I received a beautiful handmade invitation recently. I assumed that it was to attend my cousin's wedding but on closer examination I realised it was actually to go to a friend's baby shower. It was an all day event on a Saturday that included a pottery workshop to make a little trinket for the new baby's bedroom plus afternoon tea. On the back were details of the gift registry for the shower. Or if I didn't fancy that they were taking donations towards a very lovely Bugaboo pram for their future child.
I was a little taken aback by the excessiveness of this initiation. I calculated just to attend the day it would cost me about £80 and that was before I had forked out on the gift as well. Call me cynical but is it not a teeny bit greedy to ask for a pram? Granted the invitation had not come directly from the mum-to-be but I was shocked. I had been planning on a card in the post and perhaps sending a rattle after the baby was born.
Baby showers have become big business. Research shows that women are now spending a whopping £220 million attending them each year. That is about £50 per women per shower. One in seven women has apparently now attended a shower. Frankly I think the whole phenomenon is crazy. I have so far been invited to two showers this year and I am planning my excuses already.
The best ever baby shower invite has to go to (surprise, surprise) Kim Kardashian. Last year all her guests were sent a music box invite. When they opened the box the ballerina – bearing an uncanny resemblance to Kim - spun round to a lullaby version of Kanye West's 'Hey Mama'. Inspired. There was even a dress code for the party; 'garden chic', whatever that might entail.
While mum of two Katie, 37, loved the chance to see all her friends and family at a shower before her first baby was born she too concedes it was over the top in places. It was the games that made her cringe.
"The first one was 'guess what's in the nappy', where someone had spread different types of chocolate, marmite or peanut butter in them," she recalls. "It was kind of funny but also slightly weird."And there are plenty of other games besides. 'Help, my waters broke' or 'bobbing for nipples' are both great ice breakers - apparently. At one low key baby shower I went to recently we all had to try and shape a baby out of plasticine. Call me superstitious but I think it's best to wait until after the birth announcement to do the celebrating.
If I find these things difficult to stomach as a mum of three, I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for those non-parent friends who are asked to attend.
Recently married Liz, 34, is still undecided as to whether she wants kids and understandably a baby shower is not exactly her idea of a good time.
"I was asked to pay £35 to attend a quilt making workshop for the baby," she explains. "I knew everyone would be nattering away about babies and even if I had one I'd find that incredibly boring. As for £35 to stitch a bit of blanket - how much can a bit of thread cost? It must have been golden silk thread."
"I'll buy new mums a little present to mark the occasion where she, like billions before her, had a child," says Sarah. "It all just feels a bit American - next thing we know we'll be celebrating the baby's first word with a ceremony in which we're all expected to pay £50 to mould the word out of play-doh!"
Perhaps it's just me but whatever happened to wetting the babies head with a warm glass of fizz in a plastic cup at the hospital? When I had my children I was too busy looking like a beached whale, with kankles like oak trees, to want to paint pretty trinkets.
My friends were still amazing though but in an entirely practical way. One of them turned up to my house with a week's worth of food for the freezer once. Now that's the kind of gift I'm keen on!
What do you think about baby showers? Ostentatious and tempting fate or a nice chance to celebrate before the baby's arrival?
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