Luau Buffet on a Budget!by Elzora Shaw
May 15, 2001 (Updated May 21, 2001)
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Planning a Party with a Luau Theme
Our party is not a birthday party, but this would work just as well. I am planning a Luau Senior Bash with some other friends, to celebrate the seniors who are graduating from our church. This is one of the most fun themes I have ever worked with, especially since we all live in Alaska!! This review will give you some ideas of what we are doing and resources to help you plan your own Luau at the cheapest possible price!
We plan to greet each senior with a lei, made of silk flowers. They can take these home with them at the end of the night. They can be purchased at Oriental Trading, or online at "partyetc.com". Contact information is at the end of this review.
We're making our own invitations using Print Shop software, right on our computer, this can save a bundle of money. Be creative, there are a ton of graphics you could use: beaches, lei's, pineapples, grass skirts, etc.
This was easy, since nobody owned a CD of Don Ho's greatest hits, we checked them out of our local library! They have a good selection of music to choose from, and it's all FREE. There is quite a variety of Hawaiian music around besides the ukulele and steel guitar. Pick a nice assortment so there's something for everyone.
This is where you will find the party can get a bit spendy, so start early and check out many different places. We're buying from "Partyetc.com", party and craft stores, good will stores, and we put the word out and borrowed some decorations from local schools and friends. Some suggestions: a 6 foot inflatable palm tree (or draw palm trees on big pieces of cardboard), tiki torches (we found ours at WalMart), table cloths for picnic tables (ours had tropical fruit on them), a grass table skirt for the buffet table, cardboard fish arranged in a small fish net (check your local seafood market), any marine or tropical pictures (try travel agencies!), sea shells, lei's, a silk flower garland, fringed aloha banner, and caribean blue napkins. The food can also be used as part of the decorations - my tips are in the "food" section. We also made a big sign that said "The Grill Shack" and are putting it near our big barbecue area! Local elementary schools may have some decorations that you can borrow. I was in charge of our schools summer festival and purchased many items for the kids "fishing booth". If you have any wooden maracas laying around, use these as well. Use your imagination!!
This can be simple or complex. We aren't roasting a pig in an open pit, but we are going to have the barbecue lit. We have a lot of neighborhood B-B-Q's, and are lucky in that we have a big B-B-Q pit already built with benches on either side. We also have additional picnic tables. Below is a listing of what we plan to serve.
* Teriyaki Shish-Ka-Bobs. Strips of marinated chicken put on bamboo skewers. We're also doing skewers of beef and veggies (meat, pineapple, meat, green pepper chunk, meat, cherry tomato, meat, chunk of onion). Be careful if you use the veggies, they cook before the meat and can burn - and while the tomatoes look pretty, they can get very hot and burn the inside of your mouth! We are doing more of the meat skewers than we are the meat and veggie combo's. I am planning on buying frozen skinless, boneless thigh meat in bulk. Dark meat is cheaper than white meat and it is also more moist.
* Chicken Long Rice
Fruit is a must! We're carving out a whole watermelon and using the "shell" as a bowl. We're adding chunks of the melon along with cantaloupe, strawberries, fresh pineapple, and kiwi fruit. Try to make it as colorful as possible. Take leftover bamboo skewers and make fruit kabobs. We're putting a pineapple on the table for decorative appeal. A cute idea to do with pineapple is this: cut off the top and bottom, core the center of the pineapple so you have a cylinder of fruit, and cut the fruit into spears (remove the center core from the spears). After you put the bottom back on, put the spears of pineapple back into the pineapple "jar", put on the top! Since pineapple give a lot of their juice, I think I will put this in a shallow bowl lined first with paper towels and covered up with red leaf lettuce.
* Relish Tray
I learned this secret when I worked in the kitchen of a dormitory at a college in southern California. Take a rectangular serving tray and line the edges of it with red leaf lettuce. Mound up either cherry tomatoes or black olives in the center. Starting in one corner and going diagonally to the center and to the other corner, make a "hill" of carrot sticks. On the alternating side make a "hill" of celery sticks. Now you have four areas that are triangle shaped. Fill these in with dill pickle spears and sweet pickle chips. Other veggies can easily be substituted to your liking and tastes. Garnish with sprigs of parsley. You could also leave the center empty and put a small bowl of ranch dressing or other dip.
* Breads - we are making banana bread and purchasing Hawaiian rolls.
* Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes
Similar to candied yams that you have probably eaten at Thanksgiving!
* Guacamole and Chips. Maybe not Hawaiian, but the seniors will love it, and at least it's tropical!
* Dessert!! We're going a little crazy here! We're having several families make specific ones, including Mai Tai Pie, Coconut Pudding, No Bake Pineapple Bars, and homemade "Lemon Ice" Ice Cream. P.S. - add some purple orchids to decorate the pie, it will be beautiful!
* Drinks. Since the kids are only 17 & 18, we're making either virgin Mai Tai's or Blue Hawaii's. We're also serving a typical red hawaiian punch spiced up with ginger ale. Stick a paper coctail umbrella into a chunk of pineapple for a garnish or drink stirrer.
Momento's - Take Pictures!
We are big on picture taking! We made a big cardboard pineapple and cut out an oval for a face to fit in. I want to make a little grass hut from one of our canopies (a tarp would work too) by putting some of the grass table skirts across the front of it. We'll set up the palm trees under it, and take picture's of the kids, probably with two in each picture - one standing next to the palm tree and the other with their face in the pineapple! They will be nice keepsakes for each of the seniors! You could also take pictures of someone relaxing on a hammock or if you have a patio set with an umbrella attached to it, take a picture of a couple sitting there sipping their "drinks".
The guys are being asked to wear Hawaiian shirts, and the gals either pants and Hawaiian shirts or Mu Mu's. So many families from our church have been to Hawaii, it shouldn't be hard to find appropriate clothing for them to borrow.
The Dole Company has recipes on their website, they have the No Cook Pineapple Bars available there.
Mai Tai Pie:
Mix 1 cup pineapple grapefruit juice, 2 Tablespoons orange juice concentrate, 3 Tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 cup of sugar and a dash of salt in a saucepan. Stir and cook until thickened. Stir some of this mixture into a bowl of two beaten egg yolks (to prevent curdling) then add this back to the saucepan. Cook on your lowest heat for about 4 minutes. Cool. Beat in 2 Tablespoons Dark Rum. Whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream and add to mixture. Whip 2 egg whites and fold these in. Pour into a ready made graham cracker crust pie shell and chill. Whip more heavy cream with a small amount of orange juice concentrate and top the pie with this. You can garnish this with cherries, kiwi fruit, etc. Chill till ready to serve.
I found quite a bit of help by doing searches on words like "luau" and "luau recipes" on the Dogpile search engine.
The Oriental Trading Company is online, look them up and check out their luau merchandise or give them a call at 1-800-875-8480 and request a catalog. Shipping can get expensive.
Another great source is "partyetc.com" - they have a luau section with a nice assortment and good prices. Their phone number is 1-877-38PARTY.
This is a fun party to throw! The possibilities are endless. What we are doing seems like a lot of work right now, but I know the seniors will have a ball, and that will make it all worth while!