Over the past week, there’s been a lot of celebrating going on in my world: a milestone birthday followed by Mother’s Day celebrations with my mom and again with my mother-in-law. There have been laughter and sweets, photos and games. And yes, there have even been gifts.
One thing I’ve noticed post-celebration–even more than the tightness of my pants*–is the way we, as a society, tend to talk about celebrations. What’s become especially interesting to me is the way we seem to want to measure their success. “What did you get?” If I didn’t field that question twenty different ways in the day following my thirtieth birthday, I’d be shocked. I tried to talk about the surprise party my husband threw. I tried to mention how friends from high school, college, and work all went in on the surprise. But all anyone really seemed to care about is what I unwrapped.
It’s time to reframe the question. I don’t have anything against gifts. In fact, I’m a big fan of gifting experiences, requested items, or little indulgences that I know someone wouldn’t normally splurge on. Giving can be quite fun. However, I don’t think it is a requisite part of any celebration, let alone the single determining factor of a party’s success. So rather than talking about things, here’s how I like to reframe the conversation around celebrations:
Who did you celebrate with? Let’s put the focus back on people, not things. After all, a party really isn’t a party without guests. Asking a question like this gives people an opportunity to give shout-outs to people who were able to make it out to celebrate and the chance to share different memories from the day.
How did you spend your day? Maybe there wasn’t a big party or maybe there was. Either way, asking people how they spent their time will give you opportunities to learn more about them, bond over common hobbies, and take the focus off finances. The celebration’s size, cost, and structure are really irrelevant–as it should be–when the question is phrased like this.
What will you always remember? Memories are made regardless of price tags. Could someone mention a gift in response to this question? Of course. But it also gives people the chance to share silly stories or sentimental moments. A conversation framed in this format will be a whole lot richer–even if things are never mentioned.
*Double chocolate cake with buttercream frosting was worth every.single.calorie.
So Tell Me…What’s your favorite way to inquire about a big celebration? Care to share a memory from a recent party or gathering?