How to Throw an Outdoor Luau Party This Summer

Throw the ultimate tropical celebration with these tips and party hacks—including decor ideas, easy party foods, and delicious drinks—all with a tropical twist.

Summer partying has never been this fun! You don't need a special occasion to throw this party—especially now that gatherings are becoming safe post-pandemic. To throw this colorful luau, grab some tropical fruits, bright flowers, and a few friends for an unforgettable summer gathering.

A few free printables make it easy to decorate on a budget, and our expert outdoor party planning tips and gorgeous display ideas will help you put together a show-stopping tropical look, no matter where you live. So grab your best gal pals, mix up an umbrella drink, and don your best DIY lei. Here's how to throw the ultimate luau party.

blonde woman floral dress snack table
Adam Albright

Tropical Tastings

A showstopping fruit tray will be the center of attention on the buffet table—and it's seriously so easy to assemble! Gather tropical fruits like mango, kiwi, dragon fruit, melon, pineapple, orange, and pomegranate and scatter them around a tray or wood cake stand ($20, Target). Get creative with the display; use a melon ball tool ($11, Target) to add fruit balls to hollowed-out rinds, taking the tropical tray up a notch. Once you've assembled the cut fruits, fill in with smaller snacks like raspberries, cherries, and nuts—you can even add a few tropical flowers to the display! The sweet fruit pairs perfectly with something crunchy and salty, like almonds or mixed nuts.

let's luau plaque
Adam Albright

Let’s Luau

When it comes to party decorations, you can't go wrong with decor that's cute and easy to create. We love the way simple acrylic lucite signs ($18 for three, Amazon) add a pop of personality to the table—and they're seriously so easy! Download our free printable designs to create your own set of 5 unique signs; all of the lucite sign designs from this party are included in our free download. Use the templates to cut the words from brightly colored vinyl ($5, Michaels), or place a printed template on the back of the clear sign and use a paint pen to trace the words.

food table with grass skirt white cart
Adam Albright

Simple Snacks

Don't spend hours cooking for this summer soiree. Pair fresh fruits with finger foods like salted almonds, DIY ice pops, and easy salsas or dips. Continue the tropical theme by using a cut pineapple as a salsa dish! To create your own, cut a pineapple in half lengthwise and hollow out both halves. Fill each half with salsa, dips, or fruit salad and add to the food table for an extra tropical look. Bonus points if you turn the pineapple's insides into easy pineapple salsa!

woman holding pineapple vase floral arrangment
Adam Albright

Party Like a Pineapple

Nothing says 'luau' like party-worthy pineapple decor—make a gorgeous centerpiece by hollowing out a pineapple and filling it with fresh flowers. To get a luau-worthy look without spending a fortune, mix garden flowers like orange zinnias and pink peonies with tropical leaves and flowers for an inexpensive and colorful display. We put a glass Mason jar ($4, Target) inside our empty pineapple to hold water for the flowers, since putting water directly into the pineapple isn't recommended. Don't let the inside of the pineapple go to waste; add cut pineapple to the fruit tray or use it to flavor fun cocktails!

close-up make your own lei station plaque
Adam Albright

Make Your Own Lei

Set up an activity station for your guests to make their own leis. It's easy to set up, and guests will love wearing their creations at the party. Set up a table or bar cart ($150, Target) with a basket of fresh orchid flowers, long needles, and thread. To make the leis, thread flowers onto about 100 inches of plain twine ($4, Target), then tie the ends of the twine together. Experiment with alternating colors or different kinds of flowers so that each guest's lei is unique.

woman placing pink flower in water tube
Adam Albright

Set the Scene

Give your party a tropical energy by putting together an easy backdrop for your setup. We set up our food and drink table against an outdoor wall covered in ivy—the perfect base for our bright blooms. You don't have to spend a fortune on special-order tropical flowers; check your local florist or grocery store for flowers such as peonies in bright pinks, oranges, and reds. We used florists wire ($3, Michaels) and individual floral tubes ($8, Amazon) to attach single flowers to the ivy wall, and we're obsessed with how easy it is. If you don't have a wall with existing greenery, use colorful washi tape ($6, Michaels) to attach individual flowers to the wall.

luau party aloha drink station
Adam Albright

DIY Drink Station

Every party needs a signature summer cocktail—and a luau party is a perfect excuse to break out the drink umbrellas! Add height to your food table to save valuable space for extra snacks. We elevated our drink station by adding a painted wood pallet crate ($13, Michaels) to the table. It makes for easy drink-pouring and offers space to add a few extra tropical fruits for decoration. For the perfect drink station, fill a glass drink container ($40, Crate & Barrel) with pina coladas or just plain lemonade, and add sliced fruit or edible flowers to the mix. Don't forget to add cups!

luau party close-up popsicles ice
Adam Albright

Decorate with Dessert

Who says you can't use food as part of your decor? This ice pop tray is just as cute as it is practical! Display homemade fruit pops (or just unwrap store-bought ones—we won't tell!) in a galvanized metal tray filled with ice cubes to keep them cold. Finish the display with bright citrus slices and tropical flowers.

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