I was going to dig into my archives today today to finally feature some of those previously answered reader questions that are waiting for their 15 minutes, but I received a query yesterday afternoon that was too intriguing to put off. The question was simply this:
Have you heard of cellophane parties? Apparently, this is a “new tradition” in bridal showers where guests are asked to wrap their shower gifts in cellophane. Gifts are then displayed on a table for other guests to see, but the bride never unwraps them all, presumably “saving” everyone from a tedious, lengthy gift-unwrapping session. Are these as tacky as they sound?
Color me out of the loop, for I have never, ever heard of a cellophane party. The term itself conjures up images of wild fêtes of yesteryear best forgotten, but brings to mind nothing even remotely resembling an event that typically includes grandmas and great aunts. For the person who posed the query, I did a Google image query with SafeSearch off and still found naught but cellophane and boobies of the usual mammarical variety.
As for cellophane showers, I could not, in all my searches, find a single mention of this supposed new tradition. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of watching people open gifts because it seems so third grade, but that’s pretty much what a shower is all about. Like you said, without the unwrapping, the oohs and ahhs, and the making of the silly hat, it starts to seem like a gift grab. “Here’s a bacon-wrapped scallop and a glass of champagne, now hand over the loot!”
After all, the entire purpose of those tedious unwrapping sessions is to give the bride-to-be a chance to publicly express her gratitude for each and every one of the presents given to her, NOT to give old nosy biddies a chance to scrutinize each gift. Making said gifts visible does not absolve a bride-to-be from the responsibility of giving earnest thanks, and that takes time whether or not one is peeling paper off a package!
I recall my own bridal shower, at which three generations of women who might not otherwise have much in common bonded while watching me open prezzies while my mother stuck bows to the huge sombrero she forced me to wear. In return for their presence and their presents, I made sure to gush over each and over carefully wrapped box, from the one containing a lovely down comforter to one that held a meat thermometer…and I’m a vegetarian.
If a bride-to-be truly wants to spare people the tedium of watching her unwrap gifts, she should either request that her ‘maids ask that guests bring only themselves and their desire to have fun or learn how to keep a crowd enraptured by being as entertaining, gracious, and grateful as possible. In case you hadn’t guessed already, the idea that guests should wrap their gifts up like a package of chicken thighs is indeed as tacky as you imagined.