What Are the Best Tips for Throwing a Hawaiian-Themed Party?

Emily Pate

The best tips for a Hawaiian-themed party are those tailored to a host or hostess' budget, schedule, personal taste and planning style while allowing him or her to throw a party that has unmistakable Hawaiian style. Important elements such as invitations, food, d├ęcor and activities are all highly customizable to best suit the type of party being given. Hosts and hostesses can also substitute items or ideas to work with what is on hand, if necessary.

Sushi can be good for a Hawaiian-themed party.
Sushi can be good for a Hawaiian-themed party.

Invitations set the mood for a Hawaiian-themed party long before guests arrive. Send out invitations that let the invitee know whether to expect a casual outdoor luau for the entire family or an elegant evening of cocktails and dinner. An invite that looks like a grass skirt with construction paper and raffia, for instance, could herald a luau cookout, and an invite printed on luxurious stationary with a tiny orchid on the top corner likely signals something more formal. Make invitations to save money, and add a handmade touch to the design, or order them to save time or if the event is extremely formal. Homemade invitation kits generally cost less than ordering professionally printed invites, but they still can be customized on a computer or with embellishments.

Shrimp cocktails are a fitting food to serve at a Hawaiian-themed party.
Shrimp cocktails are a fitting food to serve at a Hawaiian-themed party.

A Hawaiian-themed party menu should be based on the nature of the occasion, how many guests are expected, how much food the host or hostess would like to provide and how much work he or she would prefer putting into preparation. If the party will be a huge luau with a large number of guests and no sit-down meal, serve Hawaiian appetizers and snacks on a buffet table or served on trays. Hawaiian appetizers featuring meat and seafood are called pupu platters. Skewed teriyaki, chicken, sushi, vegetables and shrimp are common in heavy pupu platters when a hostess wants to fill guests up a bit more. Light pupu platters consist of cold items such as vegetables and sushi.

Decorate for the Hawaiian-themed party according to the type of party, the host or hostess' personal taste and budget. A tiki bar built from raffia, bamboo and folding tables adds ambiance for a more elaborate party where cocktails are being served, and a host or hostess who is throwing a smaller get-together might simply wrap a beverage tub in a grass skirt made from raffia for a similar effect. Tropical touches such as orchid blossoms or individually potted orchids, tiki torches, bamboo place mats and party-ware in bold colors such as pink, yellow, orange and red complete the look for a Hawaiian-themed party.

Plan activities that celebrate the party's theme. The classic game limbo involves guests taking turns walking under a pole hoisted horizontally and lowered throughout the game so that players have to bend backward and clear the pole without falling. To get everyone dancing, hire a hula expert to teach a beginning class, then give away prizes to guests who are willing to dance for everyone.

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Discussion Comments


@ocelot60- Have a Hawaiian shirt contest. You can judge the participants on several categories, such as the brightest colors, the prettiest design, and the ugliest style. Your guests will have a lot of fun, plus having everyone dress in Hawaiian-style shirts will brighten up the party and fit the theme perfectly.


@ocelot60- I want to a Hawaiian-themed party several years ago that featured a pineapple eating contest. Guests who wanted to participate had to eat as much pineapple as possible in 30 seconds. The person who ate the most won. Limiting the contest to 30 seconds also prevented people from eating so much pineapple that they got sick. It was messy, but everyone had a lot of fun!


I'm planning to host a hawaiian-themed party this summer, and I like the idea of having a contest for the guests. My problem is that most of my friends either don't know how to dance, or don't like to dance! I'm looking for some other contest ideas for my party that my guests will enjoy.

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