1. Have traditional Hawaiian and other Polynesian music playing when guests arrive.
You can order music off of iTunes. I will provide a list in the near future but for now think fun, carefree and light reggae party music. I would mix in some authentic Hawaiian music in there too. I am Polynesian and even I can get a little tired of the stereotypical ukulele songs that you so often hear when Hollywood is trying to do anything Hawaiian.
Tip: It may be a good idea if after the first hour or two you change the music to something upbeat and modern….perhaps "the top 40’s"…so people can enjoy music they know. … Your decor, food and everything else will already be Hawaiian so you definitely can afford to change the music. And if you're having a professional Hawaiian dance show later there will be plenty of Hawaiian culture in that.
2. Have an authentic Hawaiian dance company with hula maidens and flame throwers put on a spectacular show.
First off make sure that the group you're hiring is Hawaiian/Polynesian owned and that they are professionals or else the show can come off as tacky really quickly. Think dancers in plastic hula skirts and leis doing a hula they learned off of youtube that you could have performed better. Just a word of caution. Most groups who sell a Hawaiian are NOT Hawaiian because most Hawaiians/Polynesians consider their dances too sacred to sell. However you just may have real Polynesian dancers in your town! Trust me you'll feel the difference.
Once you have established that the group is "the real deal" ask the group to show you:
- the best and most exciting drum dances of the islands
- to teach your guests the hula
- to maybe do something special with the guest of honour
- and then to get our guests up dancing and having a great time.
This is a must at any Hawaiian party even if you have to budget with the other things on your list. Having a live Hawaiian show in your living room or backyard will just take your lu'au to a whole new level.
Tip: If a Hawaiian show is just not possible at this time then perhaps try to do something yourself. In the near future I will give you a video lesson on basic hula and a little song that you can perform and/or teach to your guests.
3. Have Lei Greeters who present guests with a lei as they enter the party.
Lei are given in Hawai'i to show love, appreciation and respect for the person that you’re giving it to. When giving the lei make sure you say something to the effect of “Aloha and welcome!”
A little History on Lei Giving & the Meaning of Aloha
Lei giving is a regular part of any special occasion in Hawaii such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and graduations. It is not uncommon for a graduating senior to have so many leis around their neck that they can no longer see!
Meaning of Aloha
The word Aloha literally translates into "The joyful sharing of life energy in the present" or simply "Joyfully sharing life".
Tip: The lei greeter does not have to be you. You can get anyone to do it like friends, your kids etc. Plus you will be too busy getting other things going at your party I am assuming.
4. Have Hawaiian style decor. Easy & Affordable Lu'au decorating tips to come!
5. Make it a "Hawaiian Costume Party".
This is so much fun and people get to be silly and creative. A funky Hawaiian outfit can start a conversation between guests who are complete strangers.
In Hawai'i and the rest of Polynesia wearing floral print clothing is very normal and I know personally it just makes me feel good:). Your guests may have something Hawaiian at home and they are going to thank you for giving them a reason to wear it.
Don't forget to mention a prize for the best dressed in your invite! The prize can be an inexpensive bottle of wine, a tropical fruit basket or whatever really.
A few different prize categories are: 1. Best dressed female 2. Best Dressed Male 3. Best Dressed Kid 4. Runner Ups. People love prize giveaway time and a room full of island apparel actually adds to the decor of your party.
6. Make sure you have a DJ or music playing most of the night.
You do not need a professional DJ (though if you can get one even better) but there needs to be someone at your party there making sure ppl are listening to something and that they are enjoying it. Especially as the night falls and dinner and dessert have already passed...lots of people are expecting to let loose a little bit. It would be nice.....after all it is a party. Don’t deny them the opportunity. For those who don't want to get up they usually have a great time watching their friends and family dance.
7. Enjoy your party & connect with your guests.
As you walk around greet your guests and take the time to connect with them as they came there to spend quality time with friends and family including you:). Have a few designated people that will agree to bring out food, drinks, clear tables, control the music, dishes etc… so you can get a drink, eat your food and sit down and connect. You've already put in all of the work to make sure the event will run smoothly so just trust that the people you are counting on to carry out their tasks. Even if you need to continue to oversee things make sure you find the time to sit back, relax and enjoy your friends and family. And I do not mean at the end when everyone is gone:)!