Baby showers used to be celebrations our American friends monopolised. But not any more. Here in the United Kingdom we are embracing baby showers as if they had always been a traditional part of welcoming new children into the world.
So what is a baby shower?
It is a celebration usually thrown by friends of the mother-to- be, to greet the imminent arrival of her new baby. Typically, a gathering of girlfriends, work mates and family members get together to give baby-related gifts, eat delicious comfort foods, play games and enjoy each other’s company. When a woman enters the world of motherhood, a party to mark the occasion is the least her friends can do.
These days, it seems that no sooner the results from Premier Scans have been received, confirming the pregnancy, than the invitations to the baby shower are mailed. With premier scans, women who want quick answers to the questions of due date, gender and other pressing issues book a private appointment for an ultrasound at their convenience. Forget waiting on other people, when you really need to know, premier scans will give you quick results.
And once the good news is confirmed the planning can commence. There will be a long list of baby gear to source, a nursery to decorate and a baby shower to organise. However, strictly speaking, the baby shower is traditionally arranged by friends of the mum to be – she is allowed to relax and put her feet up and revel in her glowing, maternal status.
It is wise to consult with the mother to be before setting any dates. She will know of any scheduling conflicts and can advise about availability of relatives. Proud grandparents-to-be often enjoy attending baby showers, so don’t overlook them in your guest list.
One of the most popular baby shower themes is a tea party. Due to her pregnant state, the mum of honour will not relish alcoholic refreshments or late nights, so tea and cakes in the afternoon suits her perfectly. If she is a long way along her pregnancy time-line it’s a good idea to host the party at her house, then if she is fatigued she can go and have a lie down in privacy. Ask guests to contribute with cakes, sandwiches and goodies to minimise workload and help with cleaning before and after the event so that the guest of honour doesn’t need to worry about it.
Alternatively, a day at a spa enjoying luxury pampering treatments with a few close friends is a popular baby shower option. Or if you prefer a more relaxed approach, set up your own girlie home spa and give each other manicures, pedicures, hair treatments etc, whilst feasting on chocolates and watching romantic DVDs.
If a more traditional gathering and celebration of friends and family is envisaged, then colour themes work well to pull together party ideas, as do fun games that break the ice.
The perfect gift
Of course, a baby is the perfect gift, but before he or she arrives, there will be ample time for receiving plenty of others. Some mums to be have a gift list or registry, detailing particular items she may want for baby. Others takes a more relaxed approach and ask guests to bring personal gifts such as their favourite children’s book or toy from their childhood, an IOU for babysitting in the future or something helpful like a frozen meal for when cooking is just too much effort. For big ticket items such as strollers, friends often band together and buy jointly – if you are doing this, be sure to consult with expectant mum first to make sure you get the right model.
The opening of the baby shower gifts is usually one of the main events. If you are having trouble coming up with the perfect gift to help ease your friend into parenthood, here are some top ideas to inspire: How about a baby sling? A sleep monitor? Some beautiful bedding for the baby’s crib? A collection of classic children’s books? An activity gym? A bath-time fun kit? An interesting mobile to suspend over the cot? Whatever you choose, mother and baby will be equally grateful for your thoughtful present.
If you have a friend or relative who is expecting, perhaps it’s time you organised their baby shower? Why not have a quick word with them and start working on ideas together – this way you can help smooth her transition into motherhood and give her a brilliant party at the same time. Isn’t that just what friends are for?