Baby showers have a long tradition in the United States, and now they’ve taken off over here, too.
The idea is to celebrate the imminent arrival, have a fun girls-only gathering before the birth and shower the mum-to-be with love, advice and presents.
Designer Stella McCartney boosted the trend in the UK when she threw a shower for pregnant pals Katie Moss, Sadie Frost and Sharleen Spiteri. Imagine what presents her guests brought along!
Traditionally baby showers consist of friends and family of the expectant mum meeting up for dessert and coffee before giving her gifts.
But showers have become bigger in recent years and these days they often have themes, decorations, games and goodie bags.
Whether you choose a casual affair or a full-on themed party, read on to find out how to do it in style.
Who organises it?
Anyone but the mum-to-be! It’s supposed to be relaxing, not stressful – so if no one offers to organise one, drop a few hints. Usually the person who hosts it covers any costs, but a way around this is to ask all your guests to provide something towards the day. It could be anything, from baby-themed decorations to food.
When is it held?
About eight weeks before the birth is a good time, when you still have energy. It also gives you time to find homes for all the gifts and buy anything else that’s needed. Don’t leave it too near the due date.
Another option is to have a newborn shower one or two months after the baby is born. This works well if you aren’t comfortable having one beforehand, perhaps because you’ve had a difficult or high-risk pregnancy.
What about a theme?
You don’t need a theme, but lots of people choose to have one. If you know the sex, the theme can be as simple as pink or blue. Send out invitations in the appropriate colour, buy decorations to match and ask guests to “think pink” when choosing their outfits.
Alternatively, pick a theme that ties in with your nursery décor, such as teddies or vintage. Guests may even bring gifts to match. You may be able to run the theme right through to your choice of food, such as teddy bears’ picnic.
The eco way to do it, and keep costs down is by sending email invitations. But if you want something to stick in your baby book, a personalised invitation card is just the job.
If you’d like something more unusual, try a ‘message in a bottle’ – simply roll up your invitations, tie them with ribbon and put them in baby bottles. Ask your pals to bring the bottles back for use after the birth!
Gift lists may seem a bit mercenary, but remember most people would prefer to buy something you want. For ideas, see www.mothercare.com or www.johnlewis.com.
If you feel awkward asking for gifts, or are a second-timer with all the things you need, why not ask friends to make a meal for your freezer for those hectic few weeks after the birth? Or ask guests to make a donation to a baby charity like BLISS.
Where do I find decorations?
You can actually get decorations specifically designed for baby showers. Visit www.babyshowerhost.co.uk or www.babyshowercentre.co.uk for a good range of banners, balloons and other baby shower essentials.
What you offer will depend on how many people you’re inviting, the time of day and where you’re holding the shower. Tea parties are always popular as they’re fairly simple to organise, suitable for all ages and you don’t have to provide alcohol.
It’s fine to ask each guest to bring a contribution, or ask family members to help out so you don’t end up doing it all. Just make sure whoever’s cooking knows what’s safe for pregnant women to eat.
Should I organise a few games?
Not all your guests will know each other and there may be a wide age range, so it’s a good idea to prepare two or three games as ice-breakers.
For example, cut out full-length pics of pregnant celebs, fold back the heads and get everyone to guess who’s who. Or compile a list of questions and mark your answers down before the party, such as your favourite film, your shoe size, etc. Then split guests into teams and see who gets the most answers right.
You could also get everyone to bring a photo of themselves as a baby. You can guess who’s who and award a prize for the bonniest baby. Or, if the name is still a secret, ask everyone to write down their guesses. It’s fun to read them all later and think, “Whaaat? They’re having a laugh!”
Make it special
Make a memento of the shower with a keepsake book. Buy silver and gold pens, glitter and stickers and ask all your guests to fill out a page with a comment, anecdote, poem or words of wisdom. Take photos of all the guests and stick them alongside their entries.
Make sending thank-you cards easier by handing an envelope to everyone who’s brought a gift. Ask them to write their name and address on it and put a note in it with a reminder of what they bought. Just make sure you get your thank you cards out before the birth or you may well never get round to it!