Hong Kong: Modern Birthday Party

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Children’s birthdays have always been an event. When we were little, the parties were all the same. They were strictly celebrated at the birthday guy’s home, we’re eating milk sandwiches with cooked ham or salami held together by a toothpick, chips, juices and Coca Cola with caffeine (no caffeine or Coca Cola Zero – didn’t even exist). Nobody, in my memory, had allergies.

We played all together and no one was bored. We ran in the yard with a ball, the elastic and the rope, even in winter. In the most organized parties there was a treasure hunt. We organized shows for the parents who were always present, sitting on the sofa talking to each other, smoking (in the house in front of the kids) and not engaging in entertaining children.

Nowadays, organizing a birthday party is a stellar business even more complicated than planning the realization of the Black Death. You have to move in time and book the fashionable place (rugs, climbing, inflatable castles, ice skating, giant slides) send invitations in advance to avoid the hateful response:

“Sorry, but we are already at Filippo’s Birthday party at the Laser Tag!  He invited us six months ago.”

If you decide to avoid these super expensive and noisy places and go back to the old fashioned days of the home party, then you have to live in a castle and rent a couple of professionals in the field who will take care of the terrible task of entertaining the kids:

  • A magician for prestigious games of dubious taste
  • The hateful clown that turns balloons into flowers and swords (and sooner or later they will drag them all to the manhole. For God’s sake nobody else read IT?)
  • The face painting girls that draw glittered butterflies and fiery tigers with Chinese toxic make-up on your kids’ faces, which will melt in 5 seconds after glitter in the eyes and leaving colorful stripes on everyone’s t-shirts
  • Gordon Ramsay’s cousin who is able to cook a gluten-lactose-nuts-eggs free birthday’s cake, of course edible and delicious.

In addition, when you are living abroad, children from different countries are invited, so different cultures must be taken into account. For some, gifts are absolutely not to be opened in front of the guests, for others you absolutely must do it and thank them more than one time. After the verbal thanks, follows the note or a phone message with the appropriate comment about the happiness of being together in such a great and important day (do not forget to mention the present). The notes is something like this:

“Thank you for taking part in John’s birthday party! John really loves the electric train that you have so generously donated to him, that’s what he wanted! John will play as a stationmaster for the whole winter, maybe also in summer. We will send you some photos to show you how much John is happy with the train, despite he turned 12. Thank you, thank you for having shared a special day with us, we will never forget you.”

 In short, a tragedy!

Or you can do as I did, you just don’t care. You pretend to be in the 80s.

I would make an introduction here… for those who do not know me well, I usually am like Ms.Rottermaier (Clare’s nanny from Haidi).

Obligate my girls to clean up the games after using them, pick up their plate after dinner and bring it in the sink, color on the table only after putting the washable tablecloth, eating only at the table and not on sofa. Not to mention the junk food … .forbidden. No candies, cookies after dinner, cakes. I cook everything, even Nutella. The sweets are made with chia seeds gel instead of eggs, burgers are those of quinoa and lentils. Fried food: a stranger.

So you will understand how much effort has cost me – this unorganized birthday party.

Invitations were made either by voice or by WhatsApp just seven days before. We invited ten girls but just six of them were free to come (the others were probably at the laser tag with Filippo), so they stayed for a sleepover. The first hour of the party was a mandatory dance lesson where girls danced, jumped, got sweaty and spent all their spendable energy in an hour to avoid the explosion of the home.

No shower for anyone.

Dinner was based on hot dogs (I would point out that I did not even make the bread but I bought the already cut industrial one, full of alcohol and powders, that taste like plastic), ketchup, mayonnaise (always bought and not made according to my healthy recipe of the Mayo without eggs), potato chips. The birthday cake was a tart with pounds of butter and apricot jam. For the allergic kids, no cake. To follow pop-corn with butter cracked in the microwave eaten in front of TV.

After the movie came the funny part:

“What do we do now Emma’s mom?”


“But with what?”

“I don’t know…you girls can invent something.”

“But what’s in the schedule?”

“We do not have a schedule”

 ” Emma’s mom what did you do to have fun at our age?”

“I threw the sticky hands who were inside the San Carlo’s chips bags on the glass and I watched them walk down.”

So they put their pajamas on and play with the modern version of the sticky hands: squish balls. Slim plastic balls filled with slime (what we called Skifidol) imprisoned in a fishing net, when squeezed the slime comes out of the holes of the net and it is simply beautiful and fun! If you throw them strong enough they stick to the wall and never come down.


The next morning at breakfast we eat the leftovers of the cake and the cereal with the milk (well, I buy the milk, you can believe it?) a little girl starts singing the alphabet with burps. Another starts to do fake farts with the hand under the armpits and I never laugh so hard.

Now the wall is full of sticky slime (yes, one of the squish balls exploded), I find one side of the sofa is painted of green tempera, the carpet is impregnated with Sprite, the plant that strangely was not dead is broken in two pieces but my daughter tells me:

“Thanks Ma, best party ever. You are the best.” and she hugs me so tight that I am breathless.

At the end, children are children, stop treating them as aliens.

I suggest you to buy many, many squish balls and Happy Birthday!!!

 BTW next year, for peace of mind, laser tag.


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