Hawaiian Luau party ideas

17 Exotic Hawaiian Luau Birthday Party Ideas For Kids

Luau Hawaiian tropical island

This summer my older daughter learned to sail, she also began daydreaming of life on a desert island. She told me she wanted to live in a Robinson-style tree house, eat pineapples, drink coconut milk and weave blankets out of beach grass. The island fantasy flourished well into the fall and provided a perfect theme. We came up with some Hawaiian Luau party ideas for her ninth birthday party.

The big day dawned gray and chilly, but inside, paper palm trees had spread their leaves over the armchair. Our house pulsed with a heady calypso beat. The invitation said, “Please come to a tropical island crafts party,” and everyone we asked came, gleefully shedding jackets and undressing down to Hawaiian shirts. The party turned out to be a nice antidote to the endless winter, birthday or no birthday. Since the party was indoors, we decided to introduce some craft activities so our guests would have plenty to do. This also meant they had a few souvenirs to take home.

Luau party cake cookies drinks

Party Preparation

Message in a bottle

Message in a bottle

Send invitations two weeks before your party. Most of our guests called to R.S.V.P. the day they received these invitations.

Materials You Will Need

  • Paper
  • Colored markers
  • Stickers
  • 11-ounce plastic water bottles
  • 9-inch by 12-inch mailing envelopes

You or your child can draw a simple map of a desert island, with a sailboat, pulled up on the beach. Connect the boat to a large X with a dotted line. Write your address on the X and fill in relevant details such as the date and time of the party. Copy the map onto off-white paper, color it with markers, roll it and seal it with a sticker. Slip the invitation into a bottle and ship it out in an envelope.

Luau party table setup

The Setup

Clear your party space, then set up a table for the kids and a separate workstation for the adult helpers. Cover the children’s table with newspaper and set out the materials for the first activity. Organize the rest of your supplies by the event and store them in bags. Get a jump on the next day’s events. Prepare the basis for your shell candles, make the betting board and clean out the coconuts for the shell game.

Tropical Craft Activities

Footprints In The Sand

Most parties take a while to get going. Not this one. The first to arrive were asked to drop shoes and socks, step into pans of paint and walk all over a tablecloth.

Materials You Will Need

  • Plastic drop cloth
  • White tablecloth or butcher paper
  • Tempera paints
  • Aluminum baking pans
  • Newspaper and old towels
  • Basin of soapy water

There is a way to prevent this nifty little game from ruining your house. Make sure that two adults are supervising, and set up the paints in an area separate from the rest of the party. We used our basement, but a driveway or garage could work, too.

Tape a plastic drop cloth to the floor, then tape a tablecloth or sheet of butcher paper on top of it. Pick a few colors of tempera paint and pour about 1/4 inch of each into large aluminum pans. Thin the paint with water if it’s gluey. Place pans on the drop cloth at one end of the tablecloth. On the other end, set a chair, newspapers, and towels next to a basin of warm, soapy water.

Explain to the children that the tablecloth is their island beach and that only one child can walk on the beach at a time. Each guest picks two colors, stepping with one foot into each pan. Be sure to give your guests a hand, since the paint-filled pan will be slippery. When the child reaches the other end of the tablecloth, he should step onto the newspapers. The second adult then helps him to sit in the chair and washes the paint off his feet. After the footprints have dried, lay a colorful tablecloth on the party table, drape it with the painted one and cover both with the drop cloth, trimmed to size.

Island Safari Hats

The chance to turn pith helmets into miniature desert islands will settle the children down a bit after their romp on the tablecloth. The crown of the hat, decorated with palm trees and hula dancers, becomes the island. Sailboats, fish, and mermaids share the ocean brim.

Materials You Will Need

  • Plastic trinkets
  • 1 white plastic pith helmet per child
  • Blue and yellow markers
  • Small plastic bags
  • 2 hot-glue guns

Before the party, fill small plastic bags with each child’s supply of plastic trinkets and set them out, with the hats and markers, on the kids’ table. At the adult workstation, set up your hot-glue guns.
The children can first color their hats and then line up to have their palm trees, hula dancers and fish glued on. A parent should apply the hot glue (it gets too hot) but hand the trinkets back so the children can set them in position.

Three shell game

The Shell Game

Anyone who’s visited New York City has probably seen con artists trying to separate tourists from their money by shuffling around a set of three cups at blinding speed. Your kids will love this game and the chance to outsmart you or any other dealer.


Materials You Will Need

  • 3 identical plastic bowls, or coconut halves
  • Screwdriver and hammer
  • Cardboard
  • Tokens (we used checkers)
  • Gold foil-covered chocolate coins
  • Marker (we used a cork)

Ahead of time: Buy prescored coconuts. The nut will break neatly in half if you line up the screwdriver on the score line and tap hard with a hammer. Clean out the meat. To make a betting board, mark off three 4-inch squares on a strip of cardboard and write 1, 2 and 3 on them.

Set the betting board on the table where you’ll be shuffling the coconuts or bowls. Give the children their tokens and a bag of gold pirate coins to wager with. Make a big show of placing the cork under one of the coconut halves, then swap the shells around. Ask the children to lay their tokens (we put a child’s initials on each) in the square in front of the coconut that they think hides the cork. Winners receive a coin; losers pay the dealer.

shell candles

Shell Candles

Candle made of shell is a cute craft that the kids at Rachel’s party rushed to show their parents at pickup time. Adults control the handling of the wax, but children decorate the base with smaller shells, set the wick and watch as the hot wax is poured.

Materials You Will Need

  • 1/2-inch rope, cut into 30-inch lengths
  • Hot-glue gun
  • One large shell per child
  • Large spaghetti pot
  • Disposable foil roasting pan
  • Paraffin (1 pound makes 6 to 8 candles)
  • Crayons
  • Wicking and wick tabs
  • Pencils
  • Small shells
  • Tacky Glue
  • Ladle

Ahead of time: Prep the basis of your candles. Twist each rope into a coil and hot-glue it to the bottom of one of the large shells. Check each shell for holes and repair any you find with a drop of hot glue. Just before the party, pre-melt the paraffin. Make your double boiler by setting a foil pan snugly in the mouth of a large pot. NEVER PLACE THE WAX CONTAINER DIRECTLY ON THE FLAME. Fill the pot until water reaches halfway up the foil pan, then drop in the wax. Add pieces of broken crayon for color. Turn off the heat once the wax is melted.

While the shell game is going on, set up the table for candle-making. At each child’s place, set a 10-inch length of wicking, a wick tab, a pencil and a shell with its base. Scatter several small shells down the center of the table and set out bottles of Tacky Glue.

Ask the children to decorate the big shells with smaller ones. While the glue sets (it takes about 10 minutes), instruct the children to thread their wick through the wick tab and press it down to crimp the wick in place. They may need help with this. Have the kids put their wick tabs in the shell bottom, wrap the wick’s other end around a pencil and lay it across the top of the shell. Ask them to place the shells on the table; an adult should then ladle wax into them. The wax takes 20 minutes to harden.


Luau party costume

Luau Party Costume 5 pieces set: $17.55

Do The Limbo

At this point in the party, the kids have concentrated on the tasks at hand and are ready to cut loose or cut a rug. Turn up the music and stand back.

Luau party limbo dance

Materials You Will Need

  • Limbo music
  • Broomstick

The obvious musical inspiration is Chubby Checker’s album, but any calypso beat or Beach Boys LP will do. Explain the rules: The bar will be held at the same height for everyone during each round. A person who touches the bar or reaches down to touch the ground as she moves under the bar is eliminated. In each new round, the bar will be lowered six inches or so, and everyone who has not been eliminated will have a turn.

Start the game with the bar high enough for everyone to slide under for a few rounds. Award a prize to all contestants, with something extra for the winner.

Luau party egzotic fruits

More Games and Fun Party Ideas

  • Paint seashells
  • Fashion a hula skirt out of rope and raffia
  • Make tissue-paper flowers
  • Create a necklace on a leather thong, using beads, shells, pre-drilled nuts or seeds
  • Design sandpaintings
  • Make lanyards for a compass or whistle
  • Build model sailboats or origami boats
  • Decorate sunglasses with Runts, shiny, hard miniature fruit candies
  • Decorate picture frames with seashells
  • Make little animals out of seashells and googly eyes
  • Play the card game Go Fish

Some more Luau party ideas, supplies and decorations for you;

Coconut Maracas

Coconut Ukulele

 Coconut Ukulele: $7.99

Adult Unisex Tacky Traveler Costume