Graduation Luau 2009

Colin Cowie luau tableOur local Party City is already setting up the horrible graduation/luau party aisle. I don't know why the inflatable palm trees and plastic tiki cups drive me insane! I think I've been to too many parties where they bought every flamingo and pineapple-themed object at the store.

If you insist on having graduation and luau go hand in hand, isn't there any way to make it a little classier? "Tiki" doesn't have to mean "tacky" so here are some hot looks to make your soiree a hit and the talk of the summer.

Last year's post on luau ideas is sure to get you inspired.

In The Gospel According To In Style Parties,the reigning divo that is Colin Cowie, designed a fab backyard luau complete with a pan-Asian menu under a canopied structure lit by Chinese lanterns and surrounded by tiki torches. They covered the sides of their table with grass skirting, fabric leis on the chairs and hurricane lamps are alternated with mounds of whole and halved tropical fruits and studded with tropical flowers.

In The Gospel According To Great Parties For Kids, they outlined a fabulous tropical paradise party, complete with dressed up garden furniture, and topped off with tropical-island style sunshades from a home-improvement store. Flower-shaped tealights float in bowls of water, chairs are dressed with leis that guests can add to their costumes.

I love their party favor, a flower lei coiled into a cocktail glass with a pair of shades and a monkey swizzle stick wrapped in cellophane, and tied with a bright ribbon.

Luau formal tabletopFor table d├ęcor, Moana Events suggests to focus on clean, organic lines with a lot of natural elements and just a few tropical ones. Their beautiful tabletop kept the floral print to one aspect of the table and balanced it out by using many wood elements and limiting the use of color.

Instead of floral centerpieces, they chose to use two large Monstera leafs in a simple wood bowl. Simple, off-white ceramic plates are placed on top of a woven grass charger; sleek modern silverware and stemless wine glasses complete their place setting.

The ultimate tropical party guide has to be The Gospel According to Trader Vic's Tiki Party! From setting the party mood to fabulous recipes, they have it all covered! They suggest a trip to a well-stocked florist or wholesaler, get your hands on large leaves like palm fronds and banana leaves, and focus your decorating skills on the entry, the bar, and the main food table. Tiki torches are perfect mood lighting, as well as paper lanterns and votive candles to create a warm and flattering light.

A good chunk of the book is devoted to setting up the bar (non-alcoholic for the high school set) and a plethora of amazing drink recipes, a few I will be sharing over the next couple of Sundays.

Bottom line, keep it simple: grass skirting, leis and brightly colored tableware and a special prop or two. Inviting your guests to come in island attire will easily set the scene. Throw in some reggae, lounge music, Cuban or African music in addition to Hawaiian music and you have the perfect recipe for an amazing time.

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