What do you do when you’ve got the sweetest little girl turning seven years old and you’re too busy with work and your younger child to do much about it? You let someone else do the work, that’s what you do. In this case, that would be my former-caterer stepmother, who knows how to take the things you can find at everyday places like Party City and The Dollar Store and turn them into one big ball of awesomeness that was my niece’s Luau theme party.
To be fair, there are some over-the-top aspects of the party that most wouldn’t take on, like the giant slide, table and chair rentals, miniature beach, and all the extra greenery that was brought in for the event. But don’t be fooled by the sheer abundance of decor, most of it can be found very easily and implemented in unique and creative ways to pull together a party people will be talking about for ages to come.
All big parties need to start with a grand entrance, right? In this case, the driveway was taken over with giant palms, a tiki archway, an “Aloha” sign and a colorful chalkboard welcome sign, all of which set the tone for this luau theme party. While bringing in giant palms and a full-size tiki archway may be out of most people’s budget, the chalkboard sign framed in Hawaiian leis is a simple touch just about anyone can pull together.
Upon entering the backyard, guests were greeted with a 65-foot tiki-themed waterslide, multiple dining areas, and even a mini-beach (so glad I didn’t have to clean up after that). T only went down the slide a couple of times in the arms of her uncle, but she’s still talking about it nearly two months later! Don’t have room for a giant slide or the budget for an inflatable pool? Add some inflatable palm trees to the top of a slip and slide for plenty of fun.
One of the best tips I’ve learned from my stepmother is to go out of your way to make guests comfortable. For example, when hosting any kind of water-themed party, set aside an area for items guests may have forgotten. Extra towels, sunscreen, sun-visors, and sunglasses help to make your guests feel welcome.
Inside the garage, guests were transported to a tiki bar. The ceiling was covered with fishnets and seashell wind chimes, which are available at most party stores. Grass beach mats lined the walls, and every horizontal surface was covered with beachy decorations. One of my favorite details was the ribbon skirt on one of the tables. It just goes to show that luau party decor can go beyond just grass table skirts and tiki torches.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with the menu, too. Even bell pepper and cucumber strips look festive with flowers as garnish. Plenty of veggies and other snacks were there to satisfy the adults, while the kids drank Gatorade slushies, ate fruit kabobs, chowed down on Hawaiian pizza, and noshed Sweet Maui Onion Chips. (Those are delicious, by the way!)
Another fantastic, low-cost lesson from this party: Make the most of your favors by using them as decor! Colorful grass skirts and leis were clothespinned to a string to create a colorful banner behind the mini beach. And bracelet leis were twisted around the stems of colorful Dollar Store tiki goblets. Simple touches like this are inexpensive and easy, but can really take your decor over-the-top.
As if that wasn’t enough, the kids were all treated to a professional hula dancing lesson after snacks were eaten. T tried to join in but was barely able to do more than bounce along. It was adorable to watch her try. Why not try to learn a few hula moves before the party and conduct a lesson yourself?
Even though she’s barely 2-years-old, our little girl is still talking about how much fun she had at this party. It’s easy to feel inadequate when you go to parties like this and your budget is barely one-tenth of what it must have cost. But by paying close attention to the details, you can often find that you can recreate a similar impression even with limited resources.
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Sharing at the parties listed at the bottom of this page.