At Home Fun: Throw a Hurricane Party in Hawai‘i

We don’t need a real power outage for some family fun and a lesson in real-life preparation.


Hurricane Party Candles Photo Christi Young

Eating by the glow of Christmas decorations, scented candles and battery-powered lanterns. Photo: Christi Young


When a hurricane threatens, then misses, the state, most of us are relieved. My children, though, are disappointed. I don’t know if it’s because I always try to make a potentially scary scenario seem like an adventure or because I have such fond memories of playing games in the dark and eating cold Vienna sausages straight out of the can during Hurricane ‘Iwa in 1982, but they’re always saddened when the lights fail to go out.


In 2020, we waited for the menacing-looking Hurricane Douglas to appear—and then watched it fall apart. But faced with another weekend at home amid surging COVID-19 cases, I decided to do what we would have done if the storm had hit us. We had so much fun that we just celebrated Tropical Storm Linda with another hurricane party. Not only do the girls have a great (and unplugged) time, it ensures that they learn where our supplies are and that we are always hurricane-ready. Here’s how to do it:


Determine when the “hurricane” will hit

We select a certain time slot on a Saturday night. This year, we were hit by Hurricane Mochi—the name of our rambunctious and sometimes destructive puppy—from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Since hurricanes, unlike tornadoes, come with plenty of notice, we think it’s reasonable to have time to charge our phones, pack a cooler and for the girls to decide if they are brave enough to take a bath in the dark or if they should get clean before sunset. My 5-year-old also wanted to make sure to let her favorite stuffed animals know a storm is coming; she brought them downstairs to be with us.


See also: 🌜 Party Planning Guide: No-Slumber Sleep Under


Hurricane Party Dinner Photo Christi Young

Our all canned and prepackaged dinner was kapakahi, but thrilling for the kids who never get to eat this way. Photo: Christi Young


Gather your supplies

We pull last year’s food and water out of the pantry then go shopping to replace them. Everyone in the family gets to pick their own canned dinner, soup, vegetable and one packaged treat including dried fruit or cookies. We buy new butane cartridges for our portable burner. The only rule is that it has to be within budget (on sale is even better) and must have an expiration date no earlier than a year from now.


Find and check your emergency equipment

Now is the time to gather all your lanterns and flashlights and check to see if they need fresh batteries. Find that crank-powered radio and let each child take a turn charging it up. Any glow sticks from parties lying around? Pull them out. You can even let the kids download a few movies to their tablet. For some reason, my kids have decided it’s more fun to watch a family favorite on a tiny screen in the dark.


See also: ⛈️ Hurricane Lane: How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names?


Hurricane Party Games Photo Christi Young

Photo: Christi Young


Lights out!

Once the “power goes out,” commit to it. We make a dinner from last year’s canned goods, heating it all up on the portable burner or on the grill outside. Or we just let the kids eat it cold (ew). This year, our menu consisted of canned chicken noodle soup, ravioli, corn and a single instant saimin cup that we split four ways, food my kids rarely get to indulge in. For next time, I would make sure we had more nonrefrigerated vegetables including grape tomatoes and carrots for the adults. Drinks were local hard seltzers and beer for the adults (I do have my priorities) and Caprisun pulled from the cooler because, as my girls gleefully informed me, if the power was out, we couldn’t open the refrigerator to drink milk.


Hurricane Party Shadow Puppet Photo Christi Young

Photo: Christi Young


We ate sitting around scented candles and lanterns while listening to our hand-crank radio. Trips to the bathroom with a flashlight were adventures. Some courses were interrupted by an impromptu shadow puppet competition, small-kid-time hurricane stories from my husband and me and weather factoids.


See also: ❤️‍🔥 Keiki in the Kitchen: S’mores from Scratch


We had downloaded four movies to our tablet, but we didn’t need them. Instead, we made s’mores over the butane-powered burner, played board games in the dark and had the girls take a bath by lantern light. (That was quite a feat, I have to say.) By the time the lights came back up just before bedtime, we all had ideas for what we wanted to do when our next imaginary hurricane hits.