Party in Five: Hawaiian Luau

Our step-by-step guide shows you how to throw your own Hawaiian luau with only five essential ingredients.

In the summertime, entertaining needs to be easy — so you have more time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the warm-weather eats. We set out to create fun, complete party experiences using only five essential ingredients, from tasty food and drinks to decor and games. Party on!

With summer’s days waning and the temperatures continuing to rise, I’m itching to get in some last outdoor parties — but with a light menu and minimal effort required. To satisfy this entertaining urge, I decided to embrace a classic theme — a Hawaiian luau — and give it a bit of a sophisticated twist. Sure, there’s room for a paper parasol or two, but this affair is all about a clean color palette, natural materials and a light, fresh menu. With Polynesian- and tiki-inspired elements and an island music soundtrack, we felt transported to Hawaii as we toasted and feasted late into the night.

To host your own luau, you'll need five essential ingredients:

  • Leis, made of real or paper flowers
  • Mai Tais garnished with classic paper umbrellas
  • Tropical fruit for decor and menu
  • Exotic leaves and florals
  • Chopsticks and place cards

Click here to see the party in action and get tips on hosting your own luau.

Photo by: Melanie Grizzel ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Melanie Grizzel, 2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Menu

To keep things casual and easy, I served family-style snacks that were easy to share in lieu of a formal dinner. I started with fruit skewers, in keeping with the tropical theme, which I grilled for about one minute per side to allow their sugars to caramelize. Guests washed them down with Mai Tais, topped with more fruit, of course. (Garnish with plenty of fruit and edible orchids, if you’d like.)

To reflect Hawaiian cuisine, which is really a fusion of many different Asian cultures, I recommend serving spring rolls which tap into various Southeast Pacific flavors. ( Click here to get a few spring roll recipes that will fit perfectly with this easygoing party.) Serve them on trays lined with strips of banana leaves accompanied by simple dipping sauces.

For a final thematic sweet, I served macadamia nut caramel corn in banana leaf cones. To make the cones, purchase banana leaves from a local flower market, cut them into squares, shape the squares into cones and run bamboo picks through the bottoms to hold them together. (These are perfect for filling with any kind of party snacks, but the Hawaiian nut-topped popcorn is a great salty-sweet touch.)

Camille Styles is the founder and editor of lifestyle blog, where she shares creative enterta ining ideas for parties and everyday life. She also owns Camille Styles Events, a design and planning firm that transforms ordinary events into extraordinary experiences.

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