Starting a business all about celebration has been a personal and professional joy. I don’t just love seeing all the ways people use Patchwork to celebrate and support each other, I love using our platform to mark milestones in our own family’s life. So OF COURSE when my daughter started her period, we used Patchwork to organise a period party!
Why did I have a period party for my daughter?
We had a Naming Day when Vera was born and we’ve celebrated every one of her birthdays. So it also felt important to celebrate our daughter’s initiation into womanhood. I wanted to mark the occasion and let her know that me (and all her aunties) have got her back and will always be here for her throughout her adult life as we have been throughout her childhood. I wanted to ensure that she felt beautiful and powerful, celebrated and magic at a time when we can often feel tired, embarrassed, grumpy and a bit spotty.
It was important to create a space away from her friends, away from her brother, dad and the other lovely men in our lives so we could be just us women. To get together with all the important women role-models in her life in one room at the same time to show their solidarity. I wanted the party to be a bit witchy, to learn some stuff, share some stuff and celebrate all the blood and bravery, tears and laughter that comes with having periods.
What did Vera think?
I knew she’d be embarrassed. I knew I couldn’t ask her if she wanted me to do it. Because I knew she’d say no. But I also knew it was important. That even if she didn’t appreciate it at the time, the experience would remove the silent taboo around her period before it kicked in. And the party would remind her that we all love her and give her confidence in the future. Because of all this I organised the party as a surprise. My sister Holly who lives opposite to us hosted at her house and when Vera arrived to see her 13 aunties (all my sisters and best friends) she was definitely surprised. And once she’d got over the shock and initial embarrassment, had hugged everyone and had a cocktail she had a great time.
Why is it important to break the taboo around periods?
Periods have been a taboo subject for far too long in western culture. Women and those of us who have periods have been silenced and shamed and made to feel embarrassed about the one thing that gives us real life-giving power. So talking about periods is a personal liberation and also a political act. Period taboos are, just like period taxes, very much part of patriarchal control. And period parties are just one way for us to be loud and proud of our periods. Talking publicly (and even better getting theatrical) about periods has already led to successful campaigns to change government policy with schools now needing to provide free period products. But there is so much more that can be done to fight period poverty, to educate young people about their physical and sexual health and to normalise not just periods but also our understanding of vaginas and vulvas in our own lives and in wider culture. Something which is crucial if we are to counter the dangerous porn-driven image of ‘perfection’ that is causing the huge rise in labiaplasty in young women and girls.
What did Vera’s period party involve?
We had decorated my sister Holly’s flat with red and pink balloons, matching candles, red fruits and pink decorations and when Vera walked in she found all thirteen of us women wearing red outfits. I asked My Lady Garden to create a huge red and pink vulva-like floral arrangement for the table. The South East Cakery created a ‘Bloody Amazing’ red velvet cake. My sister Rosie made pink cocktails with cherries on top. Then my friend Jo, Founder of This Is A Vulva, hosted a period quiz for us all and provided felt and paper craft so we could all sit down and make our own vulvas! And then there were presents. We gave Vera a vintage ruby necklace with 13 little diamonds, Maisie Hill’s book Period Power and then I commissioned Julia from Ink & Thimble to make a patch for her favourite denim jacket with the words ‘we’ve got your back’ sewn in. We also all recorded voice notes for Vera to keep giving her advice about her period, tips that work for us when we’re feeling shitty and also just words of love and encouragement. So it was a deliberately bloody and taboo breaking event but also practical and empowering, beautiful and super chic!
Want to host a period party? Here’s how to do it:
The really fun thing about organising Vera’s party was how involved everyone got in the planning to help make it really special, stress free and affordable. I created a Patchwork and asked everyone to contribute. I’ve now turned it into a template for others to use. Of course you can add your own ideas and personalise your period party to celebrate in whatever way you like. But I definitely recommend lots of red and pink, getting creative with vulva related treats and ensuring along with cocktails and cake there are practical gifts and games you can play together that share knowledge, advice and support. A period party is a great chance to celebrate adulthood but also to take time to better understand and appreciate our bodies. And us grown ups learnt a lot too!
To make it super easy to plan your own period party we’ve created a readymade template that you can customise with your own period party ideas. Please let us know how your party goes!
Flowers – My Lady Garden
Cake – South East Cakery
Jacket patch – Ink & Thimble
Make Your Own Vulva kits – This is a Vulva
Tampon keyrings – Lydia Reeves
Useful resources and links:
This is a Vulva (on Instagram)