Our Best Tips for Planning a Baby Shower
Set the Date
If you and your hosts are in the beginning stages of planning your baby shower, you've come to the right place. Anyone, from a family member to a coworker—but generally not the expectant parents themselves—can host the event, which is usually held during the last two months of pregnancy. Some couples, however, hesitate to stock a nursery before the child has arrived, and some like to hold out until the baby can be the guest of honor. Ask the couple if they would prefer a pre- or post-birth shower. Typically, showers are held for first children only, but this is not a rule.
If you don't necessarily want to play the same games and eat the same food that your grandmother did at her shower, don't worry—while many of the old traditions are still celebrated today, modern customs abound, too. A baby shower has many happy purposes, not the least of which is to provide new parents with some necessities. Books, blankets, and clothing are always welcomed gifts. For a handmade touch, consider a contribution to the nursery such as a scrapbook that includes family photographs, heirloom keepsakes, and fill-in-the-blank options for the Mom-to-be to write in.
At the event itself, schedule time for games to play and activities, a light meal such as a brunch or tea time, as well as reminiscing and wisdom-sharing from guests to the mom-to-be. Get the best baby shower ideas, including games, menus, decorations, and more. The mom-to-be will love everything you've planned for her special day.
Get the Word Out
Although a phone call can be sufficient invitation, written ones are more in keeping with the momentousness of the event. Invitations should be sent at least three weeks in advance to an intimate number of friends and family members. The parents-to-be can help make the guest list so that no one important is forgotten. Also, decide if men and children will be welcome. Traditionalists prefer a women-only event, while modernists believe that the father should be invited.
Throw It with a Theme
A party theme, although not necessary, can bring a greater sense of festivity to the event. Inventiveness and thoughtful touches can make the party great. If you opt not to have a theme, avoid pastels. Keep the décor bright. Flowers are particularly appropriate for a celebration of birth. Remember to keep decorations to a few: All attention will be focused, anyway, on the belly of the mother-to-be.
Choose a Menu
Shower horror stories tend to center on intricate yet tasteless finger foods. Rich, full-bodied foods set the right tone for an event celebrating the start of a rich, full life. Keep last-minute work to a minimum. Choose foods that are easy to prepare and can be eaten out of hand at room temperature—cheese and vegetable tarts, grilled-chicken salads, homemade pizzas, fruit or green salads. There's no shame in potluck, either, particularly if each guest brings a dish for which she or her local gourmet store is famous.
Let's Play a Game
Gift opening is the main event, but another activity can enliven the gathering. It can tie into the theme (bingo for a polka-dot-themed party), serve as a way to educate the mom-to-be, or simply provide entertainment. Try this activity: Guests write their favorite names for boys and girls on slips of paper that are dropped in jars for the parents' consideration.
French Countryside Baby Shower
This shower theme was inspired by the French countryside in summer, where the fields are carpeted in lavender and the sky is nursery blue. Most of the food, which includes potato leek soup, pissaladiere, madeleines, and chocolat blanc for favors, is easy to prepare and can be eaten out of hand at room temperature. And the decorations are few: embroidered linens, a tiny arrangement of forget-me-nots, and a few dangling wired wreaths, making planning a breeze.
The color white signifies goodness, innocence, and purity—all of which describe a baby. Give a white-themed shower and you will honor mother and child in style. Creating a white theme is simple. Fill a living room or dining room with white balloons and streamers. Ask guests to bring their gifts wrapped in snowy hues. Glass and white porcelain dishes for serving complete the theme. The only centerpiece needed is a towering white layer cake and a candy bar where guests can nibble on sweets and later bundle their favorites in swatches of white tulle or muslin to take home as favors.
Baby Shower By Mail
But what if the mom-to-be doesn't live nearby? You can still celebrate by instilling the spirit of a shower into a thoughtful care package—a shower in a box. If you like, invite other would-be shower guests to participate and add a theme to the box. With all the supplies on hand—colorful tissue paper, gift tags, and so on—have a wrapping party. When the presents arrive (it's best if it's a surprise), the mom-to-be can open each present and savor the affection with which the collection was assembled.
Brunch Shower for Baby
Brunch, by its nature, is relaxed and easy. A perfect setting for a baby shower. Classic baked goods and an egg strata conjure up memories of childhood meals. The recipes can be transferred onto keepsake recipe cards for the mother-to-be and guests to take home.
Flower Power Baby Shower
Combining bright balloons and sweet flower shapes is an ideal way to celebrate the anticipated arrival of a bright and beautiful baby. You can set the party indoors or outdoors, where a sunny day and garden can decorate the shower for you. All that you need are a few special touches.
Kid-Friendly Baby Shower
Let the little ones in on the fun! This shower is full of monkey business—ideal for families with siblings eagerly waiting their kid sister or brother. Kid-friendly food and decor make it a festive time for everyone.
Tea Party Baby Shower
Something is brewing at this baby shower. Have guests leave their shoes at the door as they step into a room steeped with charm. Decorate tables with cherry blossom branches, and use a low coffee table for the tea service.
Spa Shower For Baby
Since the mother-to-be will have little time to spoil herself after the baby is born, now is the perfect time for her and her friends to indulge in healthy spa food, nourishing treatments, and luxurious bath accessories.
Co-Ed Baby Shower
To celebrate the motherhood of a woman in a modern way, dispense with the fusty color code, invite the soon-to-be dads, and offer zero-prep-time foods instead of the usual tea-sandwich fare. The result? A party that's cliche-free and easy as ABC.
Basket of Wisdom
The ultimate present for any new mom? Wisdom from those who've been there. Give the mom-to-be a basket of things that you and other mothers have grown to rely on and love, or fill the box with essential items for a new baby, such as booties, a thermometer, nail scissors, and a cotton undershirt; for Mom, a candy-filled baby bottle and bag of herbal tea.
Give the gift of warmth and comfort when you give a mom-to-be a baby blanket. Crocheted, quilted, or knitted, all make great gifts.
Books for the Baby
It's never too early to begin a child's library, and a set of classics—from Peter Pan to Mother Goose—is sure to be appreciated in the reading years to come. To personalize a gift of books, include a set of handmade bookplates: Color-copy borders from clip-art books to make the plates, stack them together, and tie with a bow—or have bookplate images made into rubber stamps.
Seen and Heard
When it comes to gifts, let others buy the burp cloths—you can supply some of the newborn's first sights and sounds. Compile custom CDs of nursing and bedtime tunes. Make scrapbooks to show the baby who's who in her new world: Have grandparents-to-be email family photos and make color printouts and corresponding labels, sticking them into books using double-sided archival tape.
Friends and relatives who live far away may not be able to read their favorite books in person to a baby, but they can still share stories in a meaningful way—by making a recording of themselves reading one aloud. Label the tape, and send it with a copy of the book.