When hosting a party, a luau is a great theme for a wide variety of occasions. Whether you're celebrating a graduation, an engagement, a child's birthday, or just want to do something fun with your friends, luau parties can be adapted to make sense for almost any audience.
Since luau parties are overwhelmingly tropical in theme it's fitting to have your luau party outside during nice weather. Whether it's in your backyard or at the beach, the outdoors is definitely a friendly environment for grilling food. It can also be fun to be a little different and have a luau party inside during the colder months, as it can re-ignite people's spirits from the monotony of winter as they look forward to the warmer months to come.
Tiki torches are a must if your party will be outside, as they're quintessential in Polynesian-themed events. They lend a practical aspect as well, providing light to your party as it goes on past sunset. If your party audience skews more towards adults, you can delve into the kitschy 50s tiki cocktail culture direction by utilizing wooden tiki heads, sculptures, candles, and medallions. Anything surf and hula-girl-related is good for more casual luau parties, while decorating with large palms, tropical plants, bouquets, garlands, or leis of hibiscus and plumeria are especially nice for fancy or formal luau affairs. Whichever way you decide to go with the décor, the color green is generally the base for creating color schemes and communicating the luau theme well. It's a good idea to add colored Christmas-type string lighting in addition to any tiki torches you'll have. Pink, purple, and yellow compliment the basic green color scheme well.
Luaus typically center on a Hawaiian feast, making what you serve or cook one of the more important choices you can make in the party planning process. Whether you're having a large barbeque-style feast, a small gathering for dinner, or just want to add just a little bit of authenticity or festivity to your menu, here are some Hawaiian and Hawaiian-style dishes you may want to serve or cook at your luau party:
In terms of cocktails, punches are always a great party idea, though you'll want to have a rum base for the punch as well as any other cocktails. Rum is traditionally used in most tropical drinks. Mai Tais, Piña Coladas, Daiquiris, and Blue Hawaiians are typical fare, though if you're serving those who are underage, you can easily make flashy and fun non-alcoholic versions of these cocktails. If you want to be extra festive, get some cocktail umbrellas and coconut-shaped glasses for serving.
As far as the music is concerned, traditional Hawaiian music, more contemporary Hawaiian music (such as Israel Kamakawiwo'ole), surf rock, or anything featuring the ukulele and/or the lap steel guitar are all great ways to go. Internet radio or automated music recommendation service programs can be an easy solution if you're not sure exactly where to start.
If you're hosting a children's luau, games like hula freeze dance (similar to freeze tag and musical chairs) and Hawaiian tourist relay (in which children in teams race to put on Bermuda shorts, sunglasses, hats, etc., do a quick hula dance, and take off all the "tourist" clothes) can be fun and relevant to the party theme. Photo station areas with props like surfboards, sunglasses, grass skirts, coconut bras, etc. are always a crowd-pleaser and a great way to remember (and show off) how much fun your party was. If you are more into crafts, weaving palm frond fans and making leis are relatively simple projects and can be a fun activity for smaller groups or as a separate station area in a large party. Hula hooping, Aloha volleyball (played with a beach ball and much simpler rules), and the limbo are standard tropical party games, appropriate for almost any demographic.
Now is the time to go all the way with anything in your closet that might be over-the-top tropically themed to wear in any regular situation. If you’re not feeling as adventurous, though, there are still many small touches you can make to your outfit so you can still feel a part of the festivities. Here are some ideas: