Period Parties are all about celebrating this important milestone into womanhood. Commonly celebrated in many cultures around the world, it seems the Western culture is only just now catching up. For many past teens and tweens, their first period experience was abrupt, misguided or downright embarrassing. But why all the stigma? Isn’t it time we celebrated what is, arguably, one of the most important days in a teenager’s life?
How Other Cultures Celebrate Menstruation
Celebrating the first period is a ‘coming-of-age’ and ‘rite-of-passage’ moment for a number of cultures.
It’s considered a moment of reflection for the family and community, a time to learn of the culture’s history and importance of womanhood in it, and an opportunity to celebrate the person the child is becoming. Just look at some of these amazing traditions that ActionAid compiled:
In some Fijian, communities lay out a special mat for girls on their first period and teach girls about the importance of this milestone. On the fourth day of their period, an occasion called tunudra, the girls’ family prepares a feast to celebrate their entry into womanhood.
In some south Indian communities, a girl’s first period is welcomed through a coming-of-age ceremony called Ritusuddhi or Ritu Kala Samskara. The girl receives gifts and wears a traditional outfit called Langa Voni, also known as a half-sari.
In some parts of Japan, when a girl first gets her period the family celebrates by eating a traditional dish called sekihan made of sticky rice and adzuki beans. The red colour of the dish symbolises happiness and celebration.
In some Native American tribes girls reaching puberty experience a rite-of-passage celebration called The Sunrise Ceremony. The ceremony involves different rituals where girls from the tribe receive and offer gifts. The girls also wear symbolic outfits and celebrate with a feast.
And now in many parts of the Western world, in the UK and USA, and many parts of Europe, period parties are beginning to become popular. As with some of the traditions above, parties often include cake and feasting, and sometimes gifts. It may just be celebrated with close family, or sometimes wider. It really depends on what your daughter wants, and thinks she might like.
The whole idea is to celebrate the person’s coming-of-age, and to formally announce that they’re transitioning from childhood to adulthood.
But Are Period Parties a Good Idea?
Before you go planning that full blown party with red mocktails and a giant red panda piñata full of red liquorice lollies, you’d best sit down with your daughter, and discuss what she wants.
Professional counsellor Jill Whitney suggests that before jumping on the period party bandwagon, parents consider the celebration from their daughter’s perspective.
How comfortable is she with the changes happening to her body? Most preteens are extremely self-conscious about their changing bodies. Anything that calls attention to that makes them want to crawl into a cave.”
To really get at the ‘why’ behind the bash, Whitney recommends parents ask themselves questions like:
- Is this party about her or about you in some way?
- If you want to show you’re open about sexual topics, are you communicating that to your daughter, or to other people?
- Is your daughter someone who loves being the centre of attention and is excited about developing, or is she someone who’s easily embarrassed?
- Are period parties a trend in her peer group?
Assuming your daughter is all on board for a period party, and assuming you’ve worked out the details together, so the celebration will be a success and not a shocker, read on for some great period party ideas.
6 Novel Period Party Ideas
Go All Out with a Red Velvet Cake
Mum Shelly Lee from Jacksonville, Florida, made a period pack for her 14-year-old daughter, Brooke, complete with tampons, pads, wipes and new underwear, and to top it all off, a sweet red velvet cake.
The 46-year-old has encouraged other families to do the same and make it a trend. She wants to take the taboo out of periods and advocates for better open conversation surrounding the time of the month.
Give a Treasured Gift Like this Ruby Moon Necklace
A simpler, but no less memorable, way of celebrating your daughter’s first period, could be just a treasured gift. Something like this beautiful necklace would be treasured for many years, and leave a real impression on the milestone.
Think rubies, or red garnets, and moonstones or moon-shaped pieces. Something a bit unique and special.
Create a Personalised Super-Special Care Pack
Menstruation care packs have been around for ages. It’s sort of the more subtle way of celebrating the first menstrual cycle. Just be wary of some of the pre-packed variety, as some are a little tacky. Instead make it something special and heart-felt.
Even if you do find a great gift pack, you can still try personalising and customising your carepack so it becomes something memorable and treasured. For immediate comfort, think tummy warmers, school grab-bags, an assortment of menstrual products. But also think about creating a memory eg: a really special box, a letter from the heart, a set of pictures of the women in your family.
Have a Red Themed Dinner with the Family
This one is a bit of a play on the Japanese tradition of eating red rice cake to celebrate a first period. By why stop at rice cake, why not a fully themed red dinner just for fun.
Whether your daughter just wants a quiet night in with the fam, or something a little louder, a red-themed dinner party will work. Think red juices and mocktails, strawberries dipped in chocolate, red ganache, red jellybeans and red liquorice, and dress up with a red tablecloth, red roses and glittery things in different shades of red and pink.
Go Out to Your Favourite Restaurant
In our family, we do lots of celebrating success, and it usually involves going out to one of the family’s fav restaurants. Eating out is an opportunity for us to dress up a little, indulge a little and create memories. And if we’re celebrating something, or someone, then we make space to properly acknowledge them, with a toast and story-telling.
This could be a simple way for the family to come together over this really special occasion, without it needing to feel weird, or putting too much pressure on your daughter.
And if the family favourite restaurant just happens to be Chinese at the Red Dragon, then how perfect is that!
Go All Out and Throw Down a Great Party
And, if your daughter is a little more outgoing, or maybe all her friends are having parties so she wants one. Then take the opportunity to go all out, invite her besties, invite some of the great women from the wider family, and let them eat cake!
Check out this Celebrity red-carpet party theme post for some great ideas on throwing down a great red-themed bash!
For more advice and tips on talking about menstruation with your daughter, check out our Tweens and teens health section.