Parenting and Family

Throw a Memorable Baby Shower

Cooperative Shower. This is an especially good idea for friends who’ve already had other children and have the basics covered. Ideas for decorations and invitations are not really influenced by this theme, however gifts are! The focus is on Mother rather than Baby! Guests are equal hosts of the party, which can be very casual. Ask friends to bring a small dish to share and a casserole or some other freezer-friendly food for the guest-of-honor. (She’ll need advance warning to clear some freezer space.) Then, after the birth she can focus on the baby and not upon cooking!

Other great gifts would be coupons redeemable for babysitting and housecleaning. Some friends might choose to go together and get a gift certificate to a local spa-type place, or massage therapy clinic, etc. Games might be for people to share how they met the Mom-to-be, one reason they truly value or admire her, and a hope they have for the baby. If the baby’s name has not yet been selected, they can make recommendations!

New Twists on Old Ideas

Simple fingerfoods are traditionally all that is expected at baby showers, foods like vegetable trays, fruit salads, cheese and crackers, nuts, mints, cake and punch, and other snack-type items. Out of respect for the guest of honor, alcoholic beverages should not be served and you may also choose to forego caffeinated sodas or coffee if the mother is refraining.

You need not hold to tradition, however. There are plenty of very fun ways to deviate from this norm. Why not have a shower brunch on a Saturday morning? You could serve fruit-filled crepes, or quiche and muffins. A lunchtime shower could be a pizza party where guests each bring a topping and you supply personal-pan crust and sauce. They can cook while you play games and your house will smell wonderful. The same bring-a-topping idea applies to icecream sundae parties.

A personal favorite shower food idea is a Chinese take-out dinner! You can order three or four main dishes and cook your own rice to save on the expense. Don’t forget the chopsticks! Or, Consult the mother-to-be. Has she had strange cravings during her pregnancy? It might be fun to serve foods reflective of her 3am nachos and ice cream runs.

Baby Bottle Cake

A lovely touch I saw at a recent baby shower was a cake in the shape of a baby bottle, decorated with pink and white icing (yes, the baby was expected to be a girl.) This is easily accomplished by baking a rectangular sheet cake. Use a piece of paper of the same length and draw an outline of a bottle. Cut it out. (You may need several tries to get it exactly right.) Then place it on the top of the cooled cake and, using a sharp knife, cut around your template. Frosting will cover the exposed edges and voila!

It is easy to overlook. But it is a small touch that may make all the difference in the world.

Remember to provide a comfortable chair for the mother-to-be. Maybe even a automan for her feet, if you can manage it. Feel free to decorate the chair with tulle or ribbon or otherwise designate it as reserved for the guest of honor.

The Key to Great Decorating is in the Details

Which is why I’m not going to tell you streamers and balloons. Although those are fine, don’t get me wrong. But every other book and site can tell you that, and I want to tell you something you haven’t already heard before. These tips relate to ambience as well as actual decoration.

What about fresh flowers? They are a lovely touch! A beautiful centerpiece on the table will delight during the party and bring joy to your friend afterwards as you insist that she take it with her. Music is a detail often overlooked as well. Soft instrumental, classical, pop, "baby themed" songs, none at all, decide and prepare now for music. Ask Mom if she has a preference and even if you don’t want music, keep some on hand and ready in case a guest requests it. You don’t want to be caught with just your collection of "College Marching Band Music" for 2 hours.

Decorating according to a theme is also helpful. If you’ve not already, check out the themes listed in this tutorial.

There is something about sanctioning adults to be goofy that is a very powerful thing.

You may be hesitant about incorporating games into your shower. Especially some of the more messy or silly ones. DON’T! I can guarantee you that 9 times out of 10 your guests will be asking for more! What better way to celebrate the impending birth of the child than acting like children?

Still unconvinced? That is okay. I have catalogued a few classic game ideas for you, according to the silliness/messiness factor. Just skip down to the "Very Tame" category. Otherwise, begin here, with the "Clean Up Might Be Required" variety. You may want provide small prizes for the winners (could even be homebaked cookies, bread, etc; need not be elaborate.)

Clean Up Might Be Required

Dirty Diapers. Melt various candy bars (Snickers, Reese’s Cups, Butterfingers) etc. in separate disposable diapers. Guests must try to determine the kind by sight, smell, and, for the very brave, taste.

Dirty Diapers II. You’ll need several baby dolls for this one, diapers, wipes, and powder. Diaper the baby dolls. Have guests pair up in 2’s (not everyone has to play–some could just watch. Watching is the really funny part.) Best with three or four pairs. The object of the game is to remove the "dirty" diaper from the doll, wipe, powder, and re-diaper the fastest. Person 1 in the pair stands behind Person 2. Person 2 puts his/her arms behind his/her back and Person 1 slips his/her arms through. He/she is now the arms while Person 2 is the sight.

Of Medium Silliness

Baby Food 101. There are many variations of this classic game as well. The basic idea is to have ten or so jars of baby food. Remove the labels and mark with numbers. Guests must determine and write down what they think the food is (carrots, peas, pears, etc.) How you ask them to determine is up to you: some suggest by flavor (yuck), others simply by color and scent. You can also combine this game with the diaper one mentioned above by smearing the foods in diapers instead of leaving it in the jars. Double yuck!

Giving Birth. Buy small plastic babies and freeze in ice cubes. To freeze it in the middle you’ll need to fill the tray halfway, place the toy inside and freeze. Then top off with water and refreeze. Give guests the cubes and to suck on. The first to completely de-freeze their baby and yell, "My water broke!" wins. No chewing allowed.