How to host a baby shower that doesn’t suck

by Gill Damborg

 

I’ve been going to baby showers for a long time now. Many of my friends are a decade older than me, so in my late 20’s and early 30’s, many of my Sundays were spent hungover, playing weird baby poop themed games. And now over a decade later, I’m a mother of a 4 year old and I still go to a few baby showers a yearalthough now just tired not hungover. I happen to think my friends are pretty cool, but somehow many of these parties lack a certain amount of creativity, or maybe they have too much? I feel like a cranky old anti-mom even saying this, but I’m not! I’m just really not a #Pinterestmom, I’m not here to do what’s been done before, and I’m not a #BallerinaFarm girl, so what are parents-to-be like me, to do? I remember planning my own and having some pretty strict rules like “no dumb baby games!!” but then it all got cancelled due to a pesky pandemic, so here I am daydreaming about what YOU can do to make your special day extra great. If you too, are like me, and want a nice little party without any embarrassing diaper or poop themed games, then read on.

First things, first. Throwing a good baby shower is like throwing any good party – it needs focus, it needs good food, the right people, great music and a little structure (but not too much). Some people have parties, some have nesting parties, and some may do a blessing way (be warned: some of these are pretty gendered and culturally appropriative but there are some lovely things in here). I’m going to share more about what a more “typical” baby shower party could look like. 

Let’s break that down. Also, if you’re like me you can’t afford to bring in a taco truck, or hire a caterer so don’t worry, this is for the budget folks. Think of all your friends and family and who is good at what, and then get them involved. People love to help and feel good doing it, and it’s a great thing to start practising NOW, before the baby(s) comes (trust me). Baby showers are traditionally hosted by a loved one, who is close to the birthing parent—someone who can customise the theme and host like a champ, with their knowledge of the family-to-be. When it comes down to it, you can ask whoever you want to host this, or host it yourself. Our main tip is to consider who likes hosting, who’s good at hosting parties or who has the space to do so. 

The Date:  

You can have the baby shower whenever you want, but generally speaking timing will be based on what kind of shower you’re having. Nesting parties and blessing ways have to happen prenatally, but other types of parties could happen after baby arrives if you prefer. Maybe you want to wait until the baby is a little older and people can meet them. Or, you can have it 4 to 6 weeks before your due date. It’s totally up to you. Time? Day? Hint hint… also up to you. Sundays are typically when folks tend to have them but maybe you want to do an evening event on a weekday because that works better with your schedule. I do know that pregnant people like to go to bed at 8pm (at least, I did), so often a midday or afternoon is best for your energy. 

The Food:  

Think classic charcuteries, mini sandwiches (tea time?), and snacking foods. Most baby showers are midday or mid-afternoon, so make sure your guests know there won’t be a full-meal-deal but to expect some snacks and treats! My mom and I are charcuterie queens so we would do this ourselves, but find that friend who hosts immaculate book clubs and put them in charge (or if any of your friends went to art school, they are the ones to ask). Don’t have those people in your life? Grab one of those premade, veggie-and-fruit platters and (gasp!) put them on the good china. There are also services that do this for hire, if you’ve got some cash to spare! You’ll likely want something sweet, so get some mini cupcakes, or a premade cake from a local bakery (unless you have that baker friend, then you know what to do!).

The Drinks:

Mimosa Bar. Need I say more? People can make it boozy or not, and you or your host don’t need to lift a finger once it’s set up. If you’re going for those tiny sammies, have some tea or coffee at the ready too. If you’re sober or want it to be booze-free, then great! Have some bubbly water and juices, coffee and tea. Keep it simple. 

The Focus:

Hint hint. It’s YOU. Now, if you’re like me and you really (really) don’t like opening gifts in front of people, then don’t. Have that gift table or card tree, and leave it until later. If you’re worried about people asking, put it clearly on the invitation. Now, if you’d like the focus to be about you but less in-the-spotlight way, forgo the group games and do something like “best advice for a new parent” box where people can write their advice you can promptly ignore. Or, have a guest book where people can write their well wishes. Print out pictures of you (and your partner) as a baby, and put them around the room so people can ooh and ahh at how cute you are. You can even request people bring pictures of themselves as babies, to add to the book. That could be all you do, and you know what? That’s enough because you and your baby-to-be are the star of the show. 

The invite list:

This part can be one of the most stressful things for people and I get it! Start with the number of people you want to have, likely based on the place you’re having it hosted. Or vice versa. Then, invite those people closest to you—family, chosen family and friends. Know that this will likely be an intergenerational list, which doesn’t happen often, and that’s so special! Consider who in your life will be a great support for you and your baby, and who wants to be there. Someone in your life who really is an anti-mom? Maybe they don’t need to come. One piece of advice is that you don’t only need to invite people who are parents or who want to be. Your community of care will be a mix of those who have kids and don’t have kids, and everyone has special support qualities because of that. Some of the non-parents in my life are the most involved aunties and uncles in my kids’ life. Inviting them will make them feel a part of your family support system early on, and that’s a really special invitation. Have to keep it small? Let the other people know that, be honest. Send a little video or group text/email update on where you’re at with the pregnancy and baby, letting them know what you’re excited and nervous about. People love you and want to know how you’re doing.

The Decor:  

I’m a creative person, so I don’t get stressed out about decor. But when you search Pinterest for baby shower decor ideas, even my cortisol levels flew through the roof. Close the computer and listen to me. This is all you need: go to your local balloon or party place and get 3 of those giant balloons (or a couple bundles of whatever colour you want!), and some flowers for the table. Want to do something extensive and sparkly? Buy a garland online, or find a crafty friend to make one you can use for all the birthdays to come (thanks Erin from Collage Collage).

The Music:  

I’m spoiled when it comes to music. I played in bands in my twenties, am surrounded by musicians and have friends who are DJs and their love language is playlists. I don’t think I’ve had to worry about making one for two decades. The great thing about music these days is you can find a premade playlist on Spotify or Apple Music, press play and be done with it. Sure, you could hire a pianist or singer songwriter, but if you can’t, you’re fine! 

I’m probably leaving some things off this list, and maybe I’ll add to it later. But the point I want to leave you with is this—you make the rules. You are the star of the show. Do whatever you want, including maybe not even having a baby shower at all. Becoming a parent is a magical and challenging experience. You’ll be battling people’s opinions and unsolicited advice for years to come (if you’re pregnant, you probably already are), so start things off on your terms. I’m here to give you that permission. Make it you, keep it simple, and bask in the love of your community. 

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