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How to Host a Bring-Your-Own-Parents (BYOP) Dinner

What if we invited our friends to dinner and asked them to bring their parents so we can all meet?
We made this playbook so you can easily host your own BYOP Dinner.

Our first, unforgettable and heartwarming BYOP dinner (February 2020).

Dear friend,

For the last few years, the most important priority in my life has been healing the broken and distant relationship I had with my immigrant parents for over a decade.

I wanted to get to know my mom and dad before it was too late and co-created Parents Are Human to help others do the same.

I’m now on a mission to help people around the world connect deeply with their parents and loved ones.
I can’t possibly do this alone, so I’m sharing this event idea publicly so you can host one for your own family and community. The dream is to see BYOP dinners hosted for every spoken language.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping bring families closer together.

With love,
Joseph Lam

The Idea

Bring-Your-Own-Parents (BYOP)

Invite your friends to dinner and ask them to bring their parent(s) who speak the same shared language so our loved ones can meet and make friends.

The Story

We Can Bring Community to Our Parents by Having BYOP Events

It all started with one stark realization: I have close friends to talk to and count on when things get tough. My parents don’t.
When my mom and dad immigrated to America, they left behind everything to live in a new country, culture, and language.
They were so busy surviving they didn’t have the luxury of building deep friendships. As they get older, this becomes harder.
My friend Patricia and I came up with a wild idea: What if we invited our friends to dinner and asked them to bring their parents so we can all meet?
Our parents feel lonely, just like us, so we decided to bring them the gift of community.
We reached out to our friends with Chinese/Cantonese-speaking parents and scheduled the first Bring-Your-Own-Parents (BYOP) Dinner hosted by my parents (pre-COVID).

The six parents who attended were overjoyed. They met other like-minded individuals who share similar life experiences, struggles, and cultural values.
Most importantly, they could speak and express themselves comfortably in Chinese. We all felt a sense of immediate kinship, like we were part of one big family.
My four friends and I witnessed touching moments when our parents reminisced on their childhood and shared their hopes and dreams for us.
We all stayed in touch through a group chat. My parents have since raved countless times about how wonderful that first dinner was, and how we can’t wait to do it again. Now we are!
We can help our loved ones make new friends, all the while hanging out with our close friends.
Will you join us in creating more of these intergenerational gatherings?

The BYOP Playbook

Try this out!

Step 1: Make a List

Anyone can be a host and make a BYOP event happen! Start by making a list of trusted friends and community members who have or might have parents who speak your family’s shared language(s).

Tip: Finding a co-host to split the tasks usually makes the process even easier and more enjoyable.

Step 2: Send 1:1 Invitations

We recommend first 1:1 messaging each person to see if they’d be interested in talking to their parents about coming. Then, put everyone who’s interested in a group chat to coordinate further.

Here is a message template you could use (feel free to edit as you see fit!):

Hi [friend]! [Co-host] and I have been planning a get together with some friends where we all bring our parents so they can meet each other. We realized that our parents don’t have as big of a community as we do and would love to create some space for them to make more friends that speak their language.

Do your parents speak [language]?

If you and your parents might be interested, send me your number and email so I can add you to our group chat to coordinate.

Step 3: Create a Group Chat

Make a group chat that includes all the adult children to coordinate logistics. You can do this over text message, Messenger, WhatsApp, email, etc. whichever is easier for everyone.

Here is a message template you could use (feel free to edit as you see fit!):

Hi friends! I mentioned to each of you about planning a potluck dinner where we all bring our parents and wanted to start a group chat so we can discuss, plan logistics, and answer questions.

Step 4: Send a Calendar Invitation

Based on our experience, we have found that this approach makes the planning process easiest:

Ask everyone in the group to let you know if a pre-selected date will not work for them and adjust accordingly instead of asking everyone for their preferences and waiting for responses.


Pick a date on the calendar that might work best for everyone, given what you know. Block off 2-3 hours and invite everyone to the calendar invitation.

Tip: Most people have to work on weekdays and would want to be home at a reasonable hour, so Friday and Saturday evenings typically work best. You can also start earlier in the day to make sure everyone has enough time.


Here is a message template you could use (feel free to edit as you see fit!):

I’m tentatively scheduling our dinner to be on [date/time]. Does this not work for anyone?

By the way, if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’re hosting our next BYOP event on December 10, 2022 for Chinese/Cantone. RSVP here: https://go.parentsarehuman.com/byop-dinner

Step 5: Confirm with Parents

Ask all the adult children to commit to asking their parents within the next week to confirm their interest in attending and that this date/time works for them.

Hey everyone, it sounds like [date/time] tentatively works for everyone for the event. Please ask your parent(s) by [date/time – one week from today] to confirm that they can attend. Send us a quick message here when you do so we know!

Enjoy the event!

Once people gather in the same room, connection and conversation will naturally happen. Want some ice breakers or activities to do? We have some for you in 15 languages! Scroll down to learn more about Parents Are Human.

Please help us share this playbook to inspire other families.

Use these tags on social: #bringyourownparents #byop #parentsarehuman

Tag @parentsarehuman in your photos so we can share it with our community!

FAQs

Here are some considerations!

Do people need to invite/bring both parents?

Nope! Every family looks different and we think the best events happen when everyone attending is excited to be there. We encourage you to have a brief conversation with your loved ones to hear their preference and ask everyone to do the same. Use your best judgment 🙂

How many people should we invite to be there?

Up to you. When we had our first BYOP dinner, we had a total of 11 people (six parents from four families and five adult children). It was intimate, and we all felt like one big family.

Having more people would have been entirely possible! Also, use your best judgment and considerations around venue size, food (especially if one family’s doing all the cooking), logistics, and how intimate you’d like the event to feel.

What do we do about food?

Potluck-Style: The easiest would be to make this a potluck where every family brings a dish they’re excited to share. This way, families also get to share their unique heritage.

Family Host: My parents’ love language is making food for others, so my mom and dad cooked for everyone for our first BYOP event. For recurring events, a different family could host each time.

Order Food: You can also go to a favorite restaurant or order in from them!

What should we do during the event?

No agenda is necessary to have an amazing event 🙂 When we hosted our first one, our parents were so excited to meet one another, all the heartwarming conversations started naturally. The night flew by and by the end, we all wished we had more time to spend together.

That said, if you want some ice breakers or activities to do, we recommend having a few Parents Are Human cards at everyone’s seat. They come in 15 language editions! Scroll down to learn more.

About Parents Are Human

Call your parents.

They miss you.

Parents Are Human is a bilingual card game that helps you spark deep conversations with your parents and loved ones.

Now available in 15 Language Editions: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean, Filipino/Tagalog, Japanese, Hindi, Arabic, Bangla, French, Thai, Khmer, & Punjabi/Gurmukhī

The Cards

50 Question Cards (Blue)

These cards prompt stories and conversations around Life Events, Wisdom, Identity, and Relationships.

20 Action Cards (Red)

These cards add elements of courage and play into the experience with handpicked activities.

Two Levels

Each card has a level indicated in the top left corner. Start things off with a few easy questions or jump into the deep conversations right away.

🌶 Level 1 cards are light and easy.

🌶🌶 Level 2 cards dig deeper.

Bilingual Editions

Parents Are Human comes in 15 language editions, with your choice of translation on the backs of each card to help bridge language, culture, and generational gaps.

How We’re Transforming Relationships

I have to tell you: I brought the deck home these past few days, and both times I’ve used it, I’ve learned way more about my parents in the thirty minutes we used the deck than the 24 years I’ve been on this earth and interacted with them. — Ruth W

We [played] for like three hours, and during those three hours were some of most peaceful and connected times that I would feel with my parents. We were just in a state of curiosity, of wonder, of empathy, of vulnerability.

I remember just afterwards, I would just be sitting in bliss and be like, oh my gosh, the world is all right. There’s nothing wrong right now with the world. Everything is just as it should be. Everything is harmonious. — David Hu

I love my parents. My mom (pictured) spends 90% of our conversations giving me unsolicited work advice. Work is her passion and she excels at it, so naturally she wants to help me. 

We’ve been stuck in a cycle; each time I visit home I’m guilty of tuning out within the first 10 minutes of her taking about work. 

I bought these cards on a whim and have been using them to prompt our dinner conversations. 

My parents love it. Cue reminiscing, story time, a lot of laughter.

(It’s also helped me be more patient and present when my mom does talk about work 😉) — Emily Cheng

We started with one question, “What is the most impactful book you ever read?” and it led to a 1+ hour conversation. 

My mother spoke about a book on fear and then related why it was so impactful. 

She then told in detail an event where she was attacked at work. 

I’ve heard the story before but there were certain details I forgot about and it was really interesting to hear it again. 

I have so much respect for her. — Ryan Lum

I tried out the game with my mom and it’s amaaazing.

It’s been such a long time since we were able to connect on the same wavelength, where she didn’t feel the pressure to “parent”. 

I was able to understand her in many more identities that I was familiar with, as daughters to our parents, as professionals, as women. We’re scheduling another time to keep going through the series. 

She’s pretty stoked about it too. It’s the first time in a while since we’ve had such an intensely meaningful mom-daughter bonding experience. — Judy Zhu

Over the moon that this exists.

We’re finally sharing stories and questions we’ve carried for years, but just didn’t know how to ask. — Chrislyn Choo

Wow

I wasn’t sure my parents would be up for it… amazing what a little permission from a deck of cards can do.

— Daniel Moreh

Amazing resource


Two cards in and I’m already learning more about my mom than I have in years. Excited for the possibilities ahead.

— Michelle Pow

It brought my friends and family together


I got this for my boyfriend. He hasn’t spoken to his mother for a year. This game made her cry. Thank you so much.

— Michelle Hoang

Deep Conversations Immediately

I played with some friends and immediately began learning more about them — their families, preferences, personalities.

This game has so much potential to teach empathy for parents of older generations, and friends alike.

— Harmony Z

INCREDIBLE


This is THE PERFECT game to bring home to the holidays.

More than ever these last few years have taught us that life is short, life is precious – take the time now to get to know your parents & grandparents better.

— Kaye Rockwell

Great way to connect with our older generation


I loved how easy and thought provoking questions. Our elders may not want to answer then initially, but they will open up, eventually!


I’ve grown closer to my grandma by asking her questions about her childhood.

— Theresa Le

My family is Taiwanese and we aren’t accustomed to ask each other about our days, even though every night as a child we always had dinner together.


I used this deck over Thanksgiving and it was literally the most we’ve ever connected outside of eating together and hiking.

— Lily C

My favourite memory during this pandemic is playing Parents Are Human with my parents over video call.


Through asking these questions that I have never asked before, I got to know them even better!

— Angela D

Our family played your game Parents Are Human and it started a whole world wind of deeper conversations and we all bawled our eyes out.


So it was very successful. Thank you for igniting that fire, I feel closer to my fam now.

— Angel G

Love it


Really enjoyable, great for connecting with my parents in ways I haven’t before. Worth every penny.

— Landon Khau

Incredible game


Played this with my entire family over the holidays and it really helped us get to know each other so much better. Love this game!!

— Ivy Telles

Great gift!

My friends live with her 94 year old mother. This opened up some truly interesting conversations. Thank you.

— Cindy Hunter

For intergenerational healing 🥰


For years I’ve wanted to find a way to bridge my “American” upbringing with my “Vietnamese” upbringing, and this feels like part of it! I’m so happy there’s a game that exists where I don’t need to be the translator, so I can enjoy being more present. I have yet to play the game, but know it’s going to come in handy whenever I’m ready. And it will be so interesting to see how questions are translated and in what dialect. I imagine that can even be a point in conversation. Also, design and quality of packaging are 10/10!

— Tiffany T

love love love love this


Once we opened the package, we couldn’t stop opening it afterward to keep asking the questions. What a great idea even for friends, not only between parents and children. Well done. The elders are certainly smiling down on you. Now? How do I order 10 more sets? LOL And I’m being totally serious!

— Marvin Webb

Wonderful


This is such a wonderful project. The questions are so thoughtful. I’ve started asking my parents, aunts, and uncles. I’ve learned so much with some surprising answers. Two of my uncles felt honored that I was asking them and wanted to learn more about their lives. Thanks so much for creating this wonderful resource!

— Christina D

My Parents Hand Pack Each Order With the Utmost Love & Care

I hired my mom, Mary Lam, and dad, Francis Lam after they had to retire early due to covid and other health complications.

They now hand-pack and deliver every order to the post office.

With each deck comes our love, prayers, and warmest wishes from my family to yours. ❤️

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