Summer is right around the corner and while there's work to be done as far as making sure your pool is ready for the busy swimming season, make sure to plan for some fun too. A Hawaiian luau is a great way to start the summer off and to get your friends and neighbors together for swimming, dancing and food. According to Aloha Friends, a luau is by no means limited to the islands of Hawaii. You can turn your backyard in Phoenix, Dallas or San Diego into a tropical resort with a little imagination and some tips on hosting!

Decorating your tropical paradise
Anybody who's traveled to Hawaii may associate the term luau with an event organized by a hotel, or maybe just the way people greet you when you're getting off the plane. A luau is really just a party where people get together to enjoy each other's company and chow down on some delicious food. The atmosphere should be relaxed and, if you're new to the neighborhood or just trying to mix one group of friends with another, a luau creates the perfect climate to make that happen.

Easy Party Ideas has some tips on how to decorate for your luau including candles made of hollowed out coconuts, tiki torches, pink flamingos, inflatable palm tress, paper lanterns and more. Encourage your guests to get into the spirit – and become part of the decor – by showing up sporting Hawaiian style shirts. Keep a few extra shirts handy for anyone who's a little bashful about trying out such a daring style. Once they see other partygoers wearing the fashionably questionable, but oh so fun shirts, they might just have a change of heart. 

Leis are a must for any luau, and while they're traditionally reserved for the guest of honor, feel free to hand them out to anybody who arrives. Your luau doesn't need to be strictly by the book, the important thing is to have fun. A lei is a necklace or garland made of real or silk flowers, nuts, shells or feathers. Maile leis are more popular among men as they forego the floral theme for green leafy vines. The more authentic leis can be ordered online from numerous online vendors. Some, especially ones with real flowers or vines, require special shipping that can be a bit pricey. If you'd rather keep it simple or you're working with a budget, find some made with silk or plastic some at a local party store. Offer the ladies grass skirts to wear, or if you really want to go all out, hire hula girls to welcome your guests with some dancing. It can be as simple or as extravagant as your creativity and your wallet will allow. 

Live music is a staple of a luau and you can either hire somebody to strum the guitar, or provide guests with a guitar and a ukulele that your more musically inclined guests can get down with. 

Food and music for your luau guests
No party is complete without food, and luau is certainly no exception. Chicken and pork kebabs on the grill, Caribbean jerk chicken and coconut shrimp are flavorful options that will give your guests the a taste of the islands. If you want to go really big, put a pig on a spit and let your guests enjoy the tender taste of slow cooked pork. As far as music, Jimmy Buffet and the Beach Boys are old standards to set the mood of a luau, or you can find traditional luau music. Reggae is also great for setting the tone. It may not have come from Hawaii, but it's always good party music, and will match the tropical theme of the party.