On the Big Island of Hawai'i, where I spent 10 years of my childhood, it is customary for families to throw a luau for a child's first birthday, as this first year is considered a major milestone. I love creating special worlds with my kids on their birthdays that express who they are at the moment, and for Selma's first birthday, a luau sounded perfect! All the warm colors and tropical fun seemed extra appealing when selecting this theme because it's so cold and dark here in Alaska in November.
I don’t have a colored printer, so I saved the finished invitation as a JPEG and had them printed as 4x6 photos. Then, the boys glued them onto construction paper borders.
Decorations and Party Favors
The boys and I had a ton of fun building these cardboard decorations/party props for our first party in our new house. We had some large boxes leftover from our move, and Wylder, Selma, and I scavenged the rest from the recycle center after we dropped Sawyer off at school. I cut the shapes with a Victornox and we painted together using tempera paint.
To build this Tiki statue, we chose three boxes that would stack well together, then painted with cartoon tiki images. After the paint had dried, I outlined the shapes with Sharpie and used hot glue to connect them together.
After cutting and painting this cardboard "polaroid photo prop," we embellished it by cutting a plastic lei and hot glueing it to the corners.
These palms were fun and quite easy to make. I outlined the leaves on green construction paper and the boys cut them out. We tacked those to the ceiling first, followed by the balloons, and finally brown streamers. The kids enjoyed streaking through them and I was surprised with how much they resembled cartoon palms!
We made a ton of these adorable Mason jar pineapples, which doubled as party favors when the guests went home. After painting quart-sized jars yellow and the lids green, we allowed them to dry and then scribbled on them with Sharpies. I hot glued the construction paper green leaves to the inside of the jar lids before screwing them onto the pineapples.
We usually skip more traditional, adult-led party games because all that structure and responsibility makes me crazy! Instead, we like to plan 3-4 play stations or centers that guests can visit at their leisure and play in as long as they want.
We set this game up early so the birthday girl had plenty of time to play in it before and after the party. We filled a large pool with balls we borrowed from Sprout (thank you Sprout!) and scattered in some tropical shells ordered on Amazon and some local shells Wylder had collected from the beach. This game was perfect for the babies all the way up to the 10-year-olds. Seriously, who doesn't love a ball pit?!
We set up this borrowed net on two old dowels shoved into buckets of beach sand. It was impossible to keep the net from sagging, but we clipped it up using binder clips and the game was a a big hit with the 4-8 year old crowd!
We used the other half of the dowel from beach volleyball and a bungee cord to build this simple limbo game. Originally I had hoped that the dowels would stay up on their own in the buckets of sand, but it proved easier to hold them up.
Feed the Shark
This game was cut from a cardboard box and we propped it against the heater. The kids had fun throwing beach balls into the shark's large open mouth. It also doubled as a photo prop :)
This three-layer cake was pretty simple. The bottom layer was chocolate, the second banana creme. We used Goldfish, Sweedish Fish, pretzel palm trees, crushed Ritz crackers to make the sand, and lots of cream cheese frosting!
The best part about designing your own themed party is that you and your little birthday girl/boy can have fun together throughout the whole process, not just during the few hours of the party. This luau was a fun one for our family. We're still enjoying the bright decorations, and of course, our fantastic ONE year old hula girl!! XOXO