Entertaining On The Easy



Break out the tiki torches and the grill! Summer is the perfect time to throw a luau theme party. This casual Hawaiian feast brings the flavor and spirit of the islands to the mainland.

Summer Solstice Soiree


Kukui Nut or Shell Leis

A luau wouldn’t be complete without some leis to adorn your guests. Fresh flower leis are beautiful but pricey. While there are tons of faux flower leis available (ranging from silk to plastic), kukui nut or shell leis are a great authentic alternative.

Kukui is Hawaii’s state tree and the leis made from the dried nuts of the tree were worn by royalty, politicians and other important figures in Hawaiian history. Both men and women wear kukui leis. They make a great favor for your guests to take home. They range in price, but you can buy a fairly nice one for about $8.

Shell leis are also a fun alternative and are generally less expensive than kukui nut leis. Shell leis are usually sold by the dozen. You can give each person one or layer a few together.

Grass Skirt Bar or Beverage Bucket

Decorate your bar, or a simple plastic bucket, with inexpensive grass skirts for a festive drink station. Cut grass skirts on one side of the waist to make one long piece, and tape it around the outside of the bar or bucket. Use as many skirts as needed to go all the way around. Trim the “grass” so that is skims the ground (the bucket will look great on a stand, with the grass long enough to cover the stand).

Authentic Entertainment

You don’t need to learn to hula dance to provide great entertainment at your luau. Just pick up a Merrie Monarch Festival DVD (a video featuring the world’s most prestigious hula dancers competing) and keep it playing during the luau.

Hip Tips

  • Light the way to your luau with tiki torches, which are available for about $5 a piece and can be reused for other outdoor parties.

  • For authentic luau seating, roll out a few lauhala mats on the ground and toss some cushions or outdoor pillows on the mats.

  • Set out beverage umbrellas for a fun addition to your bar.

  • Play some Hawaiian music during the luau. Pick up a few CDs from the Hawaiian section of a music store or make a playlist online.

  • A conch shell is traditionally used at a luau instead of a bell to call guests to the feast or announce the arrival of the guest of honor. Buy a conch shell online and use it at your luau. It’s also a great way to call kids to the dinner table.


This luau menu is a great blend of traditional and modern dishes. Rather than roasting a whole pig, teriyaki chicken and traditional lomi lomi salmon serve as the main course. This menu is great for a poolside shindig or a summer bridal shower for a couple honeymooning in Hawaii.

Luau Menu
Coconut-crusted shrimp with citrus dipping sauce
Lomi lomi salmon
Teriyaki chicken with grilled pineapple rings
Hawaiian rice pilaf
Bib lettuce with mango, toasted macadamia nuts and mint vinaigrette
Fresh fruit plate (pineapple, papaya, watermelon)
Coconut macaroons
White chocolate macadamia nut cookies


Hip Tips

  • Serve lava flow cocktails, a variation on a piña colada with the addition of a strawberry puree (the drink is aptly named because the strawberry puree bubbles up like flowing lava).

  • Piña coladas, mai tais and vodka-spiked Hawaiian punch are also great drinks to serve at a luau.

  • For a sit-down dinner, serve a coconut cream pie or a pineapple upside-down cake instead of the cookies.

*Recipes available at www.hiphostessblog.com.

Ilana Eck is an attorney by day and the Hip Hostess by night. She writes a food and entertaining blog, www.hiphostessblog.com, offering recipes, tips and ideas for hosting with style. Ilana lives in New York City with her husband, Etienne, and doesn’t let her small space stop her from entertaining at home.

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