Baby showers are a long-standing US tradition that’s getting big over here too. What a fabulous excuse for a party.
We all remember the rather glamorous example of a baby shower in Sex & The City. Lots of girls, plenty of cakes, far too many Manolos and a few babies… it’s the mature girls’ version of a sleepover. Here’s some advice on how to put your own one together.
First thing’s first
The purpose of a baby shower is to ‘shower’ a mum-to-be with friendship, love and, of course, presents.
Two fairly crucial aspects of a party are the host and the date. The host should be anyone other than the mum-to-be. This is generally (but not always) a girly ‘do’ so it could be a friend, family member or work colleague.
When it comes to timing, a baby shower is traditionally held before the baby is born, perhaps in the final trimester of the pregnancy. However, many showers are now being held after the birth. This gives guests the opportunity to coo over the new arrival, and also to buy appropriate clothing if the sex has remained a secret.
While you could plan a surprise party, it’s wise to take hormones in to consideration. Tell ‘mum’ what you’ve got planned and ask her when (and whether) she would like to be the focus of a party. It’s also great for her to have something to look forward to either in the final weeks of pregnancy or after the birth, and gives her the chance to say whether or not she’d like it to be ‘girl’s only’ or ‘couples’.
When it comes to the time of day… an afternoon baby shower is often the best idea, allowing for tiredness in the late stages of pregnancy, or due to a new born baby!
If your name’s not down…
The guest list… always a tricky one. Ask the mother-to-be (and dad if you’re having a ‘mixed’ bash) who they would like to have there. Family, close friends and work colleagues are likely to be invited, and perhaps a few new friends from antenatal classes. Plan the theme, buy appropriate stationery, write the invites and deliver.
The all-important theme
As with all good parties, whether it’s a wedding, anniversary or baby shower, you should consider your theme. Obviously, this needs to be appropriately ‘baby’! You might choose a colour theme (baby blue, baby pink etc.), or something a little different. Perhaps focus on a children’s story or nursery rhyme. You could, for example, have a Mad Hatter’s tea party, or a Teddy Bear’s picnic. A baby shower is the perfect time to get nostalgic. Ask guests to bring a copy of their favourite childhood book, or even to bring their most treasured childhood possession.
Consider doing something that will result in a keepsake for the bride. A guest book is always great. Ask guests to come up with a poem or note for the new baby that they can write in the book, and be sure to have a Polaroid camera so that plenty of photos can be taken and stuck alongside the notes.
Location, location, location
This is something you need to think about when you’re planning numbers. Ideally a baby shower should be held at the home of the host, but this might not be possible. The mum-to-be shouldn’t have any hosting responsibilities so it might seem incorrect to host it at her house. If she would like it to be held at her home, just make sure she isn’t involved in any cleaning or clearing up. Alternatively, look at local venues such as church halls or hotels.
You’ve probably realised that all these things are going to cost money – invitations, food, venur, decorations, postage, goody bags, a cake… And, it’s really not fair to expect the host to foot the entire bill. Find out from the other girls invited what they would be prepared to contribute, and go from there.
Treats, treats, treats… you‘re probably having a daytime celebration so stick to light, delicious, picky food. Picnics and afternoon tea are perfect — ask other guests to bring a contribution and stick to tasty finger food, and pretty fairy cakes. In the winter, you might choose more warming options such as big bowls of chilli and rice.
The key is to keep it simple unless you want to employ the services or a caterer. If the shower is before the birth of the baby, check what the mum-to-be can and can’t eat. This is not the time to get carried away with soft mouldy cheese, seafood and alcohol-fuelled cocktails.
This is where the quandary lies… does the guest buy something for the mum or the baby? A manicure set or a babygro? And the answer is, either — perhaps even a little of both? If you know the mother-to-be really wants something for the baby, you might all join together to buy it. Perhaps each guest could buy a classic childhood book so that the new arrival has a wonderful book collection.
If you’re going to buy a present for the mum, bear in mind that she will really appreciate pampering treats. This could indeed be a manicure set, a subscription to her favourite magazine, a foot spa, expensive bubble bath or a lovely new fluffy dressing gown and slippers.
A fun gift is to provide the mum-to-be with a home made ‘cheque book’ of tokens. These can be for ‘a free night’s babysitting’, ‘a home-cooked dinner’ etc — things that she can ask her friends for when she is a new mother and in need of some extra support.
The popular US tradition is to also ensure that each guest takes a ‘goody bag’ home. Think of it as a wedding favour — sugared almonds, chocolates and scented candles are all perfect baby shower treats.
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