Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

Trying to consider cultural background in planning a shower

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White Dragon:
My colleague recently married and brought his new bride to Canada.
They are both from Pakistan and the wedding was a traditional Muslim ceremony.

Our company would like to host a "welcome/congratulations/bridal shower" for the new bride.
She literally knows no one in town aside from her husband.

I am looking for some guidelines to help things go smoothly and not inadvertantly offend.

We know not to serve pork (something we are already careful of for colleague), so no bacon-wrapped scallops!
We know that she observes halal in choosing meat, so we can make sure to get that.

Are there any food combinations that are not okay? I'm thinking of the Jewish restrictions on mixing meat and dairy - is there anything similar for muslims?

Are there any other foods (seafoods etc?) that are also off the menu? (We won't be serving any alchohol as the bride doesn't drink.)

For gifts, is there anything that would be considered odd or inappropriate?
For example, in our area, a knife is not given as a gift - it must be "bought" with a penny or other small coin, as giving a knife "severs" the friendship.
I know some cultures consider some colours, or numbers, to be bad luck. Is there anything we should keep in mind?

The newlyweds weren't able to bring a lot of items with them and they moved into Colleague's furnished apartment (which she promptly started civilizing.  ;D)

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

edited for typos

TurtleDove:
I would ask the colleague and his wife directly.

Outdoor Girl:
I don't have any advice but I do think it is a lovely thing for you all to do for your colleague and his new wife.

Lynn2000:
I would ask Colleague directly. A similar thing happened with my colleague, bringing his wife to the US from a Muslim country. If we wanted to have a welcome party for her/them, I would ask him if such an event would be considered appropriate culturally and appreciated personally (what if she is super-shy), and from there what kind of food and gift would be appropriate. Do you know if Colleague's wife speaks English? It would be rather awkward to have a party for her where no one but her husband spoke her language. Also, right now it's Ramadan, and my understanding is Muslims can only eat at certain times, usually at night. At my work we don't know any other Muslims or people from my colleague's country, so I would rely on him for guidance. Personally I would guide my co-workers more towards giving the couple a gift certificate, or inviting all spouses to attend a generic party (at which appropriate food was available). It's a nice idea but I see a lot of things that could go wrong if people get information from the wrong source.

Outdoor Girl:
Good point about Ramadan.  I'd forgotten.  You'll either have to wait until it is over or have the party after sunset.  I agree that it would be best to ask colleague how best to go about this.  I would even ask him if there were specific things they needed.  Although I might be more tempted to get them a GC to a store where his wife could (help) pick out things to her (their) own taste.  Or if he thinks the mismatched flatware he's had since college is fine but she'd like a reasonably nice, matching set.   ;D

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