By Grace Ficke
Over the years, showers have gained a reputation for being boring, uncomfortable gatherings covered with pastel decorations and embarrassing games. I’m here to tell you we don’t have to go on like this. There are ways to celebrate an upcoming marriage or addition to the family without an event that people will dread attending out of obligation.
Whether you’re hosting a wedding shower or a baby shower, these six tips will help you host a party your guests will actually remember and enjoy.
1. Stop calling them showers.
Let’s all take a moment to reflect on the last time we (or someone we love) attended a shower. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and guess that none of us were especially ecstatic about attending—and if you were, this post probably isn’t for you.
I recently threw a baby shower for my sister and did my best to avoid the dreaded shower term. It was quickly dubbed “the baby party” and I was determined to make it something my sister and her guests would enjoy. Speaking of guests…
2. Include men* and families.
Per Wikipedia: “Some baby showers are directed at the future father. These may be more oriented towards drinking beer, watching sports, fishing, or playing video games.” Hold the phone. This sounds like something men would actually enjoy doing. Imagine if traditional showers involved drinking wine, wearing sweatpants, and watching Netflix. Looks like we got the short end of the stick, ladies.
Inviting men to the event makes a world of difference. First of all, you get to spend time with your male friends and relatives (Hi, Uncle Greg!) Plus, there’s something about going to an event with a significant other that makes the conversation flow a bit easier and the thought of sacrificing a weekend afternoon less painful.
Welcoming children also allows busy families to stop by in between sporting events or other activities without having to worry about shuttling kids around. Everybody wins!
* Notice I did not mention “couples showers,” which is not what I am suggesting. Men competing in diaper changing races and doing blindfolded baby food tastings does not make the shower part of a couples shower any better.
3. Make it an open house.
Having a drop-in style as opposed to a stricter start-and-stop time gives your guests the freedom to stop by for a quick hello or to stay for the duration, depending on what they’re comfortable with and what their schedule allows. This prevents the inevitable guilt that comes along with arriving late or having to leave early.
4. Ask guests to bring unwrapped gifts.
It’s really fun to watch people open presents… when they’re 4 years old and the genuine excitement on their face could melt your heart. Watching grown adults open presents they registered for is a different story. There’s only so much enthusiasm that opening a pack of burp rags or bundle of cooking utensils can evoke (shout out to my friend, Kelly, whose mother-in-law snuck several anonymously wrapped spatulas into the gift pile for her bridal shower—”Oh my gosh, another spatula! Thank you so much!”)
Instead, ask your guests to bring their gifts unwrapped and display them on a table or shelf. This gets the couple or parents-to-be out of the awkward, gift-opening hot seat, gives them more time to mingle with friends and family, and gives guests the opportunity to ogle the gifts without the painstakingly slow unveiling.
On top of all of that, think of all of the wrapping paper you won’t be throwing away. High five for saving the environment!
Another non-sucky baby shower gift idea…
5. Have optional activities.
Planning activities or games for the event is not out of the question—as long as they’re optional. Believe it or not, winning baby bingo isn’t as exhilarating as it sounds. Setting up stations with optional activities is a great alternative to organized group activities. It doesn’t put anyone on the spot who doesn’t want to participate and lets guests who are interested in the more traditional shower activities get their fill.
For our baby party, we set up a station for late night diaper messages—”Same s***, different day”—and a station for guests to guess the baby’s birthday and gender. [You can buy the customizable baby shower due date calendar I created here.]
We also set up a DIY photo booth using Sparkbooth, a program that turns any computer with a webcam into a photo booth and can automatically print photo strips on your home printer. It’s been a go-to for my family’s birthday, graduation, and holiday parties for years now and never disappoints.
6. Serve good eats and drinks.
Full guests are happy guests! If your open house falls around mealtime, be sure to serve some heavy hors d’oeuvres or a light meal. Depending on the time of day and your personal preference, alcohol can also be an enticing refreshment. Making a large batch of punch for a baby event with the option to add liquor can satisfy both expecting mothers and the non-child bearing crowd.
All in all, these events should be about celebrating a milestone with close friends and family—something we get excited to be a part of. I’m determined that someday women will no longer adorn each other with toilet paper wedding gowns or guess which candy bar made the mess in the diaper. Here’s to making your next shower less painful and more fun for everyone involved.
Grace Ficke is a Cincinnati native and designer at Ahalogy. Also: IPA enthusiast. Kindle addict. Aspiring adult.
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22 thoughts on “How to Throw a Baby Shower That Doesn’t Suck”
These are all great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing. Those third and fourth tips are awesome! I’m definitely going to keep those in mind. It’s funny, I just shared today 15 Perfect Baby Shower Gifts Not on Her Registry today – a perfect compliment to this post. 😉 Great minds think alike!!
Thanks for sharing.
This is a wonderful post! I was just wondering where to get the layout for the invitation? Thank you so much!
Thanks so much! Check out the Etsy page for the gal who wrote this post, Grace Ficke. She said she can do a custom invitation for you. https://www.etsy.com/shop/GraceFDesign
How can I order this invitation?
Hi Janet, if you check out the Etsy page for the writer of this post, Grace Ficke, you can contact her that way: https://www.etsy.com/shop/GraceFDesign She said she can do a custom invitation for you!
Where did you find the calendar??
I love the idea for the photo booth. What did you use to push the button when taking the picture? The website suggest buying something extra, did you purchase the “button machine?” Thank you
It sounds like you have never been to a really nice, fun baby shower….. And I HAVE to tell you that having guests self address their own thank you card envelope is unbelievably tacky!!!
Personally I love unwrapping gifts and everyone I know loves wrapping gifts, that’s not tacky! I’ve been to some amazingly fun baby showers that have been called baby showers and have had the games mentioned… it’s a bit of fun I reckon.
Agree. Gee, the guest of honor doesn’t want to be bothered with unwrapping the gifts or addressing her own envelopes:/ yikes. Don’t have a “shower” then.
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For the drop-by celebrations, did you open any gifts in while guests were there (if wrapped)?
Also, what is a nice way of letting them know they don’t have to wrap their gifts? Some people get a thrill out of wrapping them up all pretty.
And finally, if unwrapped, how do you know which gift came from whom? Do people automatically think to attach a card or something?
I wonder that as well. We are planning a shower where we’re asking guests to bring a book instead of a card so how will unwrapped gifts work in that case?
This is a good list also;
I think asking guests to address their own thank you envelope is in very poor taste and incredibly lazy on the part of the honored guest. Each person puts thought into the gift they want to give, how it is wrapped and the time invested in coming to the party. It’s shameful if the recipient of that gift can’t look up or as the person hosting the party for the guest list addresses so they can immediately send a thank you note. Honestly, the person hosting the party should give the girl who the party is for, a list of addresses.
I mean I enjoyed reading this….wrap or don’t wrap ur presents… these are just new ideas that I’m sure can be helpful to some people!!!!!! I will be hosting a baby shower in august and I’m excited and I just took the idea of having men attend as well!! so thank for the tips I will use a few.
I have been to dozens of showers I’ve the years and at 44 and due our first I can say I love so many of these ADULT ideas – self addressing envelopes, unwrapped gifts (it’s great to watch 🙄 but is it really necessary?). Open house with game stations, if this is how the person who the shower is being held FOR prefers WHY are so many against it? I truly don’t know why the person the party is honoring has to be treated like a trained monkey for the day instead of an adult who is bringing another human into the world. JM2¢