This Morning as I get myself, my daughter and my husband ready to attend a Birthday party for one of my friend’s little boy, I think about the differences between an American party and an Indian party. So I thought well this would be a great topic for a blog post. So here is a quick rundown with a few key etiquette points and differences for each type of party.
- The Timing:
American Party: It is customary to show up on time for a party in the United States, especially for events like weddings and birthday parties. The host will most likely create a party schedule and stick to the timings she/he has set aside for each part of the party, especially in larger events. So it is imperative that guests show up on time so that the party runs smoothly. Often times the invitation will give you the exact timings, for example 12-4pm. This means that guests come at 12 and the party winds down at 4pm. It is considered rude when quests show up late.
Indian Party: It is common place to show up late for an event in India or an event that is hosted by Indians in the United States and abroad. The host typically gives a type of target time for guests to come and they will come within two hours of that time. In most circles this is not considered rude, this is simply the custom. As a result the structure of the party schedule is quite flexible at times. I have also found Indian parties to go quite long. For example my American baby shower lasted about 3 hours and we served lunch to the guests. My baby shower hosted by an Indian went for about 8 and included lunch and dinner.
American Party: Food is often served at most events if the event occurs near a normal meal time. If it is a short event between meals then there might be a snack or appetizer. Food is important to some hosts especially at a wedding or dinner party and can be extravagant, or it can be simple hot dogs and chips for a child’s party.
Indian Party: Food is always a central part of an Indian event! Everyone looks in to the kitchen to see what yummy food if being prepared. There will be several courses at the party. Usually a fried snack like a Samosa with Tea, then a large meal with many options like rice, chanas, paneer, chicken, vegetable currys and so many other options, then more snacks, then cake and sweets and more tea. No matter what the event is, the food is extravagant!
American Party: The opening up of the gifts especially at a baby shower and a child’s birthday party is considered one of the highlighting parts of the party. The person of honor sits with their gifts and opens them in front of everyone. This is especially wonderful for children, because the gift giver gets to see the reaction of the child as they open the gift that you have picked out for them. Baby showers are also fun because you get to see all the pretty baby gifts that were given and everyone gets so excited for the curtness.
Indian Party: The gifts are not opened in front of the guests. They are opened when everyone leaves. Opening gifts in front of everyone is considered rude, because someone with a lesser gift may feel judged or uncomfortable when a larger gift is opened. Honestly I always feel sad when I leave an Indian child’s Birthday party not knowing how they felt about my gift to them.
- The Clothes:
American Party: Most parties are pretty informal unless it says otherwise in the invitation. Weddings are always a dressy event but birthday parties are more simple apparel.
Indian Party: Every Party I have been to that was hosted by an Indian was a big social event. Women come in their nicest Indian suits and anarkali dresses. I think that they love the chance to wear those beautiful Indian party wear that gets left in their closets most of the year.
As a Masala Family we have parties that take aspects from both of our cultures.
- I like to keep a schedule with my party’s because I like planning games and event for birthdays and baby showers and such. So I expect people to come on time.
- I love to cook and make fun meals and snacks. At my party’s I usually serve a mixture of western food and Indian food depending on the guests.
- I love to open gifts at the party. I love seeing the reaction and the excitement. I will respect if there is only Indians at my party I will not open it in front of them, but if there are American I will have them opened at the party. I just love seeing the delight and excitement.
- At my party’s I honestly love wearing Indian wear! Its so rare I get to wear my anarkali suits that I will take any opportunity to wear them
****** As a side note being married to an Indian makes it hard to get to places on time. He is still living with the idea that you can show up to a party late! This drives me crazy and I write this article as I try for the 10th time to wake him up and get him going so that we wont be late….