Monday, 28 October 2013

A Surpise 16th: A Mix of Culture & Genre

As a party schemer, I am not in favour of 'spur of the moment, instant' party planning. However, for my niece's 16th birthday, I can not say no to my dear sister!

There are a lot of things to consider and there are a lot of reason to make this party VERY limited:

  • it's a Surprise
  • a month to make it happen
  • I have to incorporate Filipino's 18th debut into a sweet 16th celebration
  • VERY limited grown-ups, this party is for a bunch of 16 year olds
  • room for lots of dancing
  • no extravagant, expensive decor but simple & themed-wise (very rocket-science)
  • nothing expensive, but classy
  • Phantom of the Opera Theme
  • again, for a teen-ager! (enough said)
Planning for a teen-ager's party is no joke. I am very serious about this, and I would not commit to another surprise one, unless my heart is at stake. On the last two-weeks of preparation, me and my sister debated, argued, misunderstood each other on a lot of issues, especially about the flow of the program. Between me and her, the generation gap is so overwhelming to bridge, which is worst between her and her daughter. So I tried to make it as painless as I can to the celebrant, and boy, I am not mistaken. But because my sister is the brain of this party, I can only concede and try to  skip as much awkward as I can. Of course, as I expected, nothing missed my niece's attention despite her overwhelmed, emotional & surprised reaction. 

Teens, in this part of the world, have a whole lot of meaning to being 16. For Filipino parents, it would be very normal to celebrate a big 18th for a daughter. A Filipina debutante won't have any qualms because she knows it is a Filipino tradition. For a niece who is both a Filipina and a European by descent, but born Canadian, celebrating a 16th is the new 18th. She would like to celebrate her 16th because it means she celebrates it with her high school friends. She warned her mom: No big party with mom and dad's friends! Only party with her friends! But as a Filipina mom, my sister would want to make this year memorable if it means no eighteenth. 

So started the Surprise Party planning. My sister can only dangle the emotional torture in my busy-mom life, and for me to say NO is a crime. And this, she did a month before my niece' birthday. Again, I hate instant planning. But I pushed myself to whirl this one out. 

Theme: We started with the theme: Phantom of the Opera. My niece likes the movie so much, my sister suggested it right away. And I really like it if there is a theme at hand. My schemer brain could work around it 24/7. 


Her group of friends from school (like 25 of them), family, Mom's and Dad's closest friends.
A combination of teen-agers, Filipinos and Europeans. Maximum of 20 grown-ups.

Club Lasalle. Not too big, not too small of a hall. There is the dance floor that the kids could party their hearts out. Costly but worth it. 

A mix of Filipino & Western.

Dad's radio. Kids can hook up their playlist & pick their songs. (Teen-agers who know their thing. Never try to make them do your thing. They have their own song.. so grown ups have to chill away)

Black and white, with a single red rose for centerpiece:


She got hauled in by her parents, and got her into wearing white!
Came in... thinking it's a candle light party for someone who passed away.
Surprise! It's her birthday!
Led her to her cake in the middle of the dance floor.
Candles came in.. making a path for the coming roses (Song: Young & Beautiful)
16 Roses came in (Song: Young & Beautiful), no dancing 
Last rose is her dad....
A father-daughter dance (Song: Dance with my Father)

To bring down the emotional moment: Khloe, my 4 y.o., danced her heart out with the Phantom of the Opera song with Ethan, nephew, coming out in the end wearing the phantom mask.
(awkward for both Ethan & Cass, but at least Khloe had a ball dancing.. LOL)

Chelsea, my other niece, did the prayer.
I welcomed everyone in like 10 seconds.
Dinner was served.
Then, the dance began.

It was quick, it was a surprise... it was as little awkward as I can pull off.
(With teen-agers, it's like a minefield -- everything is bound to be awkward!)

It was all good... it was memorable.

Pictures paint a million words:

Our sister flew in from North Carolina

Birthday is always a family reunion....


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