Several years ago my friend Joni’s mother passed away. Sadly, I had never had the opportunity to meet her. I attended her memorial service (when we could do those in person) to honor her and to offer support to my friend; but I was offered something that day, too.
I found myself listening in awe to the stories and memories shared about this incredible woman. I knew I had clearly missed meeting an amazing person and I really felt that loss as I listened. By the end of the service, I promised myself that I would have a party that would allow me to meet the amazing people all around me. The idea that day came with a name – an “Amazing People Party.” In that moment I may not have known exactly what the party would look like; but I planted a seed that day which eventually grew into something beautiful.
Towards the end of autumn that year I was reflecting on my upcoming 50th birthday. I knew I wanted to celebrate it in some way but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. That’s when the idea of the Amazing People Party came back to mind. I realized there was no way I would rather celebrate that milestone than by meeting a bunch of amazing people!
That’s when the planning began. What I envisioned was a party where everyone who was invited was asked to bring someone in their life who they think is amazing. The person didn’t have to be amazing because they had won accolades and awards (though that was OK, too!). I wanted to know about the wonderful things they do every day that make them so remarkable.
The opportunity of an Amazing People Party is to honor the incredible people all around us daily. They might be people we missed because we thought we knew them and had a label for already – my friend’s Mom, a co-worker, your in-laws, your friend’s child, someone in the choir at church, your child’s teacher. We might see someone or hear about them all the time and still not know how amazing they are. The party is an opportunity to see beyond what we think we already know about someone and to meet amazing new people as well. People are amazing for all kinds of reasons: their passion, their talents, their kindness, their sense of humor, their faith, their resourcefulness, their courage. For me, all these amazing qualities spring from the same place – their hearts.
The best part was that in return we got to offer the gift of being seen to all those beautiful hearts. We took a moment to honor my friend’s mom at the beginning of the festivities. Everyone who brought a guest with them had the chance during the evening to take a few minutes and introduce their amazing person to the whole gathering. It didn’t have to be their whole biography, rather just a sharing of a few of their amazing qualities.
In the space where we held the party, we had a small stage with a chair and a lectern with a microphone to make sure everyone could hear. Each amazing person was invited to sit on the stage wearing an amazing person crown and holding a butterfly wand (optional, of course) like the regal person they are, and to simply listen and receive while their friend or loved one introduced them. While it was a little uncomfortable for some to be in the spotlight, it was also an incredible gift to get to see themselves through another person’s eyes. To be able to offer that gift to someone you love was another layer to the joy of that evening.
From my perspective, everyone received presents that night. The guests gave everyone the gift of sharing their amazing person. They also gave their amazing person the gift of seeing themselves through their eyes; and we all gave one another the gift of being present with each other. It doesn’t get much better than that!
There are, of course, details to consider when planning your own Amazing People Party. If you’re able to host one in-person someday (soon, I hope) you will want to send out invitations a couple months ahead of time. If the person your guest would like to invite lives out of town, they will need time to plan for the trip. If you are hosting it online, that lead time can be reduced. Since your guests will be bringing other guests, you have to be mindful about how many people you invite as the numbers can add up quickly. Additionally, you will need to give each person an allotted time to introduce their amazing person. You don’t want everyone sitting and listening to introductions all night. We encouraged people to keep their introductions to 3-5 minutes. The guests drew numbers to choose the order for their introductions. You can stagger the introductions, doing a few at a time and then enjoying some music or food so people can mingle if you’re gathering in-person. If you’re gathering online, you could have a few introductions made to the whole group, then use breakout rooms for mingling before another round of introductions. When it came to couples who were on the guest list, we allowed them each to bring their own amazing person or to bring one who touched both their lives.
When I was talking with a friend about the party recently, the idea of a themed Amazing People Party arose. Imagine the gift of throwing a party where everyone brings an amazing person who has been working in the medical field during the pandemic or amazing teachers who have been dealing with the challenges of online learning. Think of the gift you could offer to essential workers who are so often overlooked. You could have an amazing mother or daughter themed party. The possibilities are limitless!
Our Amazing People Party was a joy filled night that was memorable for all who attended. One of the amazing people who was introduced that night wrote to her friend afterwards and told her what a moving experience it was to see herself as others do. Learning about that note was a birthday gift I will never forget. I hope you will give yourself the gift of amazing people!