Luau/Tropical Party Theme for Adult Parties: Social or Business Events
By Patty Sachs and Phyllis Cambria

Transport your party guests to a tropical paradise complete with the exotic refreshments and decorations blended with authentic music, entertainment and theme-based activities.

The ideas listed here range in complexity to suit many personal preferences and requirements. They are designed to inspire you and guide you as you plan your special occasion. Have a great time brainstorming, planning and enjoying your fantastic party.

Sending a "message-in-a-bottle" invitation is* perfect for this island theme. Write the party particulars on a 5" x 7" sheet of tropical-patterned paper, roll up and tie with a ribbon. Insert into a recycled, plastic soda bottle with a few seashells, sand, tiny flowers and a tropical drink paper umbrella. Decorate the bottle with themed stickers, attach a mailing label and take to your post office to mail. (Note: Send one to yourself first to judge its condition and to determine length of time it takes to arrive.)
* Write the invitation on a long strip of paper and insert into a conch shell. Mail in a recycled, decorated mini milk carton.
Print your invitation copy* with a paint pen on the inside of a large clam or scallop shell. Mail in a small box or cushioned envelope.
Pen the wording on green construction paper cut* into the shape of leaves, and attach to a silk gardenia or other exotic flower. Add a drop of gardenia oil to the flower to add to the experience. Send in a long, thin box designed to mail flowers. (These can be found at florists, floral suppliers and box manufacturers locally or via an online supplier.)
Find* travel brochures or magazine photos to an island getaway, and use labels to insert your invitation copy. Send from “Your Name” Travel Agency with an itinerary of your party.
Send invitation information printed on a tag that* is attached to a plastic lei. Place in a plastic, self-sealed storage bag, add a colorful address label and mail, as is, from your post office.

Tropical togs is the dress code for this island* getaway.
Bright floral prints or hot colors, fishnets, seashells, leis,* tiki torches, surfboards, and plants will turn any party site into an island retreat.
Add luau decoration items from party supply stores or catalogs.*
Hang travel posters and photos of exotic island locales on your walls.*
Float candles in bowls half-filled with colored water.*
Drape* tropical floral print sheets on your furniture.
Wire toy birds to plants* and trees.
Play sounds of the sea, island drums or rainforest tapes and* CDs.
Set up a faux grass-hut for souvenirs and mementos to be purchased* with tokens won during activities.
Candles, tiki torches and strings of* theme lights will illuminate an evening event.
If the party is indoors,* replace your lampshades with paper lanterns from party or import stores.

• Greet guests with name tags on which their Hawaiian name is printed, along with their name. Url here.
• Rent or borrow from your library movies or travelogues with a South Seas locale. Try “South Pacific,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Gidget Goes Hawaiian,” “Hawaii,” or any other videos that appeal to you. If you like, turn the sound down and just play the video for added atmosphere.
Check with local dance studios or cultural groups to see if* you can find a hula dancer to perform, and then have him or her give lessons to your guests.
Host a hula contest, complete with hula skirts. (Hula hoops* add a touch of whimsy.)
Get your guests to try making sounds with a conch* shell. (It's more difficult than it looks.)
Invite everybody up to limbo* under a bamboo pole.
Hold a Don Ho sing-along.*

Make a Planters or pineapple-based punch.*
* Serve drinks in pineapples or coconut shells (These are generally available in the produce section of your local market.) Plastic varieties are available at party stores. Add pineapple wedges, orange slices or tropical paper drink umbrellas, or novelty straws.
Scour thrift shops to find souvenir glasses* from Polynesian-themed restaurants. These are also often available through local or online bar supply companies.
Serve pineapple chunks topped with a* maraschino cherry on a toothpick, in a pineapple skin. (You can sprinkle with brown sugar if the pineapple is not sweet enough.)
Baste chicken wings* with a pineapple, mango, kiwi or other tropical fruit glaze.
Prop up a* surfboard on chairs or sawhorses to use as your buffet table.
Serve your* meal in shell-shaped bowls, bamboo or rattan trays, bowls inserted into straw baskets, on trays lined with large, clean and bug-free leaves, pineapple skins or coconut shells.
Serve goldfish crackers or candies in the shape of* undersea creatures in a goldfish bowl.
Cook or buy barbecued spare ribs,* fried rice (add pineapple chunks for a more tropical flavor), sweet and sour pork or chicken, crab Rangoon and other delicacies which seem appropriate.
* Wrist leis double as napkin holders.
Use brightly colored straw plate* holders.
Serve vanilla ice cream topped with shredded coconut, pineapple* chunks, and/or tropical fruit jam in coconut shells for dessert.

Party Prizes/Favors:
Give tapes or compact discs of island* tunes.
Award a copy of the book “Hawaii” by James Michener as a grand* prize.
Find souvenirs of island getaways at thrift shops and garage sales* or on Internet auctions.
Upon arriving, all guests are given a plastic,* silk, fresh or shell lei and a kiss on the cheek.
Take instant photos of* your friends in front of a tropical backdrop and slip into an inexpensive frame from a dollar store or thrift shop you’ve hot glued with seashells. Plain cardstock frames are also available for customization.
Colorful straw* beachcomber hats will add to the fun and the memories as well.
Gourmet* items such as jams, jellies, coffees, candies in gift basket sizes are party favor favorites.

Back to Special Occasions

About the Author
Patty Sachs and Phyllis Cambria, Jacksonville, FL USA
Well-known celebration experts, Patty Sachs, (author of party planning guide books: Pick A Party: The Big Book of Party Themes and Occasions (1997), Pick A Party Cookbook (1998)) and Phyllis Cambria, authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Throwing a Great Party (Alpha Books/Macmillan 2000.) The pair collaborate on entertaining articles and party plans and are co-owners of an on-line party consultation service.

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