Oh, I Like That

How to Throw a Better Party—During the Pandemic, or Whenever

Episode Summary

Now that we’ve both read (and loved) The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker’s book about how to plan better, more meaningful gatherings, we couldn’t not discuss it!

Episode Notes

Resources and reading about current events: 

Thanks to the pandemic, gathering with others, whether for social or professional reasons, has become complicated, overwhelming, and fraught. But when we read The Art of Gathering, which was published in 2019, we both realized that author Priya Parker’s guidance and expertise means it doesn’t really have to be any of those things. And in fact, hosting gatherings that are special, enriching, and enjoyable is actually possible, even during the pandemic. We decided to prove it in this episode by planning a pretend (small, outdoor, vaccinated) party.

This episode was produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas Nguyen. Our logo was designed by Amber Seger (@rocketorca). Our theme music is by Tiny Music. MJ Brodie transcribed this episode. Follow us on Twitter @OhILikeThatPod.

Things we talked about: 

Episode Transcription

Rachel: Welcome to Oh I Like That, a podcast about things we like, and occasionally things we don't. I'm Rachel Wilkerson Miller.

Sally: And I'm Sally Tamarkin. Hello and happy Labor Day, Rachel.

Rachel: Happy Labor Day to you, Sally.

Sally: Here we are. This is kind of our plan B for recording this episode. We sat down to record a few days ago, we were all ready to go and whoo boy, did we just have technical problem after technical problem.

Rachel: It really was a remarkable shitshow. I can't believe that many things went wrong that we were unable to record in the end, through no fault of our own equipment or anything like that. One tiny bug within the software that we use to record, that we were unaware of until an hour into the process of trying to figure out what was wrong. So, glad we're back and making this happen.

Sally: And ironically, the solution to our tech problems was for me to download the Microsoft Edge browser, which I've never heard of, but I'm assuming is Internet Explorer 2.0 or something like that.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: And I just think it's funny that a relatively janky browser is the solution to all of our problems, but here we are. And we seem to be recording a podcast.

Rachel: Yeah. Thank you to Microsoft Edge who did not sponsor this, but-- [Laughs]

Sally: [Laughs] But in a way, very much did.

Rachel: In a way, this is brought to you by Microsoft Edge.

Sally: Okay. So Rachel, what is the vibe right now?

Rachel: I think the vibe is medium. The vibe when we initially planned to record was extremely bad. I think now we've had a couple of days of distance from the terrible news of last week, but it's still not great. So we often talk about the weather on this show, and last week the weather was a big part of the reason that the vibe was bad because Hurricane Ida was making its way through the US and hit New York in just a shocking fashion. The city was totally unprepared, dozens of people have died. There was just catastrophic flooding and zero warning. It was wild. We had no idea that this was coming, and this is coming after two weekends ago, we were totally hunkered down. We went to the grocery store, we were prepared, and this week we had no warning. And it was really alarming to wake up to images on Twitter of the corner that we live on with cars floating right outside our building. And we had no idea it was happening. We got the emergency alert at like 11 that night. And I don't know, we get emergency alerts for a lot of things actually, so it didn't totally register. But I also think at that point it was maybe too late. It was already really, really bad at this point. So I feel really upset by it. I feel really shaken just how unprepared we were. There's been a lot of news in the days since that the people most affected by it were poor or, you know, I'm going to link to in the show notes to a really good New York Times article about these basement dwellings that a lot of undocumented people live in, in New York and Queens, that are just really, really dangerous. They're not legal, approved apartments. And this is a moment, this is why, because they don't have enough emergency exits and windows and things like that. And those were what flooded a lot, in a lot of these cases. And it's just, after the past year and a half, to have something this hit and hit a vulnerable community, extra hard is just, I don't know. I just feel really disheartened by that. And then we've also got the news out of Texas. So you want to take that one?

Sally: Yeah. So, you know, really weirdly regressive and authoritarian abortion restrictions in Texas, which are pretty bad in a landmark kind of way on multiple levels. We'll have links in the show notes to places that you can donate to. Please, you know, support those places. And most of them are mutual aid that help people in Texas or anywhere you'd like to support, you know, access safe abortions. Between the fact that New Orleans is out of power for a month and the catastrophic flooding in New York City and elsewhere that like you're saying, killed a bunch of people, mostly people already from vulnerable, marginalized, vulnerable because they're marginalized, communities during a pandemic. The fact that our infrastructure is just completely not ready for the climate crisis that we are in. And also that those most harmed are the people who are always the most harmed by everything really bad, which is poor people, people of color, people are undocumented, LGBTQ people, trans people, trans people of color, et cetera. Last week felt incredibly... I felt an existential despair.

Rachel: Yeah, me too.

Sally: It's not unfamiliar to me, particularly over the last several years, but I think that since... you know, Trump not getting reelected and vaccines coming out felt very tiny blips of hope, despite the fact that we also had an extreme right-wing insurrection and the Delta variant, people wouldn't get vaccinated -- you know, those things weren't making me feel like "Great, our work's done, everything's fine." But, I was feeling just tiny bits of relief that were like, this is the kick in the pants I need to keep going. And that all just completely paled in comparison to what the last week has been like. And I think now it's less raw, it's been a few days since we heard about the Texas stuff. And you know, the thing is, there's really bad news and it's really, truly terrible and scary. And then within 12 to 48 hours, people are organizing and figuring out how to deal with it. And in fact, organizers and activists have been preparing for this for a very long time. And so between that, and just the initial shock wearing off, I think the vibe has gone from probably the lowest it could have possibly been to, okay, we have a little bit of distance and perspective. So we're kind of in a medium place right now.

Rachel: Yeah. That sounds right.

Sally: Woof, okay. So yeah, we'll link to a bunch of stuff in the show notes, you have some really awesome articles, particularly some that are related to the Texas abortion stuff, but then also some really, really good stuff about the climate stuff and so on.

Rachel: Cool. All right.

Sally: Woof. Okay.

Rachel: So for today's main segment, we are talking about one of my all-time favorite books, The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, which I've been singing the praises of for a few years now. And I finally convinced you to read, Sally, and we haven't gotten to talk about your thoughts on the book yet. So let's kick off there, but I guess we should also give some context for what this book is and why I love it so much and what it's about, and then we can get into your thoughts.

Sally: Love it.

Rachel: The gist is that our gatherings, whether that is birthday parties or work meetings, are not good and that they could be made better by sort of following some simple principles just to make them more meaningful, more enjoyable, more efficient, sort of whatever the goal is of whatever the gathering is. Like, we can do that if we just follow some of these guidelines. And they're both really smart and intuitive, but also unexpected, and I think that's what I liked about it so much. It's one of those books that you're reading it and you're, oh, this makes total sense, but I never would've thought about it before, or I never would've thought of this on my own. So it's really helpful to have somebody confidently tell you, "Try it this way." And you're like, "I will try this way. This totally makes sense and absolutely works." So Priya Parker has been a facilitator of different types of gatherings, whether it's political or really lovely dinners with friends, everything kind of across the spectrum. And she also interviews a lot of facilitators and organizers about the gatherings that they've had and what's made them successful and what hasn't. And it's just a really practical book, which I love too -- that it's like, do this, do this, do this. And I love that kind of practical versus just sort of cerebral, you know, "Wouldn't it be great if," and it's like, no, she's like, do these things. And I think that's what I loved so much about it. So I'm curious Sally, to hear your thoughts.

Sally: Yeah. You've been recommending this for a while. And in fact, you've told me enough about the book that I have some takeaways from it on post-its stuck to my monitor, even before I read the book. But yeah, I was moved to read it because this particular moment of my life is a gathering-heavy moment. I just went to a party this last weekend to celebrate my brother's wedding earlier in the year, which was an outdoor thing that no one was really invited to because it was... it was post-vaccination and pre-Delta, but it just still didn't feel right to have people traveling and doing a big thing. So we had an outdoor pizza party for him this past weekend. And then I have a couple of weddings coming up and I just think there's something about, you know, it's warm weather and people are getting together because it's warm. And also it's starting to cool off at least here in the Northeast, which means, I think people are wanting to get in before we burrow away for winter. So it maybe seems counterintuitive that a book about getting a bunch of people together during the pandemic would feel really relevant, but it feel so relevant to me, more so than it would have any other time, because one of Priya Parker's I think overarching points is being more intentional about planning how you bring people together will make the gathering much, much, much better. And I don't think I've ever planned anything with more intention than a very small gathering of a couple of people during the pandemic. There's just so much that has to go into it. And one thing I really love about the book is that she's like, being a chill host doesn't make your gathering better. Being like, "It's cool, let's all hang out, whatever happens, happens," that doesn't a great gathering make. And not only is it okay to be like, okay, I really want to think through not just how logistics are going to work, but are the people I'm inviting going to feel comfortable with one another? Is this a good mix of people? Do people understand the purpose of the gathering? Will my guests all feel comfortable and safe? It's actually cool to think of those things, you know? And I sometimes feel like a stick in the mud because I tend to think sort of really intensely about all of the things that go into making a gathering feel fun and safe and comfortable. And I think that's because we do value being a chill host and being like, "It's cool and chill to not have structure," or "It's cool and chill to not have rules." So when you are someone who's like, "I have an agenda and I have a way I want things to go and I have a plan," it can make me feel a little bit like, man, I'm a real buzzkill. But reading this, I was like man, I'm not a buzzkill!

Rachel: [Laughs] Right?

Sally: Because Priya Parker's events sound really cool. So she's really into throwing really fun, dynamic social gatherings. But the thing that I think makes her an absolute master of giving this advice is that, as you said Rachel, professionally, she's a facilitator. And so she is hired by various groups and organizations to facilitate conversations that need to result in decisions or making a plan for something or a vision. And I know a little bit about this because my partner is a facilitator and basically does the same exact thing. And you know, we talk a lot about how difficult it is to bring people together. And particularly, I just feel like anyone who doesn't feel dread at seeing a workshop or a conference or a group meeting come up, people I think are going into these kinds of events feeling like, well, this is going to be boring and it's going to be the same old, same old, and the same people who always talk are going to take up all the space and that everyone else isn't going to get to talk and blah, blah, blah. And the facilitator is dealing with that dynamic and has to bring all of those people to make a really important decision about their organization or their mission or whatever. And that requires a lot of intention, a lot of generosity, a lot of comfort with authority, a lot of comfort with saying, "We're going to do this and we're not going to do this. You're an essential person to come to this gathering and you shouldn't be at this gathering." And so I think that makes all of the advice that she gives really, really valuable. And the last thing I'll say is that some of the stuff, I don't actually think that I would want to go to all of the kinds of social events she talks about, they sound really intense. [Laughs]

Rachel: Right. There's a bachelor party where they kidnapped the groom or something like that. And I think you and I are both, oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Sally: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Rachel: Never in a million years. But the point is, these are gatherings that you know what you're getting into. They're intentionally planned. I think, know your audience is a big part of this.

Sally: And a big thing that she says is, you know, some of this might resonate with you and some of it might not. Take what you like and leave what you don't. And so she talks a lot about certain kinds of social gatherings that truly sound like my worst nightmare, not because they wouldn't be fun and well-planned for a certain kind of person, but I don't want to get up in front of a group and sing a toast. You know what I mean?

Rachel: Right, exactly.

Sally: Plenty of people do, you know?

Rachel: Yes. A hundred percent. Yeah, I think that this... you know, I read this book in 2018, I was managing a fairly big team, and so I was thinking... I actually got copies of the book for my whole team so they could all read it. We did a little book club around it because I felt like, work meetings take up so much of our life, they are often so terrible, so dreadful. Like you said, you get this thing put on your calendar and you're like, "Oh great. Four hours with a bunch of people to do terrible icebreakers and then go to lunch." I don't know, it's going to be awful.

Sally: [Laughs]

Rachel: And so, you know, I think the advice really applies there even more so now that we are working virtually, but -- I actually don't know if you know this Sally, but right after I read this book, I was working on something at Buzzfeed, I was working on the project that introduced me to my girlfriend, and this was my second time meeting her. She was running a design sprint for a bunch of people. It's the Google design sprint, it's a formula for how you brainstorm and generate ideas, and it's very regimented. So I had just read this book and then I watched her facilitate this design sprint. And she started off by saying, "So. We're going to do this, we have a lot to cover. So during certain exercises, I'm going to set timers. And when the timer goes off, we stop what we're doing. If you're talking, I'm going to cut you off. We're going to have to move on." And I sat there and I was like, oh my God, this is Priya Parker's book. I was like, did she read this book? She'd never heard of it. But I was, oh, this is somebody who is not a chill host and is running an incredible event. I was just the star eyes emoji at how she ran this event. And it followed the advice so perfectly that I was like, oh, this stuff absolutely works in practice. And I think we all went into this, again, being like, we have a lot of different people here to make a lot of different decisions, this is going to be awful. And she was just like, no, this is going to work, and here's how we're going to do it, and everyone's going to feel heard. She also was like, here's how we're going to vote on ideas, if there's a tie, this person is the tie breaker, end of story. And I was just like, oh my God. And you know working at Buzzfeed, but it's not how things work typically. [Laughs]

Sally: No. That's absolutely incredible.

Rachel: It was magical.

Sally: I wish I could have attended that because that would have been the only time in my life I would have attended such a well-run and able to achieve its objectives meeting.

Rachel: It was so impressive. And ever since then I've just been like, wow, you can do this if you are confident. And Priya talks about this in the book: you want to be in the hands of a confident leader. And she says, you know, her whole thing is, don't be a chill host, rule with generous authority. Which means you have to have authority, but it should be in service of everybody there and in service of the whole and achieving what you're there to achieve. And so, it's okay to say, "Hey, I'm so sorry to cut you off, but, we've got to move on." And if you apply that to everybody, people appreciate it. Because how many times have you been at a thing when they're like, "We only have two minutes for questions," and then somebody is like, "I've got more of a comment than a question." And everyone's like, guess we'll just sit here, held hostage. And I think she mentions this in the book, maybe not though, but I've heard an anecdote of somebody saying, "I'm going to stop you right there. No comments, only questions." And everybody cheering. I can't remember if that was in the book or not. But everybody's sick of this shit, and you want the person with the mic -- I've been to really bad panel events that the facilitator is not moderating and they're just letting someone go on and on. And it's like, no, do your job. And so people actually, I think, appreciate it. And I think the more that we abdicate that responsibility, you abdicate it to the loudest voice in the room. And that's not what we all signed up for. We came to see to your event, to have you host it. I don't want your buddy from college taking over. That's not what I'm here for. So I think this is really validating and it's a boost of confidence that if you're in charge, be in charge. If you're the host, host your party or host your event. That's what we're here for.

Sally: Totally. And one thing I was thinking about as I was reading the book, I was thinking a lot about how often I've been on my way to an event, like a social event, and been like, "Wait, what's happening? Are we eating and then doing a thing? What's the vibe of this thing? Is so-and-so, is their partner, are partners allowed?" There's a lack of clarity about the thing you're attending, you know what I mean? And I have gotten used to being, I guess it's better for me to just not ask those questions because this person didn't plan. And that's not how... you're supposed to be a chill party goer too, I guess is what I'm saying. So, don't be all, "Hey, I wonder, so when are we going to eat?" Or, you know, I think especially of a wedding that I went to several years ago and there was the ceremony, and then the reception was meant to take place after the photography session, you know, how they do photos of the bridal party and all that.

Rachel: Yeah, yeah.

Sally: And that took so, so, so long and everyone was wasted and starving because they were serving us drinks and not giving us food. And I think the expectation is, you know, be a chill party goer. Show up at the place, and don't worry if they're going to have the kind of food that you want to eat or the kind of food that you can eat. Don't worry if, who knows if you're supposed to bring something? You know, that whole thing. And I really like how validating it is that people feel good about going to something that is being conducted with this kind of generous authority, where you generally know what to expect and the host is there to make sure everyone's needs are being met and stuff like that. And I really, really appreciate how that is just kind of a perspective shift in how we think about coming together, either when we're hosting something or when we are the attendee.

Rachel: I agree. I think anyone who's planning a wedding has to read this book. To me it's such a helpful foundation for how you think about everything from the guest list to what you're putting on your wedding website, how you're communicating things. And I think, you know, you kind of touched on this, but during this pandemic it's been even more important for over-communication around safety, around what the expectation is. It's not enough to just say, "Yeah, we'll be pretty safe." It's like, no, but actually, how many people are going to be there? And at this point it's like, is everybody vaccinated? Are we doing masks? What if we need to eat, what's the deal? I think just, people have questions. Not everyone will. But, you know, Terry, who we often mention on this show, will often say when we're getting together, "Should I eat before, or are we going to eat when we get together?" Because especially if you're gathering at a weird time, like at two, are we eating or what? And now at this point, I think she probably, how she communicates this is, I think she's often been a little embarrassed to ask this and now she's more comfortable doing it. And I'm like, yeah, please do. But I'm also thinking about it proactively to be like, "Let's eat," because I know she's going to have this question. And if she does, other people are too.

Sally: Yeah.

Rachel: And just trying to learn from what people are asking you about. Like, if everyone's asking you something, then you need to do some more communication about it or going forward make that part of the communication that you're sharing. What's the plan? Everyone wants to know what the plan is, I think.

Sally: I think that's a huge takeaway. Like I think that if a single person has a question, it's pretty much a sure thing that someone else, if not several other people do too. And the other thing is that, you know, when you're hosting something, whether it's a social event, a big old social event, a wedding or just a smaller get together like a hangout with friends in the park, or a work thing, you know, some people will be annoyed by not having information about what is going to be expected of them and what the thing is going to be like. No one is going to be annoyed or frustrated at having the information.

Rachel: No.

Sally: You know what I mean? So you sort of, I think that you can't really go wrong by making people aware of what to expect. The other thing, what you said about Terry and the "should I eat before" kind of question. The other thing that I always feel a real, again, a stick in the mud for asking is -- actually, this happened to us when we went out to dinner in Brooklyn, my partner and you and your partner, we tried to go to a restaurant and there was a zillion hour wait. And then we had to figure out what our plan was. It was like, do we wait? Do we go to a bar and drink? Do we find another place? And I love beforehand being like, okay, just in case this place doesn't have anything open, what's the plan? Do we want to... because if that gets raised, then I feel comfortable being like, I cannot drink for 90 minutes and wait to eat. I'll be really hungry and wasted. So if that happens, can we just say that we go next door to this place or that we do this sure thing or whatever. And I think that's another sort of, I guess it sounds very, very, very minor, but I think it can make the difference between a hang or a gathering that ends up being sort of shitty because you don't have a plan or people feel kind of uncomfortable saying... that's the other thing is that, if a host or someone is there to bring something up and be like, let's figure this out, no one has to feel weird about feeling like they need to have their needs met when maybe they feel embarrassed for having the need.

Rachel: Agree, completely. I think that being this kind of host makes people feel comfortable expressing their needs, you know, sharing any concerns that they have, asking their questions. Even if you don't answer every single question up front, the fact that you're thinking about these things makes it clear that you care about the people who are coming to your gathering and makes them feel they can ask any other questions they have. Because I think a lot of times people just hem and haw and they're like, should I wear this or should I wear that? They're working through all these scenarios, and the simplest answer is just to ask, and they don't want to. And I think you've got to make it so that people feel comfortable asking these questions. And again, that's going to make them more excited to come and it's going to make them turn around and do the same when they host, and I think that ultimately is really helpful. It's showing people how this can look.

Sally: Totally. I think one just asterisk to this whole thing, which I wanted to just mention: I was talking about this with my friend Zara, who also read the book and has a wedding coming up. She was reading it and she was like, my question is, how do you put this stuff into practice? And in a lot of ways, like you say Rachel, it is really practical advice. It's just like, plan your party this way, make this a part of your process. But I think one thing, the one hitch to that is that because we do have a culture of being chill hosts and chill party-goers, you maybe will feel you're being a buzzkill if you're like, "So when are we eating?" or "Are we going to eat?" What do you do when you want to have this intentional kind of gathering, either because you want to host one or you want to attend things that are more intentional, how do you do that when you might be perceived as not chill or annoying, you know? Because it's kind of counter-cultural, almost.

Rachel: I mean, how do we do anything when we might be perceived as not chill or annoying? I think it takes a sort of internal sense of rightness and belief that what you're doing is worthwhile and important. And I think that books like this are helpful because I think that if you're reading this and you're thinking about this stuff, you're already sort of pointed in that direction, but sometimes you need somebody to help you feel more confident in it. And I think it's sort of following that gut feeling of, no, I think this is the right thing to do. And so not everyone will necessarily agree, or not everyone will do it the same way, or some people might think that I'm being too fussy, but I believe that this is for the best and so I'm going to commit to it. I think you can also start small to ease into these things. And it is when you're having friends over for a pizza party or you're having friends over for anything and you're like, "Hey, also, if we get hungry, we'll order pizza." Doing those little things and seeing that people actually appreciate it I think it helps you build up the confidence to do it at a much bigger level. But I think it ultimately comes from just that innate sense of, I believe in this, I think this is important and I want to do it. It's the way I would want to be treated, so I'm going to do that for other people as well.

Sally: Yeah, that's a really good call. And I think that if you read this book and it resonates with you, that's sort of all you need to fuel your, "This seems right and I'm going to try it out."

Rachel: Mm-hmm, agree. So, Sally, you had the great idea that instead of just talking about this book, we could use this free worksheet that Priya Parker has made for planning gatherings, and we could plan a fictional gathering in real time to sort of illustrate how this looks in practice and how we would think about it if we were planning something. So we've come into this, we've got the worksheet open, but we're coming into this fairly cold. We don't have an idea plan yet. So we're going to work through all of the sort of rules and guidelines in real time to show how effective this can be.

Sally: Yeah. So we'll link to where on Priya Parker's website you can see the worksheet that we're using, but she basically has these five rules for creating a gathering and it comes also with the checklist. And we're going to go through those rules and we're going to do the exercises that are included.

Rachel: All right, Sally. So let's get started by deciding what our pretend gathering is going to be. I think we talked about something Pride-related, a belated Pride kind of party. We talked about maybe something like a former Buzzfeeders reunion, or maybe the team that I managed that you were on for a little while and my team that I had for a while, something like that. We didn't talk about this idea, but one thing that my coworker Amy Rose had mentioned earlier in the summer was like, have a birthday party for everyone who missed theirs--

Sally: Ooh, that's good.

Rachel: --last year. Isn't that fun? It might be a little late for that now, I feel the moment has kind of passed, but I'm trying to think of other big... I guess we've got Hallowe'en coming up, there's a potential for a Hallowe'en party.

Sally: Oh yeah, or a fall thing.

Rachel: Ooh, yeah yeah yeah. Okay.

Sally: I think also maybe a, we're heading into another pandemic winter, let's have a... it's kind of the last hang of the summer, you know, the spirit of the last hang of the summer before school starts, but it's last hang of the fall before pandemic winter.

Rachel: Mm. So kind of a prom, end of year, we're heading off to college kind of a get together? [Laughs]

Sally: I love that. I love a prom.

Rachel: Yeah. Okay. Anything, prom sounds good. You want to do, I think fall, kind of a fall theme is nice. All these things together. What are you thinking?

Sally: I like a fall theme because I think that lends itself to some ideas for activities. I think you could invite people to, you know, wear something autumny or harvesty or something like that. I think there's a lot of fun that can be had there. So maybe that, if it appeals to you.

Rachel: It appeals to me. Let's go with a fall party. Let's keep it just loosely defined as a fall party. Because I think we're going to get into what that means specifically in this exercise. So we're having a fall party.

Sally: So, okay. The first rule, Rachel, is Give Your Gathering a Purpose. And so she says: "Gathering well begins with a specific, unique and disputable purpose. When should we gather? And why? We often confuse the category of a gathering (birthday, baby shower, wedding, dinner party, etc) with the reason we are coming together. When we don’t examine the deeper assumptions behind why we gather, we end up replicating the same old party formats."

Rachel: I mean, this is some of her best advice. Again, it's one of those things that when you read it, a light bulb goes off, but it's not something you would think about. And I think all those examples she gives are really helpful if you think about something like a baby shower. And I think she kind of talks about this in the book -- there's a big difference between 'we're having a baby shower as a family reunion for everyone to see each other' versus 'we're having a baby shower to make the new parents feel incredibly loved and supported on their journey' versus 'the new parents are kind of down on their luck and they really need community's financial support, so we're having a baby shower to provide them with things'. Those are three different things that could happen at a baby shower. And so when you decide on who you're inviting and what the entertainment is going to be and all those little things, that kind of differentiation of purpose will give you a really clear path forward. So I love this advice so much.

Sally: Yeah, I do too, I do too. And depending on your purpose, your event will look a little different. Just because it's a baby shower, it doesn't mean that baby shower A is going to look the same as B and C if baby shower A, B, and C all have different purposes.

Rachel: Exactly. Okay. So now we can move into the actual worksheet, which is the Art of Gathering Reflections: "Going with the flow and catering to everyone makes for a fine event but narrowing your gathering to a specific and unique purpose creates an opportunity to thrill. When you’re planning your next gathering for someone, think beyond the category. Let the following questions guide you in identifying its purpose: What is the occasion? Who is this event for? What are their needs in this specific moment? Which need will this gathering address? What is the host’s need? Why are you the one planning it? What is your unique gift or superpower that you’re bringing around your knowledge of the guest of honor or group? And how might you tap into your guests’ (or co-hosts) unique skills or knowledge as well? Use the table below to help you begin planning with a specific purpose." So first we need to determine the category, then we're going to do 'three reasons to bring people together in this moment', and then 'what is the most important need? Be specific.'.

Sally: Cool.

Rachel: All right. So is category just 'fall party?'.

Sally: Yeah, I think category is like, I don't know if also she wants, is this a social hang or is this a professional all day workshop or something? So I think social hang.

Rachel: A fall social hang.

Sally: Yeah. Fall social hang.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: Okay. So, three reasons to bring people together in this moment. What are the needs?

Rachel: I mean, I think that people are feeling a lot of existential despair and dread about the fall and winter.

Sally: Yeah, totally. I don't know, maybe this is the same as what you just said, but I think doing something intentionally to get together and do something kind of social before it becomes sort of cold and it's hard to hang out -- because it's not as nice to be outside when it's freezing cold, and I think you and I are definitely pretty much only doing outdoor hangs because of pandemic safety.

Rachel: Yes, that is correct. And actually, this is a good time to point out, I actually interviewed an epidemiologist a couple of days ago for my next column, which when this episode goes live will be out, we will link to it in the show notes, but it's basically how to make vaccinated hangouts a little bit safer. So you're vaccinated, all your people are vaccinated, but you're still feeling like, what should we do? She had a lot of great tips. She's really, really smart and helpful. But the number one takeaway was, do things outside. Do things outside, do things outside. Do them outside, if you need to go indoors to go to the bathroom and things like that, put masks on when you do that. So that is our big disclaimer for this episode of, please do not plan indoor hangouts without keeping them super small, utilizing testing. That's a whole different conversation, but hangouts are not out of the question right now if you are vaccinated and you're hanging out with vaccinated people, but they've got to be outside as much as possible. So that's what we're planning for this gathering, and I hope that any gatherings you're planning, I hope you'll find ways to keep them outdoors.

Sally: Okay. So our reasons are, people are feeling existential despair about fall and winter. I'm going to also put for one of our reasons, last hang.

Rachel: I think last hang is a big reason, yeah.

Sally: Before winter, what else?

Rachel: I think, you know, we only had so much time in the summer to hang out with people and getting everyone together who couldn't get together as much as they wanted to this summer. Or I saw a few people here and there, but we haven't gotten together as a group. Could be wanting kind of a nice extension of summer. Like, we're still catching up on all of the hangouts we lost.

Sally: That's so true. Yeah. We're still making up for lost time. I love that.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: Okay. Those are our three needs and I think they're great needs.

Rachel: I do too. All right. What is the most important need? Be specific.

Sally: I think gathering with people in a way that feels as unmarred by this terrible pandemic as humanly possible.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. Before it becomes impossible to do that.

Speaker 2: Before it becomes impossible. And I think, you know, one thing about an outdoor hang that's great is that you kind of forget that this thing... you're hanging out with people without masks, generally, you know what I mean? And maybe there's hand sanitizer on the tables and people have a mask on them in case someone has to go inside and use the bathroom, but it's just the old times where you're sitting around outside, hanging out with friends. And I think for me, that is probably the most important need.

Rachel: I agree. Awesome. Okay. Okay, onto the next thing. Rule number two: Make Purpose Your Bouncer. "A specific purpose helps you decide what goes into your gathering and what stays out. This starts with your guest list. I take no pleasure in exclusion (and often break my own rule), but the thoughtful gatherer understands that inclusion for the sake of being overly polite (or not making decisions) can distract from your carefully curated purpose. Inattentive over-inclusion can keep connections shallow because of the increasing complexity and various needs of a group as it expands. When guests come for reasons other than the clear and specific purpose of the gathering, it can be harder to meaningfully activate your guests around a shared purpose. The guest list should fulfill the purpose of the gathering. For example, if you’re planning a reunion for a group of friends who are all now married, whether to include spouses or not should come back to what the purpose of the gathering is. Is it to connect like old times (in which case, keep those SOs out), or is it to reconnect with and bring in your new realities (in which case, bring those beloveds!). Generous exclusion becomes a way of bounding a gathering that allows the diversity in it to be heightened and sharpened, rather than diluted into a hodgepodge of people. It is part of the important task of communicating to the guests what this gathering is. Generous exclusion is thoughtful and defining."

Sally: I live for generous exclusion.

Rachel: I love it.

Sally: It's the best concept that anyone has ever come up with in the history of human life.

Rachel: [Laughs]

Sally: So one of the ways that, so there's this exercise to help you sort of think more about generous exclusion. Do you want to do this actual exercise, Rachel?

Rachel: I mean, I think that... [laughs] has there ever been a time when you didn't want to invite someone to something? I feel this is not an exercise we should do on air.

Sally: That's fair.

Rachel: [Laughs] I feel fine about skipping going through that. But of course, of course everyone who's ever hosted a meeting or a party has been like, "Should I invite this person? Do I have to? They're going to change the vibe." Or "This person's great, but their partner sucks," or "I like this person's partner, but I don't know that I like them." We've all been through that, so I think that's a pretty common feeling. And sometimes it's totally fine in the end and there's enough people there to defuse it, and other times you're like, "Wow, I was right. This person sucks and I wish they weren't here." So I think you can let that influence how you think about this, for sure.

Sally: I think this is kind of one of the most difficult elements of planning a gathering. Everything you just said, and "Well so-and-so and so-and-so don't really each other," and also "Will I hurt this person's feelings if they're not invited." And I think it can feel really hard to answer those questions. But I do think that that is where making purpose your bouncer is really helpful because it's like, okay, but inviting these particular people would sort of take away from what the purpose is. So we're going to generously exclude them.

Rachel: Exactly. And I think this is a great opportunity to talk about, this is why it's okay to not have unvaccinated people at your party. Like, you know, obviously that's going to be different if you have kids of your own or friends with kids, kids are unvaccinated through no fault of their own, so how do you want to handle that? But if we're talking about anyone who's eligible to be vaccinated, I feel pretty strongly that we're past the point of having gatherings where the unvaccinated can be there. It's okay at this point to say -- again, we're talking about people who are eligible, I think it's fine to say, you've got to be vaccinated to come to this hangout. I also think that you can make the decision of, it really is vaccinated only, that means kids aren't going to be able to make it, if your purpose isn't a child's birthday party. That goes back to the purpose and why we're doing this. I know it's a really tough decision of whether or not to have unvaccinated kids around, but I do think it's worth working through and thinking about what your purpose is and what are the consequences of, if I don't invite any unvaccinated kids, are a bunch of my friends who are crucial not gonna be able to be there? Okay, well if so, how do we make this safe enough to have the kids there? That's the kind of stuff to work through, I think in this section.

Sally: Totally. Yeah, I think that's totally right. So for our fall party, how will our purpose influence the people we want to invite?

Rachel: I think that because this is about really meaningful last hurrah before we go back inside, it needs to be the people who we really want to see and really miss the most, are important to us in the past year, who are going to uplift us and bring us joy. For me, I don't think this is the time for friends of friends or a really open kind of a bring whoever. I want it to be the people... I want to have time for the people I care about the most and to get face time with them, but I feel I'm open to other perspectives on this.

Sally: No, that's how I feel too. And I think maybe it's also the people that I've been really close with over the course of the pandemic, and I feel our friendship over FaceTime and Zoom and text and stuff has kind of sustained me. Like, now let's see those people all together in person. Which I think also means that it's, maybe this is sort of obvious, that it's not a invite people from coast to coast. This is kind of a local hang.

Rachel: Yes. I agree. Obviously we are not local, [laughs] we're not in the same city, but for the sake of this imaginary thing, it feels like a local hang.

Sally: Right, exactly. And I think, you know, a complication would be that if we're co-planning a thing, it's like, so are we inviting people that are my friends but not your friends, your friends but not my friends. And I think a way of dealing with that is to be like, if the purpose is a get together with people who we feel really close to and want to make sure we get face time with, and that we have felt really connected to over the course of the pandemic, maybe those are the people that fall into that category for both of us, or fall into that category for one of us but the other person knows and has a relationship with.

Rachel: I think that's right. But I also kind of am feeling like, if there's somebody who you're that close to that I haven't met before, then I'd be like, yeah, they should be there. Even if I don't know them, I think the spirit of this is sort of bringing people together who ultimately share values. And so I think it's okay to have some mixing of people who've never met before, if they are our closest friends who we feel really strongly about, and feel like, you know, you'll get along if you talk to them, but if not it would still be nice for you to get to say hi, because you know that they're meaningful in my life or vice versa. So I can kind of see that one going either way.

Sally: Yeah, no, I think that's actually a really nice, and I think if we were actually planning this, which, maybe we should plan this.

Rachel: Right.

Sally: [Laughs] And we look at the invitation list and we're like, okay, so actually now it looks we have eight people who are all really close with each other and have spent time together, and three to four people who have never met one another, then maybe it's like, okay, well, how's that going to work, or whatever.

Rachel: Right.

Sally: And maybe it's actually just a matter of doing what Priya Parker suggests, which is just telling people what the expectation is, which is, this party is going to be about twelve people, and a lot of us know each other but some of us don't. Just so that, you know how it is when you're going to a party when you're on your way and you realize that the only person you know is the host. I think there's ways to kind of deal with that in communicating with your guests.

Rachel: I agree. Okay. Should we move on to the next one?

Sally: Yeah. Our party sounds really fun so far.

Rachel: It's great, yeah. I'm pumped about this.

Sally: So rule number three is Design Your Invitation To Persuade. "Your gathering begins at the moment of discovery. For most guests, that moment of discovery begins with the invitation. Many of us fall into the same invitation template habits: digital invite design template, party category, who’s hosting, time/date/location, RSVP details. But, an invitation is not simply a pretty carrier of logistics. It’s the carrier of a story. Storytelling helps to guide your guests and explain why you’re asking them to meet in this way. Done well, it’s an opening argument to persuade, even to entice. An invitation should prepare your guests for why you’re bringing people together, what you’re asking of them (which part of themselves to bring), what to expect and what role they might play in the occasion (should they choose to accept). The invitation is a proposed temporary, voluntary social contract: Here’s what I’m thinking and hoping to offer. Here’s what I'm asking of you. Sound good? You in?"

Rachel: Stop making the logistics of your event the central point of your invitation. Instead, tell a specific story of how and why this gathering needs to happen, in this specific future way, and why they’re a crucial part of the experience. This (short) story should set the tone for the group experience and generate interest and excitement, while also weeding out those who may not fit your purpose. Great invitations help guests more honestly and easily say a considered yes or no. Give it a try and practice the art of (brief) storytelling. Create two invitations: Invitation 1: The traditional logistics-focused template described in Rule #3. Invitation 2: Use your notes from your purpose brainstorm to tell the story of why you’re bringing people together in this moment. Which one is more compelling?"

Sally: Well just from doing this exercise, I know our storytelling invitation is already going to be more compelling.

Rachel: Exactly.

Sally: And I feel this would be us basically writing a short, pithy, engaging, delightful few sentences about everything we talked about with purpose, which we'll be great at, because we're both writers and editors. And, you know, saying what we hope the party will be and what we hope guests can bring to it.

Rachel: Yeah. I think in this case, just an earnest sharing of why we're doing this would be the most helpful thing. Like, we're feeling bummed that summer is ending, we want to celebrate the people who are most meaningful to us. You are one of them. That is such a clear-cut wonderful purpose that I don't think it needs to be gimmicky, I don't think you need to overthink it, I don't think you need to really... yes, it's telling a story, but you don't have to write a literal story. Sometimes just being honest, that's enough. And I think that's what would work well here.

Sally: Yeah, absolutely. Instead of being like, just time, date, location, RSVP details, talk a little bit about why you're doing it and, yeah, and your purpose, which I think... basically, this is already written by this point, if you've done the purpose brainstorm.

Rachel: Exactly.

Sally: Okay, so rule four is a really fun one. It's one of my favorite rules: Ditch Etiquette For Rules (And Create A More Playful World). "Looking to spice up your party? You can season your gatherings more deeply by creating a more playful world through temporary pop-up rules. Pop-up rules are not controlling or boring, but rather a rebellion against etiquette. Whereas etiquette allows for people to gather because they have been raised with the same silent codes and norms, pop-up rules allow people to gather because they are different — yet open to having the same experience. They allow us to make meaning together without having to be the same."

Rachel: "The proper use of pop-up rules can help you get so much more out of a gathering because it can temporarily change and harmonize your guests’ behavior for a specific bonded moment. You create the possibility of more experimental, humble and satisfying gatherings. In a world of infinite choices, choosing one thing is the revolutionary act. And imposing that restriction can be quite liberating. What would your next networking event look like if you couldn't disclose what you do for a living? How would the energy change in the next "mom’s night" if parents were playfully penalized for talking about their kids? • Where might the dinner party conversation go if everyone had an incentive to keep their phone out of sight for the night? Brainstorm a few pop-up rules of your own to experiment with for your next gathering to help others be more present. Be playful and have fun with it."

Sally: I already have an idea for a rule.

Rachel: Okay.

Sally: Which by the way, my knee-jerk reaction to making these rules is, don't tell me to have fun. Maybe I want to talk about work.

Rachel: Right, right. Totally.

Sally: But her point is, this can be a playful experiment, give it a try, see how it goes.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: In that spirit, I have found myself at gatherings talking about the pandemic. And I feel bored hearing myself talk, and I feel bored listening to other people talking about the pandemic. What if there was a rule of, we're not going to talk about the pandemic. We're not going to talk about COVID, we're not going to talk about the death toll and how the... because we all read the same stuff. Right? All the ICU beds are full. Maybe there's a new variant that we have to worry about. There aren't mask mandates and there should be. All of those things. What if that was just off the table?

Rachel: Yeah. I think that would be tough for people, and this is where it comes down to the communication of it. You could do a soft, "we're going to try really hard" or you can make it a swear jar where if you catch yourself talking about bad COVID news, you're putting a dollar in the jar or whatever, or you have to take a shot. I don't know, that could be more fun, but also deranged. But yeah, just thinking about how you can playfully encourage. And I think what she does a really good job of in the book is showing how the quote-unquote 'enforcement' of the rules can be a fun sort of bonding experience. And you don't want to have a rule and then not enforce it, that's frustrating. Because when some people are doing it and then they see other people not... I mean, this is the story of COVID, right? So I think thinking about how you can make it feel kind of participatory. I think she gives an example in the book of a meeting where if people were late, because people kept showing up late to this big work conference, they kept showing up late to the next session. So the facilitator made somebody do ten pushups when they were late. And then the next time it was, you know, anyone who's late has to do ten pushups, which is... obviously, don't necessarily do that. But the idea was that by the time the afternoon sessions were happening, people were running to make it back. And, you know, thinking about how you can make it feel sort of, a joyful fun experience of having rules. So I think that if we want to do, you know, no talking COVID bad news, we're going to try to focus on the positive here without getting into toxic positivity, some kind of a swear jar or a drinking game or something like that could make it feel a little bit more playful and fun.

Sally: Yeah. I love the idea of, maybe it's not "don't talk about the pandemic," but maybe it's, "COVID bad news". I guess it's hard to enforce a spiral because I can easily spiral very quickly and it's just kind of my mode of being. But yeah, maybe it's like, we're going to try and not talk about bad COVID news. And if someone does, we take a sip of a drink or we automatically switch to talking about a new thing we're really excited about. Because the other thing is that saying, "Oh, wait, you're not supposed to talk about that," then it's awkward and there's a silence. So maybe there's a switch where it's-- and again, this isn't about toxic positivity. This isn't to make it so that we only talk about nice things, because that's really boring and I love talking about terrible things, but I think that there's just a mode that we can all get into. And I think that it was kind of the same way after Trump was elected. For that year, all anyone could talk about was Trump and how awful it was. And we all needed to process that, and those conversations can be really important, but we are able to have those conversations anytime we want to. And in fact, we do. So I think it's okay to make one space be like, this is a party where instead of focusing on the really shitty COVID stuff that we're inundated with all the time, we're going to try to focus on stuff that is not that. And that doesn't mean you have to bring facts about good COVID news.

Rachel: [Laughs]

Sally: Like you have to be like "the vaccination rate is so high" and whatever, you know?

Rachel: Right.

Sally: So, yeah. I like having some kind of a soft rule just to encourage, you know, not spiraling.

Rachel: Yeah. And I think the way that it's implemented will encourage people to catch themselves and be like, "Oh, there I go again, got to put a dollar in the jar." Whatever the case, people will catch themselves doing it and sort of pay the price happily in a lot of cases, if it's not a serious, oh fuck you, you talked about the pandemic. It's like, oh, oops, it's so easy to have that happen. Like, we're all on the same page here, it's fine.

Sally: Right, it's meant to be a playful thing.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: What about other rules?

Rachel: I think that for a party, I think it's pretty chill. I don't think that it is a place for a ton of rules, but I do think that this is an opportunity to talk about things like, you know, everybody should wear your fall finest and lean on, you know, really dressing for this. And I don't know, is there anything in that realm that's not a hard and fast rule like if you don't dress in cool fall outfits you're going to be banned, but more... I think this is a good time to talk about what do we want to encourage and how do we communicate that?

Sally: Yeah, totally. I think that's kind of what I was thinking. It could be something like, bring a fall treat, a fall food or drink. It could be, wear something that makes you feel autumny, and keeping it kind of broad like that, it's okay that if you don't have something that has pumpkins on it. It's okay if you don't have a lot of, you know, earth tones and orange and brown, you can wear your favorite sweater, or a jacket that reminds you of fall. It can be really, really loose. I think those kinds of things are fun because then, you know, it doesn't have to be something that if you're the kind of person who feels a little awkward doing something that may make you the center of attention, you know, it's okay. You don't have to come with wearing a homemade cornucopia on your head or something.

Rachel: Oh, but I now-- [laughs]

Sally: Having said that, though...

Rachel: Oh, wait, this actually reminds me of something that I want to share that my coworker Amy Rose wrote. She wrote this really wonderful piece that was like how to make up for lost time with your friends this summer. And she said something about dressing that I want to share here, let me bring it up.

Sally: Oh, cool.

Rachel: Her tip was: "Dress like seeing one another is a special occasion, and it’ll feel like one. I know many people who like for their home team of friends to get ready together before big nights out, and I am such a person myself. It’s mooring to squeeze in some less-crowded time together by having a preliminary cocktail and trying to fortune-tell gossip about the coming night. Pragmatically, I also like to lightly think, as a group, about how the pictures will look before we’re in full swing, trade clothes, and do one another’s makeup (for those who observe). If this sounds--" [Laughs] She's so funny.

Sally: She's so good.

Rachel: She's really great. "If this sounds a little draconian to you—wear the predetermined friendship uniforms, or be cast out from social life—it really doesn’t have to be? To less calculating minds, it’s more like, my friends’ll specify, “Dress for a picnic!” and, even though I already thought I understood that I was going to a picnic? It changes how I want to see myself there. It’s interpretative." So I think that dress for a picnic is a perfect example of, yeah, you're going to a picnic, so anything you wear to the picnic, you're dressing for a picnic. But when you say "dress for a picnic" people stop and think about it. And I think, that's what we could do here to encourage fall dressing. Have you seen that meme that's like, it's fall so I can finally start dressin'? So I think that I would probably include this meme in anything I was communicating about what to wear. Like it's fall, we can finally start dressin'. And I think that's also a way to feel excited. Because a lot of people are dreading fall and winter, but it's like no, this is our opportunity to wear a really cute fall outfit for that one glorious week when you can wear a light jacket and a sweater and look amazing. So I think communicating that would be really great.

Sally: Yeah. I love that. And I love saying, the other cool thing about saying dress for a picnic or a dress for an autumn party, you get to see how people interpret that, which I just think is a fun, cool thing. And then it's another thing that Priya Parker talks about, which is people making meaning together as a group and how it's a kind of meaning you can only make in that setting with that group that is coming together for that purpose. And that can feel really special.

Rachel: Agree. Also she talks about in the book, pre-gaming your guests, which I'm not sure if it'll come up in this worksheet, but the idea is, get your guests excited from the start. And I feel this is a good way to do that because there can be conversations if you know the other people going, what are you wearing? I'm thinking this or that. It gets people thinking about it and excited to see what everyone else is wearing and just builds the excitement, which I think is ultimately kind of the point.

Sally: I'm so excited, I'm already picturing, I already know, I have decided this is happening in the park that you live near.

Rachel: [Laughs]

Sally: And I'm figuring out my outfit as we talk, I'm very excited.

Rachel: [Laughs] Amazing. All right, so I think that we just have one more thing to go over.

Sally: So rule five: Close With Intention. "Ending your time together well is a crucial way to shape the feelings, ideas and memories you want your guests to take with them. Endings are a reminder of why you gathered in the first place, and give guests a chance to make sense of the time they spent together. Just as you don’t start your invitations or gatherings with logistics, you don’t want to end on them either. Closings are a moment of power. How you end your time together shapes your guests’ experience, sense of meaning and memory of the event."

Rachel: "On the one hand, you don’t want to kill the vibe and seem like a party pooper by kicking everyone out the door. On the other hand, you shouldn’t wait until the life has been sucked out of everyone to end it. Your gathering doesn’t need to end with a grand closing speech, you could simply: put an end time on the invitation; issue a last call: A song, an announcement, a signal to indicate that your time together is coming to an end; provide a simple chocolate or other small token on the way out that symbolizes the theme of the night (or just a thoughtful, unexpected treat); take a group photo. “Before everyone disappears, let’s capture tonight!”; walk your guests to the door rather than having them see themselves out. Brainstorm ideas for the closing below. Your gathering’s purpose: Remind people of the “Why.” 3 Ideas to close your party: How can you implement a small but powerful way to metaphorically wrap a gathering and distinguish it from your last one?" What do you think?

Sally: Okay, I think. So remind people of the why, the purpose is make up for lost time and get to hang before pandemic winter. I don't know how this can be worked into a closing, but I think it would be cool to be like, let's do a couple photos before we end, and then in the depths of winter, let's text the photos to--

Rachel: Oh, man.

Sally: --let's make a group thread and text them to each other.

Rachel: That's so nice. I think that's really -- I love the end with a group photo idea.

Sally: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rachel: Just, it is also a nice way to kind of communicate. Because I feel there comes a shift in a hangout where it's like, oh, I think we've crossed the threshold of now is the time when people might start leaving. Is it okay? Is it too soon? What do I do? And so I think that saying "Before everyone goes, let's take a group photo" is a way of acknowledging that that time period has been, you've entered into it, and so anyone leaving after that is not leaving too soon. It's kind of like a wedding traditionally ends once the cake is cut, is how it works. The people who go to bed early know once the cake is cut, that's kind of the time you can leave. And so you don't want to cut the cake too late because people are waiting for that. And I love that as a rule, because it's like, okay, we've all agreed, the cake has been cut. You can go now. And I think this is a similar way to do this at a party. Like, we've taken this photo, now if you need to go, you can go and that's totally fine.

Sally: Right. Now we can disperse. Okay, I love that. So, group photo is a great one.

Rachel: Yeah. I'm also wondering if there's a way to do any kind of, you know, with smaller gatherings, at a birthday party, everyone goes around and says something about the birthday person that they like. Is there anything for this gathering that it would make sense to like, everyone share a thing. Is there anything like that that works here?

Sally: I mean, maybe one thing you're excited about for winter or one thing you're planning for winter, because I personally, a friend of mine was like, I'm planning to reread all of Game of Thrones this winter. And I was, oh, that reminds me that having a winter activity, especially during the pandemic, is really nice. And it was like, I'm going to rewatch Game of Thrones this winter. So maybe that, particularly during the pandemic, people sharing a thing that they're going to do or that they're excited about, because that then becomes a thing that other people, someone else will be, oh, I should have something I'm excited about for the winter.

Rachel: Yeah. I also think that that's the kind of thing that if you're the host, make a video as everyone's talking or write these things down and then send the list to the group, that's a nice way to after the fact kind of keep the conversation going. And I think that just by saying, "I'm excited about this thing," you put it out there and it makes you more likely to do it. Or maybe you hadn't thought about it, like you said, but now you're like, oh, you know what? I actually am going to do this thing this winter. So I think any kind of forward-looking reflection, if that makes sense? You're thinking about, you know, what you want to be true in six months or the next time we gather. And I think that's another thing that I've, I can't remember where I was when somebody asked that. Maybe it was a birthday, but it was, what do you want to be going on in your life the next time that we all get together? What are you hoping for? Which can also be a nice way of opening up and sharing something that you're working toward or what you're hoping for. So again, know your audience, read the room, but I think that shared anticipation and reflections can be a really nice thing.

Sally: Yeah. And I think that also is great for people who want to share something that feels a little bit personal and meaningful, and then someone else who wants to share something that's maybe not as intensely personal, but you know, you have options there. And it's also a moment where all the fun things that happened during the party come back up. Like, I hope next time we get together, so-and-so does a spit take they did this time or whatever.

Rachel: Yes, yes. Yeah. I also think that, if you want to be a little sentimental, you can. She says you don't have to end with a grand speech, but if you want to just thank everyone for coming and say, you know, part of the reason I wanted to do this is to remember this in the depths of winter and remember in the depths of winter that we have each other. Reach out if you're not doing well, if you need anything, look at who's here with us right now. We're here for each other, and we're going to, even if we can't physically be together, we're in community and we have each other's backs, I think could also be a nice thing to remind everybody of. Because it's easy to forget that. When you haven't seen people or talked to people in a while or have that vulnerable moment, it can be hard to reach out. But I think as I'm thinking about winter, I'm just like, people need to reach out. And so reminding everyone of that is also maybe something you would want to do.

Sally: Man, I love that. I'm now so incredibly attached to this gathering.

Rachel: [Laughs]

Sally: I love that so, so much, Rachel.

Rachel: All right. I think we did it.

Sally: Yeah, I think we did it. We planned a party, so, great. I feel good about it. I feel much better about other things I've planned. And I think that whether or not it happens in real life, it's just going to be really a fun one.

Rachel: Yeah. I also want to say that, you know, Priya doesn't really focus on things that I find important, like finding the exact color cups from Party City that I want to buy and other decoration-related things. I think that falls into this creating a temporary world, but she also says, you know, most party checklists focus on that kind of stuff so she doesn't, but I do think that decorations and music and candles and vibe, all that stuff is very much in the spirit of this. So we could have literally spent an entire other episode on, do we want the theme to be more spooky? Or do we want it to be more just classic autumnal? And all those things. And that to me is the fun part of planning a party. That's where I find a lot of joy, but this is about the meaning of the party. And those things are still tied to the meaning, but I think it helps if you start with the purpose and then let the decor and the outfits and the music and the food flow from that and not the other way around.

Sally: Yeah. I totally agree. In fact, I'm just thinking now, I think all of this planning and talking about purpose and stuff can only enrich and enhance the experience of making the perfect playlist, putting together the perfect menu or whatever.

Rachel: Yeah, agree completely.

Sally: Now that we have this really awesome party planned, let's talk about a nice thing to end on. Rachel, what do you have?

Rachel: Okay, my nice thing to end on perhaps will come as a surprise to some people who know that I famously hate sports, but I've been really into sports documentaries lately and highly recommend them. So there's many to choose from, but we've been watching a bunch of old 30 for 30s. If you haven't watched any 30 for 30 watch O.J.: Made in America or The Last Dance, those are two just incredible iconic ones. We've also talked about some of the 30 for 30 podcast episodes, maybe on this podcast. Maybe not, but I have some I could recommend. But entertainment wise, sports documentaries, 30 for 30. There's also one on Netflix called Untold, which is really good. It's a newer one, and we watched the first two episodes. One is about Malice at the Palace, which is fascinating. The second one is about this female boxer who just has had a really, really wild and remarkable life, let's say, in a lot of ways. And they're all, I've talked a lot in the past year about missing E! True Hollywood Stories. I just miss sitting down to watch an hour to learn about Judy Garland or whoever, you know?

Sally: Right.

Rachel: And I find that these are kind of hitting the same sweet spot. They're a topic that I'm often loosely aware of, maybe not at all, know nothing about. And they just give you a really nice, complete history, really good interviews, and you know, you can pick and choose, because some of them are a lot darker than others, and we've been steering clear of the really dark ones lately. But they feel a little bit gossipy, a little bit, I don't know. I think the reason I like them is they're ultimately workplace dramas. It's about how teams and coaches and media interact to create a successful operation. And, I don't know. We don't see-- it's hard to-- I don't know. It's hard to find stories of how workplaces run in this sort of specific way where people are willing to talk about, "Yeah, he did this thing and I was pissed about it," or "This is how I was actually feeling, and so it made me act this way." It's a really interesting peek into how people think about their jobs and I'm loving them. So got to give a shout out to sports documentaries.

Sally: That's awesome. I love a sports documentary. I'm also famously not interested in sports, but love a sports documentary. I've never thought about them like workplace gossip -- what did you just? I'm sorry, Rachel.

Rachel: I think that's kind of the gist of it. Like, yeah.

Sally: I've never thought about it-- oh, workplace drama. I've never thought about them that, but that's totally what they are. 30 for 30 have just a bunch of amazing ones, and then also just Netflix randomly has a ton of documentaries on athletes and on famous scandals in sports, and those are a ton of fun. So I love this for you.

Rachel: Thank you.

Sally: My nice thing to end on is the Twitter account, and also just phenomenon, Weather is Happening. The Twitter account is actually @WEATHERISHAPPEN, but it's also a website, weatherishappening.com. And it is a Boston-based weather source that tweets only in capital letters and kind of shares weather news in a really funny, deranged way, but truly does share really good, useful, important weather-related announcements. But yeah, just in a funny wild way. A lot of also really, really good retweets about weather-related things and climate-related things, and they tweeted something yesterday that in all caps said "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS APOLITICAL", which is not weather-related but in many ways is. And it's just a really fun, delightful way of learning about the weather. And I became aware of them because someone who was reporting on the weather tweeted something about how New Englanders are obsessed with talking about the weather, and someone replied in that thread and tagged Weather is Happening. And I was like, well, this is the best Twitter account I've discovered in quite some time. So I highly recommend following them at @WEATHERISHAPPEN.

Rachel: It's a really good account. It's just sort of that lovely brand of unhinged, internetty fun, and the way it screams is really good.

Sally: It works. I always think, man, I'm going to get tired of these all caps, but I actually never do.

Rachel: Great rec.

Sally: Okay. So thank you for listening to this episode of Oh I Like That. Please do rate us and review us wherever you listen to podcasts.

Rachel: You can also follow us on Twitter @ohilikethatpod or email us at ohilikethatpod@gmail.com. You can also follow the two of us. I'm @the_rewm and Sally's @sallyt.

Sally: Oh I Like That is produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas. Amber Seger, who is @rocketorca on social media, designed our logo.