Set the mood for a Hawaiian party with decorations that reflect the Hawaiian Islands -- from erupting volcanoes to surfers riding translucent blue waves. Whether you're holding your luau or other type of Hawaiian party at an indoor venue or on your back patio, you can make many of the decorations by hand. Enlist a few friends to help, put on some Hawaiian music, serve some umbrella drinks and snacks, and make it a decorating party.
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Decorate one of the buffet tables with an edible volcano in honor of the volcanic island chain. Stack two large round cakes with frosting between. Frost the top and add a bundt cake that has a slightly smaller circumference, such as two 8-inch layers topped with a 6-inch bundt cake. Frost the entire cake with dark-brown buttercream frosting, leaving the bundt-cake hole uncovered. Drizzle red and orange icing from the top, creating rivers of lava. Insert into the cake's hole a glass of dry ice; adhere to the safety precautions on the dry ice package. Drizzle warm water on the ice and watch your volcano cake steam.
Coconut or Lauhala Weaving
In Hawaii, the fronds of lauhala trees are soaked to make them supple, then they are woven into beautiful and useful items such as handbags, floor mats, hats and place mats. Coconut fronds also are used for weaving but do not need to be soaked first. If you don't have a coconut or lauhaula tree, make faux lauhala mats with strips of green, tan or brown construction paper or posterboard -- the fronds are green until they dry and turn tan or golden brown. Cut several strips then weave them into place mats or other decorative items for the tables.
Create a welcome sign with a surfboard. If you don't have one handy, make one with a thin piece of plywood -- about 1/2-inch thick -- and a small saw such as a jigsaw or scroll saw. Draw a simple outline of a surboard on the plywood then cut it out. Paint the board a bright color that matches your theme, such as yellow or orange. Use stencils and paint, or paint freehand, to create a welcome message such as "Aloha!" or "E komo mai"; the latter means "welcome" in Hawaiian. Lean the surfboard against something stable such as a patio wall or post.
Hawaii has hundreds of waterfalls. If your luau cannot be held at a place that has a waterfall, you can create one. Build a waterfall with a pond from a kit; this is a good option if you'd like to have this year-round in the place you hold your luau, such as a patio, poolside or a garden. Tuck orchids among the rocks and ferns around the pond. After dark, focus light on the waterfall so it sparkles. For a temporary, faux waterfall, create one with cellophane strips: Place a ladder in the corner of the room and drape a piece of blue fabric over it. Hang blue cellophane strips on the front. Create movement with a small fan. For a rock background, sponge paint crumpled paper bags or other paper with black and gray paint. Tape them to the corner area behind the ladder waterfall.