One of the most important aspects of any tiki party or luau is the food. Your inspiration for tiki party food should come from the tropical environment of the islands. Serve all of your food and drinks at a tiki bar for ambience.
One of the easiest ways to serve the food is to make a platter of fruit kabobs. Use tropical fruits like melons and pineapple. These will perfectly complement fruity drinks and sweet meats, such as ham, barbecued pork, or grilled chicken. Marinate the meat in barbecue, teriyaki, or sweet and sour sauce before cooking. Seafood, especially shrimp, is always popular at tiki parties. If you can find it, mahi-mahi fish would be an appropriate entrée at your party.
For your tropical party, any number of tropically-inspired foods will complete the island feeling. Though a pig roast would be traditional at a luau, it can be complicated, and you may not have the space for it. Though many Polynesian or traditional tiki foods require special ingredients, it is entirely possible to have an island-inspired feast with unique twists on ordinary foods. Barbecuing hotdogs or hamburgers will ruin the tropical ambience, but chicken, beef satay, or seafood will continue your party theme. When barbecuing tiki food, be sure to move the grill away from your decorations; many tiki decorations, such as grass skirts, are flammable.
Tiki party food is often very creative, and this creativity should continue with the way the food is served. For example, serve a fruit salad in a hollowed out watermelon, or use the various foods of your buffet to create a display of shapes or figures. Bamboo skewers and toothpick umbrellas can also be used in your party fare display.
Many traditional 'tiki party' foods are actually popular cocktail party fare from the 1950's and 1960's, when tiki culture became wildly popular in many circles. One unique dish often served at such parties was a sauce combining brown mustard and blackberry jelly, heated over low heat. The mixture becomes a thick sauce in a few hours, and is served with li'l smokies sausages. In fact, cocktail weenies served a central part of many 1960's cocktail parties, not just tropical parties. Many other foods served with toothpicks were also seen at these 1960's tiki parties.
Before planning your party menu, consider the environment you want. Do you want a party that feels authentic, or do you want to draw inspiration from kitschy 1960's tiki culture? If you plan to have a vintage-inspired party, consider finding a 1960's cookbook with tiki-inspired recipes, featuring unusual and often surprising flavor combinations.
After you've planned your menu, don't forget tiki drinks. These are just as important as, if not more important than, the food you plan to serve at your tropical party. Fruit punch and mai-tais are classic tiki drinks that are easy to make. Don't forget dessert; anything with pineapple or coconut will do. Pineapple upside down cake and coconut cream pie are just two of the tropical desserts you can serve at your tiki party.