A colorful Hawaiian menu set on the island of Motunui
“You have to see Moana. You remind me so much of Moana. You are Moana,” said my friend Candy right when the film came out. Having just seen it, I laughed and responded, “You mean unbelievably stubborn and reckless?” “No,” she said. “I mean brave.” When I was deciding which films to include as part of my Disney Dinners series, Moana was high on my list not only because it has insanely catchy music and a great heroine but also because Hawaiian food is fantastic.
I started practicing poke back in February to prepared for Moana. I admit though, Moana was the most difficult for me to plan. It really came together about 48 hours before the party, mainly thanks to my mom’s suggestion of pareos, but we’ll come back to that. Moana may have taken longer to plan but this was the easiest dinner party I’ve thrown to date. Here’s how you can throw your very own Moana dinner party for adults!
“If I go, there’s just no telling how far I’ll go.” – Moana
The Rose Table is in no way affiliated with The Walt Disney Company.
Back to the pareos! I was missing that wow factor for the dining room until my mom suggested I hang some of her pareos on the walls to mimic the tapestries featured in Moana’s village of Monutui. I know, I know, my mom is a genius and she gets my brand of crazy. She actually wore the whale tapestry in the dining room on our trip to Maui many years ago, making it even more delightful for this.
I drew Moana’s boat symbol on my chalkboard and stuck banana leaves every I could. During several island songs, Moana pushes banana leaves out of her way so I wanted them everywhere. I hung leis over the back of the chairs, from the chandelier, and on my china cabinet. I burned a fantastic tropical candle to make the dining room smell like Hawaii.
More banana leaves! These were super cheap on Amazon and really fun to work with. They added a lot. I used my conch shell, this time as the centerpiece. Baby Moana – aka the cutest cartoon baby of all time – shares a special moment with the ocean as she’s picking up conch shells in the beginning of the movie. I just so happened to own a conch shell that I brought back from an adventure in Turks and Caicos. I turned the conch shell upside down, since that’s how it often appears in Moana.
Please also notice the Hei Hei salt and pepper shakers.
“The ocean is friend of mine.” – Moana
I styled my side table with an orchid from my friends at The Collective Outdoors, banana leaves, a candle, and a real coconut as a nod to the Kakamora.
Are you ready to gasp? I did not have flowers on the table. Crazy, right? It’s in my very name! In an effort to be on-theme (read: it’s hard to find tropical flowers in Texas at a grocery store) and to give you guys a plethora of entertaining ideas, I used pineapple in lieu of centerpieces. Bonus: I get to eat said pineapples now that the party is over!
The Place Settings
These raffia placemats really helped pull the room together. I love the rough texture and even the round shape! I was originally going to use the yellow place mats I used for Beauty and the Beast, but the texture added such a natural, tropical feel that reminded me of Monutui. I used old pasta bowls from Williams-Sonoma for the poke and tumbler glasses for the cocktails. We also needed chopsticks for poke. I found these great banana leaf-colored napkins that I paired with hibiscus napkin rings from Pier 1.
I know what you’r thinking: Katie-Rose, how many times are you going to use flower napkin rings at Disney Dinners? In my defense, I was going to use real flowers secured with ribbon but when I saw these hibiscus napkin rings, I realized that was way more Hawaiian of a flower than I could possibly get at the store.
I wish I could tell you I played fabulous Hawaiian music, but alas, I need my phone to take all the video content for each party and I did not get my act together to purchase a Polynesian CD in time so I played my favorite jazz vocal hits channel. Please though play Polynesian music if you recreate this! Or just listen to the Moana soundtrack because Lin-Manuel Miranda is a national treasure.
“Sometimes the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are.”
My outfit was another thing that came together last minute. I struggled because Moana is in a pretty casual outfit – an eyelet skirt and red crop top – and my dinners are not casual. Unable to find an off-white eyelet skirt, I settled on a red and off white beachy dress that I paired with nude shoes, since Moana is barefoot, and a blue heart necklace reminiscent of the Heart of Te Fiti. I wore my hair in beach waves with a flower crown like Moana.
“If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.” – Maui
I loved Joseph’s Hawaiian skirt, which weirdly matched Stephanie’s Hawaiian pants. Emily had a super cute seashell dress. I had purple leis for all of my guests, which is not only Hawaiian but also a snippet in the song You’re Welcome. It made the dining room look even more festive to have everyone in leis! Don’t they look amazing?
I served a mai tai pitcher with real orchid blooms. When I think of Hawaii, I think orchid garnish. I could have put orchid blooms on every dish! Orchids are safe to eat actually, though we didn’t eat them. I washed them ahead of time in a bowl of ice water and added them to the dangerously delicious mai tai. Get the recipe here.
That’s good pork! – Moana
How great is Hawaiian food? When I think Hawaiian food, I think pork, pineapple, and raw fish so that’s exactly what I did.
This easy BBQ appetizer makes a great entree when served with rice. Just marinate pork in your favorite BBQ sauce and thread on skewers with pineapple chunks, red bell pepper, and red onion. Grill for 10-15 minutes and you have a luau-worthy dish. Get the recipe here.
Ahi Tuna Poke
Don’t be afraid of poke. Just make sure you buy sushi grade tuna from a trusted fish market and you’re golden. Toss with a simple soy sauce mixture, sesame seeds, rice, avocado, and cucumber and you’ve got yourself a fabulous bowl of poke! Get the recipe here.
Mini Pineapple Cheesecake
End the evening with a tropical dessert of mini pineapple cheesecakes served with coconut whipped cream (in a Hidden Mickey, no less!), caramel sauce, toasted coconut, and chopped macadamia nuts. It’s so good that my guests got seconds! Get the recipe here.
It was a colorful night on Motunui! Watch video highlights:
You’re Welcome! Stay tuned next month for Disney Dinners: Hercules.