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Planning a Hawaiian Luau Party

If you are throwing a party, try going with a Hawaii theme and throw your own luau. A luau is basically a Hawaiian feast to celebrate special occasions like weddings, birthday parties, holidays, etc. Like a Texas barbeque, luaus are usually held outdoors, but if that's not feasible where you live, you can hold it indoors. The main thing is for everyone to enjoy the food, the company, and the atmosphere. Throwing a Hawaiian party can be easy and fun if you just follow a few simple steps.

The three things to keep in mind when throwing your Hawaiian luau are: 1) attire, 2) atmosphere, and 3) food. If you plan your party with those things in mind, you should be in good shape. Obviously, the easiest way to add color to your party is to have everyone wear a Hawaiian shirt or dress. You can really take it to the next level by adding a few decorations such as grass table skirts, colorful napkins, props, and wall decor. Ultimately, if you want your party to feel like a luau, you must have the food. If you do even a half reasonable job at all 3 areas, you're party will be talked about for months to come!

Party Tips

Party Invitations - Send invitations to your guest list on island themed cards or, if you send your invitations by email, use tropical clipart. Be sure to ask your guests to wear their loudest or favorite Hawaiian wear.

Hawaiian Names - If you need to make name tags for your guests, consider putting their Hawaiian name on it. 

Aloha - The word "aloha" has many meanings, including hello, love, and goodbye. Greet your guests with a warm and sincere "Aloha!".

Outdoors - If you are able to hold your party outside, give it a try. Being outdoors can give your party a special atmosphere that is hard to duplicate indoors.

Eat with your hands - Ancient Hawaiians ate with their hands. While it may not be for everyone, if you are feeling adventurous, try eating without utensils.

Poi Tips - Poi can be eaten many ways. Some like it plain. Others add sugar. People even mix in some lomi salmon. Experiment to see what suits your taste.

Kalua Pig - Real kalua pig is cooked in the ground. An easy alternative is to cook your pork butt in the oven with some liquid smoke. It tastes pretty much like the real thing, only it's a lot easier.



Hawaiian Shirts and Dresses

Nothing will give your luau more flare than to have all your guests wear their favorite Hawaiian shirt or dress. As a rule of thumb, the bolder and louder the print, the more colorful your party will be.

Lei Your Guests

Give leis (even cheap ones) to guests at your party is a nice fun touch. In Hawaii, leis are usually given to guests of honor. If everyone is wearing a lei, then the guests of honor should have better leis. But for the sake of a fun party, it doesn't really matter.

Flirty Flowers

If you have flowers, especially fresh tropical flowers, have you guests wear them behind their ear. According to tradition, single women should wear the flower behind their right ear. If a woman is taken, she should wear it behind the left wear.


Hawaiian Music

Give your party some luau sounds with Hawaiian music. Traditional, contemporary, and novelty Hawaiian music are all available online at iTunes, Amazon.com, or a number of other online music stores. If you can't have live Hawaiian music, then MP3s or CDs are the next best thing.

Tropical Props

Simple decorations go a long way in creating a tropical mood. Decorate your tables with real or fake flowers, coconut candles, and even a pineapple centerpiece. Tiki torches are another eye catching prop, especially if you light them at night for outdoor parties. Your local party store is sure to have a ton of tropical decorations and props.

Tropical Plates, Cups and Napkins

Another easy way to add tropical flare to your party is to use plates, cups, and napkins with tropical designs. If you don't have access to tropical paper goods, then go with an assortment of bright solid color items.


Kalua Pig - The King of Luau Foods

From our experience, if there is one dish that is universally popular with everyone (except the health-conscious), it is Kalua Pig. If you make only one Hawaiian dish, this should be it. (see recipe)

Tropical Drinks

If Kalua Pig is the key food, then tropical drinks are the key beverage. All you need is a little mai tai mix from your neighborhood supermarket, ice, rum, and a blender. Add color swirls with punch syrup. Top it off with a drink umbrella and a slice of pineapple.

Poi - Love it or Hate it

Perhaps the food that is most associated with Hawaii is poi. Poi will probably be a bit polarizing since some people love it while others hate it. It's not so much the taste but the texture that gets people. People often eat it with other dishes such as kalua pig or lomi lomi salmon. If you don't have access to fresh poi, it can usually be ordered in power form over the internet. Just add water.

Lomi Lomi Salmon

"Lomi" literally means to mash. Lomilomi salmon consists of salted salmon, raw tomatoes, onions, and green onions all mashed together by hand. Your guests will probably appreciate it if you don't use your hands, but that's how it is traditionally made. (see recipe)


Haupia is a coconut pudding that is made with coconut milk, sugar, and starch. If you are easily intimidated by even the simplest recipes, then we suggest going with powdered haupia mix that you can order over the internet. (see recipe)

Lau lau

This is one of the most popular, intricate, and difficult-to-make luau foods. Lua lau is a combination of beef, pork, fish, and taro chunks wrapped in ti leaves and banana leaves, then steamed until the ti leaves become super soft. Impress your chef friends by making this dish.

Mahi Mahi or Other Fish

Since Hawaii is surrounded by the sea, you would naturally expect to find some sort of fish dish at a luau. You don't have to get too ambitious. You can simply bread and bake some frozen mahi mahi filets (quite inexpensive) and serving it with lemon and tartar sauce. If you are a tuna fan, try baking some tuna filets covered with a thin layer of mayonnaise and furikake (a seaweed seasoning usually used on rice).


The Hawaiians ate raw fish, seasoned with salt, seaweed, and kukui nuts. This dish, called poke (poh-keh) is typically made of raw cubes of ahi (tuna) seasoned with combinations of salt, seaweed, soy sauce, sesame oil, kukui nut (if available), onions, and more. If your friends don't like sushi, they probably won't like poke.