When I told my two best friends I would have to go through chemotherapy, their response was, “We’re throwing you a hat party!” (Well, that wasn’t their initial response…it followed the shock, the tears, and the hugs.)
As the fashionably-challenged and accessory-deprived woman that I am, I thought a Hat Party was a great idea. I have always had very thick, very (naturally) curly hair. It consumed enough of my time and energy to tame the locks. So there was little time left to think of accessories like scarves and hats. I usually considered it a win if I left the house without looking like a bird had nested on my head. If I happened to have on cute earrings, too, well that was just a great day!
Facing the reality of chemotherapy, and the fact that I would (likely) lose my hair, I knew I would need to compensate the loss of my locks with some fabulous accessories. (And quite honestly, that would be a challenge for me!) But I knew some added accessories might lift my spirits and just might boost my confidence as well.
I mean, if you have to do chemotherapy and lose your hair, why not rock some fabulous hats and scarves with it, right?!
Here are some tips that (in my opinion…as the guest of honor) made for a fabulous hat party:
1. Schedule a convenient time. This might seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re working around a chemo schedule and the unpredictability of it’s side effects, this is crucial. There’s nothing worse than throwing a party to lift someone’s spirits then having the guest of honor miss because she is not feeling up to it. My party was several days after treatment. I was feeling much better by then and ready to get out of the house. If your guest of honor doesn’t yet know how chemo will affect her, consider having the party before she begins treatment.
2. Choose a casual location. This is not high tea with The Queen. No one needs to feel pressured into a black-tie event, especially a chemo patient. Even if your guest of honor is up to coming, she may not be feeling her best. It might be all she can do to throw on her comfy jeans and a sweater. Let her off the hook and go casual.
My friends chose a coffee shop just off the square in my little town. It was the perfect combination of cozy and casual. No dress code required, but caffeine and brownies in abundance! (Oh, did I mention…yummy treats are a must!)
3. Set a tone in your invitation. Cancer is a touchy subject, and everyone deals with it differently. Some face it head-on with humor and sarcasm. Others might be uncomfortable at the very mention of it. Respect the feelings of your guests and your guest of honor. Use your invitation to give specifics and to set the tone for your party.
My friends and I tend to use humor and sarcasm as coping mechanism. At one point they considered titling the invitations: I’ve Got Cancer, Top That! (which I thought was awesome). However, they decided to go with: Hats Off to Cancer (also great and a little less in-your-face). They requested that guests bring a hat/scarf OR some dark chocolate (my favorite) as a gift. EVERYONE brought BOTH. My closet is full of hats and my freezer is now well-stocked with dark chocolate!! 🙂
4. Be a gracious hostess. My friends did a great job adding little touches to the party that made everyone feel welcome. Beautiful treat bags were at each place setting when guests arrived. The hostesses provided thank you cards for me and had guests address the already-stamped envelopes, saving me time and expense later. Guests were asked to write an encouraging note to me in a keepsake journal. Each note meant so much to me, and I’ve gone back and read them over and over again. Every little gesture made for a great experience for me, as the guest of honor, and for each guest.
5. Be a good friend. My friends know me well. They tailored the party to me…right down to the dark chocolate. Does your friend love a big bash? Would she prefer a more intimate setting with a few close friends? Does she love brunch or is she more of a late-night coffee shop person? Think about her…what does she enjoy? What makes her smile? What brings her comfort?
Your friend going through a lot right now, both physically and emotionally. She needs the love of close friends and the comfort of their company. I’m so thankful that’s exactly what I got from mine! (You all know who you are! ;))
This post is part of the series, Embracing Hope. In the coming weeks, we’ll look at why we can put our hope in God, how we put our hope in God, and what we can do when it feels all hope is lost. Won’t you come along for the journey? Consider subscribing via e-mail so you can receive new posts delivered directly to your inbox! Simply enter your e-mail address in the box to the right. To view the entire series, click here.