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Tips for Hosting a Luau, with Luau Recipes and Videos

Updated on May 25, 2011

Luau ideas, luau tips, luau party food

I’ve always enjoyed a good Hawaiian luau, and I LOVE luau party food. A private club that my husband and I belong to throws a huge luau every year. For several years, I was elected to come up with some decorating luau ideas and to help decorate. My friends and I had a blast! It was a lot of work decorating such a huge space, but it was all worth it in the end. We had the place looking great. If you didn't know better, you'd have thought sure you were attending a real luau party in Hawaii instead of in Georgia!

In addition to my luau experience at the club, I’ve also hosted more than one luau party at my home. We had one last year out on the deck by the pool, and it was a big success!

Below are some tips that might give you some luau ideas for hosting your own luau party!

Lau tips - Luau Foods and Luau recipes

Probably the biggest part of a Hawaiian luau party is the traditional luau foods. Of course, the centerpiece for any authentic luau is the Kalua pig – a whole pig cooked slowly in a pit in the ground. If you want to dig up your backyard and make a cooking pit, great! If not, you’ll probably want to try some alternative luau recipes on the BBQ grill or smoker. Click for some great BBQ cooking recipes!

Everyone loves to eat, and luau foods and luau recipes usually include some dishes you don’t eat every day. Here are some suggestions of foods to make for your luau party:


Smoked cured ham (I explain this in an article below)

Island mahi mahi – sauté the fillets with teriyaki sauce

Smoked Boston butts

Tropical chicken salad – add chopped macadamia nuts and diced pineapple to chicken salad

Grilled sausage

Grilled Huli-huli chicken – chicken grilled with a sauce of brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, and garlic

Shish-kabobs – skewers of meat, bell peppers, onions, and pineapple, brushed with teriyaki


Corn chowder – chicken, diced potatoes, onions, and corn in chicken broth

Bean soup – chopped cabbage, kidney beans, onions, and sausage in a rich broth

Pineapple casserole – To make this, mix together 2 cans of drained pineapple tidbits, 1 cup sugar, 8 Tbs. self-rising flour, ½ tsp ginger, and 2 cups grated cheddar. Place in a baking dish and top with crushed Ritx crackers. Drizzle 1 stick melted butter over top and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Grilled pineapple – brush slices with melted butter and grill

Fried rice

Baked sweet potatoes

Fried egg rolls – serve with Polynesian sweet and sour sauce

Fruit salad – serve this in a basket make from a watermelon or in a pineapple boat

Green salad with sweet and sour dressing


Banana bread

Hawaiian sweet bread


Coconut cake

Coconut pudding

Coconut cream pie

Banana cream pie

Pineapple upside-down cake

Luau tips - Luau Drinks

If it’s a luau party, you’ll need drinks! Have plenty of rum on hand, along with some coconut rum. Popular luau cocktails include mai tais, pina coladas, banana daiquiris, blue Hawaiians, rum punch, and mimosas.

Borrow a couple of blenders so that you can keep several going at the same time. Make sure you have plenty of ice.

For the rum punch, serve it in a large bowl that has been covered with banana leaves. If you use hot glue to attach the leaves to the glass punch bowl, they'll pop off easily after the party without harming your bowl.

Luau tips - Luau Decorations

You can find all kinds of great luau decorations online and at your local party store, or you can make your own. Real coconuts, carved melons, and pineapples can all serve as luau decorations. Cut coconuts in half and use them to hold sauces. Split pineapples lengthwise and scoop out the inside, and use them to serve the chicken salad. Scatter around a few banana leaves – real or silk. Use thatch umbrellas, silk flowers, green plants, and tiki masks. Use seashells and candles everywhere.

If you have an outside bar, turn it into a tiki bar. Gather palmetto leaves and staple them to large, thick sheets of cardboard. Fasten the cardboard to your bar, and voila! A tiki bar! If you use enough leaves so that they completely cover the cardboard, the effect is actually pretty amazing. Palmetto plants grow wild around here, and they're great for luau decorations.

If you have a pool, float some flowers and candles on the surface! Even better, you can easily find some flat candles that are shaped like flowers. We've found that these are stable when floating on the water and rarely turn over.

Don't forget the leis - everyone must have a lei! Leis are musts for luau decorations. Scatter some around the tables.

Luau Ideas for Activities

You probably won’t actually need any activities planned, but in case you want a couple, try these: Have some hula music handy. Watch a hula video beforehand and get a couple of your pals to join you in a hula dance. Or…have a limbo contest. These are really fun, especially after everyone has a few drinks. Offer a gift for the winner.

Luau Invitations

You can find luau invitations that you fill in yourself. These are available online and at party stores. You might even find some at Walmart and Kmart. You can also make your own luau invitations. Use your computer to make flyers or cards. Another idea for luau invitations is to cut out shapes yourself and fill them in. Pineapples are pretty easy to draw and trace. Your Luau invitations don't need to be formal. A Hawaiian luau is super casual and fun!

Check out the luau party supplies below!

Also, you can get more luau ideas and luau tips by reading the articles linked below the luau supplies.


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