Compared to filling up a piñata with candy, putting together a pabitin can be quite labor-intensive. However we believe that the extra effort is well worth the value of passing on this Filipino cultural tradition to the next generation!
The pabitin is a popular game played at children’s birthday parties in the Philippines . The root word "bitin" means "hanging." Treats, toys, & money are hung from a suspended wooden or bamboo rack. The rack is raised and lowered using a rope, and party guests standing underneath the rack jump up to grab as many prizes as they can!
The traditional wooden pabitin of the Philippines is often breakable and so we prefer to make a reusable version that can be used party after party.
Lil’ Balikbayan’s Pabitin Hacks:
-For the pabitin grid, use a wire wall grid - the ones that are hung on walls and used to clip on memos and photographs. We purchased ours from Amazon ($30 for a 2 pack, though you only need one): Kaforise Vinyl Dipped Wire Wall Grid Panel, Multifunction Photo Hanging Display and Wall Storage Organizer, Pack of 2, Size 17.7"x 37.4” .
-Hang lots of streamers and ribbon in the party theme colors. That way the pabitin will coordinate with the rest of your party decor and all the hangings will cause fun distraction as the kids grab for the prizes.
-Hang toys that fit with the party theme to further coordinate the pabitin with the party decor. For example, for our Top Gun themed party, we hung toy airplanes as prizes, along with all the other goodies.
-Purchase 10-12 pack treats from your local Asian market, such as 99 Ranch or Seafood City. And consider choosing goodies of different shapes and sizes to give the pabitin interesting variety. Our favorites to include are the Asian jumbo Cheeto-like snacks (which are long and easy for small hands to grasp), as well as old-school Sky Flakes.
-Attach prizes to the strings with masking tape. It makes it fast and easy to attach, holds well and at the same time is easy to rip off as kids grab for the treats.
-Remember to have baggies available for the kids in which to collect all their prizes!
-Let the younger kids have a chance at grabbing prizes first before the big kids come in and swoop everything up.
If you enjoyed these hacks and would like a free step-by-step pabitin-making tutorial, opt-in below.