For a golden wedding anniversary party that perfectly blends merriment and sentiment, a casual luau-themed celebration at home is just the thing! Mark this special occasion with a gathering that says “Aloha” in style—from a table scene alive with elegant colors and organic décor elements, to food, drinks, and entertainment sure to make this summer party a hit. Even such a fun event must come to an end, though. So be sure guests remember the occasion, with a special memento inspired by the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. » Click to view slideshow
Paint a Palette of Cool Coastal Colors
When considering the color palette for your luau, visualize a breezy, cool tropical scene painted in the most relaxing hues. Immediately, the freshest greens and muted shades of ivory and tan come to mind. A shot of azure and a splash of orange make wonderful additions, too!
What a treat that nature provides all of these colors ready-to-use! Various shades of green can come in the form of simple palm fronds and other foliage. While an array of vivid hues can be brought in with fabulous flowers such as birds of paradise, plumerias, and hibiscus, as well as stunning orchids like heliconias, dendrobiums, and cattleyas. And for an element of surprise, coconuts fashioned into delightful centerpiece “vases” are sure to be the talk of the table.
Set the Scene with Natural Plus Stylized Elements
For this at-home party, the backyard, an airy patio, or an open deck would be the best venue. To set a mood that is both romantic and captivating, bathe the entire place in the golden glow of hanging votives, floating candles, wood-and-glass luminaries, and even tiki torches.
As for the luau tables, drape them in neutral colored tablecloths and contrast these with crisp ivory or white table linens. At mid-table, catch everyone’s attention with striking coconut centerpieces showcasing a variety of leaves from tropical plants. Wary of the cost? Just remember, because of their brilliant verdant colors and ornamental shapes, even simple bunches of these leaves in chic glass bowls make a truly eye-catching statement. » Click to view slideshow
Finally, bring the glow of the surroundings to the tabletop with tiny tealights or votive candles in glass cylinders. Decorate these with natural materials such as raffia, jute, or bamboo. And complete the look with loose palm fronds and single orchid blooms laid at random amidst the place settings.
Bring the Flavors of Hawaii to Your Home
Did you know that luau actually refers to the taro leaves used to wrap food for cooking in an underground oven? So the feast you’ll be preparing is more accurately termed ‘aha’aina, meaning “gathering for a meal” in Hawaiian. Traditionally, this is a grand meal shared with family and friends to celebrate a significant occasion—which your 50th anniversary definitely is!
Here are some great luau menu ideas:
1. Typical luau fare includes the Polynesian pupu platter, lomi lomi salmon, and the kalua pig, which is always a crowd favorite. Hint: Look for recipe books by famous Hawaiian chefs such as Sam Choy or Roy Yamaguchi. But if you’re hesitant about your culinary skills, you can always find a local caterer or restaurant that specializes in Hawaiian cuisine.
2. As for appetizers, consider seafood fare consisting of shrimps, squid, lobster, and fresh fish. Examples: Ahi Poke or sushi-grade tuna prepared with a special marinade (a popular Hawaiian appetizer), coconut shrimp with sweet-and-sour dipping sauce, and fried lobster wontons accompanied by a savory wasabi-mayo dip. And for a truly Hawaiian favorite, consider skewers of grilled Spam® with pineapple chunks. Trivia: Spam® is extremely popular in Hawaii!
3. For dessert, serve haupia, a traditional Hawaiian dessert made with coconut that is the consistency of gelatin. You can also offer another luau favorite, banana bread—but with a twist. Bake some banana bread cupcakes frosted with tropical-colored icing. And for that famed Hawaiian treat, lay out boxes of luscious macadamia nut chocolates!
4. Have an anniversary cake that suits the theme, too. A luscious chocolate and banana-flavored layer cake, decorated with banana buttercream frosting would be a delicious choice.
5. And of course, there are the tropical fruits such as papayas, pineapples, mangoes, and bananas. Make them a part of your table decorations by displaying them in slices, wedges, chunks, and whole—allowing their lovely shapes, colors, and textures to truly bring a tropical vibe to the party. Hint: Head for your local farmer’s market when looking for a variety of tropical fruits in season.
Give Special Mementos With That “Aloha” Spirit
Fifty years of marriage is indeed a major milestone to be celebrated with family and friends. Commemorate this wonderful occasion by giving guests a keepsake to remind them of this joyous event. Silk pouches filled with tropical-flavored candy such as pineapple, for instance, would be delightful party favors. But these could start off as part of your table decorations as well. Simply tuck in an escort card with the candies, and they double up as pretty place card holders.
Fun At The Luau
To really get guests in the mood, have relaxing Hawaiian music playing in the background or fill the air with the strains of simple guitar pieces. A live instrumentalist would be great!
If it’s interactive fun you want, get everyone to dance the hula! Arrange for someone to give an impromptu hula lesson so that even the “dance challenged” can’t beg off.
Set Up a Fun Tropical Bar
Drinks are also an important aspect of any party. The trick here is to find Hawaiian-inspired beverages that everyone will enjoy. Apart from the traditional iced tea and fresh fruit shakes, serve tropical cocktails such as Mai Tais, pineapple and banana daiquiris, piña coladas, and Hawaiian Sunsets. Create a pretty sign using a picture frame that has been personalized with the names of the celebrants. For example, “Welcome to Nathan and Anne’s Bar.”
Kids, too, can have glasses of chilled four seasons juice or a “tequila sunrise” without the tequila! And should the festivities last a bit late, have Kona coffee ready. Serve it in an antique coffee pot made of sterling silver or porcelain—adding a stylish, Old World look.