Idea No.


Swing'in Monkeys Luau - Luau Foods



June 2003


Samantha in West Columbia, SC

Special Mention

Tropical Hawaiian Luau

LUAU BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION (Annual) "Swingin' Monkey's Theme" This started 4 years ago as a one time birthday party and has turned into an annual event for my husband's birthday. Each year we add some new element, whether it be music oriented or decoration oriented. This year's theme is "Swingin' Monkeys". I have lots of helpful friends, so the work is divided into Committees to help out. 

MAIN SOURCES OF LUAU DECORATIONS and GOODIES: Oriental Trading, Party City and PartyLand of Lexington - oh, don't forget my helpful Decorating Committee members and all of their original artwork and ideas! There are some great clipart links on the Internet you can get to make invitations and signs with! 

SCENERY & DECORATING:  We decorate our rear deck (12' x 20') with raffia trim all around the sides and string aloha signs and various light strings (palm trees and tiki masks) on top of that. We lash citronella torches on each post and at the entrance to the deck and light those at dusk.  The deck is used as an outdoor eating area and dance floor. We set up our DJ area just to the inside of the back door to one side and decorate that table with raffia and hula girl centerpieces. 

Our PHOTO OPPORTUNITY area is different each year, we have used a giant palm tree, a photo of Hawaii blown up as a poster, a paper, bendable-joint hula girl (those pictures were really interesting by the end of the night) and a fish-net area with shells, sand, etc.  We place disposable cameras in a basket and encourage everyone to take pictures then return the camera at the end of the night with their name on it and they will receive copies - or they can develop themselves and send us a set. (Usually people develop them and send us a set). All doorways are covered with Aloha signs and streamers or the shiny ribbon hanging down. All guests are given leis and complimentary lammies (like you see at concerts) which I make to the theme of the luau each year (hula girl, tiki mask, etc) and carryover with the invitations and paperware.

Guests are also given a blank name tag with a floral theme on them - I downloaded and printed a list of common names that had the Hawaiian translation of that name - and place the list and the tags near the door. Guests are encouraged to look up their name (some people have been coming every year and "know" their Hawaiian name now) and write it on the tag. There's a game involved later with this. Food buffet tables are covered with fake hibiscus flowers,leis, the bottoms are lined with raffia and the tablecloths are always very bright colored tablecloths (I get them at Walmart throughout the year when they discount them). 

This year's corner theme for the table will be an inflatable monkey swinging from an inflatable tree complete with fake greenery for a "jungle" look, we found monkey food picks and banana-shaped picks as a food accessory.  There will be lots of bananas everywhere. Oh, did I mention the really cute autographable Monkey from Only $4.95 and all guests autograph the party man's monkey for a keepsake! 

FOOD: Buffet-style: Imu Kalua Pork is a staple, Monkey on a Stick (Beef Teriyaki sticks, an ex-marine friend dubbed them Monkey on a Stick after a stint overseas and the name stuck), Coconut Shrimp, Fresh Fruit Trays and Fruit Kabobs with pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, Haupia Pudding Squares, Chicken Laulau or Chicken Longrice, Pineapple-Upside Down Cake, Island Macaroni Salad, Fresh Tropical Fruit Salad (made with Dole Tropical Fruit in the large industrial-sized cans ($5.99 at WalMart) and coconut then drizzled with honey, lime juice then chilled).  We serve margaritas, mai tais and Sam's Slammin' Sweet Tarts by the pitcher. Snacks include macadamia nuts & nut mix with a spicy kick, Sweet-n-Sour meatballs and Sam's Famous Crab Dip with crackers. The themed birthday cake has ranged from a hula girl (when you lifted her coconuts, chocolate boobs peeked out) to a bright pink flamingo to this year's Swingin' Monkey theme.  I got a lot of food recipes from the Internet.  MUSIC: Authentic Hawaiian music, beach/shag music and some current hip-hop mixes to liven things up late in the evening. I downloaded mine from an Internet pay service and made my own CD's as well as buying Don Ho's greatest hits. 

GAMES for KIDS/ADULTS: Hula hoop contest, How many Hawaiian names can you remember? (the name tags everyone is wearing has both names on it - everyone takes off their tag and the person that remembers the most correct name translations wins a prize pack), The Limbo, Do the Hula (we have a videotape of how to do the hula and best dancer wins), Balloon-Fish boat racing (a toy from Oriental Trading - you blow up the balloon, place it on the little boat, and race across a kiddie pool - farthest boat of first to cross finish line wins), Water balloon fight.

Prize packs usually consist of gift certificates from Chik-Fil-A or McDonald's (child's choice) and some goodies from Oriental Trading (check out their mini beach balls, surfboards, glow-in-the-dark bracelets and tropical fans). Adult party packs usually consist of an adult-chocolate lollipops, some romantic dice or a flavored edible lotion, gardenia or tropical votive candles, hand lotions or bubble bath kits (the small ones you can usually pick up at Bath & Body Works), tropical t-shirts or a certificate for FREE babysitting services (that one goes over REALLY well) on the evening of choice.  Every year this grows a bit, we are up to 60 guests now from last year's 50. You can scale this to budget easily, I usually budget $400 for everything.  Aloha!

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