How to Host Your Own Luau

(Reprinted from the MAHula eNews June 2006 Issue and updated for the Makana Aloha eZine... Enjoy!)

Major feasts in ancient Hawai'i were originally called pa'ina or 'aha'aina. The name changed in 1856, when the local newspaper, the Pacific Commercial Advertiser referred to the feast as a luau, which is actually one of the favoured dishes served at the 'aha'aina.

Now used to celebrate all types of events such as birthdays, graduations and baby showers, luaus are a great way to spend quality time with family & friends with plenty of food & fun. Imagine a cousin starts strumming on a ukulele inspiring grandmother to get up and hula. Keiki (kids) clap and sing along. The atmosphere is casual & festive, and guests are relaxed from the moment they are greeted with a flower lei to when the last torch is extinguished for the night.

The following is a list some of the BASICS so you too can have your own Hawaiian Luau:


Luaus, especially private family ones, are extremely casual events. The decor can encourage that atmosphere.
- Set up a low table so guests can sit around on blankets & large floor pillows.
- Place sea shells, garlands of flowers, sand, coconuts, bowls of fresh fruit, & fish nets all around your venue. (Craft stores are a great source of decorations.)
- Tiki torches & citronella candles add light, ambience and some mosquito protection.
- Greet your guests at the door with a big "ALOHA" and a fresh flower, silk flower or shell lei.

- Guests should leave their shoes at the door!
- Aloha Shirts, sarongs, sundresses & muu-muus (Hawaiian sundresses in Aloha prints) are proudly worn.
- Accessorize with leis & hair flowers. Tradition states that married women wear their flower behind the left ear to show that "their heart had been claimed", and single women wear their flower behind the right ear to show their availability.


Hawaiian music playing in the background always adds island flavour to any venue. CDs I recommend are:
- Let's Hula
- Don Ho Hawaii's Greatest Hits
- Hawaii Calls: Favorite Instrumentals


Hire a hula dancer, of course! In addition to performing some fun and entertaining dance numbers, your dancer can lead your guests through some basic hula movements. Lots of fun for all!
So, before your next luau, check our list for one near you.


- Encourage your guests to eat with their hands as the Islanders did in the old days!
- Luaus are commonly potluck events, so check out the sample menu below and give a recipe to each of your friends to try out and bring over.

Finger Food I - Bowls of macadamia nuts
Finger Food II - Plate of assorted papaya, lychee, pineapple & mango pieces
Main Dish - Kalua Pig (Slow Cooker Version from
Starchy Side Dish - Poi
Salad Side Dish - Lomi Lomi Salmon (from
Dessert - Hawaiian Ambrosia
Cold Beverage - Pineapple juice or Mai Tai
Hot Beverage - 100% Kona Coffee

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