66% of people don’t want surprise parties. Are you one?

Posted: 18 September, 2018

By: Tanya Muir

Section: Wellness

Surprise parties

I remember whilst growing up always being so excited for Christmas. Once I found out that Mom was really Santa Claus (spoiler alert), I could not bear waiting for Christmas day to see if I had got what I wished for! I would wait for my Mom to leave her bedroom, sneak in, find something to stand on, and search her cupboard for any possible gifts. Sometimes I was a little too early, but sometimes I ruined the surprise – just as planned.

After learning about my sensory assessment, I realised that I prefer control and predictability – as do many people. Why did I want to spoil the surprise of what I was getting for Christmas? Some may think I was just a spoilt brat, but I now know it caused far too much anxiety to wait, wonder and hope. I needed to know. I didn’t like the feeling of knowing my gift was there, but that I could not see it or touch it or have some kind of control in the process.

I personally enjoy surprises when I do not know they are coming. But if you tell me, “I have a surprise for you, but you have to wait and find out” – it drives me mad. The unknown. The uncertainty. And ultimately, not knowing what to prepare for – not knowing how to prepare my sense for what might come. But some people don’t even like surprises when they do not know they are coming. It catches them off guard and triggers a stress response because surprise parties are full of sensory input and particularly, unexpected sensory input, e.g.:

  • A room full of people you weren’t anticipating seeing,
  • A party setup you did not have a say in,
  • A noisy, perhaps even loud, environment,
  • Being the centre of attention, without an opportunity to prepare for it.

You get the point – unexpected sensory input. People who are sensory seekers will love and enjoy the thrill of surprises.  For people who are sensory sensitive or sensory avoiders, this is a nightmare.

A person with low sensory thresholds tends to seek control and predictability. WHY?  This provides an opportunity to prime the brain for what is to come to avoid spiraling into a stress response upon an overload of sensory input. It allows one to strategize some sensory snacks for the upcoming experience and therefore feels more at ease and function optimally. For example, a person with low sensory thresholds planning a party will make sure all details are catered for:

  • They think carefully through the agenda of the function and try to ensure that everything is considered and planned thoughtfully.
  • They know that there is a starting time and a possible ending time.
  • They know what music might be played and have control over how loud it might be.
  • They know how many people to expect and how much space there will be.
  • They know the answers to questions like: what shoes should I wear? Will there be seating available or will I have to stand? Will there be food available and what kind? Is there an outside area where there is fresh air? Do I need to take something warm in case the function is held outside?

All these details are important to a sensitive person as it determines whether or not they will relax and enjoy themselves or wish they had booked their Uber for an earlier time! So perhaps it is best to know the person really well, before attempting to throw a surprise party for them

Do you like surprise parties?  Do your sensory assessment to find out what your thresholds look like…

  1. If you would like a quick summary of your overall sensory thresholds, do our short FREE Sensory Quiz™.
  2. For a comprehensive 25-page report with tips and strategies on how to reduce stress and live a productive, healthy and happy life visit Sensory Matrix™.
  3. Once you’ve done the e-assessment and would like a one-on-one coaching session, we can put you in touch with one of our licensed practitioners.
  4. For team-building with a difference, get your whole team to do the e-assessment – you can contact us here.