Our middle child, Lukas, celebrated his 9th birthday earlier this week. We invited a handful of friends to celebrate it with him with play time at Kidzoona and an early dinner at McDonald’s afterwards. Lukas was so excited, it was his first time to hold a party on his birthday with his friends.
For the past several years, we’ve celebrated his birthday much, much simpler — usually just us, family, which I honestly think is okay because it helps us teach them to live without a sense of entitlement. And to appreciate and enjoy the company of family on their special days.
But of course, he’s a kid. Although he hasn’t really complained about it, I knew in my heart that he thought of birthday parties, too.
Not hosting parties for his birthday was not intentional, to be honest. I don’t know why, but this time of the year has always been a bit of a stretch for us in our finances, and Lukas’ birthdays would always take a hit. Thank God for understanding kids!
We would make up for it by getting him a birthday present he would truly enjoy like a scooter or the huge rubber pool which they dipped and soaked in almost everyday for two years in our old house.
We would set up the table in our old yard, have our lunch there as a family, and Lukas would blow his birthday candle as the four of us – me, my husband, Jay, our kids, Pablo and Judah, would sing to him the birthday song.
There was one time that Lukas blew his candle at a swimming get-together with our friends on Holy Week. It wasn’t exactly a party we organized, but Lukas had a chance to blow his birthday candle surrounded by people who love him, so I think that went well.
Birthday with dear friends
This year, we thought of different ways to celebrate it. We thought of going on a day trip to Villa Escudero or perhaps, Manila Ocean Park, but they just didn’t seem more appealing than a play date with friends at Kidzoona, so after much thought, we went for plan B instead.
We made a list of Lukas’ closest buddies: His BFF’s, Ayesha and Santi, Ziggy, Gab and Marco.
We could only accommodate a few kids so it was important that the kids we would invite are kids that Lukas already has relationships with. Kids whom he (and Judah) see more often, play with and know well.
Most of them happen to be homeschoolers or friends they got close with in church or at Christian Legacy where they attended MAPEH classes for the past three years.
There were two other kids whom we invited who couldn’t make it, but 6 kids (Lukas and Judah included) wasn’t a bad number.
We asked the boys and their moms to meet us at Kidzoona in Uptown at 4 PM.
Kidzoona rates are PHP 300/child + adult companion for 90 minutes and PHP 400/child + adult companion for 3 hours. They require that each child must be accompanied by an adult.
I paid for 90 minutes play time because, by experience, 3 hours was just too long. True enough, the kids were begging for drinks and snacks even before their 90 minutes were done.
4 PM was a bit crowded last Wednesday, but the crowd didn’t last very long. And it wasn’t at all the same on Tuesday when Lukas met and played with his BFF, Ayesha. She had an appointment with their dentist and couldn’t make it to the party the next day, so we decided to let Lukas celebrate his birthday with her ahead of the others.
Kidzoona in Uptown is really spacious and offers a lot of variations for play. The boys were naturally drawn to the ones that let them climb, jump, tumble, dive and do anything physical.
I especially love how they raced at the inflatable wheels.
We got to McDonald’s, which you will find in Uptown mall’s Basement 1, before 6 PM.
Jay and Pablo went ahead to reserve a long table for us and order Spaghetti and Chicken meals, iced teas and sundaes for Lukas and his guests. We did this to avoid making the kids wait too long, lest they get impatient and restless, it would be hard for the adults to contain them. You know how kids are.
The place was packed when we arrived, it was rush hour, after all. It’s funny, though, how when we were all done and about to leave, the place was also almost empty, haha!
I got the idea of throwing simple celebrations like this from friends from the South. And for the past two years, our eldest son would invite friends to a game of Lazer tag and have pizza afterwards to celebrate his birthdays.
What I love about throwing a party like this is that it’s practically hassle-free. We don’t need to book a party venue and do all kinds of preparations. We can just meet the kids at the venue and pay on the spot.
If there’s anything I learned all these years is that kids just want to play and they like to eat. They don’t need highly organized parties with hundreds of guests to do that.
Not that I’m undermining kiddie parties that are well-organized, kids love them, too. What I’m saying is that simple parties work, too.
In my opinion, bringing them to places like Kidzoona allows them to be themselves and choose the activities they want to do. It gives them the allowance to warm up to the other kids and find something common to enjoy together.
I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to connect with another soul in a room swarming with humans. I’m speaking from a point of view of an introvert mom who has one introvert son – the birthday celebrator, himself.
Some people may not agree but I think keeping the number small is a better way to help kids, not just the introverts, naturally connect with other children and build real relationships.
So yeah, I like these kinds of simple parties, don’t you?
“Also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man” Ecclesiastes 3:13.