Before you close the book on another summer, get those last few minutes of fun in by throwing a luau! Make it just adults, or invite the kids headed off to college for a proper send-off. It's easy to create your own tropical paradise with good food, refreshing cocktails and mocktails, lively decor and the right outfit.
Story and Styling by Kerry Guice and Amy Gordy, Photography Lily Darragh
As we enter August, you have just enough time to send summer off in style with these easy party ideas. Rather than wowing guests with a giant spread and expensive décor, focus on using these few thoughtful food, drink and decoration ideas and leave your friends already thinking about next summer!
When you aren’t sure who at your party will or won’t be drinking alcohol, colorful fruity ice cubes are the perfect solution. Set up a bar with clear liquors and mixers (think vodka, gin, tonic and club soda). Display a rainbow of ice cubes made with different juices (if you have an ice cream maker, the insert is the perfect way to keep the cubes cold for hours). Your guests can either liven up their gin and tonic or their club soda with a fruity cube! Having something for everyone is always appreciated in the drink department. With our Cucumber Melon White Sangria, you’ll never want summer to end!
It’s always hard to find the right balance between overdoing the food at a party and not having enough. When you only focus on a couple of snacks, you have more time (and more money) to impress. Try this Coconut Shrimp and Pineapple Shishito Salsa. They taste like summer in a bite! Both are beautiful, complementary and easy to make.
Pineapple Shishito Salsa
1 pineapple, cut in half lengthwise, one side hollowed out and set aside
1 cup diced pineapple
2 tablespoons cilantro
¼ cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon diced jalapeño
¼ cup corn
1 clove minced garlic
½ cup halved grape tomatos
12 shishito peppers
½ teaspoon salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
Toss shishito peppers with 1 of the tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through to turn the peppers for a char on each side. While the peppers are roasting, add the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. When peppers are finished, pull the stem off and chop the peppers, then add to the bowl. Toss to combine, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Serve inside the hollowed out pineapple half, with corn chips and/or tortilla chips.
1 lb. shrimp, peeled with the tail on
3 eggs, beaten
¼ cup coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, coconut milk, lime, honey, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and let sit 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the coconut flakes onto a large plate or shallow bowl. One at a time, remove the shrimp from the batter and place in the coconut flakes, turning to coat on all sides. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake in a 400-degree preheated oven 10-12 minutes until shrimp is pink and coconut is toasted. Serve with a squeeze of lime. (Both of these appetizers taste amazing eaten together!) Grab a palm tree toothpick like this one from Party City!
Cucumber Melon White Sangria
1 bottle Riesling
8 ounces lime flavored vodka
16 ounces club soda
Juice of 2 limes, plus 2 additional limes, sliced
2 cups honeydew melon chunks
4 mint sprigs
1 English cucumber, sliced
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher or beverage dispenser. Let sit in refrigerator or on counter for at least an hour. Serve chilled, over ice.
Fruity Cocktail Ice Cubes
Ice cube tray (preferably one that makes large cubes)
Assortment of juices (orange, grapefruit, cranberry, pineapple, etc.)
Pour one juice at a time into each ice cube tray. Use those ice cubes in place of regular ice in your guests’ gin and tonic, vodka and soda, club soda, lemonade, etc. The juice adds a steady flow of new flavors and pretty colors!
Hula Hoop Wreath
Place a few of these in high-traffic areas of your party space to set the vibe and really transform the room into a tropical paradise.
A hula hoop
Neutral duct tape
Balloons of varying colors and sizes
A seaweed lei (we found ours at Party City)
1. Wrap the hula hoop in a neutral duct tape.
2. Blow up the balloons to varying sizes and tie two sections of them together along a string of invisible thread. Space the large balloons about five inches apart.
3. Wrap the string of balloons in two clusters on the hula hoop, and secure with duct tape. Fill in smaller balloons with double-sided tape.
4. Once the clusters are secured, add in floral accents and vegetation for a more organic look. We used clippings from real and faux monstera plants, hydrangea blooms and faux flowers, and topped it off with a draping seaweed lei.
5. Hang your hoop wreath and let the tropical vibes flow.
(Left) Off-the-shoulder is a huge trend! This striped top transitions well into fall because it can be paired with white jeans or black jeans. It’s great for gameday, dinner and pretty much any occasion. (Right) This comfortable, breathable polyester red and white ruffle skirt has the perfect amount of frill. Pair it with a basic tank and simple necklace. It’s great for gameday!
The comfortable and conservative mocha mock neck midi dress is great for the working woman, and can easily go from work to play. The black duster is a great accessory to dress up any outfit.
(Left) This comfortable olive green sweater dress is great for any occasion, day or night. The denim jacket creates a comfortable and casual look. Olive is a must-have color for fall! (Right) A blouse with a print that isn’t too loud is perfect! The neutral pattern can pair with several different bottoms and jackets. This breathable top paired with jeans is a great day-to-day look.
(Left) There is always room in your closet for a little black off-the-shoulder dress. It channels a boho-chic look paired with clogs and a chunky necklace. This piece can be dressed up or down several ways. Pair it with sleek heels for a night out, or a cardigan and booties for a casual date night. (Right) This strapless denim romper is a great transition outfit from summer to fall. Pairing the romper with a pop of color makes it the perfect outfit for a day or night out with friends. Find these looks and more at rockrayclothing.com.