Baby showers can feel like a very modern activity, but in truth, its roots go as far back as the first celebrations to welcome new life into the world.
Godh bharai ceremonies are held all throughout India during an expectant mother's seventh month of pregnancy. The name roughly translates to "fill the lap" in Hindu, and at the celebration, the mother is showered with sweets, flowers, bangles, and saris. In South Africa, stork parties celebrate the coming of a new life with family and friends—and a beautifully decorated cake. In Chinese cultures, red egg and ginger parties are often celebrated 30 days or 100 days after a child is born—after the new mother and child have finished their monthlong confinement (to give parent and child enough time to heal and to protect them from germs in more public settings). In this ritual, eggs dyed the lucky color red become themes or party favors, and guests are often served pickled ginger, a spice well-known for its health benefits. These rituals, filled with love and well-wishes, are how a community welcomes the birth of a new child but also helps ease mothers into their new caregiving role.
The modern baby shower has roots in the baby boom after World War II. Baby showers became a way to welcome the baby and provided the community with a way to help alleviate the financial burden of caring for a new child. In this era, now familiar rituals like shopping trips for baby needs, a party atmosphere at the shower, and parents-to-be opening their presents in public were born.
Many things have changed since the 1950s and '60s, though. Nowadays, guests of all genders are welcome, and technology has made it even easier for communities to gather. No matter the era, throwing a baby shower can be a fun and exciting way to celebrate the upcoming arrival of a new baby, but it can also be a daunting task. Luckily, there are ways you can ensure the shower you're hosting is both memorable and fun. Giggster compiled a list of eight pointers for throwing a baby shower you and the parents-to-be will never forget, using tips and tricks from party planners and parents.
Mood is everything. The right venue will help set the tone for your party. It should be comfortable, spacious, and have enough parking for all the guests. The shower can be held at someone's home, a restaurant, or a community center. Just make sure it's easily accessible and convenient for everyone.
It's also a good idea to consider the venue's atmosphere and whether it matches the theme of your baby shower. For example, if you're hosting a baby shower with a rustic theme, a barn or a park may be a good fit. Alternatively, if you're hosting a more formal baby shower, a hotel ballroom or a restaurant may be more suitable.
Don't forget to look into any services the venue might offer. Some offer catering, which gives party planners one less thing to worry about. If not, look into their kitchen facilities to see if meal prep is appropriate for the dishes you had in mind. Keep an eye out for any venues that offer cleanup services after. It's never fun to pick up plates after the last guest has left, so better prepare for it beforehand.
The theme should be relevant to the baby and parents-to-be. It can be anything from a gender reveal to a nursery rhyme theme. Once you've determined the theme, the next step is to decorate the venue with balloons, streamers, and other decorations that match the theme. Don't be afraid to think outside the box and develop a unique and creative theme.
You could have a "book-themed" shower where guests bring their favorite childhood books as gifts or a "spa-themed" shower for a mom-to-be who could relax before the baby arrives. If you want to keep things light and easy, choose a color palette rather than a theme. Think beyond pink and blue. Yellow and white evoke sunny, happy days, while green and gold feel more woodsy.
Send out invitations at least four weeks in advance so guests have enough time to plan. You can choose to send them digitally or physically. What matters is that the guests receive them. Ensure to include important details such as the date, time, venue, and theme.
It's also common for baby showers to include gift registries. If the parents-to-be have registered for gifts, including the information on the invitation. Some families have chosen to forgo registries altogether. If so, leave a note in the invitation to let guests know that the parents-to-be are just as happy to spend time with their loved ones without anything in return. Of course, it never hurts to gift a box of diapers with a gift receipt naturally.
Fun games help lighten the mood and give guests something to do while mixing and mingling. These can include diaper-changing races, guessing the baby's weight, and decorating onesies. Another fun game is baby photo guessing. Ask guests to bring baby photos of themselves and display them; then, have everyone try to match the baby picture with the guest.
If you'd like your games to be a little more useful down the road for the parents, have guests decorate plain onesies. Break out the fabric markers and fashion a craft corner. By the end of the party, you'll have onesies with special memories attached to them that will last through many days of happy messes for the parents-to-be.
Offer various food options that are easy to eat and cater to different dietary needs. Finger foods, desserts, and a variety of drinks are perfect for a baby shower. Small sandwiches with fillings such as cucumber and cream cheese, egg salad, or chicken salad are traditional. Fruit skewers are also great healthy options.
If you want to involve guests while keeping costs down for the parents-to-be, consider turning this celebration into a potluck. This works especially well in tight-knit, intimate baby showers where guests all know each other.
Don't forget dessert! Cupcakes are an easy-to-eat option, and you can decorate them with baby-themed decorations for a special touch.
Baby showers usually mean many gifts, and not always through the registry. After the gifts have been opened and a pile of wrapping is on the floor, it can be confusing for parents-to-be to figure out which gift came from whom without a little help. Give these harried folks a leg up by asking someone to take note of which gifts came from which guests. By the time the parents-to-be get around to writing thank-you notes, this list will be a lifesaver.
Don't forget the dad-to-be in the baby shower festivities. Baby showers are celebrations and a way to ease into a new identity as mother and father. While much of the attention can be on the mothers-to-be, fathers-to-be also need some assurance that they are up for the tough job of parenting.
Make these dads feel included by ensuring his friends are also invited to the shower. What about adding an outdoor sporting element to the party, such as frisbee or soccer? This gives guests of all genders a chance to get active and enjoy the sunshine (especially for spring and summer baby showers). Have guests write down advice for parents-to-be (and subtly encourage the expectant dad's friends to add in their own father-centric advice); this book will become a treasured memento and also a source of inspiration and encouragement for years to come.
Parents-to-be hardly have time to take in everything while at their shower. Take plenty of pictures and videos to capture the special day's memories. Set up a photo booth or hire a professional photographer to take pictures of the guests and parents-to-be. This ensures that you have high-quality photos that capture all the important moments. You can also go grassroots and encourage guests to take photos and have them upload them to an online album for the expectant parents to enjoy years down the line. If you really want to go above and beyond, you can also create a scrapbook with photos, invitations, and other mementos from the baby shower.
This story originally appeared on Giggster and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.