I have written a few articles on how to plan a baby shower over the years as I have helped plan and organise many events and this has to be one of my favourites.
Here are 10 Steps which I hope will give you some ideas about planning your Baby Shower.
STEP 1 - INVITES
Begin by writing all the names of potential guests (all the people you know) onto a piece of paper. This is a draft just to get an idea.
These are people that could potentially come to your party. Use columns. For example: Work colleagues, family, close friends, acquaintances etc. You could list them as “Maybes, Definite and Undecided”.
This is a key step. Because out of all those people you may find that you have distinct groups of people. One of the things you need to decide is if you are going to have separate events. For example: One party or two smaller events.
You may wish to ask yourself if all these people will mix at one party. Your partner’s work mates may not sit comfortably beside your great grandmother or your conservative neighbour. It is important to point out here that you don’t have to invite everyone you know to your baby shower. It is entirely up to you.
You may decide that you like the idea of having one party with the girls. (girlfriends, aunts, grandma, Mum etc) and another one with your friends and their partners or a separate work morning tea or lunch. Luncheons or morning teas work well for work colleagues. You can hold it at the local cafe or tavern and shout desert for everyone or coffee and cake but many just have it in the tea room at work and take a cake and some special home baked cookies for everyone to share. It is not that unreasonable to have these separate smaller events to accommodate everyone. Some parents now have a "sip and see" party after the baby is born. This is were everyone can come and meet the baby while sipping on a glass of wine. Some have christenings or naming ceremonies and parties which welcome the baby. But it really gets down to your personal preference, budget and time. It is perfectly ok if you do not even want a Baby Shower at all. In fact if you ask parents from previous generations many will tell you the concept of a Baby Shower was not even an option for them.
I get asked "What about that person you just don’t want to invite but there might be some ill feeling if you do not invite them?"
My suggestion is that unless they are dangerous , just invite them. I will tell you why I feel that way. A baby shower is going to last 2-3 hours. You most likely will not see the person you are avoiding. If they are a difficult person or your relationship is strained then inviting them can perhaps put ill feeling away and set the tone for a new beginning of peace and love. (Baby’s can be a magical force in bringing people together)
The funny thing that I have learnt about those difficult guests you do not really want to invite is that on the day they can be surprisingly charming. And those people who you think will object to the person coming can be extremely hospitable and accommodating. There is something about Baby Showers that brings out the softer side in most. But once again, it is your day and you do not have to have anyone there you do not want.
Whilst children may be the most gorgeous little things you may need to consider if you want them to attend your Baby Shower. The best way is to make a note of how many potential children you could have there. If it is one or two then you may be able to cater for them. Six toddlers running around is different to two babies in prams. If you don’t want children to attend then you could discretely tell the Mums that your not having children attend as the venue doesn't cater for them. If you tell them sensitively that there are just too many kids to invite and you had to make the tough decision to leave kids out of the invites then generally parents are understanding. Once again this is entirely up to you. The important thing is being consistent. For example: Don’t invite one parent's children and leave out others. It most likely has to be a uniform decision about children’s attendance so you don't offend people.
Generally speaking if you hold a party or event then you need to cater for it and spoil everyone who comes as a wonderful host. As the host you are inviting them to a celebration. History and etiquette would suggest that guests should respond to your invitation by the date you set on it in the allocated time frame and bring the baby or mother a gift to the event. Surprisingly many do not respond in the time frame and you may find yourself chasing people up at the last minute. (human nature I am afraid) I know it may seem like holding a baby shower is about a gift grab but if you are spoiling your guests with refreshments and a good time then no one will accuse you of this. These events are like a "right of passage", and they form a foundation of family connection and bonds. They are a lovely way for everyone to come together and celebrate the anticipated arrival of a beautiful baby.
What becomes distasteful is when a host does not provide food nor even hold the venue and there is an expectation guests are to provide a gift. This is when there is an imbalance in my view. For example: The expecting parent invites guests to a Baby Shower and asks guests to meet at a venue where they are expected to pay for their own food. In addition there is a gift registry set up or a request for guests to pay $100 to the Mother/parents as a gift. As an invitee you may feel a little taken advantage of in this situation. You just got invited to an event you have to pay for and then your asked to open your wallets and pay again for a gift. I have been invited to a few of these events and I politely decline.
When hosting a Baby Shower it is your role to be hospitable and to provide your guests with a lovely experience where you spoil them with a nice venue and refesthiments to eat and drink.
Step 2. BUDGET
The next thing is to establish is budget.
Sometimes friends will offer to put one on for you. Now here lays the problem with that.
If you want something specific for your Baby Shower and your kind hearted friend is on a small budget you have to work within that. You loose control. (which is ok) but you need to communicate your vision to your friend. If your easy going and do not care than all is good. Communication is the key though so everyone is happy and content with what they can do.
Discuss what is going to be done, what you want and how much you will contribute financially if any. It can put a strain on friendships if it is not clear and discussed in the beginning.
Morning teas and small lunches are generally the most affordable and can be done on a small budget. These seem to be the most popular type of Baby Showers and generally involve all the women only or women and their partners. BBQ’s and one large party can also be affordable because everything can be done in bulk. Alcohol can be expensive if you are providing it. At some luncheons and small afternoon teas a bottle of wine or champaign so everyone gets a glass is acceptable.
Step 3- VENUE
Decide on a venue. Most people choose their own home or a house for the convenience and costs. You can hold it anywhere really. It is up to you. However guests comfort should be paramount.
The venue for your baby shower is important. Consider seating, toilets, temperature, space, and layout. If you decide to have it in a park during summer then you may need to invest in some fold out shade and seating. Catering for these outdoor events can be rather labour intensive because you have to move all food and eskys to the tables. Set up can be hard as you have to move everything yourself and ensure you get the park BBQ before someone else grabs it or the best shady spot.
What do you need for a Baby Shower venue? Generally at all Baby showers there is two or three tables. One for the gifts to go on. Assuming guests do the right thing and bring one. A second table for food and a third to put the cake on.
You will also need room if you have any activities or games. You will need good seating because no persons attending your event want to stand for 2-3 hours. And there needs to be amenities and fresh running water (a tap).
Step 4- GAMES AND ENTERTAINMENT
Choose some games or entertainment. Google is full of Baby Shower games suitable for Baby Shower parties. Collect several and discuss them with friends. Try a couple out for fun to see which will work well and make your guests smile. (provide prizes for the winners)
Be mindful of the space you have.
Step 5- THEME AND COLOURS
Choose a theme if you want one. If you don’t have one then simply pick a colour and run with that.
It is pretty easy these days to run with a colour theme and it can look spectacular. Even if you just went with the colour pink for a girl or blue for a boy it will look great. Many parents these days are going for alternative colours such as black and white. This is also fun and easy to do. You do not need to decorate the whole room or house. Just a corner where everyone will be sitting. Sometimes a table up against a wall with a feature at the back and balloons or a table in the middle of the room can be decorated and have an amazing affect.
A table with black and white balloons ($2 from the cheap shop) and black and white serviettes, table cloth and cake for centrepiece can look amazing. Always use table clothes as they will set the scene and make it special. You can buy $2 table clothes from just about anywhere. Helium balloons can be purchased from most cheap shops now and even filled up. If you choose three or four balloons filled with helium and put them in the centre of your table it will look amazing. The key is "less is best". Don’t fill the room up with several different colour pinks and things with pink patterns on them. Visually this just looks like a jumbled mess.
If you look at any vogue baby shower themes they have two or three colours and that is it. Everything then is made up of those colours or a combo of it. Matching identical colours and avoiding busy patterns is the key.
If you have an elephant theme then stick with the same colour or print for the elephants and choose one other colour to contrast with it. Avoid buying everything with an elephant on it. Break it up a bit but it must be the same colour or one of your other two colours. So you can have one pattern feature and then two plain colours to contrast with.
When choosing a cake choose plates and confectionary the same colour. Even the food (that which is a feature or on display) should be the same colour. Otherwise serve it away from the main colour area like on the kitchen bench. So you have your colours that match in one area. If you have everything matching blue being visually perfect then you add a green bowl and yellow glasses and purple salt and pepper shakers it will loose its pop very quickly.
Step 6- CATERING
With regard to food I have only one suggestion and it is my golden rule. Have plenty of it and keep it coming. This is probably the singular and only thing everyone will remember.
Don’t worry because left overs are great. It does not have to be extravagant food. Just good quality tasting food. If you have a table for children they could have some special food that they like.
Warm finger foods and wholesome sandwiches are great. Older generations love sandwiches and a cup of tea with a piece of cake. (you will win them over on this one) If you have a BBQ have plenty of tender steaks, veg patties,mince patties. sausages, good salads and fresh crusty rolls. Lovely cheesecakes and tarts are great for desert. Above all, loads of it.
- Remember that the people that come to your party are your guests and you are their host. So spoil them!
Step 7 - HOSPITALITY
Your friend or family member may be hosting the party for you but you are the guest of honour. So it is really good to make the time to spend a little time with each of your guests. That way you have not neglected anyone and they will feel special. Ask them if they have had plenty to eat and drink and thank them for their gift. It would be nice for you to cut them a piece of cake or get them a drink if they have not had one. You don’t want people to leave before you have even said hello to them. They will feel neglected and hurt.
Step 8- PRESENTS
Opening presents is traditional at Baby Showers and this is done while your guests are still at the party. Everyone likes to see what you got for the baby. And it is nice to thank everyone for what your received. Don’t be afraid to hold things up and show grandma what you just opened. People who give gifts value it when you show off their gift. It shows them that you love and appreciate it. If you don’t open your gifts people can be left with the questions “I wonder if she even liked it or appreciated it.? If you are shy and this seems overwhelming just ask your mother or a friend to sit closest with you and facilitate this with you.
When you go to the trouble of giving a special gift it is just natural you want a little appreciation or just a small thank you. At a baby shower most people want to see what you received for the baby.
This gift opening can fill up the time at the party and make it more exciting. In addition it also forms bonds and connections as family and friends talk about how cute your baby will look in their little blanket etc.
Step 9- THE CAKE
The cake can double as a centrepiece and be a great desert. A tiered cake is often the feature at a Baby shower. It can be complimented by adding some tarts and cheesecakes to the desert table.
Cakes can be expensive so you may need to shop around. A cupcake teir stand can be an alternative. The "cheesecake shop” sell cupcakes in different colours made to order and they also make Baby Shower cakes.
Step 10- PARTY FAVOURS
It is a nice idea to give guests a gift bag or party favour as they leave. This can be a key ring , a candle or jar of cookies etc. Why not make home made cookies and wrap them in cellophane with a cute ribbon and thank you sticker. (Cost $3)
There are hundreds of ideas on Pinterest and Google for Baby Shower favours.
I hope this has inspired you. Baby Showers can be as simple or as lavish as you want them to be. This is a special time and baby showers are designed to bring everyone together to celebrate this time. You can’t go wrong really. Just remember plenty of good food and drink and be hospitable making your guests feel like your spoiling them and you are glad they came. They will remember it forever. Above all have fun and enjoy the journey. You only get this time once, right here ,right now, so savour it.