A Great (BIG) 1st Birthday Party

(If you want the live version of some of my narrations, scroll down a bit and there is a video compilation of the party events!)

Wednesday, December 9th is Elizabeth’s first birthday, and we had planned for a while to do a party for the kids in the neighborhood. Originally I thought we would just do something small for the little girls that come play with her in the afternoon. Well…. once word got out that we would have a party for her I got asked every day by a different child in the area, “Her Birthday is in December and there will be a party, right?” So we ended up doing some cultural enquiries with our teachers to find out the best way to have a party here.

We ordered food for 60 at first, but then after handing out 56 invitations (one per family), we figured out that it probably wouldn’t be enough. So we switched the order to 90 people, and the lady across the street who usually makes food for big events said that would be no problem.  We ordered a cake, got balloons, decorated and moved some furniture around. But none of this prepared us for the actual party. It was crazy but it was so fun!

Here is the cake:


And here is some of the food, traditional food here is yellow rice with several side dishes (all very fancy and very yummy):



And here’s the birthday girl!


The party started at 3:30, but a crowd of kids started gathering outside at about 2:30. They were all dressed up and all carried a gift. It was so sweet! It ended up that about 130 people came, including about 90 kids.  There were no men that came, only kids and their moms.  The house was completely packed!


The usual order of events is that first someone important officially opens the festivities – Matt gave a speech. Then we lit the candles on Elizabeth’s cake and sang the Indonesian version of “Happy Birthday” followed by the English version. After that everyone ate and it was a madhouse, but praise the Lord we had enough food! Here is a video that Matt put together from the footage from the day that takes you through the craziness. Even though there were SO MANY people, they came at 3:30 and had left by 4:30, so it was over really quickly! This is totally normal and expected culturally here – it’s called “SMP” which stands for "sudah makan pulang” (as soon as you finish eating you go home)! Thanks to Paul and Krisanne for being our photo-video team for the party!


Elizabeth’s Birthday from Matt Menger on Vimeo.

The women that you can see in the video taking care of all the food were such an amazing help. I could not have done this event successfully without the help of Ibu Yeti, Ibu Ina (both neighbors), and my house helper Ibu Ida. They filled in the gaps where I lacked necessary cultural information and kept all the food coming!

Even though most people had left an hour after the party started, we still had people showing up to bring a gift and get their food and piece of cake until about 7:00. And then there was the inevitable clean-up, but it was all worth it! We really feel that it was an important thing for us to open our home to our neighbors and to feed them. Hopefully this will help us get to know them even better! Thanks for all of you that prayed for the party to go well – it was a big success!



Filed under daily life, our kids

4 responses to “A Great (BIG) 1st Birthday Party

  1. How fun is that! Wow- what a wonderful way to get knit in to the community a bit. God is so good- and good job with Indonesian, Matt!

  2. What a treat to see all those children & their moms in your home! Happy birthday to our dear Elizabeth. And, yes Matt, great job on the language. Love y'all.

  3. SO much fun!Luis watched and clapped and sang too. He wondered why he didnt get to go!thanks for sharing!Becca

  4. Hey Matt and Kara! Happy birthday to Elizabeth 🙂 Wow…. what a HUGE party! Way to go loving your neighbors! Just wanted to say Hi and we are looking forward to meeting you in February when we visit Krisanne and Paul. I sometimes hop over to your blog from theirs and we hear about you lots, so I kind of feel like we already know you a bit 🙂

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