Dedicated to Kate Cooksey, born 4/19/09.
My two older sisters recently threw a baby shower for me in honor of Baby Kate. Their attention to detail was incredible and made one guest exclaim: “I’ve never seen so many thoughtful touches in one shower! This was amazing!!” So, I’ve decided to capture some of the tips and tricks they used to host this tremendously touching event.
By the way, please don’t think a baby shower needs to include all of these – this was truly an over-the-top event that only two former Valedictorians, Presidents of the Student Council, and Miss Apache Senior Highs could have concocted (OK – so maybe the school was tiny — town population of Apache, OK is only 1500 or so — but still it gives you an indication of how capital A their Type A personalities are).
As a Type A planner myself, I’ve broken it down into the key details every good baby shower hostess (or host) will need to consider. I’ve even made it easy to jump between the sections (though you wouldn’t want to do that, would you? You might miss something important!).
- Should you have a Baby Shower?
- Ladies only or Couples?
- Set time or Come-and-Go?
- How to Decorate for a Baby Shower?
- What are the Best Baby Shower Games?
- How Can You Give Mom-to-Be a Lasting Memory of Her Baby Shower?
This is a no brainer for the first child – answer: YES. It’s also a no-brainer if you are like a friend of mine, who is having a baby after a 10-year break between her next youngest and new child – answer: YES. But in some situations (like mine), it’s not so clear cut. This is our third child, and while the first two were the same sex (boys), and the third is due to be a girl, I assumed it was out of the question. But my sisters insisted…after all, everyone LOVES to shop for baby girl clothes, and how could I deprive them of that opportunity?
After consulting several different websites and blogs, I came up with this checklist to help decide if a baby shower is appropriate in your situation. If you answer “yes” to any of the following, then go for it:
- You have a several different friends than you did at your previous shower. Point of this is: you don’t want to ask anyone other than very close friends to buy two shower gifts for you.
- The friends you have who have already been to a baby shower for you are very close, and would buy you a gift anyway.
- You have a specific list of items that you do need – not just want, like if it’s been a while since your last child, or you are having a baby of a different sex than your previous child(ren).
- You are broke and having a hand in helping prepare for the baby would be very appreciated.
I answered Yes to all of the above (with double exclamation points around #4), so agreed to let them throw a shower for me.
The answer to this question depends on your set of friends. Here are things to consider: If the “couple” friends you would invite include a lot of single women, married women with no children, or couples with no children, I would suggest opting for a Ladies-only shower. A man who has not yet experienced fatherhood (even in a “blended” family fashion) but could cheerfully endure a baby shower is a rare find, indeed. Even my own husband, who is a very involved father and great dad, ran to the garage the minute my sisters showed up to start preparations for the shower for our own baby shower.
If, however, you are one of those very lucky couples to have a great set of friends that have children and know each other well, then having a couples-shower is a great idea. Dads have lots of advice to share on parenting, but it may take some prodding to get them to open up (see “Leaving a Lasting Memory” below). Or, do as a friend of mine did, make up a baby shower game that gets Dads involved, like seeing who can drink a baby bottle full of beer the fastest.
This question really depends on the guest list and stage of life. When you are one of the first in a group of friends to have a baby, or have a close knit set of friends that do things together often, having a set time for the shower is a good option. This allows you to play a wider variety of games, and to have everyone “ooh” and “aah” over the baby gifts, as well.
However, a trend toward “come and go” showers is growing – especially as couples wait longer to have children and so have a more diverse set of friends who may not be a part of the same circles. Additionally, with guests who have children of their own and are therefore managing multiple schedules on the weekends, having an “open house” approach can allow them some flexibility to fit the time in between soccer games and birthday parties. We personally decided on a “come and go” shower, which allowed many of our friends to fit the event into their jam-packed weekend schedules vs. having to miss it while shuttling kids to and fro, and gave me the opportunity to sit with each person one-on-one to open gifts together.
And once the logistics are taken care of….the shower preparation fun can really begin: Deciding on Decorations, Games, and Memory Making.
This is where my sisters really blew me, my husband, and our guests away. The attention to detail was incredible. There are a lot of options available at party stores as well as your typical general merchandise stores (Target, Wal-Mart, etc.), but I’ll highlight a couple of hand-made things my sisters did.
Baby Clothes Clothesline – This is a relatively easy decoration to construct and makes a big impact. All you need is a couple of hooks, some clothesline, clothespins, and baby clothes/bibs/socks. It was a quick decorative addition that got a lot of admiring glances and comments from everyone.
Baby Washcloth Rose Bouquet – This creative option was something I’d never seen before. When my sister walked in holding this vase of “flowers”, I thought it was a real flower arrangement. Then, I looked a bit closer and was totally surprised to see all the little rolled up washcloths. Yes, she had painstakingly rolled several baby washcloths, secured them with straight pins to floral stems, and created an arrangement in a pretty planter. Here is a video on how to do it (concept is the same, although this video is using the rolled up washcloths to make pens) on Dried Flower Expert (http://www.driedflowerexpert.com/silk-flowers/baby-sockswashcloth-roses-silk-flower-pens-instructions).
Baby Diaper Cake – I had never heard of such a thing until my second son was born in 2007 and I was the lucky recipient of one of these cakes handmade by a colleague at work. My sisters also handmade one – the biggest one I’ve ever seen actually. When I took it apart after the shower, and painstakingly unfolded each rolled up diaper to stack in the changing table (and closet, since there were so many!), I counted: 127 diapers, 149 rubber bands, 72 rosebuds, 6 roses, 12 yards of ribbon, 3 baby bottles, and 13 straight pins. For instructions that they used to assemble this (in 3 hours, with 2 sets of hands – so clearly not a job to take on lightly), go to one of these sites: Plan the Perfect Baby Shower (http://www.plan-the-perfect-baby-shower.com/diaper-cake.html) or WikiHow – Diaper Cake (http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Diaper-Cake).
Ideas for baby shower games are as plentiful as the diapers in the diaper cake shown above. Personally, I like the ones that can be saved for later, creating a lasting reminder for the Mom-to-be about the incredible, miraculous journey she’s on. My personal top 3 favorites are:
- “The string” – have guests “guess” how big around the Mom-to-be’s belly is and cut a piece of string they think will just fit around her middle. They can then either test by giving the Guest of Honor a hug, or if that’s too up close and personal, you could measure their strings against one you know fits. The winner gets a small prize, and the Mommy gets the winning “string” to put in her baby book as a reminder of just how large she was when she was pregnant (don’t we all want to know that later!?!).
- “The predictions” – create a multiple choice list of questions about how the Mom-to-Be will be as a mother, and how the Baby will grow up. Questions might include things like: To learn how to address her baby’s needs, Mommy will: a) relax, try a few different things that her friends recommend, b) read every Baby Book on the market on x topic, c) read every Baby Book on the market so thoroughly that she will decide to write her own Baby Book…….or, what Baby’s future occupation will be, etc. The guest whose answers most closely match the Mom-to-Be’s wins.
- “Baby names” – have each guest create as many names as possible using the combination of letters from Mom’s name and Dad’s name.
There is actually no chance the Mom-to-Be will forget her baby shower, so this is actually a very easy goal to achieve. If you want to go an extra step, though, you can do a few different things that will allow her to have a tangible keepsake of the event.
- One idea is to have each guest write their best “parenting tip” on a card or inside a journal. If you do it on cards, you can bind them together by hole-punching the cards and tying a raffia string through the holes, or using a metal ring (found in craft stores) to hold them together. This can double as a guest book for the event.
- Dress up the above idea by making sure to get a picture of the guest of honor with each guest, and including the pictures on the appropriate pages in your “book.”
- The “over the top” solution that my sisters provided was a full-blown scrapbooking station where each guest created a keepsake page for a baby shower book. We provided all the paper, tools, and embellishments (luckily, I was a scrap-aholic before starting up MomsOutLoud.com, so there was little investment in the essentials). Each guest chose a small slip of paper with a parenting question on it (e.g., what tips do you have to get the baby to sleep at night? what is the one baby product you couldn’t live without?) and wrote the answer on the paper, pasting it on their page. Careful instructions posted in the room directed the guest to leave space for a picture with the guest of honor to be placed on the page after the shower when the book was placed into a scrapbook and finished.
There are so many wonderful ideas out there on hosting a baby shower, if you are the lucky person who gets to gift a friend with this happy tradition, you’re sure to make it touching, memorable, and fun. Happy Belly Rubbing!!
Written by Rebekah Cooksey, Founder and Chief Executive Mom of MomsOutLoud.com. She is a married Mom of 2 boys and a brand-new baby girl in Plano. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Website is: www.momsoutloud.com.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Logan Photography. Photo of baby above by Martha Ross.