Baby Shower Planning A-Z
From food to decor, everything you need to know to plan a successful shower for the mom-to-be.
What makes a modern shower work is the same thing that makes any party great: inventiveness, thoughtful touches, a sense of humor, and good organizational skills.
The Big Decision: A Pre- or Post-Birth Bash
Before making any plans, find out whether the parents prefer a pre- or post-birth shower. Some couples hesitate to stock a nursery before the child has arrived safely, and some like to hold out until the baby can be guest of honor. “It’s great to wait, because then everyone can pass the baby around, and he becomes a celebrity,” says Dorothy Kalins, an editor and writer in New York City. Others favor celebrating before the birth, so all the towels and bathtubs and tiny outfits will be on hand when they come home from the hospital.
Once the date is set, you’ll need to know whether men and children will be welcome. Traditionalists say any shower should be an all-female affair; modernists believe that the father and male friends also should be invited. “I think it’s a shame not to invite men to a baby shower,” says Renee Fain, a lawyer and mother of two in Richmond, Virginia. “Daddies feel left out if they aren’t, and having men there makes it more like a normal party.”
While a phone call can be sufficient invitation, written ones are more in keeping with the momentousness of the event — baby showers are, after all, an inauguration, and deserve a bit of documentation. Going for custom-made invitations? Order them at least three weeks in advance.
Creative Baby-Themed Decor
When it comes to planning the decor, Martha Stewart opts for bright, primary colors. “Babies like them,” she says, “and it’s a way to encourage new parents to look beyond the traditional pink and blue.” Flowers are particularly appropriate for a celebration of birth, so bundles of fiery zinnias stuffed into battered silver baby cups collected from flea markets work especially well.
Anne Rosenzweig, a New York City chef who has catered baby showers, shops for offbeat tabletop decorations in Chinatown, where she finds cloth dolls with little pouches that she stuffs with candy, or old-fashioned-looking windup toy motorcycles, cars, and trains. “They look wonderful,” she says, “and they also give the guests something to play with.” Bright plastic pacifiers with a loop on the back make amusing napkin rings; afterward, they go home with the mother, ensuring a healthy supply of an easily lost and essential bit of baby gear. At a baby shower for Amy Leonard, an art director from Westport, Connecticut, each place was laid with a clear plastic baby bottle filled with bright mints, little charms, and miniature plastic babies.
Flavorful Food and Decadent Cakes
Though the young guest of honor won’t remember a thing about the food you serve, it will make a huge impression on everyone else. Rich, full-bodied foods set the right tone for an event celebrating the start of a rich, full life. Seasoned shower givers favor dishes prepared ahead of time — cheese-and-vegetable tarts, grilled-chicken salads, homemade pizzas, fruit or green salads. There’s no shame in potluck, either, particularly if each guest brings a dish for which she or her local gourmet store is famous. “Mothers tend to be older now, and they’re too sophisticated for silly foods,” says Rosenzweig. “They’re also about to enter a time in which they’ll be totally preoccupied with baby food. They deserve caviar and lobster, champagne, a very beautiful cake.” The most-requested baby-shower cakes at Cupcake Cafe in New York City sport extravagant flowers or bows, storks, or booties.
Crowd-Pleasing Cocktails and Drinks
If champagne is good enough for christening the Queen Mary, it’s good enough for a baby’s maiden voyage, too. Rosenzweig mixes seasonal fruit puree and champagne; anyone skipping alcohol can mix with seltzer. (Some mothers-to-be get cranky at the idea of being denied a cocktail while everyone else indulges. Investigate beforehand.) Brunch classics such as white wine, bloody Marys, and mimosas are surefire offerings; iced mint tea, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and fresh juices are excellent nonalcoholic choices.
Visit MarthaStewart.com for: Inspiring Ideas and Themes for Baby Showers