Throwing a Luau Party

You can always have a luau party in the summer in the backyard, but consider throwing a winter Luau party and creating your luau paradise inside while the snow swirls around outside, forgotten. Luau party decorations are fun and festive, and the food is easy to plan and delicious. So, why not go tropical and throw a luau party?

The Invitations
For a fun luau party invitation, attach a floral hair comb or wrist bracelet to the invitation. Tell the guests to dress Hawaiian in floral prints and beach attire. For invitations going in the mail, it may be more practical to use paper, but try cutting the paper invitation into the shape of a flower or a parrot to set the mood right away. Write the details around the outside edge of the flower or in the body of the parrot.

Luau Party Decorations
The options are limited only by your imagination: Little white lights, pineapples with helium balloons tied to them, candles, inflatable palm trees, pink flamingos, parrots, plastic hula girls, raffia table skirts, tiki torches (lit if outside), and anything in tropical colors really set the mood. Have a bowl of leis for the guests to put on as they enter. Colorful plastic sunglasses make for a fun choice, too. For an elegant touch, you could also give a single flower with a hair comb for the ladies or for men to pin on as a boutonniere instead. Meet guests at the door and present the flowers, just as if they are arriving in Hawaii. Of course, have island music playing-anything with steel drums, or some Don Ho should do nicely. If you have the skills, play the ukulele.

Activities
Luau party "required activities" include hula dancing, limbo dancing and a hula hoop contest. Hula dancing is fun and easy to learn from videos online. If you want to spice up the party, invite a group of belly dancers for entertainment, or just hire a hula dance instructor. Hula dancing is popular in many dance studios and fitness clubs, so a good teacher is pretty easy to find. Some of your guests may have taken hula dancing lessons before, so be ready for a great time. Even men can participate, and they should be encouraged to try moving their hips. Grass skirts are also inexpensive, and it would be fun if you had a bunch for guests to don for this activity.

For limbo dancing, all you need is a pole or a broomstick. Two people hold the pole, one at either end, and the music plays. Guests line up to dance under the pole, bending backward to get underneath. Once the guests have all gone underneath, those who made it without falling go under again as the pole is lowered a couple of inches. The party goers who get the lowest under the pole win.

A hula hoop contest involves some plastic hula hoops and lots of space. See who can keep the hula hoop spinning around their waists the longest. For an added twist, people can compete to see how many hula hoops they can keep spinning at once. Prizes should be appropriately Hawaiian, of course.

Take pictures of your guests in their island attire, and present the pictures at the end of the party, or send them with the thank-you notes. If you have a digital camera, you could type the thank-you note around the picture. It would be much appreciated and a fun reminder.

Food
Not to worry if you don't know how to make poi. Appetizers and finger foods are luau party fare. Hawaii is famous for its fusion cuisine, so serve food from several different cultures, such as sushi roll pieces, spring rolls, pot stickers, chicken or beef satays. Serve everything with rice. A spinach salad with mango dressing rounds out the party fare. Variations on the theme are just fine, and choose according to your time, tastes and budget.

If you and your guests are adventurous, you might also want to stock up on Spam, a dish so popular with Hawaiians that they even have a take on Spam sushi.

Desserts should also include a taste of the tropics with a tropical fruit spread, including pineapple, coconut, mango, papaya and guava. Consider serving fruit salad in a hollowed-out pineapple half. Or, prepare cake, tartlets, pie or a trifle with tropical fruits.

Drinks
Beverages should be tailored to the crowd, but, generally speaking, include an assortment of non-alcoholic choices (lemonade, ice tea) and tropical alcoholic punch. Serve them in festive island themed cups with little paper umbrellas. You could also make frozen daiquiris, pina coladas or sangria for guests to enjoy.

Many varieties of cup choices are out there, from stemmed plastic ware to fancy flowered clear cups to tiki mugs. If you use stemware, consider making cute island-themed wine charms to go around the bottoms.

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