Oh The Places He'll Go: A Baby Shower

I received the news that my dear friend Kristen was expecting a baby while I was shopping in the dreaded Wal-Mart.  Immediately I burst into a happy laugh cry (as Oprah calls it an ugly cry); after asking all of the important questions and getting myself together I was so relieved when she asked me to be a part of her baby shower.

You see my friend is an incredibly talented photographer and has a discerning eye; throwing this shower was both exciting and terrifying- it was only the second shower I had thrown and I wanted it to be perfect. But, I also wanted to surprise her.  She gave us some general guide lines and my creative partner in crime and I got to work.

I have a general planning pattern I follow whenever I put together an event: theme or color palette, venue, invitations, food and drinks, decor, favors, activities, & schedule.

When you host a shower it is a gift, however, if you want your shower to be successful and for your friend to be happy- consider their taste and ideas.  Kristen told us she wanted vintage accents, nothing overtly baby and no games.  Done and done.

Your primary concerns with venue should be cost, location, and guest comfort.  We were lucky enough to be given the use of an amazing venue because of work Kristen had done for them.  However, there were still things to be considered- the location was somewhat out of the way so we needed to choose a time of day that would allow everyone to get there without feeling rushed, we could only use the venue on a Sunday, and it was the summer.  

We chose to host a Sunday brunch shower to keep guests cool and comfortable (no AC or airflow in the building) and to ensure attendance by not monopolizing their entire weekend. 

theme and color palette
After getting the mama-to-be's input consider what theme will best accomplish her vision
; for Kristen's shower a vintage travel inspired theme with touches of whimsy (alla Dr. Seuss' Oh the Places You'll Go) was just right.

When it comes to maximizing your decor go with the color palette of the nursery; that way mama-to-be or the guest of honor can take the decor home and utilize it in their space (much better than having to throw away all your hours of work).  Lex's (Alexander's) nursery is grey, red and aqua.

food and drink
The lower maintenance the better in my opinion.  I always have bottled water, a punch or juice option and an adult beverage available for guests.  Something sweet, and something savory to munch on.  As long as you plan appropriately with your timing no guest will expect a full meal.  Again, respect mama-to-be's cravings and more importantly anything that makes her queasy.  

We went with a veggie tray, hummus, and greek yogurt dip; fresh fruit, and a variety of scrumptious desserts per mama's request.

Since my kitchen is largely decorated in red and aqua and I have a love affair for all things vintage, decor came together quite naturally.  Using a group Pinterest board I posted pictures of my items and asked for my fellow hostess' input.

We utilized favors that doubled as decor but knew there were a few pieces we needed to make to bring everything together.  We wanted centerpieces on each guest table, the food table, and the gift table that resembled hot air balloons and we wanted an eye-catching photo backdrop that also incorporated hot air balloons.  After scouring pinterest here's what we came up with.

  • Hot Air Balloon Lanterns: Large white lanterns ordered here, with stripes of red crepe paper, berry baskets hung from twine and filled with fresh cut sage.
  • Hot Air Ballon Center Pieces: Galvanized pails from my garden, white polka dot balloons filled with helium the day before, anchored with red twine and a weight in freshly cut sage.
  • Marquee Letter A: Inspired by two pinterest tutorials; this decor item doubled as my gift to Kristen for Lex's nursery.

Any time your favors can double as decor you've found yourself a good favor and one that's likely to be appreciated, rather than thrown in the garbage.  In addition to wanting something vintage, Kristen loves organic textures, fragrances, etc.  Cue the succulents.  We ordered them through an etsy shop and then replanted them as the plastic containers they came in weren't all that appealing.
  • Succulent favors: Succulent repotted in recycled baby food containers (use the original soil to avoid plant shock and excess $ spent), wrapped with gold polka-dot burlap squares, tied with twine and finessed until they looked just right.

Some mamas are into the bottle chugging, diaper sniffing, belly measuring, etc. but we wanted our friend to feel special, not awkward or heaven forbid 'big'.  When no games are requested, activities still need to be planned to break the ice and give guests a sense of what's to be expected (call it the teacher in me, but if every moment isn't planned- and your guests should never feel like it is- you will have awkward moments and guests, hostesses, and guests of honor will be uncomfortable.
  • Newly Parent Trivia: We knew everyone would want to see their gifts opened, but that always comes at the end of the shower.  To break the ice, we interviewed papa-to-be and recorded his answers, then allowed guests to participate in the same questionnaire while their eating and mingling.  Kristen then shared her responses and we shared Scott's with the guests.
  • Song Lyrics/Quotes: To help build Lex's gallery wall for his nursery and to allow guests to share thoughtful moments with Kristen we asked them -on the invitation- to bring their favorite song lyric or quote to encourage Lex in all the places he'll go.  We had a table with card stock and pens set up at the back of the shower and invited guests to complete their encouragement at their leisure.  Free nursery decor, momentos of those dearest to Lex and his parents, and many tearful moments as guests shared their responses.
  • Gift opening: To shower veterans this will seem like old news, but to newbies like myself here are some ideas to consider: have someone record who got what for mama-to-be; keep gifts and cards together; make a separate bag for gift cards; have someone deliver gifts to mama-to-be; keep the area in front of mama clean for photo ops and to help speed clean up along.  Finally, and perhaps the best tip- have a box of thank you cards already purchased that go with the shower's theme.  Ask guests to fill out an envelope with their name and address at the beginning of the shower.  Now mama just needs to find the time to write the cards.