Invitations—Set the mood with a fun invitation. In Tracy Stern’s book “Tea Party,” she suggests using paint sample strips from a hardware store and attaching a clear sticker on them with the party information. Select color waves of blue for a boy, pink for a girl, or yellow or green if the baby’s gender isn’t known or kept a secret. Or keep it simple, eco-conscious, and save postage by using evite.com to send notices of the event.
Experts say that the perfect time for a baby shower is about six weeks before the due date. This is usually a time during the pregnancy when mother feels comfortable and relaxed. So, in terms of planning, start sending out invitations in about the sixth month.
Décor-Fill empty plastic baby bottles with appropriately colored M & M’s. It’s even cuter to find doll baby bottles and arrange them in a small basket lined with terry wash cloths. Order helium balloons in a range of pale pastels and tie pacifiers to their ribbons. Instead of cut flowers, use flowering plants, begonias, cyclamen, orchids in waterproof pots. Try Home Goods or Marshalls for interesting and inexpensive planter options. These make perfect party favors as well.
If it’s a surprise party, try this. Obtain a baby picture of the mother-to-be, enlarge it to the size of a face, back the copies with foam core and attach a stick for holding it. When the guest of honor enters the party room, all of the guests hide their faces behind the baby photos, then peek out with smiles and greetings.
Party Games-Nothing warms a party more than a few fun games and baby showers are no exception.
“Don’t Say Baby”-At the beginning of the party, each guest snaps three clothespins to her top. If at any time, she says the word, “baby” a clothespin is removed. The last person with a clothespin still on, wins the game. You will be surprised how many times the word baby is spoken. If it’s a large crowd, you may need to designate a few referees or put the guests on an honor system.
“Measuring Up”-Each guest is asked to guess the circumference of the mother-to-be’s belly. Pass around index cards asking for the number in inches and the person’s name. After you have collected all of the guesses, take a measurement and see who came the closest. The disparity in numbers is always entertaining.
According to Lyn Petersen, a Party Planner and Lifestyle Expert, at one party everyone enlarged a baby picture of themselves— and attached it to the gift instead of a signed card. “It was so much fun to guess the identity of the giver,” Ms. Petersen said. On another note, insure that present opening moves along quickly by designating note taker, present documenter, photographer, wrapping and ribbon recycler, etc, says Ms. Petersen.
Drinks-Be sure to have an elegant array of non-alcoholic beverage such as Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider in champagne glasses, club soda mixed with Pom’s Pomegrante Juice or Ceres Apricot Nectar. Create a delicious punch with one part ginger ale and one part pineapple juice and scoops of rainbow sherbet. Many websites, such as www.beau-coup.com feature water bottles with custom designed labels perfect for thirsty guests who would like a memento of the event.
Food-Keep the food simple and light—green salads with citrus and slivered almonds, sliced chicken breast with green beans, vegetable frittata, baby shell pasta with broccoli and peppers, tomatoes stuffed with tuna salad.
Dessert-A favorite dessert is Ambrosia—mix marshmallows, nuts, pineapple, cherries, pistachio pudding and shredded coconut. Homemade cookies, biscotti and petit fours on a tiered tray make a beautiful presentation and can always be packed as party favors afterwards.
Gifts-“Steer clear of baby clothing,” says Ms. Petersen. “Yes, I know it’s cute, irresistible, really. But the chances that those adorable stone-washed Ralph Lauren baby overalls will fit during the right season are unlikely,” Ms. Petersen says. “It seems like clothing is the present du jour. When I visit client’s homes and open up the baby closet, it is staggering the number of unworn outfits with tags hanging off of them.”
Ms. Petersen recommends getting together with a couple of friends and giving something meaningful—like a stroller or baby seat. If you’re on a budget, select one or two special books—like “Pat the Bunny,” “Guess How Much I Love You” or “Brown Bear, Brown Bear.” This is one item that will used over and over, can be recycled and creates a bond between mother and baby that will last longer than a frilly dress or onesie.
Whether you are hosting, coming as a guest or the mother-to-be, a baby shower’s greatest gift is the memories of family and friends there to share one of life’s most joyous occasions.
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