Give your next birthday party a tropical flavour by using a Hawaiian theme. Don't worry about making it technically correct. Just be sure to use plenty of tropical fruits and exotic flowers. Guests will enjoy the illusion of being in the islands when they arrive at your house and are greeted by fun decorations and luau-type foods.
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Make tropical-themed invitations by printing them from your computer. Find a design that you like, or create your own design using tikis, leis, tropical flowers, palm trees or other Hawaiian designs. You can also deliver your invitation attached to an inexpensive flip-flop shoe, a colourful small drink umbrella or a floral lei. If it is a pool or beach party, emphasise a water theme with pictures of Hawaiian beaches, surfers or outriggers.
Use a brightly-coloured floral tablecloth on your table, or cover your table with a large bamboo mat. If you can't find a mat for the table, try a roll-up bamboo window shade in a natural colour from a home improvement store. Put fresh pineapples and coconuts in a large wooden salad bowl as a centrepiece. Hang a fishing net and decorate it with plastic fish and crabs, starfish, cork floats and floral accents such as leis and tropical flowers. Place tiki torches around the patio or lawn for an outdoor party. Have guests come in brightly coloured aloha shirts, muumuus or any other Hawaiian-style clothing they might have. Give everyone a lei at the door and give each woman or girl a flower for her hair.
Although roasting a whole pig is traditional fare for a Hawaiian luau, most people don't have the means to do so. Instead, make shish kebabs, coconut shrimp, trays of fresh fruit, fruit kebabs, poi (or use rice pudding as an easy substitute), chicken wings, meatballs in sweet and sour sauce and pulled pork sandwiches. Drinks can include fruit punch, lemonade and, for the adults, tropical drinks such as mai tais and margaritas. A coconut birthday cake is perfect for a luau party, but strawberry or pineapple cakes work well too.
No Hawaiian party would be complete without a few rounds of the limbo. In this game, players bend backwards and try to walk under a stick that gets lowered every round until only one person can make it under. Another good game is a hula hoop contest, especially if the contestants wear grass skirts. For an ice breaker, translate everybody's name into a Hawaiian name, and have the guests wear name tags with their translated names on them. Near the end of the party, have everyone remove their name tags and then have guests make a list of all the Hawaiian names they can remember. Whoever remembers the most gets a prize.
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