This is my entry this week for therealljidol. I invite you to read and vote for the many fine entries. This week is an intersection week, when we are supposed to work with a partner, each on a separate topic. I chose the topic "the straw that stirs the drink," and my partner lawchicky chose "bridge."
How to Host the Perfect Polynesian Party
By Eugenia Precise, copyright 1960
What better way to celebrate our newest state than by throwing a Hawaiian luau? Treat your guests to exotic foods like kiwifruits and batter-fried shrimp. Decorate your home like a tropical paradise, and serve extravagant drink concoctions like Pina Coladas and Mai Tais (suitable for both men AND women!). Whatever you do, however, don't throw all rules of etiquette out the window, or who knows what your guests might be telling their friends on Monday. Instead, follow these guidelines to achieve the perfect balance of tropical relaxation and proper hosting.
DO send invitations that match the decor and theme of your party. Pineapples, palm trees, or Tiki art would be most appropriate. Check with your local printer to determine the options. If Hawaiian artwork is not available, flowers such as orchids and hibiscus would suffice. In a pinch, an image of a wild rose could be used, as most guests will not know the difference.
DON'T send invitations with overly ornate designs, such as an elaborate script font. The look of the invitation indicates the nature of the party. You don't want your guests showing up for your luau wearing formal evening dresses, do you?
DO invite an even number of men and women, so as to facilitate social mixing. If it's impossible to make the number exactly even, attempt to make it as balanced as possible. There is nothing so awkward as seating three men next to each other without a woman in sight.
DO create a tropical paradise through draping tables with grass skirts or, in a pinch, with tablecloths in such tropical colors as reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. If the party is outdoors, outdoor torches, which can be purchased at many lawn and garden stores, could be a nice added touch. In a pinch, a whole pineapple on a large serving plate, surrounded by fresh orchids, can symbolize a tropical setting.
DON'T use torches of any kind indoors, or you may find yourself inviting the fire department to your party!
DO make certain that there are adequate smoking receptacles throughout the party. Halved coconuts, hollowed out and filled with sand, could be an inventive ashtray for the occasion. CAUTION: Coconuts are difficult to cut, and you'll need to bake them to get all the coconut meat out. Unless your husband is handy, you would be better off just providing standard cut-glass ashtrays in festive colors like red.
DO wear a semi-evening dress, suitable for afternoon, and have your partner wear a regular dinner jacket. In honor of the occasion, consider wearing floral patterns or bobby-pinning an orchid in your hair. Your husband might wear an aloha shirt underneath his jacket.
DON'T dress so informally that your embarrassed guests think they are interrupting you in the middle of household chores. Remember: shoes or sandals are always a necessity, even on the beach.
DO provide an island feast with such dishes as: Water chestnuts with chicken livers, Kona chicken, steamed rice, batter-fried shrimp with sauces, Chinese peas with water chestnuts, sweet-sour pork with pineapple and bell peppers, Waikiki salad, raspberry sherbet with coconut, and a beachy punch (incorporating pineapple juice, of course). Offer drinks appropriate to the occasion, such as: Zombies, Pina Coladas, Banana Daiquiris, Mai Tais, or Bahama Mamas.
DO make the food attractive to the eye as well as the palate: dishes can be stacked through a creative arrangement of plates and such "props" as grapefruits, arranged in squares to make a higher tier. Sandwiches should be cut into dainty triangles. Well-drained shrimp and water cress can be used as attractive garnishes. Be sure all garnishes are edible, to avoid an unplanned trip to the local hospital!
DO make sure that service is efficient and quick. If making extravagant drinks quickly is beyond your ken, consider simplifying your drink menu or hiring a professional bartender. (Don't forget to tip!)
DON'T drink, as the hostess, unless it's something light. To make certain your guests are comfortable and entertained, you'll need all your senses.
DO consider hiring professional dancers to teach your guests how to hula dance, or get out a bamboo pole and dance the limbo.
DON'T worry if you have no official entertainment planned. Simply playing island music or, in a pinch, the latest Glen Campbell album, should be sufficient. Remember: at the best parties, guests create their own entertainment.
DO remember to have fun. After all the work you've put in, you deserve it!
Amazingly, the piece above is not too far from actual 1960s advice about party hosting.
'60s Food and Entertaining
A modern guide to throwing a Tiki Party
To see what happens when an ordinary woman tries to throw the perfect luau, read my partner, the smart and beautiful lawchicky's entry.