I threw myself a Tiki Birthday Bash this month. Here’s a recap! Bonus: One of my esteemed guests, Technicolor Cutie, posted this blog about it here!
The Theme of Tiki
Although tiki is big in Pinup culture, I’ve never had a tiki-themed party before, so this was a good choice for me this year.
I grew up watching Blue Hawaii and South Pacific (my older sister actually performed Wash That Man at a talent show one year, washing her hair in a stainless steel tub onstage while she sang – how’s that for Pinup?). I appreciate that tiki grew in popularity in American culture because of our boys overseas coming home from WWII, sharing the music, food, and culture of Hawaii and Polynesia.
This party was a nice blend of old friends and new. The invitees ages ranged from 2 years old to 40+, and consisted of friends I’ve never met in person, good friends who I’ve seen recently, and some I haven’t seen in 20 years!
The main party took place in the yard, with drinks (and air conditioning) at the bar in our adjacent den, and buffet table in our living room.
For the den and bar, I thrifted record albums and tiki mugs at an estate sale and 60s cruise line menus which I scanned to make menus for the party, then framed them for decorations behind the bar. I found images online of drink menus and other tiki-related images and printed them out for fun “props”.
Here’s a link to some of the signs I made for the house, as printable PDFs. (These images and fonts may be under copyright and are for entertainment and recreational purposes only.)
I also decorated our wood paneling and bar with plantain leaves from the yard. I got leis and drink umbrellas at The Party Store (which is not authentic/vintage, but still fun if you keep the cheesy stuff to a minimum). I Netflixed The Endless Summer (one of my favorites) to play on TV as a nice visual feature.
Outdoors, our yucca plants, water feature, twinkly lights, and tropical flowers already had the tropical vibe going on, and torches with citronella oil (which we already had, from Home Depot) kept the majority of the bugs away.
The playlist featured various mambo numbers, exotica by Denny Martin and Arthur Lyman, surf guitar by The Ventures, a few Beach Boys tunes, and of course, some Elvis.
- Blended Pina Coladas (A simple pre-made mix I jazzed up with crushed pineapple)
- Trader Vic’s Original Mai Tai’s (made with almond syrup and mint)
- Pineapple Pago Pago (Basically a pineapple mai tai)
- The Swizzle (A blend of juices, rums, grenadine, and club soda)
- Iced Tea, sparkling lemonade and fruit soda, water
If you want to try some of the drinks we made, or offer them at your own Tiki Party, here’s a link to a PDF of the cocktail menu I made. (These images and fonts may be under copyright and are for entertainment and recreational purposes only.)
Pork, coconut, and pineapple are featured in many Hawaiian and Polynesian recipes, so I was careful to not have every dish feature the same ingredients, but still complement each other. All the menu items except the rolls happened to be gluten and dairy-free, and half were vegan/vegetarian; after years of eating restrictively in some manner, I never want anyone to feel left out because they can’t eat something!
- Chicken & Pineapple and Shrimp & Pineapple Skewers
- Grilled Vegetable Skewers
- Pulled Pork (made in the crock pot) served with Hawaiian Rolls
- Vegan/ Vegetarian Curried Potato Salad
- Green Salad
- Gluten Free “Tropicolate” Cake
I made the potato salad Thursday night, and baked the cake, started the pulled pork in the crock pot and per-marinated the skewers Friday night so I didn’t have anything to do but throw the green salad together and then tend bar at the party. Husband and our friend Gary grilled the skewers during cocktail hour.
Hosting rarely goes off without some of these, and this is kind of my favorite part about the hosting experience… The stuff that goes wrong is often left out of most blogs and books, but you won’t miss out on that here!
I tried my hand at some mini chocolate lava cakes, but they burned to a total crisp, because I CAN’T BAKE. But they weren’t missed, since a friend brought cookies. I’m sorry that I even tried to make them, since my inner voice said they were a pain in the ass to begin with. Lesson Learned – listen to my inner voice.
I had pineapple skewers and peaches to grill for later in the evening, but I spaced it – too busy partying to cook. I also wondered why no one ate the green salad, and didn’t realize until I was clearing the buffet table that I didn’t leave out any dressing. Oops!
Finally, I borrowed a fabulous vintage reproduction tiki dress from my lovely friend Katty Delux, but it didn’t show up in the mail in time! So I had a Pretty In Pink moment with an old dress I cut up (I loved the fabric print but not the cut of it) and restitched into a sarong-type thing (see above). The result was very Hawaiian, but not as vintage as I would have liked it to be. Oh well, I’ll get Husband to do a photo shoot in the dress when it finally arrives before returning it…
Other than that, everything went off without a hitch and in spite of these, my Husband, guests, and I really enjoyed ourselves.
Happy Birthday to me!
Note: A month later, my new friends The Casserole Queens (who are one of my Featured Artists in July) posted this great video about hosting a tiki party, with some delicious looking menu items and cocktails. Fantastic! Check it out: Casserole Queens – Tiki Party!