Special touches of Aloha turn a good luau into an amazing luau! Below are tips and suggestions to easily create an amazing luau or Hawaii themed celebration anywhere!
The Hawaiian word "Lu'au" (pronounce loo-ow) means 'a feast'. A luau is not necessarily a public affair on the luau grounds of a Hotel. For the people who live in the Hawaiian Islands a luau is a gathering of family and friends to enjoy good food, good company, and good times! There may or may not be spontaneous ukulele or guitar playing by uncle, with everyone singing, and auntie dancing the hula.
Luaus are a fun way to enjoy quality family time. In Hawaii luaus are held for occasions like birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, bridal & baby showers, rehearsal dinners, weddings receptions, family reunions, class reunions, office parties, award banquets, etc. Having a Luau theme party allows anyone to enjoy a bit of Hawaii wherever they are.
The tips and ideas provided below and within this website make it easy to create a fun authentic Hawaiian luau anywhere anytime!
Send Hawaii Theme Invitations
to Your Luau Guests
You can easily create your own luau invitations using your home computer and printer. There are many free to use fonts and graphics available online to download. You can also add touches of Hawaii to professionally printed invitations if you are not the creative type. Incorporate popular words and phrases as well as translate the guest(s) of honor first names into Hawaiian and address the invitation to include the invited guest's name into Hawaiian!
Encourage Your Luau Guests to Wear Hawaiian Attire
Hawaii attire is very popular and many people have a Hawaiian shirt or dress in their wardrobe, especially those who have visited Hawaii. Since Hawaiian attire is popular many stores offer it. Thrift stores are also a great resource for Aloha attire. The internet also makes acquiring Hawaii attire anywhere just a click away.
The Guest(s) of Honor Should Wear A Lei
In the Hawaiian culture a lei is a garland typically made of real flowers, silk flowers, nuts, shells, leaves, or feathers. Leis can be worn around the neck, head, wrist, and ankles. A lei is a great way to acknowledge someone of great importance, such as a guest of honor. A lei can also be given to express love, appreciation and show respect. If all of the guests will also be wearing leis the guest of honor should wear a different lei or a fancier to make them stand out. For men who do not want to wear flowers popular masculine leis are maile leis or kukui nut leis. Maile leis are green leafy vine looking leis. Kukui nut leis are made from the nut of the state tree and in ancient Hawaiian times were only give to people of great importance since they were very sacred. Silk leis, kukui nut leis and shell leis recommended as a nice economical alternative to fresh leis which require expensive express shipping and special packaging because they are perishable. There are now many lifelike looking silk leis which will look amazing for the entire event and not fade like fresh leis, they also make a great keepsake from the special celebration!
Have a Hula Girl or Girls Welcome Your Luau Guests with Leis
If you would like to adorn all of your luau guests in leis a great thing to do is have one or a few girls dress in Hawaii attire or as hula girls and greet each guest as they arrive with a lei. Silk leis or shell leis are the most economical options when you plan to adorn a number of people in leis. Shell leis are the most cost effective lei available and make great keepsakes from the luau.
Use Loose Blooms to Decorate
Lifelike silk loose plumeria blooms are great to use to decorate, they really turn an area into a tropical paradise and will not wilt or turn brown in the sun. They can also be used to decorate buffet displays, dining tables, the bar, lawns, and dance floor. Combine the loose blooms with items like hula wigglers, tropical wooden bowls with macadamia nuts and pineapple hard candy, Hawaii theme guest book, or fresh pineapples to create festive table centerpieces and guest book table decorations. Encourage your guests to pick up a loose bloom and for the men put them in a button hole. For the ladies they can easily put them in their hair by using bobby pins.
Create Tropical Table Centerpieces
Easily create tropical centerpieces for your luau using items like dashboard hula wigglers, fresh pineapples, lifelike silk plumeria blooms, tropical wooden bowls with macadamia nuts and pineapple hard candy, candles in real bamboo or coconut shells, and silk, kukui nut or shell leis. They really set the Hawaii mood and then you can give items like fresh pineapples and dashboard hula wigglers away as game or door prizes to your guests at the end of the luau.
Use Strands of Flowers to Decorate
Strands of flowers are the easiest way to add a tropical touch to arches, line the isle, decorate fences and table skirts. wrap around trees, bushes, stair railings and more.
Silk flower strands will be the most durable in outdoor or warm settings so they don't wilt or brown and look beautiful for your entire event. After your celebration is over you can reuse the silk flower strands as beautiful Christmas tree garland and a wonderful keepsake from your special celebration!
Tiki Torches Make Great Decorations for Day or Evening Luaus
Tiki Torches are a great way to add a tropical atmosphere. If the luau is in the evening the torches can be lit, if the luau is during the day the tiki torch makes a great flower arrangement holder. To use as a flower arrangement holder as shown, remove the fuel holder and put the fresh or silk flower stems in it's place. Orchid sprays, shower tree branches, anthuriums and other tropical flowers are great for tiki torch flower displays. Lightweight chiffon fabric can also be tied between the tiki torches to create an isle, section off areas, etc. Tiki torches are typically available in home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes and can also be found in the patio section of stores like Walmart and Kmart.
Have Candles in Real Coconut Shell or Bamboo on the Tables
For evening luaus candles in real bamboo or coconut shells are great to place on the tables and fill the air with the fragrance of Hawaii.
Provide Name Tags for Your Guests with Their First Name Translated Into Hawaiian
Luau guests find it fun to learn what their name would be in Hawaiian. Using your home computer and printer create name tags using label stickers. Print on them your guests first names translated into Hawaiian.
Hawaii Flower Behind the Ear Tradition
Have lifelike silk plumeria or orchid blooms available for your guests to wear behind their ear. The tradition in Hawaii is if you are single the flower should be worn behind the right ear and if you are taken then the flower should be worn behind the left ear.
Use Fun Items for Food and Beverage Presentation
*Rather than using a typical cooler to store your canned and bottled beverages fill up a plastic or blow up kiddy pool with ice and use that!
*Instead of typical serving bowls and platters to serve punch, salads, macadamia nuts treats, chips, or other buffet items use large sea shells or beach pails as a fun alternative. Small shells are great to hold condiments like salt and pepper.
*Use grass skirts to go around the outside of tables.
*Use fish nets and sea shells to decorate tables, the patio and/or dance floor areas.
*Use beach sand or pool filter sand to the decorate patio and/or dance floor area.
*Rather than using sand to decorate food display tables and dining tables where it could get into food use brown sugar instead.
Serve Popular Luau Foods
Introduce your luau guests to foods and beverages which are favorites in the Hawaiian Islands by serving items such as kalua pig, teriyaki beef, mahi-mahi, laulau, mochiko chicken, shoyu chicken, huli-huli chicken, chicken long rice, potato-mac salad, lomi lomi salmon, haupia, macadamia nut cream pie, mochi, mai tais, and blue Hawaiians. We offer recipes for these and more so you can make them yourself or hire a caterer to make them for you. We also offer recipes specific to having a luau theme Thanksgiving dinner and a luau theme Christmas party.
If you go to a luau in the Hawaiian Islands you are usually able to see how an entire pig is roasted underground in a traditional Hawaiian imu pit which is an underground oven. It takes a day to prepare the imu pit and a day to slow roast the pig in the pit. It is a lot of work but the meat just falls off the bones and is very tender and delicious. This roasted pig is called kalua pig. We offer directions on making kalua pig using an authentic Hawaiian imu pit. We also offer easier methods for making kalua pig by oven roasting it or using a slow cooker in our popular luau foods recipes.
Serve Poi, A Traditional Hawaiian Luau Item
Poi is a starch food that typically accompanies an authentic Hawaiian luau. Poi was eaten by the ancient Hawaiians and is attributed to keeping them so healthy. It is still enjoyed by people in Hawaii as a side dish or a snack. Poi accompanies dishes like Kalua pig and laulau really well. Poi is made from the taro root which is similar looking to a yam root. To make poi the taro root is pounded repeatedly with a heavy rock or wooden implement called a poi pounder and mixed with a little water at a time until the taro is mashed and the consistency of pudding. Poi is purple in color and is traditionally eaten with the fingers. Eating taro can be compared to having mashed potatoes with a meal but is much healthier for you. For your luau you may now want to pound your poi yourself since it is a lot of work. There is now an easier way to get poi then pounding it, it is to make it from dehydrated poi. It is 100% taro which was made into poi then all the water is removed to create the powdered poi. You only need to add water to the powdered poi and you instantly have authentic Hawaiian poi without all the work of having to pound it yourself. We offer Hawaiian Powdered Poi in our Island Gift Shop!
Serve Tropical Fruits
Pineapples, papaya, mango, oranges, and bananas are all popular fruits that grow and enjoyed in Hawaii. Feel free to add in some other fruits like kiwi, strawberries, and grapes to create things like fruit salad or fruit skewers. Fruit also be grilled, served with ice cream or chocolate sauce, or just enjoyed in it's natural state! Papaya, pineapple, and mango each can be used to create yummy salsas as well!
Pineapples and papayas are an excellent side to serve at any luau because they both have have enzymes that aides in digestion. When picking a pineapple out at the grocery store they should be yellow in color and give off a sweet smell. Pineapples do not ripen any further once they are picked so be sure it is ripe and smells sweet! Sometimes pineapple can be a bit too acidic and may actually burn the lips and mouth. If your pineapple is too acidic sprinkle it with salt to counter act it and bring out the sweetness!
Decorate the Luau Cake With a Hawaii Flare
Use adorable Hawaiian or tropical figurines, lifelike silk orchid or plumeria blooms, or even silk leis to easily turn any plain cake into a tropical delight! Whether you bake the cake yourself or get a store bought cake this is a simple but impressive way to decorate the cake for your luau.
Click here for popular luau cake recipes.
Serenade Your Luau Guests with Hawaiian Music
There are several options to add Hawaiian music to your luau and many different styles of Hawaiian music to choose from!
*Hawaiian bands are located all over the USA and you can hire a band to play live for your guests. Google "Hawaiian band" + the name of your town or state to locate them.
*Play cds of Hawaiian music or download Hawaiian music from iTunes.
*Stream a Hawaiian radio station for music on your computer or smart phone.
Teach Your Guests to Hula & Hold a Hula Contest
Hula is how ancient Hawaiians documented their history and shared it with others. It not only is dancing but story telling. Hula dancing is now popular all over the world! You can hire a hula dancer to come to dance for your guests and even teach them a few hula moves! Google "hula" + the name of your town or state to locate them.
You don't have to hire a professional hula dancer, you can learn how to hula and teach your guests! We offer information on basic hula moves on our website. There are also many videos on YouTube to teach simple to complex hula dances. Click here to view information on basic hula moves.
Have Your Luau Guests Make A Lei
A lei is a garland of flowers and is most commonly worn around the neck but can also be worn around the head, wrist and ankles. It is not difficult create basic leis using tropical flowers, like orchids, or using flowers more common to where you live like carnations, rosebuds, bozu, daisies, etc. Silk flowers can also be used! Leis are fun to create and making them will be a memorable experience for your guests.
Click here for our instructions on how to create basic flower leis.
Hire a Fire Knife Dancer to Perform
Fire knife dancing is a popular at commercial luau's in Hawaii however, it is not actually a Hawaiian tradition, it is Samoan. But it is spectacular to see and a fun event for any luau! There are fire knife dancers located all over the world and you can hire one to perform at your luau. Google "fire knife dancer" + the name of your town or state to locate them.
Offer Props and Fun Backgrounds for Fun Memorable Luau Photos
A fun way to get luau guests in the mood is to put on Hawaiian music, props, and a fun background to get them acting a bit silly and take photos to remember the luau! Some popular props are hula skirts, coconut bra, bikini tops, old fashion bathing suits, snorkel mask and flippers, silk leis, stuffed parrots, tiki mugs, ukulele, etc. You can make backdrops and props out of cardboard like surfboards, tikis, sharks, tropical fish, giant pineapples, etc. There are companies that can be hired for parties that have props and a photo booth or you can create the experience yourself. Don't forget to take a group photo!
Play Fun Hawaii Theme Games
Entertain your guests by playing fun Hawaii theme games that everyone will enjoy like the tacky tourist relay, toss the coconut, musical beach towels, hula hoop races, judge who has the loudest aloha shirt and more!
Have a Hawaii Theme Guest book for Luau Guests to Sign
Set up a guest book table with a Hawaii theme guest book. Have your guests provide their email address so you can email them photos from the luau as well as thank them for attending.
If you have loose blooms on your guest book table you can also have a sign on the table asking your guests to please sign the guest book and take an bloom for behind their ear or for their button hole.
You can create a festive guest book table by using a Hawaii theme guest book, dashboard hula wigglers, fresh pineapples, lifelike silk plumeria blooms, tropical wooden bowls with macadamia nuts and pineapple hard candy, candles in real bamboo or coconut shells, and silk, kukui nut or shell leis.
It may be challenging to acquire Luau decorations items locally, however, luckily Amazon makes it easy to create a fun Luau with a huge selection of luau items! Below are our top Amazon picks which complement our tips to easily create a fun festive Luau or Hawaii themed celebration anywhere.
Couple Matching Hawaiian Luau Outfit
Father Daughter Matching Hawaiian Luau Outfit
Matching Mother Son Hawaiian Luau Outfit
Lifelike Silk Pakalana Pikake Puakenikeni Lei set of 6
Lifelike Silk Bougainvillea Lei
Lifelike Silk Plumeria Lei
Silk Plumeria with Orchid Lei
Lifelike Silk Pakalana Pikake Maile Lei
Lifelike Silk Deluxe Maile Lei set of 6
Lifelike Silk Maile entwined in Pikake Lei
Real Dovetail Shell with Cowry Shell Leis set of 12
Mixed Set of 50 Silk Party Lei
Hawaiian Wood Bowl Candle
set of 2
Luau Invitation in a Bottle set of 12
Luau Set with 100 Foot Lei Garland, Table Hula Skirt, and Silk Hibiscus Blooms for Decorating
Luau Napkins, Plates, Table Cloth, and Decorations
Aloha My Name Is Name Stickers
Hula Wiggler for Decorating
Bamboo Paper Drinking Straws
Lifelike Silk Ti Leaves for Decorating
Lifelike Silk Monstera Topical Leaves for Decorating
Five Pack Fresh Hawaiian Pineapples
Fresh Hawaiian Papaya 8lb case
Fresh Strawberry Papaya 6 pack
Hula Girl and Hawaiian Dude Life Size Face Cut Out Photo Prop
Hand Held Luau Photo Props
Real Coconut Bra, Real Raffia Hula Skirt, and Silk Lei Set Photo Prop
Lifelike Silk Ti Leaf Hula Skirt
Fresh Orchid Lei Making Kit
"A Friend in the Islands is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com"
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All content on the website was written by Mike or Kim Crinella. All photographs on the website were taken by Mike or Kim Crinella, were submitted to A Friend in the Islands by a website user, or were Public Domain Fair Use at the time of publication.