When my best friend broke the news that she was pregnant, my first thought was: “who’s going to organise the baby shower?” My second thought was: “I hope it’s not me!” (only joking – after 30 years of friendship she knows that I am incapable of throwing a party). Along with Halloween, high school proms and super-sized portions, we can now add baby showers to the list of stateside traditions that have made their way to the UK.
Since becoming popular in America during the 1930’s, baby showers (originally named stork parties) continue to boom. Friends and family of the mum-to-be gather together to celebrate the upcoming birth: food (a must), games (optional) and laughs (naturally) ensue. And the best bit? Expectant mums don’t have to lift a finger: that's what friends and family are for. Most women prefer to wait until they are seven or eight months pregnant before throwing a baby shower. Although these are usually female-only affairs, it is becoming increasingly common for dads-to-be to join in the fun.
Follow our top tips to make sure you enjoy a bump-free baby shower...
location, location, location
Any venue (within reason!) will do – so long as it’s not the mum-to-be’s house: she’ll have enough tidying to do once the baby arrives. Stay-at-home showers are easy to arrange and help to keep costs to a minimum. If you’d rather leave the organising to somebody else, why not book a table at your favourite restaurant, rent a hall or arrange a spa day? If guests will need to contribute towards the cost, make sure you check that they are happy to do so beforehand.
to gift or not to gift?
A party wouldn’t be a party without a pile of beautifully-wrapped presents; however, if guests have already been asked to put money towards the cost of the baby shower, they might not be in a position to buy a gift, as well. Registering for a gift list is a great way to stock up on essentials: alternatively, guests could club together to buy a bigger present. Nappy cakes are cheap, cheerful and increasingly popular: arrange muslins, wipes and nappies into the shape of a cake, tie together with ribbon and... voila!
baby shower invitations
Who doesn’t love receiving an invitation in the post? If you're feeling creative, you could hand make the baby shower invitations instead of buying them. Otherwise, a simple email will save time and money. Send the invitations at least one month in advance: this will give guests plenty of time to reply. Don’t forget to include the following details: time, date, location, venue, directions, any costs, theme (if having one) and RSVP details. If you have registered for a gift list or would like guests to forego bringing a gift, remember to mention this on the invitation.
baby shower themes
Having a theme can be helpful when it comes to planning your baby shower. Choose a theme that reflects the mum-to-be’s interests: a favourite book, film or singer (I once attended a Kardashian-themed baby shower – and still managed to have a good time). Alice in Wonderland tea parties are popular, and a perfect excuse to crack open the cucumber sandwiches and best china. Although increasingly seen as out-dated, pink and blue colour themes are great for gender-reveal parties. Baby shower decorations are easy to find online: think kids' party and stock up on banners, balloons, bunting, paper plates and napkins.
food and drink
When it comes to food, simple is best. Ask each guest to bring a dish, or buy pre-prepared food online: everybody loves a buffet. Remember, this is a baby shower – not the MasterChef final. If all you can muster is shop-bought finger food, so be it – guests will be too busy having fun to notice. How are your baking skills? If they're better than mine (which isn't difficult), you'll have no trouble whipping up a baby shower cake. And whatever you do, don't forget to toast the mum-to-be with a glass of alcohol-free champagne – cheers!
baby shower fun and games
Games can be a great ice-breaker between guests, and can also help to structure the day. You’ll find plenty of ideas for baby shower games online, from baby bingo and mum-to-be quizzes to name that baby and guess the baby food. If games are on the agenda (don't forget the prizes!), try and keep them to a minimum so that guests still have time for a good old chat.
don't forget the goodie bags!
Who says goodie bags are just for children’s parties? Give your guests a bag full of treats to take home – don't forget a slice of cake! You’ll find plenty of personalised party bags and fillers online: from sweets, keyrings and candles to chocolate, lip balm and nail polish. Feeling retro? Why not take a Polaroid photo (yes, they’re back!) of each guest and slip it into their goodie bag as a memento?
When planning your baby shower (or indeed, any party), remember these wise words from Cyndi Lauper: “girls just wanna have fun!” The decorations may have deflated, the sandwiches curled, and the cake fallen short of Mary Berry's standards... but who cares? A baby shower is all about sending your loved one into motherhood with a full-to-bursting heart (and bladder), and reminding them that a helping hand is only a phone call or car ride away (except, perhaps, when it comes to babysitting)!