Invite your guests to a luau theme party, and they will automatically assume it will be lively, memorable and fun. Don’t disappoint them! Here are ten do’s and don’ts for planning a tropical celebration that will guarantee your event will delight the crowd.
1. DO create a Polynesian atmosphere with tiki torches, seashells, raffia skirts around the tables, flowers and palm trees (real, imitation or inflatable). You can use items you may already have, like beach umbrellas, surf boards and a kiddie pool filled with ice for drinks. Then browse party supply stores for more tropical decorative touches.
2. But DON’T go crazy trying to make it authentic. After all, you’re not orchestrating a genuine luau for a major island hotel. You don’t have to hire Hawaiian fire dancers or have a pig roast to make it a great party.
3. DON’T forget to let your guests know they should wear clothes that fit a luau theme. You can suggest Hawaiian shirts, sundresses, shorts, straw hats and even bathing suits, if it’s a pool party.
4. DO have a few extra Hawaiian shirts ready for the guests who couldn’t find tropical attire. You can get these at stores like Walmart at the end of the season for just a few dollars, or you can try a thrift store.
5. DO greet your guests with a flower lei. When you welcome everyone to your luau this way, it sets the mood for the entire party. You don’t have to spend a lot of money buying fresh garlands imported from the islands. There are beautiful silk flower imitations available. Even the cheap plastic variety would be acceptable for a casual event. You also might want to have some shell or kukui nut leis for the men who would rather not wear flowers. Of course, the guest of honor should be set apart by wearing one that is different from the others.
6. DO also provide real or artificial flowers for the female guests to wear in their hair Here’s the Hawaiian tradition. If you’re in a relationship, you place the flower behind your left ear, which is closest to your heart. If you’re available, then the flower should be placed behind your right ear.
7. DON’T spend a lot of money on Hawaiian CDs for background music. First, check your public library. They have a wide range of music available to borrow for anyone with a library card.
8. DO include some activities with a tropical theme. Provide hula lessons and you’ll have a lot of laughs. You can find an instructional video or splurge for an actual teacher.
Give your guests with a printed name tag with their name translated into the Hawaiian language. There are many websites with this information. Encourage everyone to refer to each other by their Polynesian names.
You can play “gather the leis”. At the beginning of the party, announce there is a word that is taboo. Think of a common word that people are very likely to slip and say, like plate, ice, music, drink, etc. Whenever a person makes the mistake of saying that word, they have to surrender their lei to the guest they were speaking with. The one with the most garlands at the end of the party, wins a prize.
9. DON’T feel you have to limit the menu to roast pork and poi. You can serve pupu platters of Polynesian-inspired appetizers. For a main dish, how about chicken teriyaki, coconut shrimp, sweet and sour pork or ham and pineapple kabobs? Provide plenty of tropical fruit. And if you’re adventurous, you might even want to try making an erupting volcano cake.
10. DO consider sending your guests home with Hawaiian luau theme favors. Cap off the party with a little memento to thank each person for sharing this special occasion. It will be a nice reminder to them of all the fun.
A Hawaiian luau theme party is easy to put together and enormously entertaining. Just follow these tips to create a festive, tropical celebration. It only takes a little effort, but the memories will last a lifetime.