Mrs. Lilien’s Tropical Thanksgiving Luau!
1. Raise Spirits With A Tropi-Cocktail
A hosted cocktail hour is the real magic behind a successful soiree. The dreaming up of a fabulously fierce party potion to immediately bestow upon guests happens to be my most treasured task. A tipple of such magnitude requires some plotting and planning. However, when executed properly, said libation can become the life of the party.
Get the recipe: Pineapple Rickey
Here I've hatched a most befitting Hawaiian happy hour cocktail: the Pineapple Rickey! The genius part? That the main ingredient also serves as the cocktail vessel—both beneficial and amazingly ornamental! Pineapples of all sizes are readily available at this time of year, making this "tropi-cocktail" achievable almost anywhere. Check your local market for adorable dwarf pineapples that fit perfectly in the palm of your hand. Simply cut off the tops, scoop out the meaty middles, and then store the prepped pineapple "cups" in the freezer until showtime.
2. Add a Pop of Polynesian Flair
Create comfy bench seating with plush pillows in fabulous floral fabric, layered on top of monstera leaves for a touch of the tropics. High-backed vintage rattan chairs make Thanksgiving thrones for happy hosts—or guests of honor! (Find similar vintage seating at Circa Who.) Some of the Mrs.'s favorite aloha accents: Spoonflower fabrics Tropicali Afternoon (round pillows), Tiger Lily Light (square pillows), and Tahitian Tikis 1 (napkins); Blue Pheasant's Liliana flatware; and The Roc Shop's Aloha drink stirrers. The floral design is by Meleana Estes.
3. Lei The Table With Cheer
Unfurling like a table runner, an open-ended lei is a bewitching centerpiece and an ideal sentiment, representing the spirit of aloha—a Hawaiian word meant to communicate the feeling of joyful sharing. Here, local flowers, ferns, and leaves are braided with raffia, creating an exquisite tropical explosion that cascades down the table. To re-create an open-ended lei of your own, simply gather natural treasures from your surroundings and tie them into long strands of raffia. Be sure to pass the lovely meaning of your table lei on to your guests: It will warm their spirit in unforgettable ways!
4. Tiki That Turkey!
For as long as I can remember, Mr. Lilien and I have hosted an island Thanksgiving, and over the years it has evolved into a rather legendary affair. Hawaii has inspired tropical twists in all directions, including the food. This feast celebrates the sunniest of seaside settings with crab bites, island-style turkey (oh yes, rum is involved), citrus-infused stuffing, coconut, and the ever-beloved "mac nut"—plus a cake that will send your guests into a sock-knocking-off swoon! Bare-foot is the suggested dress code anyway. For wines to match this island holiday menu, hula on over to coastalliving.com/wineclub.
5. Bowl Them Over!
There's nothing more indulgent (and, I hate to say it, practical) than a big, boozy bowl of punch for a bunch! Punch is always a fancy to-do; more over, it can quench the thirstiest crew. Sure, you could blow the bank on organic fresh-pressed guava nectar and a bottle of Dom, but my Paradise Punch is simple and still seriously tasty.
6. Give a Gift of Ho'okupu
A ho'okupu is both magnanimous and memorable, a native Hawaiian offering signifying honor and respect in exchange for spiritual mana. Simply put, it's a lovely little pouch constructed of and tied with ti, a thriving native Hawaiian plant with leaves considered to be divine and thought to bring good luck. A fabulous way to use them? As pretty parting parcels. Simply wrap my favorite local snack, Diamond Bakery's Coconut Royal Creem Crackers (which ship all across the country) in the leaves, tie with ribbon or twine, and tie on a handwritten card. (You can substitute with any sturdy foliage, and fill with your own favorite local treat—honey, tea, or a note.)
7. Line Up a Knock-Out Toast
Mrs. Lilien's Toast is the Most!
In the highest order of celebration + in the company of those I treasure I'm delighted to host an island-style Thanksgiving with tropical splendor beyond measure!
Behold this bountiful table befitting a most fabulous feast That's perfectly perched alongside the most picturesque beach.
In lieu of fall-hued leaves, we'll delight in a balmy breeze As we carry out the tradition of giving thanks beneath the coconut trees.
Let us raise our Pineapple Rickeys flaunting shiny golden straws As we toast to this glorious holiday with grateful hearts + oodles of alohas!
Hau'oli La Ho'omakika'i!
(pronounced how-oh-lay la ho-o-ma-key-kah-ee) (Happy Thanksgiving!)
8. Limbo à la Lilien
Limbo is back! And it's a requirement after every Lilien Thanksgiving dinner. If you're at my table, you will limbo, no matter if you're a master or a terrified beginner! We make the tradition extra fabulous with a bamboo stick adorned with festive balls covered in bougainvillea blooms and rigged up with ribbon.
To whip up your own dressed up limbo stick, use bamboo or driftwood, or simply find a sturdy fallen tree branch. Using floral pins, secure clusters of local fall flowers (stems detached) to tightly cover the surface of foam balls in various sizes, and attach to the stick with ribbon.
9. Follow These Entertaining Tips
Be a Spirited Hostess: Always sample your cocktails twice prior to your guests' arrival. This way, you can work out any pre-party kinks. Plus, everyone loves a free-spirited greeting!
Make Like a Music Mixtress: Have a set playlist that mingles magically with your soiree. Break it up into sections such as cocktail hour music, dinner music, and post-feast party music. Create each swingin' selection with timing in mind. When the music transitions, it's your secret cue to lead the festivities onward.
Embrace Bartender Duty: Be sure to have a variety of barware on hand. In the event a guest arrives with a special bottle of bubbly or booze intended for the evening, you'll be ready.
Iron Those Napkins: Do not question why—just do it!
Ice, Ice Baby: Who'd have thought that those little cubes of frozen water could be such a party maker or breaker! Fill your freezer(and perhaps an out-of-sight cooler) with oodles of ice—you can never have too much.
9. Follow These Entertaining Tips (Part 2!)
Have Your Toast on Post: Whether a week before or at the doorbell's first ring, begin plotting the evening's toast (or use mine!). Not a thing you want to totally wing.
Go Big on the Beverages! The bevy of punch and cocktails aside, you'll want a platoon of water-filled pitchers waiting in the wings. And be sure to have a freshly brewed pot of coffee for the over-spirited and seriously saturated.
Stock Your Hostessing Tool Kit: This miscellaneous medley of problem-solving provisions is an imperative item for any hostess. Kit staples include: matches, a corkscrew and bottle opener, a brass bell or whistle, safety pins, confetti or glitter, baby wipes, breath mints, and a flashlight. Having the above close at hand will launch any hostess into the highest party-prepped stratosphere.
Send Your Soireed Gang Out with a Bang! Have the Uber app downloaded and ready for dispatch. That way you can arrange a safe ride home for the gang.