Idea No.


Luau Pool Party - Beach in a Bag Invite



July 2001


Andrea in Miami, Florida, USA


Tropical Hawaiian Luau

With the help of some great ideas I learned on this website, as well as some additional ideas from friends and magazines, I just had a wonderful birthday luau/pool party for my nine year old daughter.

I made the postcard-size invitations on the computer and added clipart in each corner (of hula girls, a palm tree/sunset, a hibiscus flower and a conch shell). I then had the invitations laminated, placed each one in a sandwich-size ziploc bag (I double-bagged for protection) and added a small amount of water colored with blue food coloring, and three or four shells. (For those invitations sent through the mail, I included only the card without the water or shells).

For name tags, I went to and found the Hawaiian translations of all of the children. It's a great source because it even had translations of obscure names (such as Devon and Tamara)that I could not find on other websites. I then bought a pack of "Hello, my name is ____" name tags at Office Depot. I found clip art with a palm tree and sunset, and cut and pasted one on the left side of each name tag. My daughter then wrote the Hawaiian names on each tag (and the English names very small on the back of each tag so we could keep track). I purchased kiddie-size hula skirts (the biggest expenditure), orchid-like leis and flower combs from Oriental Trading for the girls, and cute pirate hats and leis for the boys from a souvenir-type store.

Concerning decorations, I decorated one of my daughter's white teddy bears with a hula skirt made out of green tissue paper cut into strips, a cheap lei and a silk flower on one of its ears. I placed the teddy bear under a palm tree centerpiece purchased from Oriental Trading. I also bought a hanging door garland made of different colored flowers that the children walked through when they entered the house. I had a large "Aloha" sign above my sliding glass doors leading out to the pool. On the computer with various tropical clip art, I made 8 1/2 x 11" signs and had them laminated. They read: "The luau is here!" which was placed on my front door. I hung a "hula hall of fame" sign next to my big screen TV where the girls learned the hula (more on that later), a "lagoon" sign on my pool fence, and a "tiki bar" sign on my patio table w/umbrella.

Because I have a pool fence around my pool, I was able to attach various things through the little holes and posts on the fence, such as six foot flower garlands in different colors, hanging suns and a monkey/palm tree wind chime. I bought inexpensive cardboard palm trees and flowers and taped them to the back wall of my house. When the children arrived, my two daughters were already dressed in their bathing suits, hula skirts, leis and flower combs, and my husband and I wore Hawaiian shirts. We had luau music (bought from Oriental Trading) playing on our CD player, and we had a children's instructional hula video playing on our big screen TV (with muted sound initially). (The video was rented from the local library, and I located it by going online to our library's website and had it transferred to my local branch from a more distant branch).

When the kids arrived, each received a hula skirt or pirate hat, a flower comb (girls) and their Hawaiian name tag. Each put them on and then the girls learned the hula dance (3 separate dances) from the video, while the boys played an inflatable dolphin ring toss game. We then moved to the craft activity of making shell anklets, which even the boys enjoyed. I had purchased two sheets of felt (about 25 cents each) and cut them into 1/2 inch strips, and I attached a velcro fastener to each end so they could close up and be worn as an anklet. I bought tiny multi-colored shells and the kids simply glued on the shells of their choice to their anklet (about 7 or 8 shells per anklet).

After the craft, I had to come up with another indoor activity on short notice because it was raining outside and the kids could not yet go swimming. I grabbed two big shirts of mine, two pair of my husband's socks, two hats and two pair of shoes, and had a wacky clothes relay (two teams) which the kids really enjoyed. As if on cue, the rain stopped when the relay ended and the kids jumped in the pool and started swimming and splashing. I had purchased 7 or 8 swimming noodles ($1.44 each at Wal-Mart), a cheap ($1.50) plastic raft which I blew up at a gas station (much quicker and easier) and two beach balls, so the kids had plenty of pool toys.

We played 2 pool games throughout the afternoon (didn't have time for the third one I had planned). One was a seahorse/swimming noodle relay, and the second was a ping pong toss game, where each ping pong ball had a number, and when the whistle blew, each child could only pick up one ball and place it in his team's basket. Whichever team accumulated the balls with the most points was the winner. As for food, this was easy because we had kids only (except for grandparents) so we ordered pizzas, served drinks with hula girl straws, made snow cones with a snow cone maker (purchased from Bed Bath & Beyond), served cut-up fruit (including pineapple, of course), with long monkey/palm tree toothpicks. We also had fortune cookies with luau-type fortunes purchased from Oriental Trading.

I could not find a luau/Hawaiian type cake at our supermarket, but they did have an island cake with a Donald duck toy on top. I told the bakery to make the cake and nix the Donald duck toy, and luckily I found a hula girl candle (without much looking) at Claire's which I placed on the cake. I also made a volcano ice-cream sundae with a recipe found in It was very easy - just buy a half-gallon round tub of ice cream, let it soften 5 or 10 minutes, turn it over, cut off the box, shape into a volcano by scooping away from the top and adding to the bottom, sticking on Oreo cookie crumbs, and pouring strawberry sauce (or strawberry pie-filling) and chocolate sauce down the sides.

Finally, I decorated a poster tube with tropical gift wrap (fish), attached different color hanging ribbon, and used that as our limbo stick as one of the last activities. Overall, I think the kids had a great time (I know my daughter did!)and it was just as much fun to plan as it was to have. Lastly, we tried to take pictures of each child in their Hawaiian getup, and we had each child sign a photo album  in which we will insert their pictures next to their signatures for my daughter to keep as a memory.

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