtles, or artificial birds, nests and butterflies from the local craft store. Put flowers in a watering can in the middle of the table for a centerpiece. Voilà! A beautiful garden for mom!

Mother’s Day Poolside Garden Brunch: Prepare a No-Fail Feast


Mother’s Day Poolside Garden Brunch: Prepare a No-Fail Feast

by Tracy Kunzler

From the editor: So you’ve set the table and decorated the yard, what’s next? Food and drink of course! Tracy Kunzler has lots of suggestions to make mom’s special day refreshing and delicious!

You want to treat mom to a nice meal. You don’t want to give her food poisoning. As she may have mentioned one or 73 times, she had plenty of nausea with the morning sickness that came with carrying you for nine months! So, keep the brunch menu simple and easy, but delicious nonetheless! I recommend the following:

Special beverages

Serve upgraded versions of Mom’s favorite morning drinks. If she’s a coffee drinker, top off her coffee with some whipped cream and cocoa powder or chocolate shavings. If she prefers iced tea, serve a flavored one like peach or blackberry. Instead of typical orange juice, try a new, exotic juice served in pretty glasses and garnished with fresh fruit.

Smoked salmon platter

Create a beautiful platter of thinly sliced smoked salmon (available in the seafood case of most grocery stores), cream cheese, sliced tomato, slivered red onion, capers and mini bagels. An easy but delicious indulgence!

Mini quiches

You can get these in the frozen food section of most grocery stores and heat up per package directions. They often come in a variety pack.

Fresh fruit platter

Cut up an assortment of mom’s favorite fresh fruits and serve with this easy, can’t-miss fruit dip! With a mixer, blend together one 8 ounce package of softened cream cheese with one 15 ounce jar of marshmallow cream and one teaspoon of vanilla extract until smooth. Chill in a serving bowl or ramekin until ready to serve.

This is especially delicious with fresh pineapple and strawberries but will be well-received with any fruit. Have you ever known anyone NOT to like cream cheese and marshmallow cream? If you do, I’d be mighty suspicious of them.

Cupcake “flower” bouquet

For dessert, serve a special treat that doubles as part of the table decorations! Arrange frosted cupcakes (homemade or store bought) in a clay pot to resemble a flower bouquet! &Sweets on Tumblr shows you how.

You can also get small terracotta pots just large enough to hold a single cupcake from the craft or garden store and do one for each place setting for “single flower” cupcake pots!

Mother’s Day Poolside Garden Brunch: Set the Scene


Host a Spa Pool Party For Your Bridesmaids

by Tracy Kunzler

Sp day
A bridal luncheon is the traditional way brides thank their bridesmaids for all they do to make the bride’s wedding day special. We’ve all been to them. They are sweet, lovely, well-intentioned occasions that, on a fun scale of 1-10, typically rate a strong “Meh.” You want to do something especially fun and memorable, and you’ve come to the right place! We have a plan for a poolside spa party worthy of all the time and energy bridesmaids spend on the bride that won’t take a ton of your time and energy. With the top five wedding months being May-September, a poolside spa party makes sense. Besides, who wouldn’t choose “relaxed, exfoliated and manicured by the pool” over “dressed-up and bored indoors?” This is also a terrific party to host for tired moms, stressed-out girlfriends and helpful neighbors! Best of all, even though it appears to be “all about the bridesmaids,” as host, you’ll get pampered too! Check out this easy plan for creating a spa oasis for your girls!

Spa Services

At least five to six weeks before your event, you’ll want to start preparations and figure out what spa services you’ll offer at your party so you can book your professionals. If you have a spa or salon you frequent, ask if it’s possible to book staff for private parties. If you’re holding your party during off hours, you’ll have an even better chance of securing them. Find out if they are able to bring all the necessary equipment – foot baths for pedicures, massage tables for massages, etc. Ask what they’ll need from you as far as set-up, and have it ready for them. There are a number of companies offering mobile spa parties these days, so do an internet search for services available in your area. (One I found in my area offers a “milkshake mani-pedi.” I don’t know what that is, but I’m in!) Another option is to contact local massage therapy and cosmetology schools to see if they have students to recommend. You can often save money this way.

Whichever way you go, I recommend meeting with your techs ahead of time, getting references and making sure the techs are properly trained in the services you want them to provide. I would also book one more tech than you think you’ll need. You don’t want to be caught short-staffed at your event because someone cancelled at the last minute. Be sure to call your professionals a few days before the party to remind them of the start time and go over once more their list of needs. If your budget allows, I recommend negotiating a price for providing each bridesmaid with a mani-pedi and a shoulder massage. If your budget allows for more services, like facials and full massages, go for it! Ask your specialists to arrive 30 minutes before party time to set up.


You can get custom invitations printed through sites like, or you can make your own. We love this one we spied on You have to admit it has a certain “polish” to it! It’s so cute; your girls are likely to save it as a special keepsake. Be sure to print all your party details on the label like date, time, what services will be provided, and be sure to tell guests to wear their swimsuits. You can find all the how-tos here.

nail polish

Set the Scene and the Mood

This party plan offers something appealing to all the senses and offers your busy bridesmaids a chance to slow down and unwind. Just having your party poolside makes for a serene setting. Add to the beauty and serenity of your spa setting with a few “lotus blossoms” floating in the pool. Thanks to water-resistant battery compartments, these beautiful floating lotus flower lights add beauty to your pool both day and night. They’re the perfect compliment to your spa theme.

Floating Lotus Pool Lights

Consider having pretty, comfortable robes for your bridesmaids to wear once they enter your “spa.” Sites like offer specially priced sets for bridesmaids like the ones shown below. Just type “bridesmaid robes” in the search bar. These make for a special keepsake the bridesmaids can wear during the party and again while getting dressed on the big day. At, you can get waffle knit kimono style robes for as little as $10.99 each when you order four or more. There are also services that rent robes for such occasions. Or, if you travel a lot, just take one from each hotel you stay in. Just kidding!

Be sure to load your iPod or smart phone with soothing, instrumental music or nature sounds and play your selections via a pair of portable speakers or docking station during the party. Many libraries have a selection of CD’s of instrumental music and nature sounds you can check out at no cost.

Light scented candles throughout your spa setting. Put out a few containers of scented body butters for guests to apply to hands and elbows. Place a few fashion magazines around. Take clippings of fresh flowers, large leaves and ornamental grasses from the yard to put in vases. Scatter some pillows on your lounge chairs, and set out a pretty basket of your best towels for guests to use.


Being that your party will likely occur just days before your bridesmaids will don the bridesmaids’ dresses they’ve had carefully altered, your guests will probably prefer to eat light. (Believe me, I know from experience Spanx can only perform so many miracles!) We recommend a menu made up of small bites your girls can eat one handed as they sip and receive a mani or pedi by the pool. Keeping portions small will allow each guest to try a taste of this and that, leaving them happily satisfied. Here’s a spa-tacular menu that’s easy on waistlines and hosts!

  • Cucumber-mint water – No spa is worth its weight in bath salts if it doesn’t offer the classic spa drink. Simply add sliced cucumber and fresh mint to a pitcher of ice water.
  • Flavored ice tea – It’s also nice to offer a flavored iced tea such as peach or raspberry.
  • A signature drink – By offering one signature cocktail you make by the batch, you’ll save time and money. We like this Skinny Girl-Inspired Sparkling White Sangria from nutrition coach Linda Wagner. It’s a slimmed-down version of a summer favorite that is beautiful to boot.

Skinny Girl-Inspired Sparkling White Sangria for the full recipe. Simply add the sliced fruit and mint to the wine and then the stevia until desired sweetness is reached. (Linda recommends an alcohol-free stevia.) Let sit for at least an hour in the fridge to let the flavors infuse. You can also freeze half of the fruit and add right before serving to keep the Sangria cold without diluting the flavor.


Spa facial cheese ball – We fell in love with this clever and adorable appetizer from Hungry Happenings and are sure your girls will love it, too! Check out the Hungry Happenings website to see what you need!


Finger sandwiches – Use favorite sandwich fillings to make finger sandwiches. Consider perennial girl favorites like chicken salad, cucumber and cream cheese and pimento cheese. You can buy prepared chicken salad to save time – Trader Joe’s has several delicious varieties – and prepared pimento cheese as well.

Fresh fruit skewers – make up skewers of fresh fruit guests can nibble on while receiving spa services. Seasonal and favorite fruits like strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, pineapple and cantaloupe make a pretty and delicious combination.

Mini dessert tray – Make up a tray of small favorite desserts like mini éclairs and cream puffs (these disappear any time I serve them), mini lemon bars, and cheesecake bites. I will share my secret recipe for these with you: I buy the cream puffs, éclairs and cheesecake bites in the frozen food section of the grocery store. I buy the lemon bars from the bakery and cut them up into smaller bites. I arrange them on a pretty tray with some fresh mint leaves or a few pansy blossoms. You’re welcome!

When Your Guests Arrive…

Greet them with the drink of their choice, offer them robes to wear over their swimsuits if you choose to provide them, and encourage them to turn off their cell phones or at least set them on vibrate.

Discuss what treatments are available and let the guests rotate through the circuit. While they are waiting their turn to have a mani, pedi or massage, let them enjoy a facial mask you can make up easily and inexpensively. This DIY skin-brightening mask caught our eye. Be sure to have enough ingredients on hand to make up enough for all your guests.

Ideal bridesmaid gift – Tradition dictates that a bride gives her bridesmaids a thank you gift such as a picture frame, scented candle or a necklace or pair of earrings for the bridesmaids to wear during the wedding. Tradition once dictated that women were not allowed to vote or show their knees. Present your bridesmaids with a unique, nontraditional gift they will cherish using during your spa party and all summer long like a pool float! Your girls will happily think of you and your savvy gift skills each time they peacefully lounge. Picture frames, candles and earrings are really nice, but I can’t nap, lounge, or tan in any of them! Just sayin’!

Allow guests to rotate through desired service stations and sip and nibble at their leisure. You will have created a spa afternoon so wonderfully Zen, that when the party is over, your bridesmaids will say, “Leave? Namaste right here!”

Check out our Pinterest board for more party ideas!

Follow SwimWays’s board Pool & Beach Party Ideas on Pinterest.