If you’ve got a luau coming up and want to have some fun before it starts, you can make your own decorations for very little cost and have a lot of fun doing it. Instead of having a regular party, have a luau. You can do it for any occasion no matter what, whether it’s a birthday, wedding anniversary, or just “because.” Keep costs down by getting creative all by yourself with some scissors, magazines, Styrofoam, plastic fish, and a glue stick.
Time to go to the tropics — at least temporarily
Yes, today, you live in the tropics. Or at least, your decorations should give guests that impression. Use images like coconut leaves, palm trees, tropical flowers like hibiscus and orchids, Hawaiian standbys like erupting volcanoes and humpback whales, just about anything that’s going to bring Hawaiian spirit to your party — or should we say luau?
Create collages with pictures of sun-drenched beaches, turquoise blue oceans, beach shacks, sailboats and ocean sunsets to use as party invitations. Send out the invitations in Hawaiian and leave it to your guests to figure out the translation.
Decorate the sides of tables with make-believe grass skirts by cutting green garbage bags into long thin strips not more than 1-1.5″ wide. On a warm day, have a table or ceiling fan working lazily to create an impression of an ocean breeze blowing softly through the hula skirts.
Your luau needs a theme
Use a theme for your luau decorations. How about marine emphasis or beach party theme? Invite the Goddess Pele, to your party. For an ocean theme, find tropical fish that are plastic at a toy store or a party store, then hang them from your ceiling with fishing line.
String them at different lengths to give the illusion, when looking up, that you and your guests are on the ocean floor and the fishes are swimming overhead in the open ocean. Drape plastic seaweed from floor to ceiling, pin up fishing nets on the walls.
Create the appearance of an ocean floor by painting giant clamshells onto cheap secondhand white sheets and draping them over your sofas and lounge chairs. Hang a giant inflatable humpback whale at the doorway to welcome guests and get them into the spirit of the luau.
Beach culture at a luau
Focus on a beach “feel” for your luau decorations. Lowrise tables draped with beach towels, beach balls thrown haphazardly around the room, and beach mats placed on the floor instead of using chairs will give things that definite “beach casual” quality. Have a contest whereby you have guests come in flip-flops they’ve decorated themselves. The person with the most creative design goes home with a Hawaiian prize like a pineapple or a coconut.
And while Hawaii is certainly about casualness, fun and sun, it’s not all that. There’s also a deep and lasting culture of ancient and mystical traditions, which you can also include in your party. You can re-create “old” Hawaii by hanging “ritualistic” wooden masks on the walls or making totem poles out of painted Styrofoam cubes. Old Hawaiian temples called heiaus will give you an idea of what you can do. Find pictures of them to inspire you creative spirit.
Position the temple totems in various corners of the room, dim the lights, use only tiki torches and candles for lighting and paste glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling to create the appearance of a night sky.
You can also create your own volcano out of chocolate. Of course, everyone’s probably going to want a bite, which is exactly the idea. If you want to make it “smoke,” you can use dry ice. These simple ideals will do a lot to make your party into a luau with not much effort. And with them, you’ll have Hawaii’s deep, enduring spirit with you. Aloha! Remember not to take anything too seriously, and just kick back and have some fun.