Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Plan A Luau Party...Hula Without Spending A Lot of Moola

March 23, 2010

This year for my girlie's birthday party we had a luau! We had fun planning it as a family, decorating and enjoying the party! It was three days ago though and I am still tired...but it was worth it. I did learn a few things I hope I'll remember for future parties.

Lessons Learned:

  • Plan sooner: you may be able to pick up items on end of season clearance. I also would have liked more time to make the stuff I planned and shop around at a slower pace.

  • Shop/Compare at all party/stores: I had skipped going to the smaller independent store that was closer to my house, I assumed the prices would be higher. When I went in there last minute to see if they had luau music I discovered their prices were .40 - $1.00 cheaper on a few items I bought at the larger party store chain!

  • Write down what you want to accomplish the day of the party: I thought I was doing good in this area, I even had a timeline from when guests arrived, when/what games were played, etc. I felt like I was forgetting something about 25 minutes before the party started, I had nothing to do? 30 minutes into the party I realized there were some housekeeping items I forgot to do...like make our bed! I also later realized that I did not get a group picture with all of the kids!



  • Ask friends and family if they have any tropical decorations you can borrow. This is a popular theme and you may be surprised what you can borrow.

  • Check out discount stores like Big Lots and Dollar Tree. Those are my hubby's favorite stores so he happily went shopping: 3 & 6 leis for $1, 18 Hawaiian plates for $1, 20 Hawaiian napkins for $1, hibiscus coasters three for $1.50, Happy Birthday (with flowers that matched the theme perfect) centerpiece, banner, cups, plates for $1 each, matching flowered treat sacks 18 for $1, plastic coconut cups $1 each...you get the idea! He also found rafia table skirting that looked like a hula skirt for way cheaper than online or at the party store that he covered the top of my girlie's outdoor play house with to make a tiki hut.

  • Oriental Trading has great stuff at inexpensive prices: kid's grass skirts with leis $3 each, Hawaiian table runners $3 each, luau rubber ducks 12 for $5.99 (that's .50 each and they match the theme).

  • We have Party City here and they had a coupon out that helped. Do a search for your local chain party store to see if you can find a coupon before you shop. I found themed cups for .49 and 1.99. I splurged on the 1.99 cups as the kids take away gift and they added great decoration during the party since they looked like palm trees. They also had pretty lolly pops shaped like flowers for .33 each. I bought 12 and put them in a little pink vase for a centerpiece. I also found a hibiscus table cloth for the food table for .99 and a matching veggie and dip tray for $3. They had toys for the treat bags and prizes for .25 each, but also found some on clearance for .10 each! Don't jump at the first items you see, really look around the store, we found two foot blow up palm trees for $2.99!

  • I got lucky at Target, their dollar area had summer stuff! I bought a pretty little pink vase to put the lolly pop flowers in and a pair of pink flip flops with a flower on them for my girlie to wear for $1!

  • Walmart's party area had solid pink table cloths for $1.50 for my tables, clear treat bags 18 for $1.50 for a craft that I did, plus brown plastic table cloths for $1.99 and poster board for the volcano we made. We made a tube with the two pieces of poster board and set it on the top of my girlie's princess tent. Then we covered it with two brown table cloths, stuffed red tissue paper in the top to look like lava. The kids put the presents in the volcano as they arrived!

Name Tags:

  • I used name tags for a few different reasons. On the left side of the tag I had their name, hello, thank you and take care. On the right I had the Hawaiian translations. I found a Hawaiian name translator here. In the middle of the two columns I had a seashell on half of the tags and a palm tree on the other half. I used the pictures to divide the group into two teams for the relay (this saved time and confusion). I also used the tags for our craft. It was also fun using Hawaiian names and sayings during the party!


  • Buy a couple of real pineapples. I used one in the middle of a fruit tray I made with mini skewers (toothpicks) of pineapple and strawberries and the other on a table as a centerpiece.

  • Multi-colored Goldfish are a bright addition for your Hawaiian food table. I had some pretty bowls a friend gave me from Hawaii to put them in.

  • "Hawaiian" Punch: sherbert, sprite, Hawaiian Punch with an ice mold of sprite in the middle (I used my bundt pan to make the ice mold).

  • I also cut some carrots and celery for my $3 hibiscus tray and put crackers and cheese on some hibiscus plates I already owned.

  • We had pizzas for the kids...you may want to consider doing Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and ham!

  • We bought the cake from our local grocery store, Publix, Mickey surfing and Minnie on the beach!


  • Pass the Coconut: I planned on using the plastic coconut my hubby found at the $1 store for this game, but we ended up using the real coconut that my girlie had (it was drained and cleaned). Remember to tell the kiddos to pass with care! You simply start and stop the luau music CD, whoever has the coconut when the music stops is out!

  • Limbo: We found a blow up limbo stick (safer for the kids and stores away easily) for $2.99 at Party City. The luau CD had Limbo Rock on it and the kids loved this one so much they played again on their own later during the party!

  • Hula Relay: We used my girlie's water table to float the Hawaiian ducks in at one end of the yard. Next to the water table we put one hula hoop on each side (one for each team). My hubby found them for $1 each at Dollar Tree! At the other end where the two teams lined up (see my name tag idea above for splitting the teams) they each had a sand bucket ($1 each at Dollar Tree) and a hula skirt ($2.99 each from Oriental Trading). The first person had to put on the hula skirt, run to the water table, pick up the hula hoop and do a hula, grab a duckie out of the water table, run back, drop it in the bucket and then switch the hula skirt to the next person on their team. Moms helped and the kids had fun!

  • Hit The Tiki Guy: I bought 100 water ballons for $1 at Walmart and filled them the day before the party. I put them in a pretty bucket we borrowed from a friend that looks like a beach bucket for ice and drinks. My hubby held up a tiki mask we found at Party City for $3 and wore a green leis set that came with a headband, leis and ankle leis for $1 at Dollar Tree. Then, you guessed it, they hit the tiki guy with the water balloons! He was a good sport and the kids had fun cutting loose!

  • Beach In A Bag: I used the clear treat bags I bought at Walmart for $1.50 for this one. The day before I put the name tag label for each child on one side and on the other side I put a label I made that read "K's Birthday Luau 2010 Beach In a Bag" with cute beach pictures on it. I used a couple of folding tables for the craft set up with measured cups of pink and blue sand (we only needed two tablespoons of each color), sea shells (we had a ton we brought back from the beach), mini umbrellas (drink umbrellas), foam stickers, confetti of flip flops and beach balls. I showed them the one I made the day before and let them go to making their own. When they were done I folded the bag down and then put a few staples to keep it closed. This was a big hit with the kids!

Creating fun, unique memories without breaking the bank works for me! This post is linked up with We Are That Family for Works For Me Wednesday. Hop over there to find ideas and inspiration!

I hope you got some good ideas you can adapt for your parties. I would love to hear your ideas and things you love doing at parties too...leave a comment below I need all the help I can get!

Malama Pono,


  1. Wow! No wonder you are still tired. Sounds like it was a blast. We just had a luau party for my six year old daughter last year, but she's asking for one again this year. I'll have to try out some of your ideas (especially for games) to change things up a bit.
    Thanks for the tips!

  2. You have shared wonderful tips on how to arrange cost effective Luau parties. Currently, searching for elegant venues in Houston to celebrate my parents’ anniversary next month. Want to arrange a surprise party by inviting all their friends.


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