The Best Ideas for Baby Showers: Your Guide
While traditional baby showers are still the norm, more and more these pre-baby get-togethers are as individual as the babies they're celebrating. Anything goes! Find out what's happening with baby showers from traditional to trendy.
Traditional Baby Shower
Your conventional baby shower is an all-girls affair. The party honors the mom-to-be and gives her a chance to relax with friends. Showers are held in the third trimester. “Around six weeks before the due date is ideal,” says Jennifer Adams, author of Baby Showers. Although it’s becoming more common to have showers for every baby, observes Adams, traditional showers are reserved for first-timers.
Usually a good friend or close relative will ask the mom-to-be if she can plan a shower. The event is held in an intimate setting, like the hostess’s home. Decorations for traditional showers are usually kept to a minimum—a nice tablecloth, matching paper products, and maybe fresh flowers or balloons.
The hostess will plan a few games to get the party started. Guests snack on light fare like croissant sandwiches, fruit and pastries. Beyond games and food, much of the time at the baby shower is spent opening gifts. Often guests have that in mind when they purchase gifts: Cute outfits—that elicit “oohhs” and “ahhs”—reign.
Add some pizzazz to your party by choosing a theme. The most popular shower themes center around the baby-to-be’s gender, reveals Courtney Cooke, author of The Best Baby Shower Book. Think colors, seasons or outdoor themes, favorite places, or cute baby items (duckies, teddy bears, and baby clothes all make for fun themes). The theme goes through every part of the celebration: When sending out invites and planning menus, games, and decorations, keep your theme in mind.
Baby shower themes can come from just about anything. Some fun ideas include: Book parties, where guests are asked to bring their favorite children’s book along with their gift; or diaper showers (especially popular with second- time moms), where each guest brings jumbo packs of diapers. Get creative with your own party theme!
“Green” showers are all the rage for moms-to-be who want to be good to Mother Earth. For invitations, use 100-percent recycled paper (or skip the paper and send evites!). Guests bring gifts made from organic fabrics, glass baby bottles, or wooden toys. Jennifer Porter, founder of Seattle-based Satsuma Designs, which makes organic baby products, says that guests can even forego wrapping paper and enclose gifts in baby blankets.
Serve fresh food from a local farmer’s market, and instead of paper plates and napkins, use china and cloth napkins. (Need some? Find gently “recycled” supplies at yard sales, or on Freecycle (like it says, for free!), Craigslist, or your local online bulletin boards.)
Everything at your eco shower should be recyclable or reusable, even the decorations. Porter, who is expecting her second child, suggests hanging onesies from twine with wooden clothespins and making cloth diaper “bouquets.” The mom-to-be can take home these earth-friendly goodies after the party is over.
Husband-Friendly Baby Showers
Baby showers aren’t just for girls anymore! Another trend is to have a “mixed” shower where couples come together to celebrate impending parenthood. Becky Kosaian partied along with 60 guests, including her husband, at a local restaurant for her babies’ shower. The Michigan mom, whose twins, a boy and a girl, are now two-and-one-half years old, said the guys and girls tended to stay separate during the casual get-together. But the party was exactly what she wanted, “It was so relaxing and fun.”
If your party involves mom- and dad-to-be, make sure your games match the mood. In Themed Baby Showers: Mother Goose to Noah’s Ark, author Becky Long suggests playing competitive games like bobbing for pacifiers or a diaper pail toss.
Beyond couple showers, dads-to-be are getting their own parties. These guys-only affairs are generally nothing like the female- only events. “Baby showers are not the most comfortable things to contemplate if you’re a dude,” quips Clay Nichols, the creative force behind the DadLabs, an online parenting show. The Austin father of three says these parties center around things guys enjoy, and might not have as much time for once Baby arrives. Popular dad showers include golf outings or beer bashes, according to Nichols. Gifts are different at dad showers, too. Instead of individual presents, guests often chip in toward a group gift. The gift is usually something to make dads feel hip, says Nichols, “like a really cool stroller that a dad wouldn’t be embarrassed about pushing around the park.”
Co-workers can come together to celebrate the mom-to-be in the workplace, too! These parties tend to be brief get-togethers over lunch or at the end of the workday. Instead of individual gifts, co-workers can pool funds and buy a group gift, like a stroller, car seat, or other big-ticket item. One great shower gift that only co-workers can give—the gift of time. Depending on company policy, says Courtney Cooke, author of The Best Baby Shower Book, co-workers can donate personal days to the mom-to-be so that she can extend her maternity leave. Now that’s a gift a working mom can appreciate!
Just because it’s in the office doesn’t mean there aren’t any games. In one popular office shower game the party planner collects co-workers’ baby pictures and prints them out to display. During the party, co-workers try to guess which employee belongs to which baby grin.
Showers don’t have to be pre-baby. Many moms opt to bring their babies to the party—whether they plan to or not. Pregnancy complications forced Alicia Rockmore, CEO of Buttoned Up, an organizational products company, to postpone her shower until after her daughter Lucy’s arrival. After-baby showers can be great for guests who want a chance to see and hold the baby. Plus, explains Rockmore, moms will have a better idea “what items they really need after the little one is born.” Keep in mind moms might miss out on newborn supplies like diapers and onesies with a post-baby party.
Some baby showers are becoming as extravagant as wedding receptions, says professional event planner Lyndsey Hamilton, who handles special events for clients in Los Angeles and New York City. Hamilton says high-end showers usually involve a theme. Two popular choices are Alice in Wonderland, with whimsical décor, cakes, and party favors. Another favorite: a Southern theme; often taking place outside with lanterns, flowers, and an intimate setting. With high-end showers, the planner will take care of everything down to the cupcake party favors topped with baby-to-be’s name written in frosting. All this pampering comes with a price tag. Hamilton says the ballpark figure for a high-end shower is about $10,000.
Baby showers for adoptees can help new moms stock up on supplies and enjoy hanging out with friends just like with a traditional shower. As with pregnancy, an adoptive baby’s arrival can be unpredictable and have complications. Adoptive mom Jeanette Green suggests, “Talk to the person you want to throw the party for about timing.” The expecting parents may wish to hold off having their shower until after the adoption is completely finalized, or until they’ve officially brought home their new baby. Green had to live in another state for two-and-one-half months before her daughter’s adoption could go through. The Utah mom says many adoptive parents have had similar difficulties with adoption, sometimes waiting years before welcoming baby, “They would love to have a shower to share their excitement with friends and family.”
The Internet is making planning and coordinating a baby shower even easier. Many party planners are using online sites to invite guests. And moms-to-be are opting to register online instead of in stores. “Expectant moms are more busy than ever,” explains Rockmore. “Using the Internet can not only make it easier on the mom, but also for guests.” Rockmore recently put together a shower for her niece, who registered online. Rockmore bought and shipped her gift with a few keyboard clicks. Many of these sites will make suggestions for gift-givers—Amazon.com even includes a feature ranking gifts by popularity.
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