Making Luau Decorations

Making luau decorations for your party adds a lot to the atmosphere. Luau parties that include only a few fruit drinks, a few patio lights and perhaps one lei for each guest are pretty lame. If you've had the insight to host a luau, then you've also had visions of grandeur associated with your party. Go the distance! Make decorations that will change the atmosphere from just any old party to a luau party. 

How to Make Palm Tree Scenery
If you don't have a palm tree growing in your back yard and don't have a blow-up palm tree hidden in the closet, you'll need to make a palm tree. Pick up several pieces of blue poster board and a variety pack of construction paper. Tape the poster board on a large wall or on the side of the house. Cut three or four leaves for each tree. Use a brown sheet of construction paper to make three coconuts. Then use about four sheets of brown construction paper to create the trunk of the tree. Cut the brown paper into almond shapes and then create your tree, bit by bit, or cut rectangular shapes that taper from large to small and make your tree trunk that way. Make sure the tree bends to one side, as if shaped that way by the wind.

Tape the palm trees onto the blue poster board. Use yellow construction paper to make a sun or a full moon. If possible, poke holes through the top portion of the scene and insert miniature white lights to depict stars for evening use. If you don't have access to poster board, an old white sheet is perfect. Instead of construction paper, use colored markers to draw the palm trees, the beach and either the sun or a few stars and the moon.

How to Make a Palm Tree Centerpiece
To create a centerpiece with a Hawaiian feel, use fruits and vegetables. For each palm tree you will need three malted milk balls, half of a small, round watermelon and one large carrot. Make a leaf pattern out of newspaper and then place the pattern piece on the watermelon. Trace the pattern with a pencil before cutting it out carefully with a sharp knife. Since you will be using a whole carrot as the tree trunk, make the leaf pattern an appropriate size. It's also important that the leaf pattern is one piece so that it's easier to attach. Create a hole in the center of your leaf pattern to insert the carrot, and secure with toothpicks, if needed.

Set the palm tree on top of a sheet cake. Add a small plastic monkey to the scene. Set the monkey to one side with the malted milk balls lying all around it, as if he just collected them. Use brown sugar to represent sand. Use a blue tablecloth to represent water. You can also create a huge watermelon boat that can "float" elsewhere on the tablecloth.

How to Make a Grass Table Skirt
Grass table skirts are a necessity at a luau. Set up a card table as the bar and string a grass table skirt around it. To create a grass skirt, harvest pompom grass from the garden or use the leaves from corn stalks. Whichever you use, remember to cut the leaves so that they're all about the same length. The cut end should be reinforced with a two-inch piece of masking tape. Place one inch of the tape on one side of the leaf, then fold it over the cut end and secure it onto the opposite side. This will keep the grass from tearing when you thread it together.

Thread the leaves together with a needle and elastic thread. To simplify this project, rather than haphazardly pushing the needle through each piece of grass once before adding the second piece of grass, it's best if you insert the needle into the grass and then weave it through a second time before adding the next piece. This way the grass pieces will take up more space and the skirt will require fewer pieces. For security, the stitching should always be done through the taped portion and should always be about ½ inch down from the cut end. Sew a few fake flowers to the skirt as you work.

Placemats can be made the same way. Just weave them into place and then either sew or hot glue the ends together.

Picture Perfect
Don't forget a place for pictures. Paint a large piece of plywood to look like a man and woman. The woman can be in a full grass skirt with a tiny bikini top, and the man can be dressed in sandals, shorts and a flowered shirt, or a simple bathing suit. Cut out the face area. Guests can stand behind the board and insert their own faces. Secure the board over a doorway with two large potted palm trees on either side to hold it in place.

Making Poi Balls
Poi balls are originally from New Zealand. "Poi" translates to the word "ball" in the Maori language. It is thought that poi balls were used as a form of exercise to help the people keep their hands supple and toned, so that they could weave more easily. Poi balls were also used as a form of entertainment.

To create a set of poi balls, you'll need rice or sand, two freezer sandwich baggies, two handkerchiefs and two lengths of ribbon. Each poi ball should be measured to the user. The distance from the wrist to the underarm is the ideal length for the ball to suspend from the ribbon. Pour equal amounts of rice into several baggies. If it's a zippered baggie, cut the zippered part off. Fold the baggie over and use duct tape to seal it. Wrap the ribbon around the baggie once or twice and duct tape it in place. Then set the baggie into a hankie and pull the ends up around the ribbon. Tie the hankie in place securely.

Grab a poi ball, or two, and start spinning it by the ribbon. Remember to keep the ribbon shorter than the distance from the underarm to the wrist, or you'll be hitting yourself in the face with your poi balls.

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