I am not a fan of showers: baby, bridal, or other forced gatherings (solitary, rainy type excluded, as evidenced by my ode to my own). The goofy games, the explosion of washed out pink and/or blue, the belly touching, the oohing and ahhing over yet another blanket or bodysuit, and the games (yes, I mentioned them twice, because they are just that bad). I generally find some excuse to get out of them. Sometimes, however, someone I really, really love has occasion to celebrate with a shower and I find myself compelled to show my support.
Here are some ways to make baby showers a little less painful:
- Instead of giving a card with your gift, give a book with a thoughtful inscription to the babe. Make this the theme of the shower and send the information with the invitations so that everyone does it.
- Have a scrapbook out and have people write a notes and take a picture so the babe can see who was there and what all her "old" friends looked like.
- Guests each get a piece of paper with a number on it from one to twenty-one. The guests get stationary or birthday card and envelopes and they write babe a little note. Each envelope gets the number the guest choose and babe opens that letter on the coinciding birthday.
- Because babe always gets a ton of clothes, blankets, bibs, etc. (more than they could ever use), why not focus on mom? Shower her with gifts such as a nursing support basket - usually a nice basket with a handle with including a water bottle, bath salts, nipple cream, a journal, bracelets to help keep track of which side breastfeeds on, snacks of some sort, a box of tea, etc.
- Have a diaper party, especially for those who wish to cloth diaper, but are daunted by the initial cost. Everyone bring one cloth diaper (and cover, if not an all-in-one). Mom will grow her stash and it won't be a high-cost gift for any one person.
- Instead of shower gifts, have trees planted in honor of the new babe.
- Perhaps a "books and bottoms" theme. All gifts are either books or something to do with diapering.
- Instead of a shower before babe is born and then having a bunch of the same people dropping by your house individually and at random (sometimes overwhelming and inconvenient) times, have a "meet and greet" several weeks after babe arrives.
- It's worth mentioning again: don't forget mom. Perhaps a toiletries bag for caring for her postpartum self with little shampoos, hair ties, essential oils, etc. in it as well as a snug bathrobe and pj's.
- Guests fill in a card with something practical they will do for the parents after babe is born, such as cook a meal or donate a day's housework help.
- By all means, go co-ed and include kids. I like to include whole families, not just the grown women.
Finally, some words of advice:
- No matter what you think of the registry, how you feel about the choices they're making (disposable over cloth, bottle over breast, crib over cosleeping), get gifts from said registry. Not doing so means the parents get duplicates of many things they don't likely need and end up spending money on essentials at a time when their budget is at its tightest. I once had a friend say to me that she never buys off a registry, because she knows better than the new parents what they'll need. Don't be that friend.
Special thanks to all my Zen Parents who helped with ideas. As always, you all are brilliant.
Originally written for Nurture Magazine.