Two years ago we threw no less than 4 Luaus in our backyard — one for a wedding, one for a family reunion, one for a Bring-A-Friend Mutual activity, and one for our friends. Now that we consider ourselves experts, :) here are some ideas and tips from our Luau experience:
You can get your guests’ Hawaiian name from AlohaFriends.com – they also have game ideas, recipes, and luau related products.
These invitations were a MAJOR hit! People were so impressed that I actually had people tell me they thought they were junk mail from a tourism company and nearly didn’t open them!!!
Some of the games listed above are pretty self-explanatory, but here are some instructions for others:
Coconut Bowling – I used 1 liter bottles filled half-way up with water. Then I put a little food coloring in each bottle (different colors in each of the 10 pins). I decorated the bottles to look like little hula dancers with a skirt made out of a 5 in wide strip of brown packaging paper. I cut 1/2 inch slits along the length of the “skirts” up to 1 1/2 inch from the opposite edge and curled them like you do curling ribbon. I just taped them to the bottles. For “hats” I did the same thing, I only used about 3 inch wide strips and taped them on the lids upside down. They looked awesome.
Kill the Watermelon – this game was also very popular. One of my hubby’s cousins can flint stone and makes arrowheads. He made some real mini “spears” out of some river reeds and some 2-3 inch arrowheads. He put feathers and beads on them to make them look cool. We cut a watermelon in half and had people stand at different distances to test their accuracy with the spears. Tons of fun! You could probably also use a stick with a sharp point on the end if you don’t have arrowheads.
Beach Ball Blanket Bounce – at the family reunion luau, the adults ordered a mini beach ball for each child at the reunion. They put all the beach balls on a blanket and let the kids try to bounce out the beach ball that had their name on it by tugging on the ends of the blankets. This was fun because even the tiniest kids could play.
Best Hawaiian Tourist Contest – Our winner had that white sunscreen on his nose, 4-5 cameras, black socks with sandals, and a straw hat. Also lots of fun.
Learned how to dance the Hula – Some one brought a video they bought at Oriental Trading and showed the others how to dance the hula. Fun.
You can roast a pig or serve ham, but after FOUR luaus, we decided Hawaiian Pizza was easiest – this is a regular cheese pizza with pinapple chunks and canadian ham or bacon. You can even make your own pretty cheaply. Yes, we did serve ham at the wedding luau — pizza just wouldn’t do for that.
We also did picnic/finger foods like potato salad, chips and dip, vegetable trays, and fruit trays. We added a little luau flair with tiki shaped toothpicks and longer wooden skewers with foil monkeys and palmtrees on them. All of the doodads came from Oriental Trading
Shasta makes a “tiki punch” or you can buy Hawaiian punch. Lemonade also works well.
My personal favorite drink is Sprite with a spoonful of frozen strawberries. Be sure to use the frozen strawberries that are in the sugary surup, not the plain fruit. Not only does this look fancy, but the frozen strawberries keep the drink cool, and the syrup gives the Sprite a sophisticated flavor.
At the wedding luau, we took pictures of guests as they arrived beneath a sign we made that said “Welcome to Hawaii”. We took down email addresses and emailed the photos to everyone after the luau. This was nice for both the wedding guests and the bride and groom, and helped us make sure we had pictures of all the guests.
We also displayed a photo of the bride and groom at age 1 in funky Hawaiian frames I found at the dollar store.
Everyone loves to get a lei at this type of activity. For the wedding luau, I bought cloth leis for the bride, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen, grandmothers, and mothers — everyone else got the cheap plastic kind. The nicest cloth leis actually came from the dollar store and came with a matching bracelet.
We also found that the younger girls (and YW at the mutual activity luau) loved to get Flower Hair Clips. Some of the girls even wear their hair clips to church still. You can get the hibiscus flower hair clips I used at Oriental Trading for $3.95/dozen.
Hawaiian Names and Name Game:
We got the guests’ Hawaiian names from AlohaFriends.com and gave them a name tag when they arrived, along with 5 clothespins. Every time someone calls you your real name instead of your Hawaiian name, you take a clothespin from them. At some point during the luau, give an award to the person with the most clothespins.