Q: My friend is about to have a baby and I got "honored" with (aka: stuck) throwing the shower. She's super green and also doesn't want a lot of pastel pink or baby blue. How do I throw a party that isn't too cutesy or costly?
A: I've been hustled into attending quite a few baby showers, one more painful than the next. Who in their right mind finds enjoyment measuring a woman's pregnancy girth in toilet paper? Here are some ideas to keep costs low and the cutesy crap in check.
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Save paper by using an online site like Evite.com to create and distribute invitations to guests. Just make sure that Mom-to-be has registered for every baby essential under the sun so that gift-giving is easy. If she has a nursery theme or color scheme in mind, use that as your color guide for evites and decorations.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Avoid the annoying baby games and focus on a fun theme such as a stuffed animal zoo or baby's first books. Asking guests to bring favorite books from their childhood could kick start some fun conversations during the shower. Books also last a lot longer than teething rings. If guests want to go beyond the toy and book aisles, ask them to focus on clothes in primary colors so that Mom doesn't get queasy from a sea of sugary pastel onesies.
MAKE DECORATIONS MEMORABLE
Avoid unnecessary baby shower "flair." What is the purpose of a party favor shaped like a Binky, anyway? Instead, inject a little personality with napkins or seat placements that feature baby pictures of Mom and Dad. (I didn't say you couldn't embarrass the guest of honor, just be stylish about it.)
TRY A FESTIVE POTLUCK
Share catering duties — and expenses — by turning the event into a potluck. Encourage everyone to bring easy-to-make dishes, complete with recipes, so that your busy new Mom has a collection of options for sleepless nights. You also may want to create a decorative sign-up sheet where guests can offer to bring those dishes after the baby arrives. Now that's a gift that keeps on giving.
USE WISDOM TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Turn the sign-in book into a lasting keepsake by requesting pearls of wisdom for the new parents. Label the top of each page with themes, "Foolproof tips to stop baby from crying," "Best home remedies for diaper rash," "Definitely call the doctor if …," "You are better off buying used versions of …," "Yes, it's normal when …" Those pearls of wisdom will come in handy sooner than you think.
Since your friend has the "super green" gene, encourage parents on the guest list to bring laundered, gently used baby clothes and gear that their children have outgrown. My nephew is almost 2 years old, and my sister has made very few clothes purchases, thanks to generous friends with older boys. Pay it forward by sharing unused gear, board books and other items. Just be careful with larger items such as cribs and car seats, which frequently turn up on recall lists.