A luau is a very popular theme for any age and can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. This is especially fun during the warm summer months. A luau can be very inexpensive or more costly, depending on the invitations, decorations, crafts, food, and goody bags. The following ideas are designed for any budget.
To save money, you might consider sending e-invitations. There is no cost, and you can find a wide variety of themes on the Internet to match your party. Also, ask your local party store or grocery store if they have any old decorations, such as grass skirts, tiki poles, or lanterns, that they would be willing to give to you for free. Often major stores have old decorations that they are happy to donate to your party.
Decorations and atmosphere
- Make tissue paper flowers to scatter across your party tables, as well as tissue paper tropical birds.
- Make a flower napkin/cutlery holder out of felt. Wrap the holder around the napkin and cutlery—another way to add a festive touch on a budget.
- Make paper lanterns and hang them on trees throughout your yard.
- Have your guests wear tropical attire, such as their wildest Hawaiian shirt. This will also make for a festive atmosphere.
- Provide your guests with leis as they enter the party. Depending on your budget, you could make these out of string with tissue paper flowers, buy paper or plastic leis, or use real tropical flowers.
- Paint a Hawaiian tropical scene on an old sheet and hang it between two trees. Your guests can use this as a backdrop for pictures.
- Add grass skirting to your tables, light tiki torches (which can be filled with oil that keeps the bugs away), paint or buy a big “Aloha” sign to welcome your guests, and blow up palm tree balloons.
- Use fun cocktail umbrellas in all of your drinks.
- Have Hawaiian music playing in the background.
- If you have a pool, fill it with beach balls. This would also be fun for a small kiddie pool.
- Have a limbo contest!
- Have a hula hoop contest!
- Teach people the hula. Provide grass skirts to your guests to make it authentic.
- Play Pass the Pineapple: Have your guests pass a pineapple around to music. When the music stops, the person holding the pineapple wins a prize.
- Have a relay contest, but with a twist: Fill a suitcase or a big tote bag with clothes that both a man and woman would wear on a vacation. The relay consists of running to the bag, getting dressed in the outfit, running back with the bag, and taking the costume off; then the next person must put on the costume and run with the suitcase to the other side.
- Play Coconut Bowling: Use a coconut as a bowling ball to knock over three pineapple pins.
- Play Pin the Monkey on the Palm Tree.
- Have a tropical piñata. Kids can take home the candy as party favors.
- Send the children home with a hula hoop or an inflatable beach ball.
Food and beverages
- Set up a Snack Shack, a cute storefront where guests can get snacks and goodies.
- Serve fruit salad, (try to include some tropical fruits like pineapple), veggies with ranch dip, crackers and cheese, and chips and dips.
- Barbecue chicken, steaks, and kebabs on the grill. Serve Hawaiian pizza.
- Make fresh pineapple boats.
- Have the kids create their own fruit skewers for dipping in chocolate and other sauces.
- Serve a kids’ punch, including cherries with the umbrellas for extra fun!
--Lisa Kothari, Peppers and Pollywogs
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