Invite your guests to a luau-themed party and they’ll automatically assume it’s going to be lively, memorable, and fun. Don’t let them down! Here are ten do’s and don’ts for planning a tropical celebration that will ensure your event is a crowd pleaser.

1. It DOES create a Polynesian atmosphere with tiki torches, seashells, raffia skirts around the tables, flowers, and palm trees (real, fake, or inflatable). You can use items you already have, like beach umbrellas, boogie boards, and an ice-filled kiddie pool for drinks. Then check out 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 proper 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. DO NOT forget to inform your guests that they must wear clothing that fits 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 some extra Hawaiian shirts ready for guests who couldn’t find a tropical outfit. You can get them at stores like Walmart late in the season for just a few dollars, or you can try a thrift store.

5. Greet your guests with a flower lei. When you welcome everyone to your luau like this, you set 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 imitation silk flowers available. Even the cheap plastic variety would be acceptable for a casual event. You may also want to have kukui nut or shell flower necklaces for men who prefer not to wear flowers. Of course, the guest of honor must stand out by wearing one that is different from the others.

6. Also PROVIDE real or artificial flowers for guests to wear in their hair. Here is the Hawaiian tradition. If you are in a relationship, place the flower behind your left ear, which is closest to your heart. If available, the flower should be placed behind the right ear.

7. DO NOT 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 get a good laugh. You can find an instructional video or a splurge for a real teacher.

Offer your guests a name tag printed 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 “collect the leis”. At the beginning of the party, he announces that there is a word that is taboo. Think of a common word that people are most likely to slip up and say, such as plate, ice, music, drink, etc. Every time a person makes the mistake of saying that word, he must hand over his lei to the guest he was talking to. Whoever has the most garlands at the end of the party wins a prize.

9. DO NOT feel like you have to limit the menu to roast pork and poi. You can serve pupu plates of Polynesian-inspired appetizers. For a main course, how about teriyaki chicken, coconut shrimp, sweet and sour pork, or ham and pineapple skewers? Provide plenty of tropical fruit. And if you’re adventurous, you might want to try making an erupting volcano cake.

10. DO consider sending your guests home with Hawaiian luau themed favors. End the party with a small keepsake to thank each person for sharing in this special occasion. It will be a good reminder for them of all the fun.

A Hawaiian themed luau party is easy to throw and hugely entertaining. Just follow these tips to create a tropical and festive celebration. It only takes a little effort, but the memories will last a lifetime.

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