You don't need to go far for a good time.

Whether it's a budget decision or the local custom, planning an at-home bridal shower has loads of advantages. For starters, there's the rental price-zero. And the overtime charge-zero again. And you get the feeling of being in a warm, comfortable environment. To make a home shower as enjoyable as possible for everyone, keep these tips in mind.

Make sure there's enough room.

Even if the MOH is hosting the shower, she's not obligated to stuff 45 women into her tiny studio apartment for three hours. If one of the prospective guests, who the bride is very close to, such as her grandmother or a coworker, volunteers her more spacious home, say yes! And if she doesn't offer up her place? She may readily agree to it if you just ask.

Don't have an overambitious menu.

A restaurant has multiple ovens and can prepare large quantities of food at once, a shortcoming in most home kitchens. It's a good idea to limit the number of foods that all would need reheating at the same time since they won't all fit in the oven at once. Keep the menu simple with hot and cold choices-for brunch, you could serve classics such as quiche, fruit salad, scones, and muffins. Or adopt a ladies' tea theme and have finger sandwiches (salmon, cucumber, chicken salad) and mini tarts, so no reheating is necessary.

Hire a bartender.

Since the food will most likely be set out as a buffet, there's little need for servers (though you might consider hiring someone to help with setup and cleanup). Instead, hire someone to handle the bar. Having a bartender to pour mimosas (or another fruity cocktail), wine, and iced tea will elevate the ambiance, giving the party an extra special touch.

Designate a gift spot.

You may need to clear out some furniture to make room for all the coffee makers and bed linens hiding in gift bags that guests will be bringing. (Get the homeowner's approval before you move anything.) Since opening gifts is a major activity during a bridal shower, make sure the area is in plain view of guests so they can ooh and ah every time the bride unwraps a new treasure.

Decorate with care.

Be respectful of the house itself-that means not sticking décor on the walls that will leave marks when removed, not using glitter on anything (most will end up on the floor), and avoiding setting vases full of water on wood tables (they could leave a ring).

Give an end time.

Even though you didn't have to "book" the place for a certain number of hours as you would at a restaurant, the invitation should note not just when the shower starts but also when it ends. This will help guests plan their day and obligates no one to hang out for hours. It's also a courtesy to the host-at some point, she wants her house back!


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