This past weekend, my good friend Angie and I hosted a baby shower for my oldest friend Anne. She and her husband are expecting their baby girl in late October. Now that my youngest is turning seven, I’m excited for her, and excited to hold this brand new little bundle of warmth and promise. I miss the smell of babies and the contented coos and yawns I could look upon for hours.
I still remember my first baby shower. I attended with my grandmother and I was probably no more than four or five years old. I recall not quite understanding what it was all about, and I fretted over such things as whether or not we needed to bring our own towel and shampoo to this shower situation, or if those would be provided. The thought of a “shower” had me just as confused as the time my father announced that my mother had sent us on a “wild goose chase” to the store one Saturday morning. Just how were we going to catch this goose, I wondered, and what would we do with it when we had captured it?
Ah, but I digress.
Baby showers as we know them today are rather modern. However, preparing a mommy-to-be and celebrating the arrival of the newborn dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece. Hey – a new mom needs baby gear, right? Whether that baby gear includes a basket woven from reeds or a Pack-N-Play, there are gifts aplenty to bestow upon an expectant mother.
During the Middle Ages, godparents gifted baby with such items as silver spoons. Throughout the Renaissance, new mothers received sculptures, clothing linens and food to commemorate baby. Painted wooden trays with inscriptions wishing good health and successful childbirth were also popular.
The Victorian era ushered in baby showers as we now know them. Since expectant mothers were not to appear in public while pregnant, according to Victorian rules of society, tea parties were held for the new mother after the child was born. These turned into the modern-day shower by the beginning of the 1900s. Gifts were often handmade, save for the silver items typically given by the grandmother.
Today, friends, sisters, aunts, coworkers and even mothers host baby showers that can run the spectrum from small, simple and intimate to rather large and elaborate. Expectant parents register for items they choose themselves at one or multiple stores. Food, games, prizes, decorations – all part of your average baby shower. Clearly, things have evolved since moms of ancient Egypt were giving birth!
So how much work, money and time should hostesses put into planning a shower? I’ve asked myself this very question for the twelve or thirteen showers I’ve hosted. It usually shakes out that they’re a good deal of work, take a healthy amount of time, and you can spend as much or as little as you’d like. So, I’d like to throw out a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
Divide and Conquer. While too many cooks can spoil the broth, so to speak, seeking help with shower planning and execution is a good way to reduce the work, stress and expense of shower planning. Coming together and establishing some plans and shopping lists will have you and your co-planners well on your way to a stress-free shower. Divvying up food preparation is also a must if your sanity is to be salvaged!
Know Your Limits.Budget and space can be limiting factors on the guest list. If you offer to host a shower for a galpal, sister, coworker, etc., make things easier for her by presenting her with some parameters. Only have the funds to host a small event? Let her know. Does the dining room in the Victorian house-turned-restaurant where you wish to throw the shower only seat twenty? Tell her from the get-go. Imagining a shower for ten and receiving her guest list of fifty will make for an awkward conversation.
Remember: It’s all about the Guest of Honor! Just because you might like a certain food/theme/game/venue doesn’t mean your guest of honor will. Be sure to consult the mom-to-be on important decisions like where to hold the shower, the general vibe of the event, and very importantly for pregnant women who might have a temporary aversion to certain smells or tastes, the menu!
Prepare! We live in a very hectic, busy, overscheduled society. Don’t put off plans and prep work until the last minute! Game choices might very well require props or other items. Have those collected and ready to go before the last minute.
Plan for the Inevitable! If you’re counting on receiving RSVPs from 100% of your guest list, think again. Any bride will tell you that there are a healthy number of invitees who won’t get around to responding. You’ll need to plan extra games, food and favors for guests who show up without RSVPing.
Have a Clear Game Plan. While my co-hostess Angie is Miss Planner through and through, I’m more of a just wing it kind of gal. But, when you’re trying to lead a group of women through games, a meal and gift opening, it’s best to have a clear sense of what your agenda is and ensure each hostess knows what her duties are. As I ran the games, Angie got to work setting out the food and prepped the beverages. As soon as the games were completed, the meal was ready and waiting. No down time is a winning idea!
Whether you’re hosting an event for a few close friends or making plans for 50-60 of mom-to-be’s extended family members, remember that planning and preparation are imperative. Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Any type of shower should be a joyful event, not a nightmare to execute! Endeavor to have just as much fun as the guest of honor.
Oh, and always bring extra pens and tape.