Pregnancy is a time when women love to get together and celebrate the unique joys of being a woman by having a baby shower. It's a friendly way of bestowing baby gifts on the mum-to-be and sharing the joy of a soon to arrive baby.
The best baby shower is one that is stress-free for the mum-to-be. The gathering is best organised for her by one of her close female friends or family members. Some people plan it as a surprise, while others involve the star of the party; taking suggestions on who to invite, what type of presents might be appreciated and what activities would be fun to include. Just remember: surprises don't suit everyone and your idea of a really fun game to play at the shower could be mum-to-be's worst nightmare.
When to have the baby shower
Baby showers normally take place in the third trimester, ensuring mum-to-be has progressed well and truly past any 'danger' times during her pregnancy and is well on the way to welcoming her baby. With great company, yummy food, fun games and the baby gifts, it's an important milestone that is a joy to look forward to and marks the moment when mum-to-be realises the end of her pregnancy is finally in sight.
Who to invite to the baby shower
Traditionally, baby showers are a strictly female-only affair, although these days some women like inviting their partners, too, and it may be a nice way for the dad to feel more involved. Make it clear on the invitations whether you are expecting it to be strictly women only, or are inviting men, babies and/or kids, too. If there are children coming, it's worth asking a trusted friend or relative to act as babysitter and entertain the little ones so the guests (and the mum-to-be) can really enjoy the party. Be sure to provide kid-friendly snacks, along with the cucumber sandwiches and tea.
Where to have your baby shower
Baby showers are usually held at someone's home, but avoid the mum-to-be's house so she doesn't have to worry about cleaning up before and after guests arrive. This is her time to be pampered – not the cause of more work.
If you have trouble finding a suitable venue in a private home, consider hiring a church hall or community centre hall for a couple of hours and set the mood with baby-themed decorations. It's an affordable option, easy to clean up, with plenty of room to move around in, which is especially good for toddler-aged children who might come along with your guests. Check the toilet and kitchenette facilities to make sure they will suit your needs..
Alternatively, book a local tea room or hotel suite. The fine china and good food on offer with a high tea is a delightfully girl-y way to get together, and leave all the work up to someone else!
Baby gift ideas
By the time the third trimester has arrived, many first-time mums have been so excited about setting up a nursery that there is hardly anything left to buy. Or, if the guests aren't mums themselves, it can be difficult for them to know what to buy as a baby gift. Ask the mum-to-be to set up a gift registry on her favourite baby website, or else you can make mum-to-be the focus of the gift giving.
Our mum-to-be suggestions:
A voucher for a treatment at a beauty salon. What better way to pamper someone whose life is about to take a backseat to a new baby? Whether it's a facial, massage, manicure or pedicure, a little beauty treatment can do wonders - especially when sleepless nights with a new baby will leave her far from feeling fresh.
Magazines. If you know the mum-to-be has a list of favourite magazines, stock up on the latest issues, or consider a year-long subscription to her number one pick.
Frozen food. Sometimes, especially if there are older children involved, taking time to cook a decent meal while juggling a new baby seems too difficult to contemplate. On the invitation, ask everyone to bring a meal for the freezer of the mum-to-be. Make sure the containers are clearly labelled with the date it was cooked and an ingredients list.
Vouchers for domestic help. What better present for a new mum than offers of help with the boring stuff? Chip in for a cleaner to come for a few hours each week, a couple of weeks in a row. It might not seem like much but may give the new mum a chance to relax and enjoy her baby without worrying about housework. Alternatively, offer your own services to go and do her shopping for her, collect other kids (if she has any) from school.
A meal out. New mums can easily get stuck at home - weighed down by the change in lifestyle and, sometimes, struggling with the stay-at-home aspects of their new life away from the office. Give the mum-to-be a voucher for a free lunch with you and it will be a great way to catch up, see the baby and ensure she gets out of the house.
Baby shower games
Create your own letter puzzle on the computer that is filled with baby-related words hidden throughout. Give a small prize (a beautiful soap or bath oil) for the guest who finds all the words first.
If the mum-to-be doesn't mind, have her prepare a list of 20 boys and 20 girls names (including the ones she likes best) and promise a prize to whoever guesses the name correctly once the baby's born.
Ask guests to supply you with their own baby photos, spread them all out on a table and get everyone to guess who's who.
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This article was written by Claire Halliday for Kidspot.