Nothing breaks up the monotony of a long, cold winter like a fun and unexpected “theme” party! When the temperature outside is dropping, why not turn up the heat inside and invite your friends to spend a few hours on the island of Bali Hai. There are so many easy ways to set the mood — from the décor, to the food, and of course, the music!
Hawaiian luau décor
Transport your guests to the tropics with bamboo (placemats, shades used as wall panels, platters), tropical/island themed fabric (I prefer swatches of vintage fabrics), tropical scented candles, large tropical leaves like monstera and cordyline, and of course, orchids.
Orchids are a natural and easy way to add the beauty of the islands and can be used in so many different ways. Here a few of my favorite ideas, using orchid varieties that are available right now from 1-800-Flowers!
Greet guests with Hawaiian leis
In the beautiful islands of Hawaii, everyone wears floral leis. They are a symbol of love, friendship, celebration, honor and as a way to say “Aloha!” You can make the leis in advance and greet each guest with a warm and special welcome. Or set up a “lei-making station” and let your guests enjoy making their own during the festivities. In Hawaii, people often include shells, feathers, leaves, seeds and nuts in their leis.
How to make a lei in 6 easy steps
- Stem of full blooming flowers
- Monofilament fishing string
- With craft or household scissors, cut the monofilament or fishing line to the length you want your lei to be, adding 6 inches so that you can tie the ends off to create the lei.
- Thread the needle with the cut fishing line. Tie a knot about 3 inches from one end of the fishing line to establish a “stopper” at the starting point of your lei.
- With the florist’s scissors, cut a bloom from an orchid stem. Insert the needle through the base of the bloom and gently pull it along the fishing line to the starter knot.
- Repeat the process for all the blooms, lining them up one with the other so that they rest inside each other with their anthers facing the same direction.
- When the lei reaches the desired length, tie off the ends of the fishing line in a knot and snip off the excess.
- Place the lei around the neck of your special someone and say “Aloha!”
Decorating a luau with cymbidium orchids
You can do so much with a single stem of cymbidium orchids. A single stem has between 8 and 10 blooms. Each individual flower can be used on its own to decorate a place setting, adorn a cocktail glass or gathered together around a pillar candle to create a truly original arrangement. Here are a few examples for inspiration:
Hawaiian luau cocktails & refreshments
There are lots of tropical-themed cocktails that are perfect for a luau, like a Blue Hawaiian, Bay Breeze, Mai Tai, Pina Colada or Bahama Mama. You can also mix up your own concoction—just serve it in a tall Zombie style glass decorated like the one above and you can’t go wrong!
Hawaiian luau music
Create your own Hawaiian luau music playlist and be sure to include a few of these songs:
- Don Ho – “Tiny Bubbles”
- Elvis – “Blue Hawaii”
- Trio Kailua – “My Little Grass Shack”
- Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
- The Soundtrack from the Broadway play South Pacific
- Jack Johnson – “Anything”
When your guests are leaving at the end of your fabulous party be sure to thank them for celebrating with you by saying: “Mahalo nui loa na ho’olaule’a me la kaua!” (Thanks for celebrating with us!)