What comes to mind when you hear the words baby shower? If you’re anything like me (and on the cynical side of celebrating), you’ll feel a sense of dread as you imagine a sea of pink or blue balloons, a table laden with tiny sandwiches that only fill you up if you eat 25 of them, and a mountain of expensive, exquisitely-wrapped presents. And CUPCAKES.
Come on – does anyone actually like cupcakes?
That is unless you’re invited to Meghan Markle’s baby shower, of course. Who among us would have turned down a trip to New York on a private jet (even if some attendees did find themselves stranded there for 17 hours)? And the chance to hang out with such super-women as Serena Williams and Amal Clooney at a £57,000-a-night penthouse suite at The Mark Hotel in Manhattan? Call me a hypocrite if you like, I’ll take it. Because it sounds awesome.
But still... imagine the stress of being invited to a glitzy baby bash. It’s hard enough being someone’s bridesmaid or maid of honour with a hen do to organise, let alone throwing a party to celebrate the imminent arrival of a small human your friend is going to love more than anyone else in her entire life.
So, without further ado, here’s our guide to making the best of a baby shower, without bricking it:
1) Choose An Activity The Mother-To-Be Will Actually Enjoy
Cocktail making might be fun, but it probably won’t go down too well with your heavily-pregnant friend who’s counting the days until she can drink again. So make like Meghan and choose something wholesome and genuinely enjoyable – like flower-arranging. Meghan’s guests, according to reporter Gayle King, learned to arrange bouquets of flowers that were then donated to Repeat Roses, a group which recycles them gives them to people in cancer treatment centres. Aw.
2) Don’t Force Her To Open Gifts In Front Of Everyone
Don’t you just hate that? That anxious feeling you get when someone hands you a gift and gestures, excitedly, for you to open it. Your heart thumps as you concentrate on setting your face into that mask of pure delight, even if what you’re opening turns out to be matching salt-and-pepper shakers.
So, don’t do it. Give the mum-to-be a break and let her open them later, in her own time, when she can whoop with delight, scowl, or put things straight on the ‘charity shop’ pile. Even Meghan apparently saved the opening of gifts for later, with Harry. Or, given some people’s understandable nervousness around birth, why not save the present for when you actually meet the baby.
3) Invite Dads, Too
Why be gendered about things? Meghan invited celebrity make-up artist Daniel Martin to her baby shower, and he posted a sweet snap of the event. The dad-to-be in your friend’s life also deserves a nod of recognition, too.
Plus, most women have close male friends, or brothers / dads / boyfriends / husbands who are fun and the type you might actually want to spend time with – rather than your cousin’s mate you met once on a night out who hovers awkwardly at the back and buys you a baby grow with ‘I was daddy’s fastest swimmer’ written on it.
[Read More: How to dodge the baby shower]
4) Stop With The Gendered Decorations
PINK balloons, PINK cakes, PINK tablecloths, PINK gifts – until your friend finds out she’s not having a girl at all, but a little boy who was feeling shy when she went for her 20-week scan. This happened to a friend of mine, and boy, did we feel silly.
Go easy on the pink and blue, folks. This isn’t an episode of Peppa Pig. Meghan has been keeping the gender of her baby (if she knows it) tightly under wraps – and your friend might not want to reveal the sex of her baby, even if she knows. So, go rainbow. Rainbow is gender-neutral and makes everything brighter.
5) Reconsider ‘Playing Games’
There are only a couple of occasions in life when it’s acceptable – nay, fun – to play games. These are: at Christmas, with kids, and on holiday (where there’s no TV and you resort to playing Uno because of Sangria).
There are some horror-show baby shower games out there: ‘Dirty Diapers’ (guess the chocolate bar smushed in the nappy), ‘Guess the Baby’ (get everyone to bring a photo of themselves as a baby and guess who’s who), or the terrifying ‘Mummy and Daddy’s Secrets’ (where the organiser of the event asks the dad questions the mum-to-be then has to guess his answers to. Warning: could end in divorce).
Can you imagine Meghan, Serena and Amal bending over a dirty nappy and taking a big lungful? Me neither. Sack off the games. Get the drinking guests a glass of Prosecco, the non-drinkers a lovely cup of tea, and have a good, old-fashioned chat.
6) Keep It Simple
This might be where we differ to US-born Meghan, but there’s a particular problem with baby showers if you’re British – we just don’t really like that sort of ‘all eyes on me’ affair, do we?
Most of us hate being the centre of attention, and are more likely to choose a quiet dinner with good friends over being in the spotlight at a party of our own. Plus, your pregnant friend is most likely waddling around with swollen ankles after hours spent weeping because she has nothing in her wardrobe that fits her, anymore (I’m speaking for myself, here) – and that’s the point at which you throw her a party, take photographs, and expect her to smile.
Be kind. Keep it simple. A gentle gathering of half a dozen close friends and/or family only, please. Ideally at someone’s house, so she can put her feet up on the sofa.