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What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think about summer? Maybe it’s the beach or the pool. Maybe your head is filled with images of cookouts and parties.  When I hear the word “summer”, I get a collage of pictures running through my head. Cookouts, pools, grills, hamburgers, BBQ, beaches, seashells, vacations; these images swirl through my head at the slightest mention of the word.  I don’t know about you, but even during the summer I still have to go to work, which means I don’t get nearly as much time for vacations and family get-togethers as I’d like.  My Ohana (family) is so important to me and I want to make sure I get to spend as much time with them as possible. So what do you do when you’re extremely busy, but still want to experience a tropical vacation get together? Relax and take some time to throw a Summer Luau at home.
I’ve been to luaus in Hawaii when I was on vacation and they were amazing. Great food, beautiful flowers everywhere, fire dancers and fun island music. But my friend Anne, who lives in Hawaii now, tells me that normal luaus are not quite as extravagant as the ones I went to – though still just as fun!
Here are a few tips to make sure your Summer Luau is a great success:
The Menu
Whenever I plan a party, the first thing I start working on is the menu. For a luau, think about large dishes that can feed a crowd. Kalua Pork sliders are super simple and easy to make for a luau. Place Kalua pulled pork on large platter, provide toppings and buns for guest to assemble their own sliders (King’s Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Mini Sub Rolls or Dinner Rolls are perfect for this), or pre-assemble them for a grab-and-go dish. If you're from the south, like I am, slaw is a staple when it comes to pulled pork so make sure it's available on the side.  For the Kalua Pork, sprinkle a pork butt with seasoning salt (or Hawaiian salt), add a little liquid smoke and cook for a few hours until it begins to falls apart, either in a slow cooker or in the oven. Also be sure to serve tons of fresh fruit, like pineapple, bananas, strawberries, kiwi and grapes in large serving bowls. Place bowls of fruit inside larger bowls filled with ice to keep the fruit cool. If the weather is really hot, provide bottles of water and paper fans to keep guests cool and comfortable.
The Ambience
Decorate the party space with Tiki torches and tropical flowers, real or silk. Seashells like starfish, sand dollars and conch shells can also be used to decorate the food tables. Be sure to set the mood and have Hawaiian/Island music playing in the background. Hawaiian music CDs can be found either online or in most stores. Greet guests with flower leis as they arrive to the Luau. You can find flower leis in the party section of craft stores, and sometimes even at the dollar store. Or buy silk flowers (or real flowers), beads and thread; have guests make their own personal leis during the luau.  Use a hammer and nail to pre-punch holes through the flowers for easy threading.  
Whether you're looking to throw a huge celebration with a Hawaiian/Luau theme or a small and simple luau with friends and family, just remember to have fun with it and enjoy the time with your Ohana!