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The Dos and Do Nots of Divorce Parties

Divorce parties are all the rage in Iran right now, with the newly single flocking to markets for black roses, upside-down wedding cakes, and unrepentant invitation cards. Celebrating the end of a marriage with as much pomp and circumstance as the beginning is a growing trend here in the United States as well. A range of companies offer divorcees VIP blowout packages, from the “Barely Survived” to the “I Got It All,” while other party planners will coordinate a whole wedding ceremony in reverse as a coda to the relationship.

Whether you believe a divorce is one of those life events that deserves some sort of social acknowledgement or not, here are a few rules of etiquette to help you navigate the fad””both as a host and as a guest:

”¢ DO anticipate criticism. Divorce parties are still a relatively new notion, and there will be some who are offended by your “utter disregard for the institution of marriage.” Don’t cancel the caterer if you receive a bit of backlash, just make sure the guest list is respectful of those with conservative values in the first place””no judgmental Aunt Edna, please!

”¢ DON’T make this about your ex. Christina Pesoli at CultureMap Austin points out vitriolic party themes and games targeting your former spouse, such as a dart board featuring their face as the bullseye, keep one mired in negativity and focused on bygone days. Remember: The goal of this celebration is to usher in your future, not to bemoan your past.

”¢ DO shield your children from the party plans. A cake-topper of a bride shoving the groom aside might be funny to you, but it could be quite traumatic for your kids. The same goes for the more elegant affairs as well; regardless of your intentions, a slew of guests commemorating “the end” will certainly undermine the undying fact you’ll always be a family first and foremost.

”¢ DON’T ask people to travel from out-of-town. That’s acceptable for the wedding, not for the divorce. Likewise, keep the numbers small if you’re heading to Las Vegas or Dublin for the bachelor party you never had.

”¢ DON’T expect a gift. Demi Moore apparently did register for some household goods after her split from Ashton Kutcher, but this really isn’t the time to recover the half of what you lost in the divorce. It’s more than a little tacky.

”¢ DO feel free to skip the whole thing. If you aren’t comfortable with the general concept, or if you’ve already sworn your allegiance to the other spouse, there’s absolutely no harm in sending your regrets. Don’t force yourself to throw the bash if you aren’t up to it either; after all, some things end not with a bang but a whimper.

The nice thing about new-fangled trends is that you have the opportunity to institute your own traditions, whether that means announcing your reclaimed freedom with a ”˜Single-and-Ready-to-Mingle” party or treating yourself to one last hurrah with your former other half. However you choose to mark the occasion though, do it with the same amount of thought and consideration you’d give to any other significant moment; this event will define how you want to remember your marriage. And even if a divorce party isn’t on your agenda, it’s still worth heating up the “Freedom Fries,” rolling out the banana splits, and toasting to the future””which, my friend, is what they really call closure.