Plan Your Own Luau!

November 4, 2010, 10:25 AM HST · Updated November 4, 10:25 AM
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In Hawaii, luaus are held to celebrate a first birthday, a high school graduation, or some other event, and they are a great way to add a festive theme to your special day.  They are held outdoors under tents or the open the sky, and tables are decorated with elaborate centerpieces of ti leaves, palm fronds, ferns, red ginger, orchids, and other native Hawaiian flowers.  Musical entertainment is usually an acoustic guitar and ukulele, and there is always hula.

When throwing your own luau, you want to transport your guests to a different place so remember that creating the ambiance is almost as important as the food.  You can decorate with either silk or fresh flowers (fresh will be more expensive), and can go so far as to order tropical foliage from Hawaiian vendors who regularly ship to the 48 contiguous states.  Tiki torches are another nice addition.

A traditional luau table has a runner of ti leaves with a towering construction of ferns and flowers at its center.  The same Hawaiian vendors who will ship decorative flower arrangements can make you authentic centerpieces that will be sure to impress.  You can also fasten raffia or sarongs to the table edges to make them even more festive.

Greet your guests with leis and have loose flowers available for them to put behind their ears.  If your party is mix of different social groups, tell the women to place a flower behind their right ear if they are single and behind their left ear if they are not.  Then put on some dreamy Hawaiian music and watch sparks fly.

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If you can’t find a Hawaiian band, or don’t want to pay for one, you can buy CDs that range from traditional Hawaiian slack guitar to reggae, download them onto your computer and put together your own mix.  If you live near a metropolitan area, there may be a hula school nearby.  If there is, either take hula lessons and put on a show for your friends, or hire dancers to entertain your guests during dinner.

Serve the food buffet-style and include traditional Hawaiian delicacies suck as Kalua Pork, Chicken Luau and Aloha Sweet Potatoes, and encourage your guests to eat with their hands.  You should also serve tropical cocktails such as Mai Tai’s with a pineapple and parasol garnish.

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