How to pull off a Hawaiian themed party in the middle of Autumn

“Who decides to throw a Hawaiian party in the middle of a Melbourne Autumn?” was my first thought when I opened the invitation in the mail.  My lovely friend Sophie summoned us all to get lei-ed and don our finest coconut bras for her 30th birthday party.

Shouldn’t it be indoors with the heating turned up to 40 degrees?  Maybe, but with a little help from friends, the birthday girl really brought the heat.

You know that I love any type of exotic theme AND dress-up parties, so I was in my element.  So many questions! What’s classic Hawaiian food? (And no, Hawaiian pizza is not an option).   What’s real Hawaiian music?  Where do I buy a grass skirt?


I didn’t have a clue, so I thought I’d document an awesome example of a themed food-music-dancing house party done well.

The food

Soph enlisted our friend Sam, head chef at Paco’s Tacos to pull together the food.

The main event were mini steak sandwiches with chimmichurri. Deceptively simple, Sam got his hands on A-grade Waygu steak, which he brined and marinated for 24 hours.  Apart from being one of the best, tastiest steaks I’ve ever eaten, it was an awesome way to feed people in waves, (ie. early: folks with kids, late: everyone else, later: for drunk mums and dads after the kids have go to bed!) because you could just throw on another steak when peeps got hungry.


Other Hawaiian themed food included old school frankfurters for the kids, a not-really-Hawaiian potato salad and an awesome triple stacked sponge with pineapple pieces and cream, decorated like this:

The drinks

Soph’s mate tended the bar and made Pina Colada’s using fresh pineapple. You put the lime in the coconut, y’know?

The playlist

This was hard.  I scoured the net to look for cool Hawaiian music.  What I ended up with were the cheesy movie-style references like the Beach Boys, Elvis etc.  I did manage to pull together a Hawaii five oh mixtape with some Hawaiian themed Marley covers and Louis Armstrong.

Louis, who has far classier taste than I, rocked the party with a heap of Brazilian and Salsa, and later on got the backyard dancefloor going with some classics.

  • Listen – my spotify Hawaii five oh mixtape for fake Hawaiian lovers

The decorations and set-up

The big thing here was keeping people warm on a chilly Melbourne night.  A chimenea in the yard was fired up, as well as Juan’s Argentinian parrilla grill which kept going in between the steaks.

A lot of bamboo flares, leis, colourful paper lanterns and inflatable palm trees peppered the backyard.  When it got really dark, a few disco balls and lazer lighting jumped the mood from tropical to nightclub.  And of course – some decks set up with Louis firing up the party. Did I mention that dancing is a good way to keep warm and sober up?

Party 1

The costumes

Coconut bras, leis, grass skirts – yeah you got it.  More interesting interpretations included Soph dressing up her baby as a pineapple, and Gav, who dressed up as a boat captain (The Love Boat reference maybe?)

So there you have it.  Happy birthday to Miss Soph and congrats on pulling off one of the most fun house parties in a long while – and in the freezing cold. Who’s got next?


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