Ask Amy: Zoom Celebrations Getting Too Big

By Amy Dickinson | February 12th, 2021

What's the etiquette for an overcrowded virtual event?

Woman hates Zoom celebrations

Dear Amy: What is the etiquette for Zoom celebrations?

I have attended several bridal and baby showers on Zoom that have guest lists of over 100 people, combining family from both sides, co-workers, college friends, neighbors, etc.

At the latest there were six screens of “Gallery View” faces to scroll through, guests were speaking on top of one another, and it was hard to hear what the mother-to-be was saying.

I was later reminded of where the parents-to-be were registered (I had sent an e-gift card, per their request, but now wonder if it made it), and learned that an in-person shower was held following the Zoom celebration.

I appreciate the Zoom option, but are these Zoom-based super-showers just a cash-grab?

In pre-pandemic days, my friend might have had several smaller showers with more opportunity for conversation, and the “ooohs” and “aaahs” as tiny baby items are unwrapped.

I’m becoming resentful of these chaotic digital gatherings. Especially ones that remind me to send an e-gift card!

A friend attended a virtual wedding shower where the hostess mailed out games to each attendee in advance. It had a comfortable feel to it, with roughly 20 guests. That sounds lovely.

Could you offer some digital party etiquette and ideas?

— Curmudgeon in California

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Dear Curmudgeon: First, a comment about “super-showers.” I’ve only attended one of these, held in a hotel ballroom. Guests left their (unwrapped) gift on a banquet table and picked up their pre-printed thank you card on the way out.

This was a far cry from my only other experiences: A few women gathered in someone’s living room — eating cake, and “oohing and ahhing” – over what felt like a joyful and intimate initiation.

A Zoom super-shower should involve thoughtful planning and implementation. There should be one or two hosts who run or “emcee” the party. Guests should be notified of parameters beforehand. They could be asked to post their own baby pictures as avatars, share a piece of mothering advice, or be asked to hold up a picture of their favorite item from their own (or their kids’) babyhood.

The mom-to-be could be prompted to do an on-camera Q&A where she asks guests her most burning questions. The host unmutes those who want to answer; guests should also use the “chat” function to communicate.

The guest-of-honor’s relatives should be introduced and prompted to speak.

The event should end with a group “toast” (unmuted) to the honored parents.

No, a Zoom super-shower should NOT feel like a Friday night on QVC. Guests should NOT be prompted during the shower to send gifts.

The host could send out a “thank you” email the following day, but every single guest should also be personally and specifically thanked afterward, by postal mail, with their specific gift acknowledged.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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