by Bridget Kulla
It’s summer, the perfect time to fire up the grill and gather with friends. This year, spice it up and plan an authentic luau-style shindig in your own backyard. We find a thriving party is all about tasty food and drinks, plenty of friends and the sound of laughter in the air. And when it comes to a luau, your guests may arrive as friends, but when they leave, they’re “ohana.”
It’s time to pick a date and get your summer soiree in the books—here are 7 ways to plan an authentic summer luau:
Lights set the mood and provide the character and atmosphere of the party. Whether its string globe lights over the patio, Tiki torches lining a path to the bon fire, or paper lanterns dangling from nearby trees. Assess your outdoor space to see where lighting is needed to provide the perfect vibe. Once your luau is lit, be sure to set up some social areas with comfortable chairs and plush pillows in conversation clumps. Pump up the ukulele tunes from an outdoor speaker and sprinkle a few water features, like a stacked-stone or tabletop fountain, to truly set the tone.
Focus on fresh flowers
No matter where you look in Hawaii, you’re never far from breathtaking tropical flowers. Filling your outdoor space with foliage is the easiest and most-authentic way to add aloha. Collect hibiscus, ginger, palm fronds, crotons and orchids, then scatter them throughout your outdoor space—in vases, on tables, even in your guests’ hair. Fresh flowers will make this party come to life, they truly crank up the style and look of the party.
Make your own menu
Good food can shift a party from good to extraordinary status in seconds. Craft a delicious theme menu that’s simple for guests to enjoy. Some Hawaiian-inspired favorites include: Grilled pig, chicken and pineapple skewers, tuna poke bowls, sweet potato salad and Hawaiian BBQ pizza.
Tropical fruit galore
Sweeten up your barbecue with fresh tropical fruit. At a traditional Hawaiian luau, there’s always fruit salad. Pick your favorites from most common Polynesian staples: pineapple, watermelon, grapes, melon, strawberries, mangoes and bananas. Pop pineapple and peaches on stick to grill it up—it’s the perfect pass around treat. A hollowed-out pineapple on its side creates a festive bowl for fresh fruit salad, or you can leave it whole for a fun centerpiece.
Dress for the day
Invite your guests to come donning their favorite bold, bright and floral prints—think Hawaiian-inspired textiles and flowers in your hair. Guests seem to love an excuse to dress in themed duds.
After conversation, some snacks and a few drinks, guests may crave some entertainment. Have a few games on deck and feel out the crowd to see what will get them most in the spirit. You can host a hula hoop competition, limbo tournament, or even a pineapple ring toss.
Create a Tiki bar
Punch up your summer BBQ, literally. Pre-make Mai Tai’s in refrigerated pitchers, then top off vintage Tiki cups filled with crushed ice. Pop a fresh flower, sprig of mint and a mini umbrella in the cup. Guests will love to grab their Tiki drink and sip it down. Keep pitchers of pineapple-mint-infused water nearby too, to ward off the heat of the day.
Have a summer luau everyone will remember—Mahalo!