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March 11, 2009 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me throw the perfect baby shower!

I need some advice about throwing a baby shower! I've been to lots of wedding showers before, so I assume it's somewhat like that, but this is the first baby (!) in our friend group and I'm a little nervous about how to throw one/what's expected.

At a baby shower:

Do you play games? What kind of games?
Do you have cake? What kind of cake? How is it decorated?
Also! Do you serve food? What kind of food?
What are the decorations like?
Does the host give baby shower favors or door prizes?
Where are baby showers usually held? What time do they usually start? How long do they usually last?
Does the Mother-to-Be open the gifts during the shower? When does this happen?

Is there a difference between what happens/doesn't happen at a "friends" shower vs. a "family" shower? Or a "baby girl" shower vs. a "baby boy" shower?

Both traditional and non-traditional ideas are welcome! Or tales of good or bad experiences or advice or anything else I've forgotten to include! Thank you!
posted by Point n Click to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
We did all of the above, they were all good friends and it was a really good time. My only rule was that I didnt want stupid games, and it was a couples shower so the guys were there. My friends filled baby bottles with beer, pt the nipple on and gave them to the guys, The winner was whoever finished their beer without taking off the cap. Of course they used low flow nipples. It was just a hoot to see these guys work on those bottles. SO funny!! After a while, one f them chewed the nipple off and drained the bottle. Sounds goofy but was a blast!!
posted by pearlybob at 9:22 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Baby showers can run the gamut. I've been to some totally traditional teas for family members and some totally crunchy showers where we sat in a circle and gave blessings to the mother-to-be.

Some have games (google baby shower games) some don't. Personally, I HATE the games. Usually there is some food - a light lunch is typical. Sometimes it's even potluck but the traditional one would be a luncheon kind of thing with cake. Quiches, salads, you know, girly food. Decorations usually have a baby theme - baby bottles, decorated onesies, rattles, stuff like that. At traditional ones there would be favors given by the host (maybe candies wrapped up in a baby themed fabric?) Sometimes they're at a friend's house but sometimes peope rent out restaurants or rooms. Afternoon is typical (lunch time). I'd say 3-4 hours, depending on whether you're opening the gifts at the event. (doing that is up to you).
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:22 PM on March 11, 2009

You may want to check with the honoree about some of this. For example, I as an expectant mother pretty much didn't want to be anywhere where there wasn't food, but I would have killed anyone who made me play games.

However, a betting pool is fun: the gender if it's unknown, the date and time of birth. Depending on the crowd, make it a real betting pool where everyone throws in a little cash to make it interesting. This is especially fun at a mixed gender shower.

You definitely open presents during the shower, after food and before or after cake (which you probably do want to have, or some kind of festive dessert anyway). Depriving shower guests of their opportunity to say "AW!!!!!!" at tiny garments is just cruel.

My own shower was just a fun gathering of female friends, and the hostess went out of her way to get a few friends from across town that I rarely get to see, which was a terrific surprise. Minimal decorations, just lots of yummy food and a pretty cake and a generally lovely time. That's all any impending mama really wants when you get right down to it: for her friends to be excited with her.

I recommend thinking of it as a party with a "you're having a baby!" theme, rather than as a shower in the "guess what kind of baby food this is!" sense.
posted by padraigin at 9:24 PM on March 11, 2009

The perfect baby shower is one that fits the expectations and desires of the mother-to-be. Does she want to play the traditional games? I certainly didn't :) Does she want food and cake? What sort of food and cake does she like? And so on. Ask her what she wants! Aside from that, yes, the gifts are opened at the shower, as its a way for the expectant mother to show her appreciation for the gifts. I hated that part, as I despise being the center of attention, but I did it because it would have been rude not to open them in front of my guests. Truthfully I just wanted to have a regular old party with good friends, and would have been happy not to receive any gifts at all, it was simply an excuse to eat some yummy cake with friends. Mine was also mixed gender, but traditionally it's a girls' only thing.
posted by Joh at 9:49 PM on March 11, 2009

Two ideas from a very crafty friend of mine.

A casserole party - everyone brought a dish to put in the freezer so the new parents didn't have to think about cooking for a couple of weeks. Very thoughtful....

She also did another shower where people dyed and decorated onesies.
posted by brookeb at 9:52 PM on March 11, 2009

In the link to this post from the adjacent threads, it looks like this:

« Older Help me throw the perfect baby...

I didn't see the full question on the front page, and so was like "What?!"

posted by ocherdraco at 9:55 PM on March 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

For my sister's baby shower invitation, I copied the sonogram picture onto vellum paper, which made it look like an xray, then attached it to a cardstock invitation with all the information about the party. For shower gifts for guests, I special ordered votive candles scented like baby powder. I also found a bunch of baby alphabet letter blocks at a thrift store, and I used those to spell out words like "Baby Girl". No games, I knew my sister would have hated that. We had the food catered with my sister's favorite comfort food. A good time was had by all.
posted by HeyAllie at 10:45 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if you are planning to host this alone, hopefully not. Don't be afraid to ask for a couple of the mom's friends to join you in co-hosting. Helps spread the tasks, cost, and most importantly, help you plan for the day.

Games are optional - I would only do one or two to keep things moving. Pick a fun, interactive game to get people talking to each other.

Cakes - Always cake at the baby showers I've attended. Decorated in pastels and typically from an upscale bakery. Check out the websites of local bakeries for pics of their past cakes to get ideas. Personally I loathe cakes in the shapes of pregger bellies and babies - I want to celebrate them, not eat them. Anyway, cake is served before/while the mama opens presents so guests can eat and watch at the same time.

OtherWorldlyGlow has the food spot on. Girly food. Champagne/mimosas. Think brunch type food. Typically buffet style with salads and finger foods.

Try to pick a location that doesn't need much decorating. Save the money for other things. We used an old historical mansion for one shower and the owner had a staff to help out so the hostesses could enjoy the shower too.

Prizes - no one expects to receive anything, if you must do door prizes and have the budget, something small would be fine. Prizes are typically given to the winner of any game, although I've seen guests gift them back to the mother to be (i.e. gift certificates).

Typical Timeline: Guests arrival, drinks served, mingle a bit as people arrive. Then open brunch buffet. Eat, play games and move everyone to sit down for gift opening and cake. If you have a lot of guests, gift opening can/will take longer so plan accordingly.
posted by MuckWeh at 11:11 PM on March 11, 2009

I hate almost all shower games, with one exception: gift bingo. Everyone gets a blank bingo card, which they fill out with whatever they think the mom-to-be will receive. As presents are opened, mark your cards and hopefully someone gets bingo before you're done. The prize doesn't have to be anything big, and it keeps people interested through what can be a long, repetitive "AWWWW"-fest. (Also good for wedding showers.)

Also, I attended one shower where we all had to bring a baby photo of ourselves. These were pinned up to a board, and we had to guess who was who by the end of the afternoon. A nice, low-impact activity.

Of course, you should ask the mom-to-be what she wants. Have fun!
posted by killy willy at 11:19 PM on March 11, 2009

If you're planning food, make sure that (most or all of) it follows the current, paranoid, food safety guidelines for Pregnant Ladies where you live. That means lots of the yummy nibbly things that you might think of - cold meat, seafood, sushi, soft cheeses on your cheeseboard, even hummus - is off limits. Speaking from experience it is disappointing to be a ravenous Pregnant Lady at your own party, looking longingly at a spread of forbidden food. Like it's there just to taunt you.
posted by slightlybewildered at 11:22 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'll just answer your questions in order. I've thrown two showers. Both were for fairly non-traditional people, so YMMV:

Do you play games? What kind of games? No. Both moms-to-be thought games were stupid, and it's their party, so no games. We DID do an awesome craft - get a bunch of onesies and little white cotton snap on shirts and other plain baby clothes in a variety of sizes (teeny tiny up to 9-12 months). Get fabric markers and some stencils and other fabric craft stuff (I do not necessarily recommend paint). Make stiff little cutouts to go in the shirts, and/or provide 2-3 craft stations. People will make onesies, they are fabulous, fun, funny gifts for the mom and dad to be, and once someone who is inept does one (me) anyone else will have fun doing them, too.

Do you have cake? What kind of cake? How is it decorated?
We had cakes. I made a sheep cake for the Sheep & Penguin Shower, and a Squirrel Cake for the Squirrel Shower. You can also get one made for you, but making the cake was part of the gift of the shower for me. I, however, like to bake.

Also! Do you serve food? What kind of food? Cake, chicken salad on crackers or little croissants, cheese & crackers, apple slaw, punch in fun colors, basically any kind of fingerfood is good. Fruit. Whatever the mom likes. ASK your friend what she will and won't eat. Of my two friends, one was totally freaked about cheese her whole pregnancy, and the other one would eat anything at all as long as it wasn't moldy and didn't smell bad.

What are the decorations like? At the sheep & penguin shower, we had the Sheep Room and the Penguin Room. There were blue and green decorations, cutouts of sheep & penguins, flowers, balloons, etc. At the squirrel shower there was a felt squirrel in a cornucopia, with some nuts. Less is more, more is more, there is no wrong or right answer.

Does the host give baby shower favors or door prizes?
At one, we gave candy bars. AT the other, nothing.

Where are baby showers usually held? What time do they usually start? How long do they usually last? Every one I've hosted has been at a friend's house, in the afternoon, and it lasts a few hours (2-4, depending, so about like a wedding shower).

Does the Mother-to-Be open the gifts during the shower? When does this happen?
Yes, usually. Whenever you or she wants to.

Is there a difference between what happens/doesn't happen at a "friends" shower vs. a "family" shower? Or a "baby girl" shower vs. a "baby boy" shower? Not that I've noticed.

You can see all the pictures from the Squirrel Shower here - Shutterfly - I haven't cleaned up that site yet, so apologies, but I set it up just now. Have fun!
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:53 AM on March 12, 2009

Speaking as the co-owner of a crafty shop whose other owner is pregnant, I have to say the onesie decorating shower we threw for her went over REALLY really well! And since you can do fabric paint or iron on interfacing, it's guy friendly if you can talk them into playing along.
posted by at 6:36 AM on March 12, 2009

I hosted a couples shower at a local art gallery (I saved a lot on decor with that choice.) The gallery graciously let me serve beer, wine, and a nice spread of everything from dips, hors d'oeuvres, and veggie sushi rolls along with beer and sangria. For cake I had blue and white mini cupcakes and decorated sugar cookies.

We played no games and basically had an evening cocktail party (5pm) in honor of the expectant couple. Since this was a friend's shower, I thought it would be good to include ALL of the couple's friends, not just the girls.

There were gifts opened and we had a champagne toast to celebrate the occasion. I'd say the whole party lasted 2-3 hours. Since it was summer time, I bought daisies and had them in vases around the food spread along with votive candles...We gave away seedlings for favors, they are very cheap.

The schedule roughly went like this:
People arriving, Couple arriving, eatings and drinkings and socializing... then they opened gifts while dessert was laid out, after that we did a champagne toast and guests ate desert and cookies, then people sort of phased out about 30-45 minutes after that...
posted by dearest at 7:25 AM on March 12, 2009

I have thrown one baby shower and it was very well received, but then again, that is because I know my friends. They like beer and not stupid games, and the honoree has no problems hanging out with people getting drunk, so we had lots of beer. We invited the boys and decorated onesies at the dining room table -- the boys liked it even better than the girls, I think. Food was just hors d'oevres from Trader Joe's and desserts I had assigned to the people who like to bake. We ran from 4-7 because that is what the couple wanted.

Schedule was roughly: arrive, guests chat while making onesies & I keep putting foods in the oven, eventually gather for an unveiling of the onesies (two faves: Angelina Didn't Get Me and A Dingo Ate My Sister), then gifts.

It was at the couple's apartment, since we live in New York and they had the only space that could really accommodate everyone.
posted by dame at 8:32 AM on March 12, 2009

I've hosted a few. One thing that's worked out really well is this:

Buy several different kinds of decorative and filler beads, wire/ filament, and plain key chains. Put these out in different bowls. Have all of the guests make a beaded key chain to carry with them until the baby is born- or for as long as they want. So many of my friends still carry theirs. One of them has converted her beads (which were very large) into a baby toy. This activity worked out nicely b/c everyone one can settle with their food/ drinks and converse with eachother while stringing beads. And they get to leave with a nice reminder/ memento of the upcoming birth.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 8:40 AM on March 12, 2009

I just want to throw in that for my cousin's baby shower, her friends held a rubber ducky themed shower, that was totally adorable. Lots of duckies for decoration and an awesome duck-shaped cake that was homemade. Party favors were duck shaped cookies. The party was family-centric, so husbands/boyfriends (I'm a guy) were welcome, as well as kids, lots of kids. We set up a wii with Rock Band to keep the kids mostly occupied, didn't play any games but did open gifts (Mom was not a games-player), and had a big pot-luck spread of delicious food.

I'm a man, and I can't stand the games-playing aspect of showers (but I understand that some people really love them). For me, this was the best event of this type that I'd ever been to.
posted by dnesan at 10:22 AM on March 12, 2009

Not sure if someone suggested this, but we had diaper raffles at both of my baby showers. I had triplets, so the need for diapers was very great for us in particular, but I think it's a great idea for every baby shower. People would get a raffle ticket for each package of diapers/wipes they brought, and small prizes were given out to the winners.

We got over 2500 diapers this way! (Which was only a small drop in the bucket, but hey, it helped!)

I personally like games, but my hostesses didn't, so I didn't get any. Boo!
posted by pyjammy at 1:28 PM on March 12, 2009

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