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Maybe it’s because they induce visions of lying on the beach watching the sun set over the ocean, but people always want to throw a Hawaiian themed party or luau. The focus on group activities and casualness makes this party idea perfect for any occasion including birthdays, weddings, or just regular get-togethers between friends and family. People have even thrown luaus in the winter to warm things up a bit.

Here is are some tips and ideas for food, drinks, costumes, games, decorations, and music to help you create an authentic Hawaiian experience for your party guests.

Hawaiian Party Decorations Ideas

When decorating for a Hawaiian themed party, think Tropical Island and beaches. You don’t have to go to an expensive party store to find what you need to set the mood. Many items can be purchased inexpensively from dollar and thrift stores. The main thing is to have the party in a good location such as a pool, lake, or even a backyard with lots of flora.

Here are some items that would look great as part of a luau:

  • • Native Hawaiian flowers like hibiscus and orchids
  • • Torches
  • • Grass skirts to wear and for tables
  • • Beach elements like balls, buckets and shovels, towels, umbrellas, sand and seashells
  • • Palm trees
  • • surf boards
  • • tiki masks
  • • Coconuts
  • • Pineapples
  • • Tropical birds
  • • String lights
  • • Paper laterns

Use these ideas to increase the authenticity factor:

  • • Use fruits reminiscent of Hawaii as decoration. Place them on tables, in the corners of decks, and around doorways to give a tropical feel to the party
  • • Place sand and other beach items on tables. Fill wading pools with sand for kids to play in. Create a “lagoon” by filling a long plastic pool with sand at the edges and water in the middle. Dye the water with blue food coloring to enhance the color.
  • • Float native Hawaiian plants on top of pools; uses a table centerpieces
  • • Make a clay volcano. To make it smoke, add dry ice and water to the center

Luau and Hawaiian Party Costumes

Much of the fun of any party is dressing up. Having your guests wear Hawaiian themed costumes will get everyone in the mood to party. Here are a few ideas for dressing like you’re on a tropical beach:

  • • Hawaiian print shirts – the louder the better
  • • Grass skirts and straw hats
  • • Sunglasses
  • • Flip flops or sandals
  • • Floral print dresses
  • • Masks
  • • Coconut bra
  • • Leis – a necessity at every Hawaiian themed party

Take lots of pictures of everyone in their Hawaiian luau costumes so you can make a digital collage and send to all or the party guest or put on your blog. A good way to get people to wear their Hawaiian costumes is to have contests and give prizes for different themes (e.g. most authentic, best couple, etc.)

Party food ideas for Your Hawaiian Luau

Luau means “feast,” so food should be plentiful at the party. Here are some great Hawaiian feast foods.

In Hawaii, luau means feast. This means there should be plenty for the party guests to eat and even have some left over for people to take home. Here are a few Hawaiian party meal ideas:

  • • Roast a pig over an open fire (in a fire pit of course)
  • • Pulled pork sandwiches or BBQ ribs
  • • Grilled salmon or other fish
  • • Hawaiian pizza (great for kids parties)
  • • Shish kabobs featuring pork, chicken, or shrimp, pineapples, peppers, onions, and other tasty vegetables

Of course, you must have Hawaiian side dishes to go with your main course:

  • • Have a large fruit bowl filled with “tropical” fruits like bananas, papaya, coconut, and pineapples
  • • Alternatively, you can make fruit skewers for appetizers
  • • Baked sweet potatoes or sweet potato casserole
  • • Bowls of macadamia nuts
  • • Hawaiian sweet rolls
  • • Poi which is a traditional Hawaii dish made from taro roots. You can find many recipes for it online.

No one should leave the party without having dessert. Here are a few Hawaiian dessert ideas:

  • • Coconut cream pie
  • • Pineapple ice cream topped with macadamia nuts
  • • Pineapple upside down cake
  • • Grilled bananas
  • • Banana splits made with vanilla ice cream; pineapple, strawberry and coconut toppings; and topped with macadamias
  • • Chocolate lava cake or a chocolate volcano cake (see instructions below)

How to Make a Volcano Cake

  1. 1. Decide how big you want the cake. Bundt cakes are good for small- to medium-sized parties. If you don’t have a Bundt pan, you can make a regular cake and just shape it like a mountain. Be sure to cut a hole in the middle for your “smoke”.
  2. 2. Place a cup in the hole, then ice the cake with brown or dark-colored frosting. Make sure the cup stays invisible.
  3. 3. Put warm water in the cup. This will activate the dry ice. To make the smoke red or any other color, add a little Jello or food coloring to the water.
  4. 4. To make dirt on the volcano, crumble some chocolate cookies and sprinkle on the cake.
  5. 5. Add the dry ice when it is close to time to serve the cake.
  6. 6. Alternatively, build a volcano cake and place red ice cream in the middle. It will look like lava when it starts to melt.

Hawaiian Luau Drink Ideas

To parch your guest’s thirst, here are a few fun drink ideas:

  • • If this is a party for adults, then tropical alcoholic drinks will be popular. Daiquiris, piña coladas, and Mai Tais are just what everyone needs to relax. All of these drinks have virgin versions for parties with underage attendees.
  • • Tropical punch; add real fruit like pineapple
  • • Fruit smoothies (great for hot days)
  • • Kona blend coffee (iced or hot)

Here are some ideas for adding some festivity to the drinks:

  • • Use coconut or pineapple shells as cups
  • • Place umbrellas or flowers (fake) in drinks
  • • Put fruit on the rim of the cups
  • • Glaze the edge of cups with sugar water to make a glue, then dip the rim in coconut shavings
  • • Serve flaming shots

Hawaiian Party Games and Entertainment

It’s not really a Hawaiian themed luau party without games and entertainment. In the past, luau games tested the skills of the warriors to see who was the brightest, fastest, and strongest. Here are a few ideas for stirring up the competitive spirit in your guests:

  • • Hawaiian ring toss using Tiki torches. Place unlit torches into the ground and see who can toss the most rings on them. You can also place them a few feet away from each other and see who can toss the rings the farthest.
  • • Hula hoop contest. See who can go the distance and hoop the longest.
  • • Create an obstacle course
  • • Tug of war; Make is interesting and have a mud pit
  • • Create puzzles out of Hawaiian pictures. Alternatively, you can purchase tropical puzzles at dollar stores.
  • • Have a scavenger hunt
  • • Swimming competitions
  • • Place magnetic fish in an area and see who can catch the most with a fishing pole.
  • • Blow up balloons and see who can break the most using blow darts.
  • • Have foot races

Luau Prize Ideas

Here are ideas for prizes for people that win the contests. They don’t have to be expensive. You can get them from the dollar or thrift stores:

  • • Hula hoops
  • • Hawaiian rubber ducks
  • • Leis
  • • Citronella or scented candles
  • • Sunglasses
  • • Beach balls
  • • Tropical fruit basket
  • • Macadamia nuts
  • • Tropical flavored candy
  • • Kona coffee
  • • Hula dashboard doll

More Luau Hawaiian Entertainment Ideas:

  • • Hire fire dancers or fire breathers
  • • Hire hula dancers; alternatively, have an instructor teach guests how to hula
  • • Hire a DJ to play Hawaii-themed music

Hawaiian Themed Music

Whether you hire a DJ or have your own stereo system, no Hawaiian themed party is complete without music. Here are some ideas for a playlist:

  • • Ukulele music
  • • Jimmy Buffet
  • • The Beach Boys
  • • The Surfaris
  • • Don Ho
  • • Reggae
  • • Island or beach music
  • • Sounds of the beach

Be sure to mix in some contemporary music that people can dance to. Also, mix in some Hawaiian favorites:

  • • Cocomo
  • • Wipeout
  • • The Tide Is High
  • • Day-o
  • • Coconut Juice
  • • Summertime
  • • Sweet Escape
  • • Fuego
  • • Beyond the Sea
  • • Little Mermaid soundtrack (kids parties)