Grab some tips from a professional event planner and copy these amazing luau party ideas.
Inside you’ll find including Dollar Tree party ideas, tropical decorations, kids food, and a set of free printables to download.
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. She knows how to take easy-to-find items from Party City and The Dollar Store and turn them into one big ball of awesomeness.
And this amazing backyard luau for my niece is the perfect example.
To be fair, there are some over-the-top aspects of the party that are outside the average budget. Things like the giant slide, table and chair rentals, the miniature beach, and all the extra greenery add up very quickly.
But don’t be fooled by the sheer abundance of decor. You can adapt many of the unique and creative ideas to host a party people will be talking about for ages to come.
RELATED>>>>REAL TIPS FOR PLANNING A PARTY ON A BUDGET
Luau Party Decorations
Start with the Perfect Welcome
For this party, the driveway was taken over with giant palms, a tiki archway, an “Aloha” sign and a colorful chalkboard welcome sign. Talk about a grand entrance.
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.
If you’re on the crafty side, you can also use a cutting machine like the Cricut to cut out an abundance of tropical leaves to create a similar effect over your doorway. (so much more affordable!)
Set the Stage by Setting the Table
So, you may not be able to import a 10×20 foot beach to your backyard, but you can definitely copy some of these luau party ideas from this awesome table setting:
- Start with brightly colored linens on your tables (tip: shop your home for bedsheets and washable blankets)
- Make luau themed centerpieces using Tiki tumblers and faux plants. (or you can buy actual tiki planters, too)
- Layer on some raffia and palm leaves (Tip: take apart a cheap grass skirt for the raffia, and use a cutting machine to cut out palm leaves)
- Add Dollar Tree luau themed goblets at each place setting
Luau Decorations Around the Food
Behind the mini beach was a detached garage that was transformed into a ‘tiki bar’ with some awesome creative takes.
- Decorative fishnets and seashell wind chimes were draped from the ceiling
- Grass beach mats lined the walls
- A ribbon skirt is a great alternative to grass skirts on tables
- Glass beads and seashells were scattered all over the tables, and
- Tropical flowers garnished most of the food
I have to admit, that ribbon table skirt is one of my favorite touches. It just goes to show that luau party decorations can go beyond grass table skirts and tiki torches.
RELATED>>>>SEE HOW WE ADAPTED MANY OF THESE IDEAS FOR OUR FROZEN-THEMED LUAU PARTY
Double-Duty Luau Party Decorations
One of the best lessons from this party: Make the most of your favors by using them as decorations!
- Colorful grass skirts and Hawaiian leis were clothespinned to a string to create a bright and cheerful banner behind the mini beach.
- Bracelet leis were twisted around the stems of the Dollar Store tiki goblets.
- The grass beach mats along the garage walls were handed out as favors too.
So smart, right? Not only does this mean you’re buying less stuff overall, it also means you have less to store after the party, and even helps a little bit with the cleanup. It’s a total win.
Looking for an easy way to get your luau party decorated? Grab a free set of luau party printables at the bottom of this post!
Luau Party Food
Kids Luau Party Food
While the kids were more interested in the giant waterslide than anything else, there was plenty of kid friendly luau themed food, too. Some of the favorites included:
- Gatorade slushies
- Fruit kabobs
- Hawaiian pizza, and
- Sweet Maui Onion Chips (OMG, so good)
- Tortilla chips and salsa
- Goldfish crackers
More Kids Summer Party Food Ideas:
- Tropical umbrella fruit cup snack labels don’t need any special tools and only take a few minutes to prepare.
- Sand Bucket Cupcakes are a fun, creative dessert that guests will be talking about for years to come.
- Rainbow Sherbet Punch is a classic drink that’s always a hit.
A Few Extra Foods for the Adults
With a party this big, you want to make sure that the adults feel welcome too. And that basically meant a menu perfect for kids, while also having some more ‘sophisticated’ options, too. Things like:
- Bites of crab meat
- Fresh vegetables
- Bowls of Macadamia and other tropical nuts
- Edamame, and
- Skewers of chicken satay
Tip: crab meat can get expensive, but your local seafood store might have a crab-claw platter that you can order and put on your own tray.
Luau Party Games and Activities
Waterslide & Water Play
The main attraction of this party was clearly the 65-foot tiki themed waterslide. But if you don’t have room for something that big, place some inflatable palm trees to the top of a slip and slide for plenty of fun.
At this party, a professional hula dancer came in and gave a hula dancing lesson. It was so much fun seeing all the kids try to sway their hips like the dancer.
If hiring a professional is out of your budget, you can also set up a station to display hula dancing tutorials on YouTube and let the kids follow along.
Other Crafts and Ideas:
If you’re looking for a quiet activity for the kids to do, this Tiki Totem Pole craft and Tiki themed golf game look like they could be a lot of fun.
You might also want to check out my top tips for planning party activities for toddlers, and for older kids, too.
Extras that Make All the Difference
One of the most important tips I learned from my stepmother is to go out of your way to make guests comfortable.
At a luau party…especially one with water-themed activities, set aside an area for items guests may have forgotten. It doesn’t have to be as big as these stations, but having have at least one basket filled with items like:
- Extra towels
- Sun-visors, and
Now It’s Your Turn
For most of us (myself included), our budgets aren’t big enough to pull together a luau as big as this was. But as we’ve seen, we can adapt this inspiration to come up with smaller, more intimate, and just as awesome luau party ideas for our own events.
From this party, you can get a similar feel by doing things like:
- Welcoming guests with palm branches and a fun sign
- Add colorful linens and Tiki themed centerpieces to your tables
- Decorate with inexpensive items such as fishnets and grass skirts
- Serve simple food with a Hawaiian themed twist
- Include some fun activities, using inexpensive decor items and YouTube videos to adapt them for a luau party theme, and
- Grab some extra towels and sunscreen from around the house for guests who might need them.
Free Luau Party Printables
Party printables weren’t included in this event, but I couldn’t help myself. I have a simple set of tropical-inspired printables that would be awesome to add to all of these luau party ideas. Click here to see what’s included and to download your free copy. (or check out all my summer party printables right here.)
Luau Party Supplies Mentioned in this Post:
- Tiki Totem Pole craft
- Colorful grass skirts
- Hawaiian leis
- Inflatable palm trees
- Decorative fishnets
- Seashell wind chimes
- Bracelet leis, and
- Colored glass beads
- Tiki themed golf game
- Dollar Tree luau goblets
Which of these luau party ideas is your favorite?
How would you adapt these luau party decorations and ideas for your own party?
This is the coolest backyard party– that I actually think I might be able to copy — that I have ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love the way you set up the seating, the food… and let's not even talk about the bouncy water thing. OMGosh — no way I can show these pictures to my 7-year-old. I just love what you have done! So much fun!!!
Thanks Nadia! I didn't actually do any of the design work for the party, but really wanted to share this pictures with everyone. Seriously…these pictures don't even show everything (like the seating for the adults and the dinner buffet!) Hope to see you again soon!
That looks awesome and I LOVE the giant slide! Whoever planned the party did an awesome job! The pictures look great, don't worry about the quality. I can totally feel the hawaiian spirit right now. Fantastic!
Would LOVE it if you would link this project up at my turquoise lovin' party going on right now!! https://www.sweetlittlegals.com/2011/09/turquoise-lovin-5.html
AMAZING. Am I too old for the giant tiki slide? Naaaah… never! 🙂
Dana @ craftedniche.wordpress.com
@Ann-Kay – Thanks! I'll pass along the accolades. The giant slide was a huge hit!
@Sara – Thanks for stopping by. I'll try to check out your link party soon!
@craftedniche – Of course you're not to old for the slide! The adults were going down it as well…my BIL actually took T down it a couple times and she still talks about it!
Hi can you tell me where to finde the tinki head centerpieces that you have on the table? Im referibg to the ones with the purple orchids in them
I didn’t actually put the party together, but it looks like she used tiki planters or vases and then put orchids inside them. I know that the hostess often finds a lot of her party decorations at TJ Maxx and Big Lots. Those stores may have something you want in stock right now since Luau parties are big during the summer. It also looks like you can get similar items on Amazon, just search under Patio, Lawn and Garden for “Tiki Head Pot” or “Tiki Head Planter” and then look for the size you want.
Ok, this is absolutely, positively, amazing!! I want to go to that party!
Sherry Nappa says
This sounds like a fun idea! It’s so colorful, too! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Merry Monday.
Lisa @ Fun Money Mom says
Wow…I want a party like that for MY birthday LOL! You sure know how to throw a party…it looks fabulous! Thanks for sharing it with us at Share The Wealth Sunday!
Wow…this looks like such a fun time! So creative! 🙂
I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for Recipes and Crafts: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/
Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!
Sandra Garth says
Over the top and gorgeous, the party stylist in me is head over heels in love with this!
Natalie A says
You sure know how to party!! It looks like so much fun and the decorations and food look amazing!
Teresa Kindred says
Really cool….would love to do it for my grands!
Victoria @DazzleWhileFrazzled says
Wow, amazing luau indeed! My daughter wants a hawaiian-themed 9th birthday but I may have to scale it down from this amazing party. The jumping castle is a kids dream! Visiting from Celebrate Your Story party.
Kim Seghers says
Wow! What a awesome birthday party! Any kid would be excited to have an amazing party like that! Great job and everything looks so beautiful!!
This party looks amazing! I love the homemade beach and the food looks delicious. What a great theme for a summer birthday.
Tabitha Bradley-Raines says
I remember my mom throwing a similar party. She swore by Oriental Trading.
How adorable is this! Looks like every kid’s dream!
ok what! how awesome is this and love all the decorations!
Marette Flora says
Wow, this looks like an amazing party! I threw a Hawaii theme party for my toddler last summer and she had such a blast. Fun theme!
Oriental Trader and the Dollar Tree are my go to’s for party supplies. This is a party that I would love to attend! Outstanding decor and food.
That’s so smart to leave out extra sunglasses and sunscreen for your guests. I’ve never thought to do that before!
Mother of 3 says
Wow! That looks like an amazing and fun party! Pinned.
Vivian K says
OMG this is adorable!! I know it is a kid’s party but I would love to have this done even for my own birthday! 😛 so creative. Definitely saving this blog for later.
Michelle Morton says
A Luau is absolutely my FAVORITE type of party! 😀
The SOuthern THing says
What a fun party theme! This came out so nice!!
Tracy Albiero says
Yikes! This just put my plan to shame. What an amazing birthday! Thanks for sharing. #alittlebitofeverything
We have a backyard party every year and I just might have to add some of these wonderful ideas 🙂
Marie Moody says
Now that’s one lucky young lady to have such a grand party! Almost makes me wish I was that age again! Fantastic… no wonder she’s still talking about it. Yes, I bet a lot of things could even get bought at the dollar store and make a birthday party like that or similar at least! Great idea. Thanks for sharing!
Jann Olson says
It really is an amazing party. She went all out for sure!! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
April J harris says
I love that this luau party is adaptable for both kids and grown ups! Your ideas really are fun! Scheduled to pin and share on the Hearth and Soul Facebook page. Thank you for sharing, Leslie, and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Have a wonderful weekend!
Sandra L Garth says
This is pretty amazing! Thank you for sharing with us at Celebrate Your Story and have a great weekend.
Two Chicks and a Mom/Donna says
This is just darn cute! I love luaus and tropical parties! Thanks for sharing at Party in Your PJs!
Wow! If the pics can convey fabulousness, I can only imagine what the real thing looked like. Your stepmother did a great job. I have seen most of the decor and accessories at Dollar Tree, but you are right about doing it big so it really pops. Thanks for sharing on Traffic Jam Weekend, Leslie.
Evelyn Dortch says
This looks a great party for adults as well as kids. Definitely incorporating some of this into my next gathering. Thanks for sharing at #WoW Words on Wednesday
Woww! Where did they get the water slide??
The water slide is a rental from a place in Richmond Virginia. It’s such a hit with both kids and adults that they’ve actually rented the slide again several times over the years.
Can you tell me how you made the tiki welcome arch? It is perfect!
I believe the Tiki welcome arch was either rented or purchased. It would be an incredibly DIY, though. Let us know if you try to make one!