'Often mums cap the expense at €5' - Irish baby showers that are bucking the Kim Kardashian trend
Kim Kardashian had a cannabis-themed celebration, while Serena Williams hosted Meghan Markle's event. But just how are Irish mums-to-be taking to the new trend, asks Tanya Sweeney
Kim Kardashian has never been a woman to do things by halves, yet even by her usual outlandish standards, her recent baby shower has been a sight to behold.
It may be Baby Number Four for the Kardashian-Wests, but Kim's appetite for a big celebration hasn't diminished one bit. The theme for last weekend's baby shindig was CBD (yes, that's cannabis, which thankfully is legal in Kim's native California), and guests were invited to make CBD bath salts and oils, marijuana flower arrangements and enjoy a very modern sound bath in the Californian sunshine. The goodie bags, as one might expect, were on the right side of ostentatious.
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"I thought it was kinda ridiculous to have a fourth baby shower... but, I thought, I'm freaking the f*** out [about] having a fourth kid," Kim - whose new baby will be born soon via a surrogate - reportedly told her guests.
Thematically more subdued, though no less extravagant, Meghan Markle jetted to the US for a two-day baby shower, hosted by her pal Serena Williams.
Held in a $75,000-a-night (€67,000-a-night) penthouse at the Mark Hotel in Manhattan, Meghan scored quite the baby bounty, including a €4,000 17-suitcase luggage set and a $140 ($125) Mandarin tree (just what every new mum needs).
While her guests arrived laden with gifts, the duchess is believed to have gifted her friends with navy-blue cashmere jumpers with the words 'baby baby baby' stitched into them with gold thread.
The jumpers were by high-end, eco-friendly brand Lingua Franca, and can retail for around €700.
In any case, where the A-list blaze a trail, us civilians are sure to traipse behind. Or perhaps more specifically, where the Americans establish a tradition, we Irish are likely to follow suit in time.
Just as we have embraced the bridal shower, the hen party weekend and (more recently) the honeymoon party, so too are we making more of a meal of things when it comes to the pitter-patter of tiny feet. American mums-to-be aren't averse to staging a big pregnancy announcement, a gender reveal bash, a baby shower and a baby naming ceremony (complete with extensive gift registry), and all the signs point to Irish women starting to take notes.
Our homegrown celebs have certainly been no slouches in the baby shower department either: Glenda Gilson enjoyed a bash with close family and friends (including her Xposé colleagues) at the Powerscourt Hotel in Wicklow.
Back in February, influencer Rosie Connolly enjoyed a pre-baby brunch at celebrity favourite House on Leeson Street, the same venue that Vogue Williams and Spencer Mathews used for their own bougie baby shower brunch.
Pippa O'Connnor kicked off the trend back in 2016 before she welcomed her second son, with a lavish afternoon in House.
Like with Vogue, there was a welcome departure in age-old tradition: among those in attendance were Pippa's husband Brian Ormond and pal Brian Dowling.
Kate Hyde, director of babyshower.ie, has heard tell of the (very) occasional lavish baby shower on home shores.
"I'd heard of one influencer who had brought in balloon firms and flowers companies and had a huge set-up in a hotel," she notes. "To pay for it all would easily have been four figures without a doubt, and it certainly sets the bar high for other people."
Hyde recently acquired the babyshower.ie business, and has noticed a boom in baby shower popularity.
"I did some investigating a while ago and saw it was absolutely massive in America, though in the last 18 months here things have really exploded," she explains. "Three or four years ago, you'd hear, 'I know someone who had one of them', but now, we get multiple orders every single day. The service providers are also noticing the upswing and are providing baby shower mocktail events or baby shower afternoon teas. Some women really love the idea of a big send-off."
Yet before Irish women start to fret about yet another friend's life celebration (that roughly translates into 'yet more expense'), the good news is that most pregnant women aren't going the full Kardashian just yet.
"It's not really a goodie-grabbing mission, or stocking up on baby supplies or anything that mercenary," reveals Kate. "It's more along the lines of a celebration. It's about sharing with mothers-to-be about what to expect (from motherhood). "People bring a gift, but oftentimes mums and hosts cap the expense at five euro," she adds.
"They're definitely not as expensive as hen nights or anything like that. We're not seeing too many gift lists at baby showers, and often it's up to the discretion of the guests if they want to bring anything at all. Often they'll bring gifts for the mum as opposed to the baby, like a massage voucher, or people might club together for a night in a hotel for the couple."
Where most typical baby showers have a big table setting and cake as their focal point, participants usually like to keep things simple with a few fun games. In keeping with the 'tribal' vibe, many friends just bring a potluck dish to the shower. But as baby showers are still a relatively new thing here, there can occasionally be confusion as to what exactly is involved in organising them, so it's best to check with the mum-to-be.
"There's often a 'nappy' cake, and the gender reveal game is really popular," explains Kate.
"There's 'guess the weight of the baby' games, and people often bring pictures of themselves as a baby while others guess who each baby is. There are games involving putting nappies on dolls. But mainly, it's about the mum feeling a bit special."
In the US, etiquette often dictates that the baby shower becomes a much smaller and low-key event - a 'baby sprinkle' - after the first couple of babies are born (Kim obviously didn't get the memo on that one). To that end, the sprinkle presents definitely become smaller, on the assumption that the parents-to-be are worthy of a celebration, but have all the gear that they already need.
"What we've noticed is that by baby three or four, Irish women aren't having baby showers," notes Kate.
"It's definitely more of a new mum thing."
In a time when the Irish christening has dropped off in popularity, the baby shower is easily finding its place in modern-day society as a life milestone.
The way we socialise at a certain age has also meant that the baby shower slots nicely into our lives.
"The big night out or the nightclub isn't as common a way to bring a group of friends together anymore," observes Hyde. "People are also having kids that bit older so their socialising is more based on experiences or afternoon gatherings."
As for the future of baby-related celebrations in Ireland, Kate is confident that while welcoming a baby has become a lot more glitzy, the status quo isn't likely to be upended too dramatically just yet.
"I don't think christenings will go anywhere for a while," she notes. "The baby shower is a slight kick-off of that non-religious (celebration), but the baptism is probably here to stay."