Looking to break the norm and do something true to you? Throw a meaningful baby shower with Priya Parker’s 3 Steps from her book “The Art of Gathering.”
Today, we’re going to skip your typical “how to throw a baby shower” blog post and encourage throwing a meaningful baby shower instead.
We’re inspired by Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering, which talks about a variety of topics regarding gatherings. No, we’re not breaking down how to fold napkins or find the right caterer, but rather how to make gatherings more meaningful. How to overcome the elements of gathering, like which traditions to follow and which ones you don’t have to, among other things. Are you planning your own meaningful baby shower? Planning one for a friend? Regardless, this is going to really make it something you’ll tell your kids and grandkids about.
Let’s look at some examples of meaningful gatherings that veered away from norms and traditions. When talking about her book, Parker mentions the Harry-Megan royal wedding that blew people’s minds by reminding them that even something as strict and traditional as royal nuptials could have room for change. Not to mention the fact that #Megxit has everyone thinking “are traditions over?” No, traditions from both the British and African-American weddings were implemented into the wedding to make it truly feel like a unifying of two families from across the pond.
To add, history from Harry’s mother’s struggle with the British media and their current situation have pushed them to act upon what their family history has proven to be the best. Now, as they implement new ways to interact with the media and the royal family, they’ll include the elements that are essential and meaningful and opt out of the rest.
Just the same, the meaningful baby shower that you’re planning can truly be representative of the people involved.
So let’s look at these steps to a meaningful gathering.
3 Steps for a Meaningful Baby Shower
1. Embrace a Specific Disputable Purpose
What is the purpose of a baby shower? Does this suit your needs? Does this suit the needs of your partner? For instance, a typical baby shower is to bring together the mom and other women to bond and laugh. You play games, you open gifts, etc. If that is exactly what works for you, great! If not, ask yourself what it is that you need right now.
Do you need to bond with your partner about how to transition to parenting? Do you need to remember what it was like to be a child, and could you do that by maybe involving your parents and other people? Decide what needs are going to be addressed with this gathering and the ways to do that will open up.
Priya Parker’s example: A mother that fears the pain of labor, so her friends gather to remind of the attributes they admire about her: her strength, generosity, perseverance and for each of these traits they have a bead that they add to a necklace that they assemble together. Then, the mother remembers these traits during labor as she’s wearing the necklace! Easy and meaningful!
2. For a Meaningful Gathering, Cause Good Controversy
An angry gathering can, believe it or not, be just as terrible as a boring one. According to Parker: “The best gatherings learn to cultivate a good controversy by creating the conditions for it because human connection is as threatened by an unhealthy peace as by unhealthy conflict.” This isn’t encouragement to ask whether or not moms endorse vaccination, we don’t want a high-risk baby shower. Instead, Parker says we should ask for experiences, not opinions about the large topic underneath a conflict.
For instance, are you thinking about taking extra time off work after your baby is born or maybe not taking much time at all? Instead of asking for opinions, ask everyone to come with a story about the time they spent with their parents as children and now with their children as parents. Perhaps you can go even bigger and ask everyone to bring their first memory from childhood. Sparking a good conversation and sharing experiences will make everyone bond on the spot and create meaningful memories for everyone.
This way, you can talk about big-picture moments that influence your decision, not opinions that won’t have much of a positive impact on the party at all. Think of ways people can connect with each other and the purpose of your meaningful baby shower.
3. Create an Alternative Temporary World Using “Pop-up Rules”
Is it a party if it has rules? Yes! More and more gatherings currently implement rules as a way to make a shared etiquette a given. According to Parker, sharing etiquette, rules, and unspoken norms aren’t a given anymore. Pop-up rules allow us to connect and gather purposely and meaningfully. Think about the group you’re inviting and what rules may not be understood by all. Parker’s example is several generations who for one night alone are not allowed to look at their phone. The first one to pick up their phone pays the tab. What could apply to your baby shower? Consider the people coming it don’t forget to make it fun.
Hint: Maybe you’re inviting a lot of work friends and some friends from outside of work. Tie work-related topics to a “punishment” like take a shot of milk or revealing a secret.
The point is to take away the topics, devices, etc. that will make some feel alienated to allow room for connection.
While traditions have a way of bringing people together, these rules can make gatherings actually meaningful. That way, once you’re already there and gathered, the exchanges and activities that happen actually mean something and become a story you tell over and over again for years to come.
So there we have it, three things to implement to make your baby shower much more meaningful. After these three tips, how do you think you’ll plan your meaningful gathering? Share this with a friend and plan together!
In the meantime, check out Priya Parker’s TED talk on meaningful gatherings!