Gee wiz, it’s been an age since I did a Luau party, but this morning as I think back on it, it seems as fresh in my memories as yesterday.  It was for my daughter’s high school graduation party (way back I don’t even want to tell you how many mahinas ago), and she, along with her best friend, her best friend’s mother, and I worked together to make it the most happening luau on the mainland.  We really jumped through hula hoops to make this last blast of theirs a real blast!  They hosted it in their much larger backyard, which was awesome…I didn’t have to do any spruce-ups to my rather smallish and shabby backyard. (Kowabunga!)

The luau is a great theme for any party as there is always a vast array of theme decorations on the shelves at party stores and most all the dollar stores too.  This is the perfect party to have in the spring/summer, but winter works too, if you have a large indoor space (…and a friend with a dumptruck and access to a ton of sand.  That’s what our church did for a weekend youth group retreat in the middle of February, and it was sick, or a hoot, or a scream, or totally rad, or whatever the kids are saying these days).



2de866b278ca21dc68e00dd111f0995eMessage in a bottle:

Amazon.com has the perfect little bottles for this.  Write your invitation on buff colored paper, singe the edges if you wish,  and roll into a scroll to fit inside.  Include some sand and tiny shells, and use Hawaiian phrases:

Please join us = Ho’olo komo la kaua,   -or-  Come Celebrate = Hele mei hoohiwahi.

Cap and mail: Check with the post office for appropriate postage.  Or, if you are hand delivering them, fill a small bucket (shovel included) with sand, top the sand with a sea shell or two, bury the corked bottle half sticking up out of the sand.  And hang on the doorknob, or set on the front porch step, or leave on their desk at their work place.

What to wear

In the invitations ask your guests to wear their brightest colored bathing suits (girls add a matching sarong, and boys add a flowery button-up shirt and sunglasses), and flip-flops.  Girls could also wear Muu Muus.  Amazon has nice scarf sarongs.


Tables skirted with grassy fringe and hibiscus flowers

all sorts of lawn chairs

Tiki torches

Paper garden lanterns


Small white Christmas lights

Foil or paper palm tree cutouts

Huge homemade tissue-paper habiscus flowers, hung on the tree trunks

Decorate the tables with Ukulele, maracas, hand drums, coconut shell drinking cups, seashells, leis, etc.

set up a Limbo stick.

And a Tiki Hut for the food (buffet)


CDs of Luau music or Don Ho (on continuous play)

Have grass skirts, leis, and beachcomber hats for each guest, and hand them to your guests as they arrive at your party, as if they were stepping off an airplane at the Honolulu airport.

Our Graduation girls, Dani and Carrie, were dressed in sarongs and positioned themselves near the gate to the yard so they could place a lei on the necks of each of their guests, and welcome them to the party.


  • Pit BBQ with roasted pig on a spit (dig a hole, line the ring of it with large rocks, make a spit, skewer a fully cooked, spiral-cut pork leg roast wrapped in foil and rest it on the spit. Fill the pit with briquettes and get them hot to warm the roast and lend atmosphere).
  • Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings
  • Hollowed out watermelon filled with melon balls and fresh tropical fruit chunks.
  • White Cheddar Fondue (or Alfredo Sauce) and warm crusty bread
  • Veggie Tray and Pupu (appetizer) platter
  • Erupting Volcano Cake (Angelfood cake, frosted to look like a volcano with dripping layers of chocolate frosting, sprinkled with crushed Oreo crumbs, and scattered with chocolate rocks at the bottom. Place dry ice in the hole)

We filled small kiddie pools with ice and placed them on our tables to keep our cold foods (salads, veggies, fruits, and Taco Bar items), and drinks, cold on the buffet tables, and we also set umbrellas on their sides over them to keep them shaded.  And after the masses had made it through the buffet line, we covered it with a Hawaiian print sheet to keep the bugs off until they were ready for refills.  We even found some little silk and plastic water lilies that we tucked into the ice around the food, which gave it a tropical look.   We kept individual sized cartons of various flavors of ice cream and sorbets in one kiddie pool, and bottled beverages in another.

* * *

Here also is a menu I created for a recent “Polynesian Dinner Party” with my cooking club friends (featured in the book, Come for Supper? the memoirs of a reluctant hostess):

5 Polynesian Supper


Polynesian supper collage




1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine

   – – – –

1 lb large tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined, and patted dry on paper towels

1  7-oz pkg shredded coconut

Instructions:  Place peanut oil in deep fryer and set temperature to 375 degrees.  Mix flour with wine until smooth.  When oil has reached temperature, dip about 5 of the shrimp, one at a time in batter and then roll in coconut.  Drop into deep fryer and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and curled.  Drain on paper towels.  Continue until all shrimp are cooked.

Melted jalapeno jelly makes a wonderful dipping sauce (remove lid from jar, warm in microwave about 1 min., stir and divide into little sauce cups).  Or see the sauce recipe later down on this page.  Serves 4




3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/4 teaspoons prepared horseradish

½ teaspoon salt


4 salmon fillets (about 1-1/2 inches thick)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 sprigs fresh dill

1/4 teaspoon salt


For glaze: Combine syrup, water, ginger, 4 cloves garlic, horseradish and ½ teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer. Cook until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Glaze will keep refrigerated for several days.

To prepare salmon: Place salmon in shallow pan. Add water to cover, plus 2 cloves garlic, dill and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand in covered pan 8 minutes.

Heat broiler. Remove salmon from cooking liquid and place, skin side down, on to broiler pan. Baste with glaze. Broil, basting often with glaze, just until golden and well-glazed, about 2 minutes.




1 pound fully cooked smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices (or chicken)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup beef broth

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (20 ounce) can unsweetened pineapple chunks

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Hot cooked rice


  1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage, onion and green pepper until the meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the tomatoes, broth, brown sugar, garlic powder and pepper. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Stir pineapple into sausage mixture. Bring to a boil; cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine cornstarch and reserved pineapple juice until smooth; gradually add to sausage mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over rice.




2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch strips

1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder (hot or mild as you wish)

1 tablespoon garlic salt

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 limes

10 (10-inch, thin) colored flour tortillas wraps

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped green onions

2 Serrano chilies, (seeds discarded) minced (optional)


  1. Place the chicken and coconut milk in a bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour.
  2. In a pot, bring the rice and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, curry powder, and garlic salt. Drain the chicken, and discard marinade. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture to coat.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the coated chicken strips 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and juices run clear. Squeeze lime juice over chicken, and discard limes.
  5. On each tortilla, place equal amounts of rice, chicken, coconut, and green onions, and sprinkle desired amount of Serrano chilies. Wrap burrito style.


POLYNESIAN DIPPING SAUCE (for shrimp, or wraps)


13 ounces coconut milk

2 teaspoons green curry paste

1 tablespoon grated gingerroot

1 tablespoon grated lime rind

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice


Place coconut milk in a skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by a quarter – it should be the consistency of heavy cream. Stir in the green curry paste, ginger, lime rind, and sugar. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes or until sauce is thickened and fragrant. Stir in mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.




1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas, uncooked

1 ½ cups cooked rice

1 (4 ½ ounce) can tiny or small shrimp

1 ½ cups chopped celery

½ cup fresh green onions, chopped

1/3 of a 12-oz package of chow mein noodles

½ cups roasted cashew nuts


½ cup salad oil

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons vinegar

½ teaspoon sugar


  1. In a large bowl, mix peas, rice, shrimp, celery and green onion.
  2. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and mix well.
  3. When ready to serve pour over salad and add chow mein noodles and toss lightly.

Both can be prepared day before.



1 pineapple

An assortment of tropical fruits:

1 papaya

3 mango

1 star fruit

4 kiwi

3 bananas

6 strawberries (for color)


¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup fresh orange juice

2 Tablespoons honey

1 to 2 inches of ginger root grated

½ cup Greek style plain yogurt

¼ cup shredded coconut

 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro or fresh mint.

Cut pineapple in half lengthwise.  Use a knife to cut insides away from outer part, and then use a spoon to scoop pineapple out.  Slice off and discard hard center core.  Cut pineapple into bite size chunks.  Peel papaya and mango, discard seeds, and cut into bite size chunks.  Peel kiwi, cut into slices.  Cut strawberries into slices.  Toss banana slices in lime juice and add to salad just before serving.  The salad may be prepared a few hours ahead, covered with plastic and kept in fridge.

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For a pretty presentation, place fruit salad in halved, hallowed out pineapples and drizzle with sauce.  Garnish with shredded coconut and a sprig of mint if desired.





1 prepared pie crust, baked as directed for cream pies

1 package of vanilla pudding, the kind that cooks, not instant

1 package coconut flakes

1 container of Cool Whip with 1 tsp. rum mixed in

Broken, slivered almonds

Cook pudding as package directs using 1/2 cup less liquid.  Add 1 cup of the flaked coconut to the pudding and stir to mix.  Pour into prepared crust and spread to fill evenly.  Chill until set.  Spread Cool Whip over pudding in piecrust.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flaked coconut and then almonds over the top.  Chill to set.




1 8-oz can Dole pineapple slices, drained  (reserve juice for serving)

1 stick butter

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

6 maraschino cherries, halved

In an large oblong cake pan melt butter and stir in brown sugar.  Arrange pineapple slices next to each other in three rows of four. Place a half of a cherry in the center of each pineapple.

Cake Ingredients

2 ½ cups All-Purpose flour

3 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 stick butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 tsp Vanilla

2 eggs

1 ½ cups milk (or substitute Coconut Milk)

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.  Beat softened butter with sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time beating after each.  Stir in dry ingredients and milk.  Beat with a mixer until thick and creamy.  Pour over pineapple slices in large baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.  Serve warm.  If you desire your cake a little more moist, drizzle with reserved pineapple juice.





Iced Thai Tea, my latest addiction!!!!!


1 pkg Thai Black Tea bags (available at World Market)


Sweetener (sugar, agave nectar, honey, Stevia, as you prefer)

Half & Half

Place 8 teabags and 8 cups of water in a saucepot and bring just to the steaming point on high heat on the stovetop, and then remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.  The tea will become dark orange colored.  Add whatever choice of sweetener to taste, I like this tea a little on the sweet side.  When the tea has cooled, pour it into a pitcher and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

To serve:  Pour tea over ice in a tall glass.  Gently add Half & Half by the Tablespoonfuls until the top 1/4 of the glass is filled.  Add a straw and serve.  Let guests stir the cream into the tea before drinking.




1/2 ripe mango (peeled and seeded)

 1/2 ripe papaya (peeled and seeded)

 1 ripe banana

 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

 1/2 cup Cream of Coconut

 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt

 1 tsp. honey

 2 cups ice


In a blender, mix mango, papaya, banana, orange juice, coconut cream, yogurt, honey, and ice. Blend until velvety.  Serve in martini glasses and garnish with mini skewers of pineapple chunks.

20160425_132323Fruity Lemonade (Lemonade with chunks of pineapple, watermelon, cherries, grapes, lemon, and orange slices – like seriously just load the glass with a fruit salad and ice, and pour the pink or yellow lemonade over it.)  Remember to add a colorful, fat smoothie straw.


Ocean Water (Blue Raspberry lemonade flavored Kool-Aid unsweetened drink mix and 7-Up or Ginger Ale), and pick up a big bag of that wonderful Sonic ice to fill the glasses with before pouring.  Remember to decorate the classes with a pretty little paper umbrella!


***Other Beverage options: 

Fire Rock Pale Ale (beer) or Spearhead Pale Ale





1 cup of ice

1 oz. light rum

1/2 oz. dark rum

1/2 oz. Apricot Brandy

1/2 cup fresh or canned pineapple

Splash of sour mix & Splash of orange juice

Blend all ingredients in a blender for 4 seconds on low speed.  Garnish with lime and orange slices, and a little paper umbrella. I f you want to make it non-alcoholic just use 1/2 tsp of brandy flavoring  and 1 1/2 tsp of rum flavoring in a half a cup of soda water with the other ingredients.



1/2 cup ice

2 oz. light rum

2 Tablespoons Cream of Coconut

1/2 fresh or canned pineapple

1 Tablespoon vanilla ice cream

Pineapple chunks, cherries, umbrellas for garnish

In blender blend until smooth.  If too thick add fruit or juice.  If too thin add ice or ice cream.  Garnish with Pineapple and Cherry, and a little paper umbrella.  You can use a mix to make these if you would rather… and you can make them non-alcoholic by substituting rum flavoring and soda water.








Walk on Hot Coals

Dig a shallow pit about three feet wide by six feet long and fill it with charcoals.  Add starter fluid to get the charcoals burning.  Cover them completely with medium-sized smooth rocks and let the rocks get hot.  Any guests who are brave or foolish enough may hop across the rocks with their bare feet.

 ‘O‘O Ihe  (Spear Throwing)2faff84377f01f2bef0fec82cd26476b

Spear throwing contests were held to display strength and skill for fighting and food gathering. A target, sometimes the stalk of a banana plant, is set up and contestants stand some 15 feet away and attempt to stick a lightweight wooden spear in it. I was thinking I could paint and decorate a cheap toilet seat and hang it in a tree, and use an old broom handle as a spear.  A great alternative for the little ones would be the inflatable Fish Spearing Game at Party America.com or Party City.com, and if you can’t find one, substitute an inflatable donut-type pool floaty and carved pool noodle.

‘Ulu Maika’ (Rolling Stones)

Based on ancient Hawaiian Makahiki games, this game is played similar to horseshoes.  Stones somewhat resembling modern hockey pucks were rolled between stakes on specially prepared courses to test a player’s skills, or rolled down long courses to show strength. One of the best of the remaining ‘ulu maika courses, approximately 500 feet long, is located on the island of Moloka’i.  Some modern versions of the game exist that require only one stake and everyone tosses or rolls a stone (just an ordinary stone about the size of a baseball) towards it.  The person whose stone is closest after the tosses wins.

Mark off a course of flat ground or lawn of about 15 feet in length.
For little children, the distance can be made shorter.
Place two wooden pegs in the ground side-by-side, about six inches apart, at the far end.
Game stones can be made from quick-drying cement or plaster and should be about three inches in diameter and one inch thick.
Roll the stones over the course aiming for the two wooden pegs at the other end.
The winner will be the one that is able to roll the stones in between the pegs without touching them.

Moa Pahe‘e (Dart Sliding)

Using a wooden dart, which resembles a very small bat without the little grip stop on the end (maybe 8” long) with a skinny end and a fat end, you grasp the skinny end and slide the dart (underhanded, like a bowling ball), fat end first between two stakes.  If you have a children’s bat and a saw, you can saw off the grip stop to make a dart.

Conch Blowing

Blowing a conch shell takes skill: you have to know how to purse your lips, where to place them for the best sound, and how hard to blow. (The sounds made by a novice are hilarious!)

Foot Races

Ancient Hawaiians used to hold foot races to see which warrior was the fastest.  You can hold single person races, three legged races, and backwards running races.

Kite Flying

Kite flying required skill in flying as well as constructing the kites. Made of hau wood and covered with kapa or finely woven lauhala, kites four to six feet across had kapa tails 15 to 90 feet long. Olona cord was used as kite string; cords could be up to a mile in length. In competitive kite flying, each flyer tried to entangle his opponent’s string to bring the kite down.  We could have our guests first make their kites and then try flying them – or fly store-bought kites.

Tug O’ War

To play this game you will need a 20’ length of rope, a 6’ length of rope, and a bandana.

Divide your guests into two equal teams.  Choose a large grassy or sandy area to play.  Place the 6’ rope on the ground in the middle of the chosen area.  This marks the centerline.  Have teams line up in single file on either side of the centerline, arms length apart.  Tie the bandana in the center of the 20’ rope and place over the centerline.  Each player grabs the tugging rope and at the signal tries to pull the first member of the other team over the centerline.

Hillside Land Surfing

Riding a holua sled – perhaps the closest sport to surfing on land – was popular among the ali`i. Special slopes were constructed for the game: layers of rock, packed dirt and pili grass made the steep courses smooth and fast. The narrow holua sled, 12 to 18 feet long, was made of two hardwood runners, thin-edged and curved up at the forward end so as not to dig into the ground. A cross-piece and boards or mats were attached on top, connecting the two runners and providing a narrow bed for the rider’s body. After bets on the winner were placed, the first racer shot down the hill with the challenger hot on his heels. The longest ride won.

If our party area included a nice steep hillside, we could probably make a Boogie Board work for this game, especially if we got the grass wet and greased the underside of the board.  Adults could try standing on the boards and riding them down.  Kids could stand, kneel, or sit.


Pass the Coconut

The goal of this game is to avoid dropping the coconut or touching it with your hands. A coconut is held under the chin and is passed from chin to chin. Whoever drops the coconut is out. This continues until one person is left. A coconut can be rough, so sand it before the luau or use a plastic one.

Hula Hoop contest

Purchase several hula hoops and line everyone up for a contest.

First round: Can you hula hoop?  Players must be able to keep the hula hoop in play for at least a count of ten.  All winners advance to the second round.

Second round: How long can you hula hoop?  Last three to still be hula hooping when the rest poop-out advance to the third round.

Third round: Can you do any hula hoop tricks? Winners receive a prize.


The limbo is a classic Hollywood luau game. A long pole is held between two people. The contestants must walk under the pole while bending backwards to avoid hitting or touching it. With each cycle of contestants the pole is lowered until one person remains. How low can you go?

Beach Towel Musical Chairs

Played just like regular Musical Chairs, but with beach towels layed in a circle, and using Hawaiian music.

Build a giant sandcastle

If you’re fortunate to have access to the beach, this activity is for you!  If not, you can always compromise by filling a couple kiddy pools with sand and get it wet.  Divide your guests into teams and see which group can build the best castle.

Beach Volleyball

Set up the net and divvy up teams.


Set up a Karaoke machine with Island favorites for those who enjoy showing off their singing talent.

Pass the Coconut – Two

Players sit in a large circle.  One player begins the game by passing a coconut to music to the player next to him.  When the music stops, the player holding the coconut is out.

Hula-La Relay

To play this game you will need two of each of the following:  Coconut bra, Grass skirt, Beachcomber hat, flower ankle bracelet, and lei.

Divide your guests into two teams.  Have each team form a line.  Place one set of items in front of each line.  The first person in line must put all the items on (somewhere on their body), with the help of the player next to them.  Then they have to take it all off and pass the items to the second player in line, who then puts them all on.  The dressing and undressing moves through the players in line until it reaches the last person.  The first team to finish wins.

Monkey Raceslinking-beach-monkey-foil-balloon

To play this game you will need two Linking Beach Monkey Foil balloons (found at Oriental Trading Company), two sheets of poster board, and two pieces of rope or string about 2’ long.

Inflate the monkeys with helium.  Be sure to weight their feet so they don’t go floating up up and away.  Choose two guests to participate in the race.  On even ground, place the two pieces of rope parallel to each other, about 15 to 20 yards apart.  One marks the start line, and the other marks the finish.  Have both contestants line up behind the start line.  At the signal, each contestant uses the poster board to fan their monkey to the finish line.  Contestants may not touch the monkey with anything, only fan with the poster board.  The first monkey to cross the finish line wins.

If you are unable to find the monkeys, or fill them with helium, you may substitute brown balloons blown up with your own hot air, and paper plates for the poster board.  Play the game the same way.  This game only works on a windless day, or indoors.


This is a game of elimination.  Two players should stand about five feet apart, facing away from each other.  Each challenger holds his raised foot behind him in one hand, with a water pistol in the other hand.  On the signal each flamingo turns around and tries to make the other contestant lose his balance and drop his foot.  The contestants may not touch each other, but a squirt of water is part of the game.  The winner takes on the next challenger until there is only one player remaining.

Beach Monkey Bean Bag Toss Gamegoing-bananas-monkey-bean-bag-toss-game

Toss the banana-shaped bean bags into the netted holes to score! Oriental Trading Company.

Island Bowling

This is a bowling game with plastic pins and balls, except the pins are plastic pineapples and the balls are plastic coconuts.  Available at your local party store or online.

Treasure Hunt

Bury some small party favors in a sandbox and let the kids go at it.  You can have them look with their hands…or only with their feet!



Diving Contests – traditionally played by jumping off a cliff near a lagoon, participants would compete to see who could make the smallest splash, and then the largest splash.   (If I had a swimming pool in my yard we could try this!)

Also, if we had a swimming pool, we could do some retrieval contests by tossing objects into the pool and letting the contestants dive down to find them.

We could also have racing relays across the pool and back, either swimming, or using boogie boards and kicking behind them, or kneeling on them and paddling with our hands.


Water Balloon Volleyball – need a bed sheet per team, lots of water balloons, net or rope. Run the rope between trees if you do not have a net. Each team member holds onto his or her sheet. The balloon is put onto the sheet and the team tries to flip it over the net to the other team, who must catch it in their sheet and flip it back. If one team drops or misses, the other team gets the point.
Tip:  do not overfill the balloons.

Beach tug of War: This is for a sandy beach only. Dig a pit and fill with water (seaweed etc) have the tug of war over the pit…you get the idea; the losers fall in, yuck, but fun.

Water Sponge Relay: Need two buckets per team and one large sponge. One bucket will have water placed near the team the other empty off a distance. Players must soak the sponge and carry it to the empty bucket and wring it out then take it back to the next in line. Continue.

Water Balloon Relay: Need a pile of water balloons per team (more than one per person). First in line takes balloon runs to designated area, sits on balloon, pops it and runs back to line. Next person in line goes. If they drop their balloon or it pops before sitting on it, they must run back for a new one.

Water Limbo: Music and a water hose.

Old fashion water fight: balloons, squirt guns, bottles etc

Duck, Duck, Splash: Like Duck, Duck, Goose, But instead of touching the goose on the head, they wring out a wet sponge over their head.

Soggy sweatpants relay:   Have 2 teams, and one pair of oversize sweatpants for each team. To begin, the first team member of each team dunks the sweatpants in a bucket of water, puts them on as fast as possible and runs the designated distance, then returns to the starting line, peeling off the sweats and the next team member must dunk the pants and put them on (inside out or
not) and so on… First team to complete the relay wins.

Clean up balloon pieces: One with the most wins.

hanatbl3cHIGO BANA

Hawaiian-style Koi-Koi — also known as Sakura or Higo-Bana — is played using Hanafuda cards (playing cards of Japanese origin) and can be played with individual players or between teams with two to seven people. The rules of this variant, which is played in Hawaii, are slightly different from traditional Koi-Koi.

See rules at Game Cabinet, DigiDemon,  Sloperama and HanafudaHawaii.

There is even a You Tube video teach us how to play, which is AWESOME!!!!!  Thank you so much Hanafuda Hawaiian Style (and two others by Solo McLaughlin)!!!

You can purchase a set of large Hawaiian Hanafuda cards at Amazon.com, as well as the traditional paper or plastic Japanese cards.



Red Heel Sock Monkeys (look for these kits at Hobby Lobby)

Make leis (go to wikiHow for instructions)

Make grass skirts (go to wikiHow for instructions)

Plant a Pineapple (Let each guest cut the top off a pineapple and plant it in a decorated pot full of potting soil.  Send guests home with their own potted pineapple trees.  They actually will grow into a real plant).


General Hawaiian Customs

Add some true Island spice to your party with genuine Island customs:

Placing a lei over someone’s head is the customary way to welcome or congratulate them.  If the person is close in relationship to you, you would give them a honihoni (kiss) also.  Leis are usually made of flowers, but can also be made of candies or other decorative items.  And when your lei starts to fade and die, don’t toss it in the trash.  It is bad luck to throw a lei away.  A lei is love and you would never throw love away.  Rather cut the string and cast the flowers into the sea or hang the lei outside until it is gone.

I love that it is the custom in Hawaii for young ones to refer to older people as “auntie” or “uncle” when they are old family friends or neighbors of the parents.  That is how we raised our kids to do.  In Hawaii it is appropriate even to address a stranger as “auntie” or “uncle.”  It is friendly yet respectful.

You would never walk into someone’s home in the islands with shoes on.  And it is good manners to bring a small gift with you, possibly a dessert, when visiting someone’s home.  There is a pidgin phrase, “Make Plate” or “Take Plate” that also shows good guest manners.  When you have been invited to share a meal at someone’s home it is customary that you make a plate of food of the leftovers to take home, even if you don’t intend to eat it.  By doing this you are being a good guest and not leaving the mess for the host to clean up and put away.  Many times all the leftovers are packaged up and taken to the homeless.

Unless you are at a sporting event, it is considered rude to talk loudly, or to act like you are entitled to special treatment.  Politeness and reserve are considered a show of good breeding.

Dress is casual, aloha shirts and slacks are worn in place of suits and ties in business, and it is considered rude to stare or look someone in the eye for too long in public places.  And when you go away on a trip it is considered thoughtful to bring back gifts “makana” from your journey.  Most prized are special foods that are unavailable at home.

Translate Your Guests Names into Hawaiian  

Use this activity to make name tags for your guests, or place markers for the table.

There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet: A, E, H, I K, L, M, N, O, P, U and W. The consonants H, K, L, M, N, P, and W are pronounced exactly as in English. If a name ends in a consonant, add a vowel. Always place a vowel between consonants. The following conversion table can be helpful in translating names:

Pronunciation of Vowels

A – ah
E – ay
I – ee
O – oh
U – oo

English Consonant

= Hawaiian Consonant

B, F, P P
C, D, G, J, K, S, T, X, Z K
L, R L
V, W W
J, Y I


Name Translation Examples:

Colleen = Kaliline                    Gracee = Kalakee                     Patty = Pakaki

Matthew = Makahewe           Carrie = Kalalie

Danielle = Kanielele               Michael = Mikala

James = Iameke                       Lindee = Linekaa


Check out this dictionary of Hawaiian words site and also this one.



Our party was an all day open house where guests came and went – actually mostly came and stayed.  The graduates had such a great time.  They ate and played games, and ate and played games — some more than others.  Teenagers in groups are pretty self-entertaining.

2. luau2

4. luau limbo

The adults sat around and ate and visited mostly, while the sun was high in the sky.

3. luau 3

1. Hula Hula Luau

And we were blessed with perfect weather, thank goodness.  Although the sky filled with ominous looking clouds a few times, before we knew it they had all blown over and were gone.  (Phenominal! doot-dooo-dee-dooo-dooo, Phenominal! doot-dooo-dee-doo, Penominal! doot-dooo-dee-dooo-dooo-dee-dooo-dooo-dee-dooo-dooo-doot-dooo-doodoodoodoo-doot-doodoo-doo….oh, sorry).

As the sun set we lit the tiki torches and lanterns and they illuminated the back yard. The adults gathered around a large table and played Apples to Apples in the moonlight and under the glowing tikis and garden lanterns.


The kids dragged all the chairs together and hauled the television outside for an outdoor movie.  They always think of the most fun things to do.  Wouldn’t an old episode of Magnum PI (mmmm…Tom Sellek…swoon) or an old Hawaii 5-0 show be kinda fun???!!!!

The buffet items slowly dwindled to nothing with the fading sun, so we just let the kids raid the kitchen.  The adults popped some popcorn and whipped up some blended drinks to go with our card game and our spirited conversations. It was an enchanting and emotional day that marked a turning point in all our lives.  We all sort-of wanted to squeeze every last drop out of our shrinking time together, but with the passing hours of nighttime our pathetic old carcasses fell victim to exhaustion, so with a laggardly lack of enthusiasm we all finally surrendered to the inevitable.

We yawned and stretched and picked up the cards; we hugged the kids, bid farewell to our cohorts, and moseyed our ways back home.


“Now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  1 John 3:2



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s