Kemem Planning

February 4, 2013

  As I wrote about in this post and this post, we are working on Fire's Kemem (say kay-mem), the traditional Marshallese first birthday party.  When D and I told Bubu and Jimma that we wanted to have the Kemem, they actually tried to talk us out of it.  They told us that a lot of people don't do them anymore and that we're American so we're not expected to do it.  We kept insisting and finally found out why they wanted to talk us out of it: it's expensive!  Jimma wouldn't tell us how much we could expect to pay, just that we would have to invite around 300 people and that we should expect, and buy food for, 500 people.  We were a little taken aback at those number but what really convinced us to reconsider having the party on Ebeye was when Jimma told us that we'd need to buy at least 15 cases of chicken, at $36.00 a case.  That's over $500 just for the chicken.  We love Fire and we want embrace the Marshallese culture but we can't afford that just for birthday party.
  We talked and thought about it some more while we were on vacation and decided to have the party here on Kwaj, at Emon Beach like we'd talked about with Fire's birth parents when we first met them.  Bubu and Jimma liked the idea and I switched into planning gear.  Here's what we have so far:

Emon Beach Main Pavillion- reserved, free
Two tents, 17 tables, 110 chairs- reserved, $200
Food, catered- 1075.56
-Veggie Tray
-Lumpia
-Dinner Rolls
-Potato Salad
-Wild Rice, 1 pan
-White Rice, 3 pans
-BBQ Chicken, 4 pans
-Herb Roasted Chicken, 3 pans
-Double Sheet Cakes, one yellow cake and one chocolate cake
(Friends are also going to smoke 4 pork butts and a brisket to round out the dinner)
Decorations- $200
-Table cloths
-Streamers
-Hanging stars
-Balloons
Music and MC- waiting to hear back from a Hawaiian band on island (~$300)
Clothes- Ms Florina is gifting us with new clothes for the party
Gifts for Guests- Elizabeth is making jewelry for all the ri-belle and we will be providing all the ri-majel with boxes to take home food
Blessing and Invocation: Bubu and Jimma's pastor (donation?)

  What's left?  We have to finish arranging the guest sponsorship of 50 people from Ebeye, arrange for ice and cooler delivery, and start buying paper, plasticware, juice and soda to make sure we have enough in time for the party.
  I'm sure I'll be pulling my hair out as things get closer but right now, it's looking like we're going to have a pretty great party.  We even heard that there are some folks practicing dancing for our party- that's a pretty big deal, especially for a ri-belle party!  Have you thrown any big parties?  Do you have any advice on making things go as smoothly as possible? 


4 comments

  1. I just finished giving a party to celebrate all 3 of my children's birthdays. We had 85 children attending the party. Having different "stations" of things to do - food one place, coloring another, some other kind of craft, dancing another - that helped. People spread out a bit, and were encouraged to move around. I know the kemem will have adults as well as children, but the general idea is still the same.

    Ali, my daughter, says for a good party you give out goodies!

    Enjoy the kemem!

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    1. Thanks for the advice! I wish we could do something like that- it sounds like it was a lot of fun. We're going to rely on the beach and playground to keep kids happy. I thought about having a pinata but I'm going to have so much else to do that I didn't want to even have to think about organizing it (or finding someone to organize it). And for the most part, Kemems are for adults. Kids are there, they eat, run around, maybe dance and sing some, but we're focusing on entertaining (read: showing off for) the grown ups in Teshie's family.

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    2. And holy cow, Dalene! 85 kids! I hope you treated yourself a little bit after pulling something like that off :)

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  2. My wife and I have thrown many the big party (matter of fact, were planning a large weekend conference for our entire Girl Scout Council right now)...and the best advice I can give you is:

    Be flexible.

    Something is typically gonna go wrong (could be big, could be small), and all the planning won't always help you see all possibilities of things that could happen. But being flexible to roll with it and adapt at the last minute, can take any problem and make it a success.

    As well as realizing when it happens, that it's not your fault or something you could have known or can control. Just roll with it and work with it. Turn lemons into lemonade. It can be hard to do, trust me I have been there many times, but you can pull it off. As long as the guests don't see you flustered, they probably won't have any clue anything is wrong.

    Second best advice: make sure that YOU have some fun at the party too. Otherwise your working and working...and at the end, you end up asking yourself, "WHY did I do this again?". Or you'll feel like you missed out on something.

    Some other helpful tips:
    --Have helpers that can handle certain aspects of the party (e.g. putting out and monitoring the food, monitoring the gift table, if any, etc.) Items or tasks that don't really need you to personally do them, but someone that can take that over for you, so its one less thing you need to worry about. Think of yourself as the general, and they are all your soldiers reporting to you. This too will allow you to spend some time enjoying the party and not worrying about every little detail.

    --Have a few backup plans in place for things that you see could go wrong (e.g. run out of food, something happens with the band, etc.) And just have things waiting "in the wings" that you can quickly pull out if something happens.

    --From a memory preservation standpoint: I don't know if you've thought about hiring someone to take photos or video, but you can see if you can get other people to take photos too. Just so you don't miss anything. If you have people that have video cameras, see if they will take some video for you. Don't have them shoot the whole thing, just what they feel like shooting (so they can enjoy the party too). You may not get everything, but you'll get some fun moments...and this party sounds like there may be some great opportunity for some great video! Something you'll want to watch or show Teshie in the future! But if you want video of the whole thing. Make sure that the person video taping is not also trying to take photos. It doesn't work (been there AND tried to do that). You can't get a great photographer and videographer in one (unless they have staff). One or both end up "lacking". Photos and video should be two seperate people.

    Need any help with ideas or workarounds...just drop me a line!

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