Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guys in grass skirts

        It's April 3 and my snow has not only refused to disappear but there are big fat flaky flurries here in Michigan, with hail incessantly hammering the windows. So maybe this is a good day to reminisce about the better-late-than-never Disney trip we took a couple of years ago.

        I always regretted not taking the whole fam to Disney World, so even though some of my kids were grown and out of state, we converged at Palm View Villa, part of the Terra Verde Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. It took lots of research and digging through online tax records for my inner skeptic to feel confident the place existed. I'm glad we went the private villa route, though, because it was easily the most wonderful, relaxing part of the vacation. If life's complexities hadn't gotten in the way, no doubt we'd have been back for more.

        The beautiful Villa became the site for a double surprise party celebrating the birthdays of both David and my son-in-law. In keeping with the lush Florida landscape, we packed up ingredients for a portable luau (minus pig and hula dancers), FedEx'd it to the Villa, and hid everything in my daughter's closet, since her hubby wasn't arriving for a few days.

         A surprise party takes plenty of planning; finding theme items that don't hog much packing space is another matter. We found fabric flower leis at Dollar Tree and tropical napkins and plates at the local party store, plus drink coasters, tropical plastic hurricane glasses, folding paper lanterns and grass skirts through Oriental Trading Company, where I'd previously purchased luau glow cups for a glow-in-the-dark party (that's a story for another time). I also found acrylic margarita glasses on Turned out the Villa already had nice shatterproof drinkware, but the other goodies really set the mood.
        We'd downloaded a summery playlist with Bob Marley, the Beach Boys, some Jimmy Buffett, Toad the Wet Sprocket (my old favorite) and tunes such as "Hawaii Five-O," "Wipeout" and the Jose Cuervo tune. We also took a small portable speaker to plug into the MP3 player, just in case we needed it (we didn't).

        The plan was for David and my daughter to zip over to Orlando Airport to pick up her hubby. So we had just minutes to decorate and get the food ready. A green plastic tablecover was thrown over the breakfast table, with grass skirts taped to it. Leis were flung on everything, including a poolside inflatable whale. We wrapped another tablecover around a bowl, cinched it with a lei and dumped in ice to chill the bevvies, then draped a clean tropical towel over the sofa for some added color.

        Fruit and pineapple spears were skewered and arranged in a split pineapple and set out, along with barbecued mini sausages and other quick snacks to go with the take-out chicken we bought. My older son split an angel food cake and filled and topped it with whipped cream and fresh fruit, then circled it with a lei. When the guys pulled into the drive, we dimmed the lights and flipped on the music.
        Were they surprised? Absolutely. Especially when they found out they'd be putting on the grass skirts. But hey, when the guests of honor double as entertainment, I say it's win-win.

           Ah, vacations. They have the power to magically take you away. It's hard to leave, but on a day like today, it's nice to have the memories.


  1. Aloha Elle,
    The title of this post caught my eye :-)
    Nice to meet you.

  2. Aloha Esther! I'm sure you have seen much more authentic grass skirts than these, haha! I wish I would have had that great rice recipe of yours when we were putting food together for our "luau" party!