We’re right in the middle of the dog days of summer, and for much of North America, the rest of August can be just as fierce, too. The hot weather can have you searching for cool party ideas, and what better way to lean into the heat than by going all out with a tropical theme? Embrace the heat and humidity with fresh dishes and fun music. Here are some of the essential supplies you need for a tropical party if there’s a luau or tiki bar in your future.
You need the right music to set the mood. Traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music is perfect for setting that Polynesian mood no matter how far inland you reside. Looking for the ultimate in self-aware ironic kitsch? Seek out Martin Denny’s 1957 album Exotica, the soundtrack to countless mid-20th-century tiki parties, fusing lounge jazz with the South Pacific of our imaginations.
Palm Leaf Plates
When you think tropical, you think palm trees. You may not be able to grow any in your yard, but you can certainly incorporate them into your party—and more creatively than by putting some plastic palms on the patio. Using compostable palm leaf plates is a great idea for your party, giving every meal some island charm before you’ve even placed a single slice of pineapple on the plate. Best of all, you can easily compost your plates after you’re done, keeping them from joining a Pacific island that’s no fun at all: the Giant Pacific Garbage Patch.
What’s going on those palm leaf plates? It has to be the best in tropics-inspired cuisine. A great tropical fruit salad should include fresh mango, papaya, kiwi, banana, and, of course, pineapple. Moving to the main course, did you know that Hawaii leads the nation in Spam consumption? We’re not talking about junk email and text messages—we mean the meat product. It may seem crazy, but for authentically Hawaiian grilled skewers, incorporate a little of that infamous canned meat.
If you’re going to San Francisco, as the old song goes, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair, but if you’re bringing the South Pacific to your party, be sure to wear them around your neck. You don’t have to disembark a plane at Honolulu to put on a lei, that classic flowered necklace of Hawaii. They’re some of the essential supplies you need for a tropical party no matter where you are. You may also want to add some novelty grass skirts, Hawaiian shirts, and seashell accessories to really get the attire right.