Sweet 16 Luau Ideas

Luaus are colorful and fun, and the food is fabulous. So, if you ask me, I think planning a luau is a great way to have a party. Limbo on down the page and check it out...

Sweet 16 Luau Invitations
Use a personalized luau invitation and include a plastic lei or hair flower. Tell them they must wear the enclosed pieces on their bodies somewhere, and that you want them to dress luau-creative. That will get them talking long before the party!
 
Passport invitations are another fun option for your invitation. You can add a picture, personalized wording and custom stamps. Your guests will be very impressed with these!

If you want to send a spectacular invitation, consider a semi-custom caricature invitation. Using art that has already been drawn, we can add a photo face or a caricature face and personalize the message for you! You can use the design for other fun elements in your Sweet 16 luau, including centerpieces, a welcome sign, thank you notes, and much more!
 
Here are some fun luau theme wording examples that you can use on your invites, or even a party banner -
  • Join us for a Tiki-rific Party to Celebrate Amy's 16th Birthday!
  • Come and Hula by the Poola at Jackie's 16th Birthday Luau!
  • Join us for a "Lei'd Back " Hawaiian Luau Sweet 16!
  • Come and party in your sunscreen, this Hula Girl is turning 16!
  • The torches are lit, the theme is set... we're having a luau you'll never forget!
  • We're going tropical for Kathleen's birthday, so break out the flip flops, grass skirts and leis!
  • Dress code is Tacky Tourist (go ahead, show us your worst!)
  • Put on your craziest Hawaiian shirts and a few leis, bring a swimsuit, sunblock and shades!

Sweet 16 luau supplies and birthday decorations
To make a grand entrance, place bamboo Tiki torches and inflatable palm trees outside your door as the first indication to your guests that this is going to be the luau to remember. You may even want to adorn your porch rail or doorway with white twinkle lights or tropical lights for a festive effect.

Welcome everyone with a custom banner at the front of the party (they are also great above the buffet). Add a CD player with island music to create the perfect atmosphere. If you are really adventurous and can stand the ridicule and neighbor gossip, use pink flamingos to adorn your front yard or line them up the driveway or front sidewalk.
 
This general area is also a great place to have a sign in. There are many great ways to set this up, here are a few of our favorite ideas -
  • An inexpensive surfboard for everyone to sign fits perfectly in theme. Make sure to buy permanent markers!
  • A 3D sign in book is a classic way to let guests leave message to the guest of honor.
  • Have your guests fill out tropical postcards with birthday wishes and drop them into a mailbox!
Use beach scene setters or netting as your backdrop around the room. Have a big basket of leis inside the door where people can help themselves to a few. I would plan on 5 or 6 per person so that they can be creative and festive with their leis. If you think you have the time, stand at the door and greet everyone with a lei--this is always a nice gesture and a traditional way of saying aloha. Or just leave a basket by the door with leis and personalized cameras in it. Put a note on the basket urging them to wear them wherever they please, and to take lots of pictures. This will make for fun photo opportunities (you can develop the film and send the pictures later as a "thank you" for attending the party).

The backyard is just as fun to decorate as the rest of the house, so don’t neglect this space if weather permits or if you plan to expand the party outside.
  • Bright lanterns or ceiling swirls might be a nice touch, whether inside or in the back yard. Tribal masks are fun, too.
  • Hang wind chimes and wooden parrots to give a complete background to your setting. 
  • Shells, sand and silk hibiscus flowers are in order here as well.
  • If you really want to go crazy, rent realistic looking fake palm trees and wooden totem poles to place around the yard/patio. 
  • Bamboo torch candles are a must, and don’t forget the citronella candles on the tables.
If you are assigning seats or if you want to give out nametags (and this is wise when you have a lot of friends that don't know each other), here’s a thought: flip flops. You know, the rubber kind you wear on your feet with a flower in the center? They make for a great nametag or seating card. Just write the name in magic marker, add a 25¢ chain or ribbon (necklace) and voila--a humorous way to get people talking about your creativity and their flip flops. Line them up alphabetically on a table near the entrance.

Another thought on this is to use starfish or sand dollars and write the name of the person on it. For nametags, string some ribbon around it.

Fill the room with balloons in tropical colors (great as bouquets tied to a "real" pineapple), and flowers and you'll have a party to remember.

Sweet 16 Luau Table and Menu
We would start with a raffia table skirt around the buffet table to bring Hawaii right inside your home. Use a green plastic or linen tablecloth over the buffet and pin the skirting to the edges. Then think of something fun for a centerpiece!
  • A palm centerpiece couldn't be more simple for your table. 
  • Beachcomber hats upside down are great to hold different snacks and munchies.
  • A balloon bouquet weighted down with a bucket of sand makes a unique centerpiece.
  • Another great ideas is to use a piñata as your centerpieces or if you prefer, hang them above the tables.
Use baskets on each buffet to hold luncheon napkins, luau-themed plates, cutlery and cups. You may even want to get matching guest towels for your powder room! Check out these luau themed paper goods

Don't forget to add luau confetti and foil wrapped chocolate fish across your table. Your guests will really WOW at your thoughtfulness and carry-through. Make sure to use tropical colors for your tablecloths--yellow, green, hot pink, melon, orange and bright blue. Add your own seashells, maracas and sand.

A tiki cooler (filled with drinks) makes for a great decoration and is something different than the norm. The first drink should be served complete with drink umbrellas and luau drink skirts. You may want to add some extra candles to create some atmosphere--and you may want to add some tropical lights around the bar as well. Don’t forget the all-important coconut cups! Here is a great drink to serve your guests:
Tropical Fruit Punch
A fruity tropical punch is a great option for both children and adults. Mix 1/2 gallon pineapple juice, 1/2 gallon fruit punch, 1/2 gallon orange sherbet, and a 2 liter of ginger ale. Serve in a punch bowl and float pineapple rings on top.
Here are few more fun Swee 16 Luau Ideas for your table and buffet -
  • If you can, rent a slushie machine and serve frozen drinks with tiny umbrellas!
  • Freeze the gummy fish and sharks in cubes of ice for drinks!
  • Hollowed out pineapples, coconuts and oranges make great votive and tealight holders; use them to decorate your table.
  • Colorful beach towels draped over plain plastic tablecloths will dress up the buffet!
  • For a cute addition to your drinks, freeze gummy fish and sharks in ice cubes!
Serve tropical foods in a fun buffet:
  • Hawaiian ham and pineapple pizzas - simple and inexpensive... this is my favorite food idea!
  • Sweet and sour meatballs
  • Cinnamon chips with pineapple salsa
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chicken long rice
  • Poi
  • Beef teriyaki
  • Hawaiian chicken with ham and pineapple
  • Chocolate cake and/or coconut cake
Sweet 16 Luau Games and Activities
A luau should have authentic Hawaiian dancers, hire the hula and fire-eating kind. Oh, and one last thing--don't forget to do the limbo!

Another common activity at a Sweet 16 party is the candle lighting ceremony. Checkout out the Sweet 16 Candle Lighting Ceremony Guide if you need instructions. And don't forget to check out our complete list of Sweet 16 Party Games!

Luau Party Favors
Hand out a special party favor your friends will be talking about long after the sun goes down. Here are some fun ideas:
  • Personalized Luau Candy Bars - A personalized candy bar in milk or dark chocolate, what could be better than that?
  • Custom Luau Lollipop - A sweet way to thank your guests for coming to your birthday!
  • Leis - choose from any number of colors. Put them in a basket at the door or hand them out (dressed as a hula girl or boy!)…
  • Glow Luau Literopes - these are the perfect favors.
  • Hula Skirts - True Hawaiians will be so jealous.
From us here at Party411.com, have a super Sweet 16 luau!