Here’s the scene: Your best friend or close relative just found out she’s having a baby and you want to plan a shower. Where do you even begin? Since there’s a lot more to planning a baby shower than simply sending out invitations and cutting cake, you might want a few tips on how to make the party a memorable event. For instance, a hostess will need to consider how to decorate the party venue, as well as which games, if any, should be played. To get an idea on ways to create and plan a memorable baby shower for any parent-to-be, we talked to two Chicago-area professional party planners for advice.
The RSVP Events
Lisa Kucik is the owner of Plainfield-based The RSVP Events. In addition to baby showers, her company plans an assortment of events, including weddings, birthday parties, sweet 16 and quinceaneras.
Elizabeth Tulipana is the owner of the award-winning event planning company Anticipation Events. Her company’s services include planning weddings, social events, grand openings and other events.
Be Mindful of the Due Date
Plan the party with the due date in mind. “If it’s possible, try planning the baby shower about six weeks before the baby is due. That way, the mom-to-be still has time to run out and buy any big items she hadn’t received at the shower,” Kucik said. Ask the parents-to-be if they prefer a certain date, too. When the party date is established, send out invitations about four to six weeks before the party so guests can arrange their schedules and purchase gifts.
Be Mindful of Your Budget
Think about money and venue space. Before you even think of ordering invitations, you’ll need to think of your budget, how many guests to invite and the size of the venue you want. “If you want to keep it small, then you’ll need a smaller venue,” Kucik said.
Keep the guest list small. Both Kucik and Tulipana recommended keeping the guest list on the short side, with Tulipana advising to invite no more than about 25 people and noting that 15 guests is an ideal number. As you increase the number of guests invited, you’re also likely to increase the number of gifts to open, and Tulipana pointed out that it could get boring when it’s time to open presents. “No one wants to sit through three hours of gift opening, even for your best friend or sister,” she said in an email.
Determine the party’s length. “Depending on the amount of guests you have, two to three hours is plenty of time for a shower. You have time to eat, mingle and open gifts,” Kucik said. She also advised serving food first, then moving on to games, then opening gifts. At the end of the party, serve cupcakes or other small desserts.
Be Mindful of Your Menu
Think of your menu. Tulipana prefers serving smaller food, as it can be easier to eat especially if seating is limited at the party venue. Smaller plates will also make it easier to balance food on your lap or hold while standing. She also advised serving some vegan and vegetarian dishes, as well as both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Theme Your Shower
Plan the party around a theme. “An owl theme is popular for showers, especially for girls,” Kucik said. “Themes along the lines of ‘about to pop’ are popular, too. You can also incorporate the color schemes of the baby’s nursery into the party’s flowers and candy.”
Play Some Games
Put a limit on party games. “Some people don’t like playing baby shower games, so keep the games light and let people mingle,” Tulipana said. To encourage guests to keep talking, Tulipana suggested playing games like guessing how many pacifiers are in a jar, or having guests write funny or inspirational messages on the outside of a diaper. At the end of the shower, give the diapers to the parents-to-be so she can have a chuckle during a late-night diaper change.
Showers for Adoptive Parents
Don’t forget about holding a party for parents who are adopting. “I like the idea of a sip-and-see for an adoption,” Tulipana said. In this type of party, guests can come over, meet the child and have light snacks and beverages. “Too many times, adoptions change at the last minute, so to avoid all of the emotions that can go with that, invite everyone over to celebrate the parents and meet the new baby once they have a chance to bring him/her home and get adjusted,” Tulipana said. But as with any shower, talk to the parents-to-be and see what they prefer.