The baby shower. Seems simple enough. Someone close to you having a baby? Throw them a party to celebrate. But then comes the planning and you realise that a baby shower isn’t a baby shower isn’t a baby shower.
Do you invite men? Do you invite only those close to the mother or also those close to the father? Or those who aren’t close at all in your lives? What about couples adopting, or same sex couples with two mothers or no mother, and then what about a birth mother who may not be a part of the family?
Do you encourage drinking, when the guest of honour may be dry? Do you make everyone play games? Do you deny people the fun of games? Do you encourage gift giving? Will the gifts be opened at the party? And do you do it all again for second, third, and subsequent babies?
There’s no right answer, just what makes sense for you and your situation. But here are some of those twisty questions pulled apart like a cinnamon scroll for you (mmmmm, note to self, bring cinnamon scrolls to baby shower this weekend). Parents and party hosters: I’m talking to you!
Who to invite.
Men and Women?
Traditionally baby showers were a chicks only event. Women were the only ones who could understand and who would really care about the impending birth of your child. But, thankfully, today men want to know and do care far more often than they are given credit for. A baby shower can be for both parents and include men and women guests without any expectation of awkward foot shuffling whenever anyone says “breasts” that didn’t follow “show us your.”
If the baby is being adopted, or born to a mother who won’t raise the child herself, a group shower that focuses on the family as a whole may be more appropriate for everyone involved, and reinforces the idea of the baby coming to a family who wants and loves it rather than a baby being physically born to a human who gestated it.
But the traditional model designed for a woman giving birth to her own child has more than just a place in yesteryear. You could gather around you a group of women, probably inter-generational family members, girls who look up to you, friends you’ve shared memories with, and women you took advice from and admired. These women can help you feel a sisterhood with women throughout the ages who’ve shared, or may share, your journey; in some specific ways that men just can’t be a part of.
Perhaps in this case fathers should be encouraged to have a baby shower kind of celebration as well as the mother, if the mother chooses to have only women at her shower. Dudes could also bond about the ways fatherhood is specific to men and begin their new role knowing they have the support of men around them, instead of isolated in an outdated, sidelined, and silenced position.
How to play the day
If your guest of honour is pregnant she won’t be (hopefully!) wanting to get tiddly at her baby shower, but many of the guests will expect to have a drink in her name (you made a person, cheers to you!). If you want to discourage riotous drinking host your baby shower over a specific time frame, say several hours in the afternoon. If you and the preggo you’re throwing the party for don’t mind guests drinking and whiling the day away in celebration, leave the party open ended. Either way, ensure there’s plenty of non alcoholic drinks and if you made a beautiful, fruity, powerful punch – be mindful of any children!
Games go hand in hand with baby showers. They are just like hen’s night’s games except instead of being penis themed they are now vagina themed. Essentially. People like games but often don’t like being made to play them. Game playing at baby showers, or hen’s nights for that matter, can get awkward when the flow of the day is interrupted to coerce everyone into joining in. Decide up front if you plan to get everyone involved in games and try to pick times when it will be more fun than duty. Shortly after everyone arrives may be a good way to get people talking to one another, mid way may be a good time to revive flagging guests. Another option is to avoid all group games and have game stations, where guests can participate in guessing games and one shot games any time over the course of the day, with prizes distributed at the end of the party.
If you invite them, they will bring gifts. Unless you say not to. Don’t be coy and say nothing at all. That just means guests assume they should being a present but are at sea wondering what to choose. Be upfront and tell guests what kind of gifts would or would not be appreciated. And decide beforehand if they’ll be opened at the party, or you’ll be pressured into doing it whether you wanted to or not! Some guests like to see what everyone gave, but others find the opening tedious. You may want to share your gratitude with everyone, or may feel uncomfortable receiving so many gifts publicly.
What about if it’s not the first baby?
It’s less common to see baby showers for second babies, let alone, third, or eighth. But why so? Is this baby less important? Are we less pleased for the family? I think it’s a shame to put so much energy into the first and behave as if the following babies are no longer anticipated with such excitement. Many people feel silly making a fuss when they are already a parent, or concerned about asking for gifts multiple times, or have less time to enjoy the pregnancy. But you can decline gifts, arrange childcare or include your child. Besides, you should celebrate all your children not just the first, and you deserve to be fussed over every time you make a person with your own body. Go on. Do it all over again!