I love October!! Fall is in the air (well….. in the Flagstaff air), crockpots come out, and football players don their pink shoes, armbands, and decals to honor a whole bunch of HEROS during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While the oncology nurse in me loves that we dedicate a whole month to honoring those affected by breast cancer, the friend/daughter/sister/woman in me hates that it’s needed. We will all relish the day that a cure is announced and this terrible disease is a thing of the past.
Be it breast cancer or another difficult diagnosis, when that phone call comes to someone you know well and love dearly, it isn’t always easy to discern the best avenue for showing support. May I humbly offer two cents to help?
Cent 1) Say something. Let’s not be the silent awkward weird type. But for goodness’ sakes, don’t say something stupid.
Repeat after me: “I love you, and I’m here for you.”
That’s it! Resist the temptation to cast rainbows over her situation or go all Pollyanna on her. In those early moments, she doesn’t need you yanking her up by her wrists — she needs you to quietly stoop down and help shoulder the load. She needs, “You’re right, this is heavy,”; not, “It’s not so bad!”
Be with her.
Cent 2) Then — only when the time is right, and only if she wants it — you buy a whole haul of donuts and throw that girl an Accessories PAR-TAY. You see, after the initial fog has thinned (and the timeline will be different for all), this may be a season that begs for a silver-lined opportunity to celebrate. To untangle the blossoms from the weeds. Or, more plainly put: to hire a sitter, rally the troops, and dig in where it counts.
I had the honor of hosting such a get-together for my sweet friend last month. It was short, simple and sweet — and something you could easily do! Not so sure? I give you: A How-To Guide to Accessories Showers.
1) Grab your honoree’s guest list — names, email or physical addresses, and phone numbers. My friend invited
around 20 ladies, with the expectation of 10-15 attending. We ended up with 11, and it was perfect to keep things intimate but fun!
2) Invitations! You can go the classy, paper, mailed route, or craft the cutest, cheesiest evite you can. Either way, be sure to include an RSVP request of 3-4 days before your event, and 2 avenues to contact you, the host! If you need inspiration, here was our invite from punchbowl.com.
3) Totally optional — but I chose to send a separate email to the guests (our honoree not included), inviting them to come sporting their favorite hat, scarf or handbag. I also passed along a personal favorite resource Headcovers Unlimited in case it made shopping for convenient for anyone.
4) On or right around the RSVP date, reach out to those who haven’t responded. I found phone calls worked best — and because I was an unknown number to most, I ended up leaving a message that went something like this:
“Hi, Mindy! My name is Rebecca, and I’m friends with your cousin Jenn! I am hosting an accessories shower for Jenn this Saturday and wanted to be sure that you received the invitation in your email? Those can often go to ‘junk’, so just checking to ensure you’re in the loop! Definitely wouldn’t want to miss you. Take a look and, when able, pop in an RSVP so we can know whether to expect you? Call me with any questions; I look forward to meeting you. Thanks, Mindy!”
4) Splurge a teensy bit on your friend. Buy her that hat, handbag or earrings you maybejustalittle want to keep for yourself. Kind of consider keeping them for a moment…. then come to your senses. Kick yourself for not having bought two and being twinsies with her.
5) Party day!
– keep it simple. We had donuts, cheese and fruit, cucumber water and coffee.
– keep it short and sweet. 1.5hr, tops — begin gift-opening perhaps 30-45 mins in so those who have other obligations can exit without feeling awkward.
– relax! A relaxed and joyful hostess begets a relaxed and joyful experience for all. This is a special morning for your friend, and it’s an honor for you to facilitate it.
– ***this is a big one…*** DO NOT expect your honoree to model the hats and scarves as she opens them. The intent is NOT to put her on the spot, parade her around, or embarrass her. A better plan is for each giver to model her own, carefully selected gift! And you as the hostess can easily vocalize that request as you introduce the gift-opening.
Our party had a lovely mix of beautiful hats, soft knit caps, flowy scarves, and even a couple of silly items (a Wonder Woman baseball cap with a long braid attached, and some detachable bangs on a headband!). It was fun!
I hope reading this empowers you to offer this fresh and fun option as a way of supporting a friend who you think may enjoy it.
Cheers to lovely a October — and a warm hug especially to those affected by breast cancer. Do your breast self exams! Praying for a cure.
*This post is written in honor of my gal pal Jenn. Lover of turquoise, Jesus, and well-timed sarcasm. Mom to 3 busy boys. Super wife to Alex. Intelligent, warm, inclusive, purposeful, and SMASHER of breast cancer. As I type this, Jenn is completing her final round of chemotherapy! Congratulations, sweet friend. Love you dearly!