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Luau Summer Party Ideas

Updated on April 8, 2013

Get Your Limbo On - It's Time To Party!

Summer is such a wonderful season! Warm, sunny, and inviting--summertime is the best time to throw a party. And what better theme for a summer party than a luau?

The origins of the luau date all the way back to the early 1800's in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1819, King Kamehameha II of Hawaii, along with his wife, Queen Kaahumanu, decided it was about time to put an end to all of the social taboos associated with celebrations. For example, up until the first luau, only citizens of high status were permitted to eat certain foods; the lower classes could not consume these foods. In addition, oftentimes women were not allowed to dine with men!

The king and queen were forward thinkers (for their time) and made the decision that they were done with these taboos! They felt that everyone should be able to dine and celebrate together and that all people, of all statuses, should be able to mingle together and enjoy the same foods!

Hence, the luau was born! The luau theme of equality and celebration quickly became attached to every type of special occasion, such as birthdays, harvests, holidays, and victory celebrations such as successful hunts.

Today, luaus are synonymous with Hawaiian culture and the names are used interchangeable (luau party/Hawaiian party). Luau parties are all about celebrating the joys of life--delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables from the harvest, grilled meats from the hunt, tasty beverages, bright colorful decorations, traditional Hawaiian music, and great friends to party with!

How To Throw An Amazing Luau Party!

It's All About the "Island" Mood!

Setting the correct tone through decorations and entertainment is the best way to get the luau party theme of celebration across to your guests. By using bright colors, paradise/tropical themed decorations, and playing traditional Hawaiian music in the background, you'll be sure to get your guests in the island mood!

Decorate with popular Hawaiian-themed décor such as tiki torches, grass skirts, leis, palm trees, tropical fish, coral, and birds...just go all out! As long as you're using bright colors and Hawaiian inspired props, you really can't go wrong! Offer enough tasty beverages and I'm sure you'll end up with plenty of guys willing to participate!

Be sure to have a limbo game going on, perhaps a hula-hoop competition, coconut bowling, and maybe even a grass skirt and coconut bra runway walk!

Anything you can do to lighten the mood and put your guests into the "island state of mind"; almost so that they feel like their on a tropical vacation! I'm sure some great food and fruity drinks (or beer!) will help you attain this goal!

Get Your Luau Party Supplies Here!

Coconut Cups with Straws, 16-Ounces, 5.5-Inches tall (1-Dozen)
Coconut Cups with Straws, 16-Ounces, 5.5-Inches tall (1-Dozen)

Instead of boring dixie cups, try these coconut cups. You add your drink, screw the top on, and add a straw.

Tiki Pinata
Tiki Pinata

If you're celebrating a birthday party, this pinata would be awesome! Fill it with tropical-flavored candies and silk flowers


What's A Celebration Without Food?!

The Hawaiian people know how to celebrate, and lucky for us, a great luau celebration always involves delicious foods! Following are some yummy traditional Hawaiian recipes and some fantastic tropical themed beverages! It's not a real luau without these classics!

Traditional Ahi Poke Recipe

Made with the freshest raw ahi tuna, poke makes a great pupu (appetizer) for any meal.


* 4 cups ahi (yellowfin tuna, sashimi grade) diced

* 1/2 cup onion, minced

* 1/4 cup green onion, minced

* 1 cup soy sauce

* 2 tablespoons sesame oil

* Hawaiian salt and pepper to taste


This is the most basic recipe for ahi poke, served as a pupu or appetizer at most luaus and Hawaiian dinners.

Season ahi with Hawaiian salt. Add all ingredients, mix well then chill.

Image by

Kalua Pig

Even if you don't have an imu, you can still make Hawaiian kalua pig at home from pork butt purchased at your local supermarket.


* 4-5 pound pork butt

* 2½ tablespoons Hawaiian salt (substitute kosher salt)

* 2 tablespoons liquid smoke

* 1 banana leaf (substitute 4-5 whole, unpeeled bananas)

* 4-6 ti leaves (substitute aluminum foil)


Trim any excess fat from the roast. Make several shallow long cuts along the roast or pierce liberally with a fork. (This allows the salt and liquid smoke to penetrate the meat.) Rub with salt and liquid smoke. Wrap the roast with banana leaf or in the absence of same, place whole bananas on top of meat .

Cut the ribs from the ti leaves and wrap over the banana leaf. Substitute aluminum foil, if ti leaves are not available. (Ti leaves can often be obtained from a local florist). Tie securely with twine.

You can either roast in an oven at 325-350 degrees for about 45 minutes per pound or slow-grill on an outdoor grill. When meat is done, remove ti leaves, banana leaf (or bananas) and shred pork.


Huli Huli Chicken

Hawaii's own version of barbecued chicken is cooked with Huli-Huli Sauce (made with pure Hawaiian brown sugar cane along with soy sauce, fresh ginger and more).


* 4-5 lbs chicken pieces

* 1/3 cup ketchup

* 1/3 cup soy sauce

* 1/2 cup brown sugar

* 3 tablespoons sherry

* 1 piece ginger root, crushed

* 1 clove garlic, crushed


Combine ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, ginger root, and garlic. Stir well.

Place chicken, skin side up, on the rack of broiler pan about 6 inches from the heat or preferably on an outdoor grill.

Baste the chicken frequently and continue broiling or grilling for about 10 minutes on each side or until chicken appears done.

Photo by

Lava Flow Recipe

There are numerous variations for making a Lava Flow. This biggest difference is that some recipes use 1 oz. of light rum and 1 oz. of Malibu® coconut rum. When Malibu® coconut rum is unavilable you can use 1 1/2 oz. of light rum and 1/2 oz. of coconut cream.

Prep Time: 05 minutes

Cook Time: 05 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes


* 1 oz. light rum

* 1 oz. Malibu® coconut rum

* 2 oz. fresh or frozen strawberries

* 1 small banana

* 2 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice

* 2 oz. coconut cream


Blend the 2 rums and the strawberries in a blender to form a smooth paste. Pour this mixture into a tall (Collins or Hurricane) glass. Rinse the blender. Blend the banana, the coconut cream, and the pineapple juice in blender with crushed ice until smooth.

Pour this mixture into the glass with the rums very slowly and watch as the strawberry mixture oozes its way to the top along the sides of the glass creating the flowing lava effect. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and paper umbrella.

Photo by

Blue Hawaii Cocktail

There are numerous variations of this recipe, many using Creme de Coconut, but this is the authentic recipe.

Prep Time: 01 minute

Total Time: 1 minute


* 3/4 oz. Light Rum

* 3/4 oz. Vodka

* 1/2 oz. Blue Caracao

* 3 oz. Pineapple Juice

* 1 oz. Sweet & Sour Mix


Combine all ingredients and mix well. If using ice, mix the ingredients in a blender. Serve in a tall glass. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry.

Waikiki Champagne Punch

A fresh, delicious and refreshing drink for those who don't like hard liquor. Use fresh pineapple juice when possible.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes


* 1.5 qt. fresh pineapple juice

* 2 - 750 ml bottles of dry or semi-dry champagne, chilled

* 3 cups of pineapple chucks in juice

* 1 lemon sliced

* 1 lime sliced

* 2 - 3 oranges sliced

* 2 cups strawberries

* ice cubes as needed


Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl or large stew pot. Add ice cubes. You can garnish the punch with pieces of any of the fruits used in the punch.

More or less champagne can be used depending on the party. Pink champagne can also be used.

Don the Beachcomber
Don the Beachcomber

Tiki or Luau? What's the Difference?

Though the word "tiki" is Polynesian, not Hawaiian, they are often interchangeable and both celebrate everything about summer. While a luau focuses mainly on the food from Hawaii, a tiki often conjures up bars, surfing, retro 50's memorabilia, colorful and kitsch art, torches and humanoid faces carved into wood.

The whole tiki concept actually originated with a Hollywood bar and restaurant called "Don The Beachcomber", opened in 1934 and still operating today. The owner, Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt (with marketing savvy, he legally changed his name to "Donn Beach"), sailed around the south Pacific for several years, taking in Polynesian culture. Its mix of Polynesian-themed décor and fruity drinks was an instant hit, and pretty well created the concept of the fruity cocktail. Some quintessential tiki cocktails invented at the restaurant include the zombie and the mai tai!

Limbo: the Official Rules of the Game

We think of the limbo as a fun party game. But to the ancients that inhabited Trinidad, limbo was a dance of great significance. Today, entertainment and Caribbean tradition meet whenever we try to shimmy underneath that bar.

Though some ideas and specifics have changed, other rules of limbo have carried over through the centuries. Here are today's time-honored rules for playing limbo:

1. Line participants up beyond the limbo bar.

2. Two people hold the limbo bar at either end. (A bar support can also be used.)

3. The first participant goes underneath the bar without touching it, and without touching his/her hands to the ground. The other participants follow, one at a time.

4. If anyone hits the bar with a body part, that player is disqualified.

5. After the first pass, the bar is lowered approximately 2". Remaining participants try to go under the bar without touching it and without placing their hands on the ground. Disqualified players step down, the bar is lowered another 2" and the players who are left try to go under the lowered bar. This process is repeated until the end of the game (see #6 below).

6. The official ending rule of this game is "last man/woman standing." After each participant is deemed "out" due to touching the bar, falling, or using his/her hands in a forward position under the bar (i.e. crawling), the last person still in line receives a prize.

There's many different ways to make a zombie, but all include rum, rum, rum and rum! Here's my favorite way to make it:


  • 1 ounce white rum
  • 1 ounce golden rum
  • 1 ounce dark rum
  • 1/2 ounce 151-proof rum
  • 1 ounce apricot brandy
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • splash of lime juice
  • splash of Grenadine


  1. Mix all ingredients except 151 rum into a cocktail shaker. Shake, then pour into a tall glass with ice. Top with the 151 rum. Since the alcohol content is so high, you can light it if you wish! Or just garnish with some fruit and a colorful umbrella.
Cast your vote for The Zombie Cocktail
Photo by Lydiat/flickr
Photo by Lydiat/flickr

Mai Tai cocktail

When you think "tiki", "luau" or "delicious fruity summer drink", a mai tai usually comes to mind. It literally means "good!" in the Tahitian language. That about sums it up! It's great as a punch, so multiply the recipe below (which serves one) to make a lot. The the zombie, it can be made many different ways. My favorite is the one below.


  • 1 part dark rum
  • 2 parts white rum
  • 1 part orange Curacao
  • 1 part Amaretto
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part pineapple juice


  1. Pour the alcohols except the dark rum into a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice, strain into a tall glass already filled with juice. Add the dark rum to the top. Garnish with pineapple and orange wedge.

Here Are Some Other Helpful Luau Themed Links!

These links will help you come up with even more great ideas on how to throw the ultimate luau party!

Some Great Finds On eBay!

eBay is a great resource for hard to find items!

We'd Love To Hear What You Have To Say! - Leave Us A Comment!

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like the idea of the Huli Huli chicken. Will have to give it a try.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 

      6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I love those recipes. thank you!

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 

      6 years ago

      Alcoholic drinks don't appeal to me, but your meat recipes look delicious. I enjoyed this lens anyway, by the way. I would love to be able to go to a luau on Hawai'i.

    • themeaparty profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thank you for all the comments!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      You have so many fun and fantastic ideas here.

    • CharMarie profile image


      6 years ago

      Love the lens! Would love to go to a real luau sometimes! Thanks for sharing!

    • aidenw profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Your lens brings back fond memories of my wonderful time in Hawaii. The kalua pig is my favorite Hawaiian food. Great job!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      This sounds like such fun! You did a great job explaining the traditions, sharing the recipes, and providing great photos. Thanks so much!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      great idea!!!! :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great party ideas :P

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great party ideas :P

    • NibsyNell profile image


      6 years ago

      What an amazing idea! :) I love the sound of those cocktails, especially Lava Flow!

    • best-writter profile image


      7 years ago

      Very valuable lens. I will make some of the cocktails you describe it.

    • Themed Party Id profile image

      Themed Party Id 

      7 years ago

      Hey there Chris. Your article on the luau party theme is really very extensive: I love the history; and there are so many ideas to make this themed party complete. Good job!

    • themeaparty profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @Themed Party Id: Thank you! I had fun "testing" the cocktails :-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I would really enjoy all the tropical fruit at a Hawaiian party. I think the Kalua Pig sounds really good too.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Sweet pictures.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      We have a tiki bar and beach in our backyard. It is always nice to get some new tho'

    • themeaparty profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @aquarian_insight: Thank you! It's sweltering here right now. Time to bring out the tiki torches!

    • themeaparty profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: Great idea! I'll try it, as my 5 year old always asks for fruity drinks when we (uh hum) have ours, so she gets orange juice.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      7 years ago

      I like Kalua Pig and Blue Hawaii... Thanks for recipes. A ate a part of them in our vacation in Hawaii, but I didn't get the recipes until now.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a fabulous lens! Everything you need for a fab summer party. *blessed*

    • jlshernandez profile image


      7 years ago

      I would love to have a luau party at my backyard. Sounds like so much fun without having to fly to Hawaii. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You could make the lava flow with sprite for the wee ones.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Being the first day of summer and sizzling here in the Northeast (US) presently, your luau summer party lens seemed apropos. We're planning a little shindig here for next weekend. Thanks for the great ideas.


    • themeaparty profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @ElectricianClasses: Oh, it so is!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great lens! I love all the recipes you've included.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Man! That Blue Hawaii Cocktail looks awesome!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have to try this zombie cocktail and the mai tai cocktail when I have a luau party. And while this is a good idea for a summer party, I am thinking about doing it for Halloween. In the cold of winter, a luau party may raise the temperature a bit.

    • IYenForZen profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens. I love a good luau!

    • RobininColorado profile image


      7 years ago

      I can't wait for summer. We will definitely be having a luau... Colorado style.

    • youthministry profile image

      Paul Turner 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Al.

      Great job!

    • squid-janices7 profile image


      8 years ago

      What a FUN lens! The Kalua Pig and Blue Hawaiian drinks look so yummy. Summer is a great time to throw a luau inspired party.


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