We all got super excited in the office today, as Jules received an invitation to a friend’s baby shower. Whilst we set about discussing the stressful task of gift-buying, loads of memories came flooding back of our own shower celebrations and the amazing time we had with our friends and family. With this in mind we pondered the question – when did baby showers become such a big hit?
Although baby showers feel like a relatively recent addition to our milestone celebrations they have of course been taking place in various forms for generations. In this country we have totally embraced the opportunity to throw a shower and do we really need another reason to have a party?
In China it’s the “Manyue”, the “Cha de bebe” in Brazil and the “Dahi Chiura Khuwaune” in Nepal, with various cultures across the globe celebrating new life and the journey into motherhood. Now more popular than ever, it seems anything goes as far as showers are concerned. You’ll most likely remember the culinary feats that are attempted, particularly of the cake variety, but we’ve enjoyed our fair share of themed games (speed changing a nappy & drinks in bottles, anyone?). They are also a great time for treating mum before the whirlwind of birth and the first few months with a new baby.
Many believe the term “baby shower” travelled from across the pond – although perhaps not quite in the way you might think. In the 18th Century a talented silversmith named Franz Schauer settled in New York having travelled to America from Germany. Schauer crafted baby gifts that were incredibly popular with wealthy parents of newborns in the area. His engraved designs became a unique way to celebrate the birth of a child and were hugely popular.
In some cultures baby showers are an event traditionally held for the first born only, however parties held for subsequent children have also grown in popularity. In the US these (sometimes smaller) celebrations are known as Sprinkles, which we found absolutely adorable!
So whether it’s a shower or a sprinkle there’s no doubt in our minds that a baby shower is the best way to celebrate before the big day (and get some awesome presents at the same time!)
Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1kvAv1y
With our lovely Director Jules due back at Amoralia after having Baby Sacha last year, and a good friend of Amoralia’s about to go on maternity leave, we asked Jules to tell us her favourite and most useful baby gifts – for that ever popular Baby Shower!
1) A retro soft toy, great as they learn to read (much later on!) Alphabet sausage dog by the wonderful JaneFoster.co.uk
3) Sophie the Giraffe, BPA-free and a ‘must-have’ for teething and distracting – BabyRug.co.uk
4) Rolling shape sorter, environmentally friendly, educational and suitably noisy! shop.bigjigstoys.co.uk
5) A comfort blanket, made in the UK – we know you love them, a classic from Raggy-Tag.com
6) A money box – retro 1970’s elephant, from Norsu in Finland perfect for those first savings, not a toy at this stage though! from molly-meg.co.uk
7) High contrast black and white faces mobile, as seen in Peaches Geldof’s bedroom! socialbaby.com
8) We love a bit of crochet…. Adorable Octopus – and it’s Fairtrade from littlehathi.co.uk
9) No baby’s wardrobe is complete without a pair of English-made little leather shoes from daisy-roots.com
10) Eco-friendly beakers and plates – they won’t break when pushed off the table! (don’t panic, weaning is fun) becothings.com
11) Classic babygrow with neutral grey trim from amoralia.com
Baby showers are everywhere these days. From over-indulgent American celebrity gift-fests (yes Mariah) to a quiet tea amongst friends, there’s a baby shower out there that you can enjoy – we promise! So don’t feel bad about asking your best friend to organise it for you. It might sound like a whole load of work but our easy step-by-step guide will definitely take the pain out of the whole thing. Just forward this blog post to her and we promise, she’ll be happy to organise this special event for you. So let’s get started…
A good guest list will break or make the party. It’s worth considering whether you want to invite other halves, kids & babies or restrict it to a girls-only event, whether you invite co-workers or keep it small by just inviting family and your closest friends. In our experience, 8 – 10 guests makes for a fun, inclusive event. Don’t forget to invite both grand-mothers-to-be. If you’re lucky they might even bake some tasty and irresistible cakes for your buffet!
Step 2 Location
Hosting your party at home is probably the most personal and cosy option. However unusual venues such as church dining halls and elegant reception rooms can give it that special touch. Here are our London Top 3:
- Style: Lanesborough Hotel
This charming, trad and very British location in the heart of London will be the icing on the cake of your party. It’s obviously pricy, but worth it if you really want to treat the mum-to-be.
- Budget: Public Park
There’s certainly nothing more relaxing and atmospheric than being surrounded by the beauty of nature. Bring picnic rugs, folding chairs and warm clothes for the British summer!
You and your guests will be amazed by the stunning view from the large outdoor terrace.
Step 3 Invitation Card
It’s always lovely to get a hand-written invite that matches the theme of your baby shower. There are plenty of companies who can do this job for you. Our recommendations:
Don’t forget to mention the approximate duration of your baby shower (e.g. 3 – 6 pm) and ask your invitees to RSVP.
Step 4 Decoration
It’s completely up to you whether you go subtle with flowers, girly with butterflies or all-out with branded balloons. Try bestbabyshower.co.uk for an extensive selection.
Let your imagination run free! Remember some nice background music too.
Step 5 Gifts
A baby shower registry is the easiest way to let people know what you’d be thrilled to receive. John Lewis provides you with an online list which is easy to set up and their nursery advisors help you to choose the best kit for your needs.
If you’re feeling British about it and you think it might be a bit too much to ask your friends for the whole baby kit, here are 3 suggestions for gifts that won’t break the bank:
- Amoralia Love from nightdress & babygrow gift set (£ 49.-)
- DVDs to keep you entertained (and awake) during those nighttime feedings or some soothing CDs. We love Karl Jenkins and Helen Jane Long.
- Babysitter and restaurant gift-certificates for a parents’ night out. Giftcarddesigner.com provides you with premium design templates.
If you feel like it, a charity donation is a lovely alternative gift. The Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group or Tommy’s Charity are great causes to support. Here’s how you can easily set up your own charity page: justgiving.com
Little bits of finger food are the best option for a mouth-watering buffet. Go for all kinds of antipasti, dips, canapés and sandwiches but bear in mind that you should avoid any uncooked meats (no parma ham, paté, smoked salmon and sushi). Even though you’re not allowed to sip at your flute of champagne either, you should definitely enjoy Jamie Oliver’s delicous ginger beer. For a special treat (or two…) prettily decorated cakepops or cupcakes are a must-have.
Step 7 Entertainment
Our Top 3 games will keep your guests entertained and add a light-hearted and relaxed touch:
- Guessing size of the future mum’s tummy (e.g. with a string of toilet paper)
- Guessing baby pictures of guests
- Guessing the animal baby (e.g. What’s the name for a sheep’s baby?)
Even though games are traditionally part of baby showers, do feel free to put in place a no-games policy with the main emphasis on great drinks, food and chat instead.
Step 8 Favours
It’s always lovely to receive a little something when you leave a good party. Flowers speak louder than words, so a little symbolic forget-me-not plant for each of your friends will round off your perfect baby shower afternoon.
Step 9 Keepsakes
Imagine the 10th birthday of your daughter or son and how lovely it would be to have a record of that special day to show them. Give guests disposable cameras so that the pressure’s not on you. You can then use the best pictures afterwards as thank-you cards. Or ask a professional photographer to pop by for an hour or two.
Another lovely keepsake is a baby book with your guests’ wishes and signatures. Our favourite is the gorgeously soft bedtime snuggle book “Guess how much I love you”.
Step 10 Budget
Your perfect baby shower should come in at around £ 190.- (for 10 guests including invitation cards, decoration, food & drinks, favours and keepsakes). Obviously your choice of venue will have a big impact on the final cost.
Last but not least
We genuinely hope that we’ve left you with plenty of inspiration for your own baby shower. However, if you’re still not convinced that you could nail it yourself and can’t fall back on a good friend, there’s still a plan B. Here are our fave professional organisers who will plan the whole thing from A to Z so that you don’t have to worry about a thing:
We’re used to hearing about US celebrity baby showers (Ashlee Simpson, Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba) but word has it that they’re the hot new thing on our shores too. We stumbled across The Ultimate Baby Shower company and love what they offer: bespoke events at home or at one of their spectacular venues (think Claridges, The Soho hotel, snuggly drawing rooms and luxurious suites). They provide exclusive favours, classic cakes, beautiful iced cookies, stunning baby gifts, a gift-boxing service and more. You can develop a gift list for all your essentials, then let them plan the rest. We say it’s a great excuse to get all your girlfriends together in one place (probably the first time since your Hen – how DO we get those diaries to coordinate?!) and a last chance to be the centre of attention before the little one takes centre stage. Are we still superstitious about having these, or is it time to move on? Have you hosted one? Let us know what you think!