How To Throw A Summer Luau Without Trying Too Hard

June 02, 2017

How To Throw A Summer Luau Without Trying Too Hard

Good news: Your luau does not need to replicate a Hawaiian paradise in your backyard—that would be impossible (unless you live in Hawaii). Your goal is to capture the spirit of a Hawaiian getaway, but it’s still easy to get carried away. How do you know if you’re on the verge of overkill? Read on to find out and course-correct, when necessary.

For the Decor

Overkill: There are grass skirts, leis, and Tiki torches everywhere. Suddenly, your sophisticated soiree looks more like a frat party. 

Doable: Mix neutral pieces with a couple of select kitschy touches for balance. For example, place one or two Hawaiian-themed throw pillows on your outdoor sofa, instead of ten. Hang a string of novelty lights shaped like pineapples, but keep the other outdoor lighting modern. Complete the look with a few themed citronella candles that fend off bugs and provide a stylish wink. Boom–you’re done!

For the Table Setting

Overkill: Putting out your fine dinnerware and glasses, and hope that no one drops anything while doing a hula dance.

Doable: Achieve an island vibe on your table with tropical-themed dinnerware made from melamine, a shatter-resistant material that can handle a case of the dropsies. And don’t forget to grab wine glasses that can also take a fall.

For the Food & Drinks

Overkill: You spend hours making fancy hors d’oeuvres and cutting enough fruit to feed a small village. On top of that, you roast a large ham covered in pineapple rings, and mix individualized drinks on demand, complete with umbrella garnishes.

Doable: Choose simple, healthy munchies like a crudité platter. Prepare one or two quick and simple dips a day ahead, like this spicy hummus or a BLT blue cheese dip that can also double as a salad dressing. Make your life even easier by using a pineapple slicer to cut fruit. And you don’t need to buy the whole farmers market. Aim for one cup of cut-up fruit per guest.

For the main dish, your guests will enjoy munching on shrimp, beef, and chicken skewers that only take five minutes to cook on the grill. Add sliced veggies, like peppers and onions, to bendable skewers to maximize grilling space, and serve on a pineapple cutting board. Instead of playing bartender all day, whip up a big pitcher of sangria. This recipe includes a light, summery rosé.

For the Party Favors

Overkill: You carefully assemble and wrap individual party favors by hand, replete with guests’ names on each box.

Doable: Give guests useful, inexpensive bamboo coasters, and send a group email with photos you took from the party. And send us a mahalo later.


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