We Lei Out How to Throw the Best Vegan Luau

Upgrade your party plans this summer with a tiki-tastic luau, complete with vegan poi.

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Polynesian paradise is no longer a seven-hour (or longer!) plane ride away. Well, OK, technically it still is, but we have some good news for those of you who won’t be crossing the Pacific this summer. You can enjoy Hawaii’s heavenly hedonism (we’re talking food, music, and entertainment, although we’ll be making no promises about the weather) from your very own living room or backyard. Here’s everything you’ll need to create your own luscious luau. 

Get the Party Carded
To set the tone for your fête, start with the proper invitations. This is the perfect opportunity for recycling and repurposing, so head to your local thrift store for some vintage-like, saturated color cookbooks to add a retro twist to your DIY invites. If you’re really feeling the tropical vibe—and let’s be honest, who isn’t—cruise the store’s record section for ’50s era album covers with a Hawaiian mood. They make great decorations! All you need now is an outfit: Fulfill your lei and grass-skirt needs at Luau Party Shop

Bright Lights, Big Tiki
There’s nothing like lighting for creating ambiance. Tiki torches look incredible outside, but they’re not necessarily the best option for urbanites or all-ages parties. Thankfully, there are several possibilities for those fearful of flames. Solar-powered tiki torches with LED lights last through the night (at least 12 hours). These guys are so cute you might want to set a few up on the path leading to your house or in a hallway to keep tipsy revelers from spilling their mai tais on your mattress.

Straight and Taro
One of Hawaii’s signature dishes, poi, happens to be naturally vegan. To make it at home, simply steam taro root until tender, mix with water, and use a pestle to pound it into a smooth purée. The most basic recipes call for the addition of salt, but you can embellish with coconut milk, fresh ginger, or any of your favorite ingredients for an exotic twist. Poi is often eaten between courses to cleanse the palate. Since the typical way of serving it is sans silverware, its consistency is often measured by how many fingers it takes to scoop up a handful. FYI, three seems to be the maximum allowable finger-width.

If You Like Piña Coladas
Nothing says “luau” like Hawaii’s signature fruit, the pineapple, so get creative and see how many ways you can work it into the festivities. Make a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, blend up some piña coladas, spear some ripe fruit onto bamboo skewers, and serve as many drinks as you can in the pineapple shells. A word to the wise: If you are going to be slicing through your weight’s worth of pineapples, invest in a handy pineapple slicer at VacuVin to help ease the burden. Your hands and wrists will thank you later.

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