A Tropical Adventure: Throwing a Luau Birthday Party with Easy DIY Projects
As a mom, I'm always thinking of fun and memorable ways to celebrate my daughter's birthday! My daughter has an early September birthday, and we love to throw her parties at our neighborhood clubhouse and pool. For her sixth birthday, we decided on a colorful and exciting luau party! I love to make decorations and treats for parties, and this one was no exception! If you're considering throwing a Luau birthday party for your little one, here are some tips and luau party ideas from our Birthday Luau!
Luau Party Invitations
You can get creative with the invitations and make them look like mini surfboards, pineapples, or coconuts! For our party, most of our guests would be invited through Facebook events, but I did want some physical invitations to pass out. I found some beautiful free Luau invitations on Greetings Island. I was able to add all of our party details and save the invitation template for free! I used the image as the cover photo on our Facebook event page and printed some on card stock for my daughter to pass out at school!
Luau Party Attire - How to Dress for a Luau Party
You may be asking, what do you wear to a luau party? Hawaiian Shirts, Grass Skirts, and Leis, of course! Since our Luau was a pool party, we just asked our guests to come in swim attire. A few of the dads did sport Hawaiian shirts with their swim trunks!
I normally sew my daughter a new birthday dress to match her party theme each year, but I knew it wouldn't get much use since she would be swimming! Instead, I decided to sew her a new swimsuit!
I found an adorable Lilo and Stitch Swim Panel from Oh So Pretty Custom Fabrics and knew it would be perfect for a Luau Birthday Swimsuit! My daughter is very fair-skinned, so I prefer to sew her swimsuits with a little more coverage. I used one of my favorite swim patterns, Antibes by Little Lizard King, and sewed her a short sleeve rash guard and coordinating swim bottoms.
It wouldn't be a luau without some grass skirts and leis! I set up a table with Grass Skirts, Flower Leis (necklaces, wristbands, and headbands), and Hawaiian Straw Hats. The kids were able to dress in their Hawaiian best during the party, and take their new apparel home with their party favors!
Setting the Stage: Luau Party Decoration
Transform your party space into a Hawaiian paradise. Think bright colorful decorations, tiki torches, pineapples, and hibiscus flowers galore.
I love multipurpose decorations, something that helps decorate the room in the party's theme, but also serves another purpose! My absolute favorite multipurpose decoration is a photo booth! Photo booths have a large backdrop that really helps decorate a room, but it also provides a perfect spot to make sure I take a picture of every guest in attendance.
I made a backdrop for the Luau photobooth. You can find the full tutorial HERE. I set up a small table beside the photo booth with a bunch of Luau Photo Booth Props and everyone had fun posing for pictures! I love to capture those precious moments with my daughter and her friends.
A pinata also makes a great decoration that serves a second primary purpose. It hangs for most of the party and helps decorate the room. When kids spy it they start anticipating busting it open later to reveal candy and prizes.
I made this large tiki guy pinata myself with just a couple of dollars' worth of supplies! I started with a large rectangular shipping box and cut 2 small holes in the top of the box. I ran some rope through the holes and duct taped it in place creating a loop to hang the pinata. I filled the box with candy and other tropical trinkets. I then taped the box shut with masking tape and applied extra masking tape all over the outside of the box to make it tougher to break open.
Once the box was covered in tape, I cut slits into a roll of Brown Crepe Paper Streamers to create a frayed appearance. Using a glue stick, I glued overlapping strips of crepe paper in rows, over the entire box.
Finally, I cut the details of the tiki guy's face from some Craft Foam Sheets and used hot glue to hold them in place. For one last finishing touch, I gave the tiki guy a Hawaiian Lei necklace with an extra strip of ruffled crepe paper I had leftover after making the Luau Photobooth.
Tiki Totem Poles
Using the same Craft Foam Sheets I used for the Pinata, along with a couple of small trash cans from Dollar Tree I made a couple of small Tiki Totem Poles. I glued the trash cans (bottom sides together) with e6000 glue. I used hot glue to attach the details made from craft foam sheets to the front of each can.
Luau Balloon Garland
I just inflated 2 balloons at a time with the electric pump and would then tie the 2 balloon necks together. Once all the balloons were tied in pairs I began twisting the pairs together to form balloon quads.
My preferred method of attaching balloon quads to each other to form a balloon garland or balloon swag is to tie them together using 260 modeling balloons. I tie one end of a 260 balloon to the first quad and then wrap the 260 around the next quad in a figure-8 motion. I repeat this process until the garland is my desired length.
I used a few small Command Hooks to secure the balloon garland to the wall. Once I had the garland hung, I just slid the palm leaves in between balloons throughout the garland. I had brought glue dots to secure the palm leaves, but they weren't necessary, the balloons held the leaves perfectly in place.
Aloha Appetites: Luau Party Food
Our Luau took place during traditional lunchtime, and our guest list included lots of hungry kids and adults! I wanted to serve food that matched the luau theme but also appealed to even picky eaters!
Feast of Flavors at our Luau Lunch
We served the luau lunch buffet style. We started with some pulled pork sliders. My husband smoked a pork butt overnight, and we served the pulled pork on small Hawaiian rolls. I used some Umbrella Cocktail Picks to hold the sliders together and make them look a little more festive!
When I think of Hawaiian food, pineapple is one of the first things that comes to mind! Serving plain pineapple slices felt a little too obvious. I decided instead to make a dish that had a hint of pineapple, and resembled a pineapple, but was something a little different. I was browsing pineapple recipes online when I saw a recipe for a pineapple cheese ball! I thought that would be a perfect finger food for the party. I used this Pineapple Cheeseball Recipe from The Blond Cook, and only made a couple of small cosmetic changes. Instead of forming it into a ball, I shaped it to look like the base of a pineapple, and instead of topping it with chopped pecans, I used pecan halves on the outside. I made the cheeseball the day before the party and let it set up inside my refrigerator. On the day of the party, I added fresh pineapple leaves to the platter!
I had used the top of the pineapple for the cheese ball but I still had the bottom of the pineapple left over. The bottom of the pineapple worked as the perfect bowl to hold Pineapple Salsa (recipe by Cookie and Kate)! I found a little straw bowl at Dollar Tree that was perfect for holding the chips!
As you can tell I like to make all the food and decorations for parties, but since I am limited on how much I can do in the hours leading up to a party, I love recipes that can be prepped in advance and don't require hands-on attention in the hours leading up to an event. This Crock Pot Hawaiian Meatball Recipe from A Southern Soul was delicious, but also didn't need my attention before the party started!
We rounded out the menu with some pigs in a blanket, Hawaiian Pasta Salad, Coleslaw, and smoked chicken wings (with Polynesian Sauce from Chick-Fil-a).
Tropical Treats - Luau Cake, Luau Cupcakes and more
I wanted the dessert table to look beautiful and festive and be full of yummy goodies! I am a good cook and baker, but I don't have a lot of cake-decorating skills. I love making my kid's birthday cakes myself, so I decided to make a Barbie doll cake that looked like a hula girl! I knew the design would be simple enough that I could make it myself! If you want to make your own Hula Girl cake, check out my Easy Hula Girl Cake tutorial.
I also whipped up a batch of Pineapple Cupcakes with a recipe from Mama Cheaps that I topped with Pineapple Cupcake Toppers and I used my favorite Strawberry Cake Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction to make cupcakes topped with Edible Hibiscus Toppers. I added both the pineapple and strawberry hibiscus cupcakes to my Cupcake Carrier and Display. I love this cupcake carrier, not only does it make transporting cupcakes easy and looks nice holding cupcakes during a party, but it collapses for easy storage!
Just like cakes, I love to make royal icing cookies as long as the details aren't too complicated. I knew I could handle making pineapples and palm trees with these Tropical Cookie Cutters. A flamingo was included in the set, but I kept things simple and saved it for later! If you have never worked with Royal Icing before, I highly recommend watching this video by Preppy Kitchen!
I used the leftover green royal icing to decorate some Rice Krispie treats with hula skirts. I made some Oreo Truffle Balls and left them plain brown to look like coconuts. I made some tropical Jello Jigglers and added them to a surfboard platter from Dollar Tree.
I finished off the dessert table with a tray of gummy candy kabobs that featured homemade jumbo gummy candy in pineapple and flamingo shapes! I had originally planned to use these as party favors but decided to include them on the dessert table instead. If you want to make your own gummy candy kabobs, check out my Gummy Candy Kabob tutorial!
I am almost embarrassed to post this picture because I forgot to take a picture of the tiki bar until after the kids had all raided it! I printed a Tiki Bar Sign I found on Etsy and placed it on a table full of Coconut and Pineapple Cups that everyone could fill with punch (Hawaiian, of course), Sprite, or water. I left a Sharpie on the table for everyone to write their name on the bottom of their cup.
Activities and Luau Party Games
Our Luau was a pool party, and I knew swimming would be the primary activity for the kids, but wanted to have a few luau party games planned.
We played some Hawaiian music and invited the kids to enter the limbo competition. My teenage daughter and her friend held a stick and had the kids all try to limbo under it. We just used the same decorative stick I had brought for the pinata. If the kids bumped the stick, they were out. Those who successfully made it under the stick got back in line to go again. After each child had gone under the stick, the stick was lowered. We continued until there was only 1 child who could make it under the stick without bumping it or touching the floor. After our Luau was over I saw this cute Inflatable Limbo Game that would have been perfect! It would have made a great decoration during the party, and I wouldn't have needed the girls to guess where they should lower the stick next!
Hula Hoop Competition
I had four Hula Hoops at my house, so we called up 4 kids at a time to see who could Hula Hoop the longest. The winner of each round got a prize, and then the winners of each round faced off in a final Hula Hoop competition to declare a champion. I set out a basket of Luau themed prizes I found at Oriental Trading Company for the kids to choose a prize from.
I split the kids into 2 groups and had them form 2 lines. I used painter's tape on the floor to make a start and finish line. When I said go, the first child from each line would roll a coconut across the floor, over the finish line, turn and roll it back to the starting line. After the first player crossed the starting line, the second child on their team would do the same thing. They continued until all the players on their team had completed the race. The team that finished faster was declared the winner!
Lastly, with some Hawaiian music playing we taught the kids a few simple hula dance moves and let them showcase their new dancing skills! It was a fun way to keep the energy high and smiles flowing! I made sure to give a prize to anyone who hadn't already won a prize yet for showing off their hula dance skills!
Luau Party Favors
I did make one final party favor for all the kids to take home along with all the luau swag they had collected during the party. I downloaded and printed Mahalo Tiki Guys on cardstock, cut two slits in the card, and inserted some cake pops (I made these with scraps when leveling the Hula Girl Cake). I had originally planned to use these cards for the candy kabobs, but the candy was a little too big for these cards. The cake pops were just the right size!
A luau birthday party was a fantastic way to celebrate with friends. From the decorations to the delicious food and fun luau games, it was a celebration that brought the spirit of the islands right to our neck of the woods. Grab your grass skirt and join the tropical fun – I can't wait to hear all about the next luau you throw!
**I have included affiliate links to the products I used and can receive a small commission if a purchase is made after you click on a link in this tutorial. All items used in this tutorial were purchased by me and I did not receive anything in exchange.
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