Planning a baby shower can be a daunting prospect, whether you are the mum to be, best friend or work colleague, Even the basics of planning a shower can be unfamiliar territory, questions such as where, when, who to invite, what theme or activities to include can all cause confusion so hopefully our top tips will help smooth the way to a fantastic baby shower.
Don't surprise mum
As a general rule it's best not to surprise the mum-to-be, some of us don't like surprises at the best of times and when heavily pregnant even more so. It's probably best to check that she is feeling up to a baby shower and even if she wants to celebrate pre-birth, as some women are superstitious about welcoming baby until after his or her safe arrival. You can of course plan the shower for after the birth, as long as mum feels up to it, the plus side of this is that gifts can be personalised for the new baby, the down side is that mum will have much less time and energy to enjoy the party.
Don't leave mum with the tidying up
If you can it is best not to have the party at the mum-to-be's house - unless some of the guests are willing to stay behind at the end to clear up! The last thing you need when you are nine months pregnant is to have to tidy up after everyone else so it might be best to host it yourself, find another willing volunteer or book a restaurant or village hall. Traditionally a baby shower is a female only zone and an all-girl party can be great fun, but if this is mum's second or third baby it might be more practical to invite kids and partners too. It's usually a good idea to consult the mum-to-be on the guest list, you don't want to forget Great Auntie Gladys or invite hubby's ex-girlfriend by mistake...
Do pick a fabulous theme
The theme of the baby shower can be as involved or as simple as you like. You can really go to town with decorations, cakes, food and party games all in your chosen theme, or plan something more understated. It is a lovely idea to choose a theme that is special to the guest of honour, favourite holiday location, favourite colour or maybe favourite book, and of course if you know the sex of the baby you can choose pink or blue to decorate your party.
If this is mum's first baby, and she is not yet immersed in babyland, you could arrange an elegant tea party or sophisticated meal in a lovely restaurant instead of a full-on baby shower. There is no rule that tells us baby showers have to all about baby, you can make it all about mum too.
Don't get the vodka out
Although some of the guests might appreciate it, a baby shower is not really the place for a nice merlot or a bucket load of cocktails. Instead you could plan some gentle party games to break the ice and get everyone talking. Of course you know the mum-to-be best, she may prefer something more low key, but if you think she's up for a giggle you could try pregnancy twister where the guests strap pillows to their middles to act as a big pregnant belly and everyone tries to play twister. Or make up some jars of pureed baby food and get the guests to guess the flavour, or guess the date and weight of the baby. If you or your guests have artistic tendencies you could plan a lovely craft activity for everyone to do, maybe decorating some baby clothes or a blanket for the buggy or cot, something special for the mum-to-be to keep as a momento of the day. A really lovely idea is to set up a guest book so everyone can send personal messages to the baby. You could take photos of everyone to stick in alongside their comments and this could be the start of a beautiful keepsake book for mum to add to as baby grows. Finally (and possibly most importantly!) provide huge amounts of tea and cake.
Do plan a gift
This can be tricky and may take a conversation with the mum-to-be if she is not the one organising the shower. You can go down a more formal route of providing a wish list of items which can be very useful as mum may have already purchased some things for baby, and, let's face it, nobody needs 12 moses baskets. If mum would rather not be so prescriptive you can keep it simple and ask everyone to bring nappies, wipes, bibs or muslins, gifts you can never have too many of when starting life with a new baby. You could also club together and buy something mum can keep and treasure, jewellery maybe, or a bump and newborn photoshoot. Finally, as baby showers are all about showing friendship and love for a new mum, how about each guest writes a practical pledge of support for after baby arrives, "I promise to bring dinner round", "I promise to do your ironing", pop these in a box and mum can call on these favours when the time comes.
Do send the guests away with something special
Finally it is a lovely idea to send your guests away with a party favour, just something little to end the shower in style. Some ideas include a muffin (bun in the oven) or a mini soap (baby 'shower'). If you have time you could plant some seeds and give your guests a seedling to nurture and grow as baby grows. You must also, of course, give each attendee a large slice of cake to take home with them, but make sure you leave enough for the mum-to-be to enjoy after the shower with her feet up!
A baby shower is much more than a party, it is about rejoicing in friendship and celebrating the start of the journey into motherhood. It is strengthening a vital support network that mum will need as she embarks on those difficult first few months and beyond. So don't stress about the theme or the decorations, the most important message is that you are all there for your friend as she begins the trickiest and most wonderful job of all, being a mum.
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