Hosting Wedding and Baby Showers

Décor and Favors
Although you'll find abundant wedding shower decorations at party stores, much of it is on the tacky side. Décor should be simple and elegant: Forgo excessive frill and focus on a few pieces of quality décor, such as the cake trimmings, the buffet setup, the flowers, and, perhaps, a special hat or corsage for the guest of honor.

For favors, arrange homemade lavender sachets in a clear glass bowl near the drinks. Even if you're a terrible sewer, lavender sachets are fast and easy to make. Purchase the following materials:

  • Sheer fabric or netting; two 4" squares per guest
  • Dried lavender (look online or at craft stores)
  • Sewing notions (sewing machine or needles, coordinating thread) or craft glue
  • Pinking or craft shears (scissors that cut a decorative pattern—look in the scrapbooking section of your craft store)
  • Ribbon, lace, or other trim
Cut the two squares of fabric or netting into heart-shaped pieces (first create a paper pattern so your hearts are the right shape). Stitch or glue the edges together, leaving a 1" margin outside the stitching and a 2" gap in the stitching for stuffing. Fill the pouch loosely with lavender, and close the seam. Trim edges of heart with pinking or craft shears, leaving about 3/4" of decorated material outside the stitching.

If you'd like, use ribbon, lace, or other trim to decorate each sachet. Don't go overboard—keep it simple and elegant. You might also use craft pens or paint to letter the couple's initials on the sachet, or look for monogrammed buttons or trim to add.

Music and Entertainment
Music at wedding showers should be pleasant and unobtrusive. Look for classical discs, especially wedding compilations:

  • A Day to Remember—Instrumental Music for Your Wedding Day, The O'Neill Brothers
  • Heart Beats: Now & Forever—Timeless Wedding Songs, Various Artists
  • Modern Bride Presents the Wedding Album, Various Artists
As for the addition to opening presents, you'll feature one other activity: the shower games.

Shower Games
Shower games spark much controversy: Most people claim to loathe them, but game-free showers are just plain boring. My solution is to offer just two games, one of which requires no effort.

  • The Safety Pin Game—Each guest receives a safety pin as she arrives, pinning it on her top or skirt hem (somewhere visible). Throughout the shower, guests are instructed not to cross their legs. If one guest catches another guest crossing her legs, the offending guest must surrender her safety pin to the guest who spied her. The game ends when one person has all the pins, or when the presents are opened. The person with the most pins wins.
  • The Memory Game—A game and gift all in one, the memory game is my favorite shower activity. The host purchases a number of kitchen gadgets for the bride (measuring spoons, spatulas, wooden spoons, and so forth), about 25 items. Just after the eating winds down and prior to the bride opening the presents, bring out a tray filled with the different items. Show each gadget to the guests, briefly explaining what it's for, and then return it to the tray. After you've displayed all the items, hide the tray and give the guests three minutes to write down as many items as they can remember. The person who correctly guesses the most items wins the prize. The bride gets to keep all the gadgets, your shower gift to her.
Other Types of Showers
Weddings are not the only occasion that warrants showering a couple with gifts. Follow the same outline for a baby shower, making only a few minor alterations, and you'll be well equipped for any kind of shower.

Baby Shower
All you'll really need to change for a baby shower is the motif: switch hearts and flowers for rattles and pacifiers. You can serve the same menu, offer the same favors, and plan the same activities (for the memory game, swap baby stuff for kitchen gadgets). Keep the music mellow and select infant-themed invitations, and the mother-to-be will have a lovely afternoon.

New Pet Shower
With fewer people having babies and more people treating their pets like children, a pet shower seems perfectly appropriate, especially if the guest of honor is a dog, one of the most expensive pets. Like the baby shower, you can adapt the wedding shower outline for a pet shower, using appropriate animal-themed décor and invitations.

Singleton Shower
Like Carrie Bradshaw on HBO's Sex and the City, you, too, can have a Singleton Shower. Just because you aren't getting married, it doesn't mean you have to forgo matching dishes or linen. Register at a housewares store and send out the invites. If you offer a fabulous party, your guests will show up, gifts in hand.

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Reproduced from Plan a Fabulous Party In No Time, by Tamar Love, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing.

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