In 2016, my family and I threw my maternal grandmother a semi-surprise party for her 82nd birthday. Previous celebrations were generally low-key with just the immediate relatives. But since my aunt and her husband has successfully beautified their backyard (it’s so green, I swear) and the overwhelming support shown by me and my older cousins and the rest of the clan, our indoor powwows have evolved into this fun, outdoor garden party.
We were supposed to make it a proper surprise but my grandma started getting too concerned about logistics. We already knew that she was probably expecting something similar to last year’s soiree, we let her in the plan and that ultimately made her relax.
Same with last year, I was in-charge of decorations. I love arts and crafts and I personally thrive in immersing myself with projects like this. Unfortunately, most of the decorations from last year are gone. We already bought some ready-to-use decor from Divisoria and the rest were handcrafted by yours truly and the kiddos.
May has been pretty humid this year and I was peeved that the balloons easily popped in the heat. So they weren’t brought out until past 4PM. We put up silver ribbons, glittery star garlands, balloon letters and of course, the grandchildren & fur baby bunting banner which I’m definitely turning into a party staple.
They’re cut-outs of mine and my cousin’s faces (arranged by birth order) and all of the family pet canines combined. We have party hats, we’re all smiling and it’s adorable as hell. The original banner was probably thrown out by mistake so we had to rehash it. I painstakingly had to glue, cut and finish all of it during a blackout. My fingers bled and my x-acto knife dulled.
Below is the pretty basic banner I designed. What’s a Pinoy celebration without blowing out stuff on tarpaulin, right? Last year’s was too noisy in terms of aesthetics… so I consider this an improvement. We couldn’t agree on a proper theme so I told myself to wing it and I managed to trick my lola to take a couple of glamour shots for me without her knowing what it was for.
My kid brother and cousin performed a couple of songs instrumental. They didn’t practice enough hence them playing with the music on an iPad. The make-shift sound system was also quite the improvement from last year’s crappy amp-turned-speaker.
I spent so many sleepless nights in preparations. I was the eldest grandkid around so I got the brunt of the responsibilities. The adults got off easy, if you ask me, all they needed to do was order the food. I also did the multimedia presentations which had me nagging various relatives and gathering old photos from multiple photo albums.
All of that has all been worth it though because it made my lola so happy. That’s her watching the surprise greetings reel from our family from all over of the world + photo montage and her blowing out the birthday candles.
The party in full swing! Loved ones, relatives, friends, colleagues and even neighbors were all there to celebrate her and her (so far) amazing life. The weather was nice and it didn’t rain despite the unfavorable weather from the day before. There was a lot of catching up and reminiscing between the old chatty hens.
Everyone was enjoying themselves. There was good food, good company, lots of barbecued meat, and even more sorbetes and it’s the genuine traditionally-street-peddled kind of Filipino ice cream to boot!
Although, we had so many other things planned that didn’t happen – like parlor games and performances – I’m proud to say that my grandma’s 83rd was a monumental success! Not much of a surprise there but it’s a learning process and none of us are professional event planners. I imagine that we’ll keep making each celebration better than the last so there’s gonna be serious forethought going into the 84th.
I intend to make it happen and that’s a promise I’m gonna keep.