Planning the perfect shower
Want to hold a baby shower but not sure of the etiquette? Claire O'Mahony suggests some guidelines
The actual shower
If you're having the baby shower at home, what's provided in terms of food and drink depends on your budget and how many people are attending. Buffets are a good way to get people mingling and in order to keep costs down, events organiser Sharon McMeel suggests doing some sort of potluck. "The way a lot of people are doing it now is that everybody brings some dish with them, so that everybody is contributing to the event, which is really nice," she says. In terms of drinks, because these are usually late afternoon/early evening events, non-alcoholic beverages are preferable. If you do want to serve some champagne or wine, check with the guest of honour first to see if she is ok with that because she will not be partaking. Decorations like balloons and bunting will make the event extra special and there are several online companies who specialise in baby shower paraphernalia such as www.babyshower.ie. Games also bring a great element of fun to a baby shower and again you'll find plenty of suggestions for them online. One easy one to play is to make a list of celebrity mothers and then get guests to see if they can name their children. Another is to get all the guests to bring a baby photograph of themselves and to try and figure out who's who. It goes without saying that no baby shower is complete unless there is plenty of cake.
The baby shower phenomenon, which made its way here from the US, is fast becoming a modern tradition for Irish mums-to-be. They're joyous gatherings - is anything more exciting than the imminent arrival of a new baby? - and there are no hard and fast rules for them. It could be as low-key as a small group of friends in your living room eating cake or equally you could push the boat out and book a baby shower package at a five-star hotel. But as they are still a relatively new thing here, this sometimes causes confusion as to what exactly is involved in organising them. The ultimate goal is that the expectant mum has a brilliant time and a last hurrah before baby's arrival in a relaxed informal setting. Follow these guidelines to ensure your baby shower is a huge success and everyone involved has a memorable day.
The guest list
Consult the honoree about this because there may be people she would prefer not to invite or someone she'd love to attend that the shower organiser might overlook. But in general it should really be for close family and friends and not the honoree's extended social circle. Think carefully before organising a surprise party. "Some mothers really don't want the fuss and don't want the spotlight on them, and aren't too bothered about baby showers, whereas other people would be happy to go all out for it, so it's important to find out what the mum-to-be actually wants before running off with mad ideas, or even doing a surprise. We don't want anyone going into labour too soon," says Sharon McMeel. Traditionally baby showers are women-only events but you should ask the expectant mother as to whether she'd like to mix it up and have men attend, or if the father-to-be might like to be there also.
While the mum-to-be can certainly host the event and may possibly prefer to do so in her own home, she shouldn't be the organiser. That task falls to a close friend or family member because the whole point about the shower is that the mother-to-be feels pampered and special before the big event. Typically, a baby shower will last two to three hours and late afternoon/early evening is a good time to hold them - any later and you risk mum-to-be getting tired. They're usually held four to six weeks before the baby's due date. According to Limerick-based events organiser Sharon McMeel it's helpful to give guests a sense of what to expect. "A lot of people may never have been at a baby shower before and don't know do they bring a gift, or not; will there be drinks and food; so sometimes it's good for whoever is actually organising the baby shower to ask the guests have they been before because people can be a bit nervous as to what the etiquette should be." An email invite stating time, place, duration, including a line about what food and drinks will be served on the day should do the trick.
Some people prefer to give gifts after the baby is born and that's perfectly fine - just don't turn up empty handed at the gathering and bring some flowers or cupcakes instead. Baby clothes (non-gendered if you don't know baby's sex), cuddly toys and mementoes the mum-to-be will always have, such as a picture frame or a christening certificate holder, are all welcome gifts. Alternatively you can bring a gift for the guest of honour herself and treat her with scented candles, pampering beauty products or a gift voucher.