I’ve never liked baby showers. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I hate them. All the oohing and aahing and awkward conversations with people you barely know.
Most baby showers include four groups of people from the expectant mama’s life — her family, her partner’s family, their friends, and work friends — that makes for a lot of folks that don’t know each other in the same room. And unlike weddings where people are free to dance, eat and drink to ease all the blending, showers consist of games like “guess how big the belly is” or “guess the baby food flavor.” This is just uncomfortable for all involved.
And then there’s the gift opening. You’ve got to read the card and exclaim how sweet it is, open the present, oooh and aaah over whatever it is, then make sure your scribe writes down who sent what so that later you can send out thank you cards. Wouldn’t it just be easier to buy the gear yourself? And honestly, your guests don’t care to see what you got from other people, they just want to see the Oscar performance you put on when you open their gift. I’m tired just from explaining it!
I always thought I stood alone in my distaste, a Grinch of baby showers, if you will, but when I asked my Facebook friends what they liked least about them, the number one answer was “everything!” So if women don’t like baby showers, why do we continue to have them? Tradition, I guess, which means one thing: baby showers need some serious revamping.
Here are 7 ways baby showers need to change…
1. Stop The Games
The number one thing the women I polled hate about baby showers is all the games, so just stop. No more guessing which melted candy bar is in the diaper, no more guessing the girth of the pregnant mama. No more smelling baby food to guess which kind. No more. This isn’t a small child’s birthday party.
The only game I ever thought was cool was the one where my friend filled a giant, clear bottle with M&M’S candy. Guests had to write down their guess for how many were in the bottle and the winner got a gift card to Target or something like that. Totally cool.
Another fun idea, particularly if you abide by suggestion 4, is to showcase baby pictures in one corner of the room and make guests guess who’s who. Whomever gets the most right wins a gift card or something. Both games are optional, which means no one gets deemed a baby-hater for not playing.
2. Put The Kibosh On Opening Gifts In Front Of Everyone
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s torture to sit through that whole charade, not to mention it puts people on the spot. I don’t need a whole roomful of people judging the gift I purchased, especially when the designated scribe shouts out “Wait! What did Monica bring?” Then the honoree painstakingly details everything contained in my gift. Sheesh. This isn’t a birthday party — open the gifts at the very end when most guests are gone except for a few of your very closest friends and family members.
3. Ditch The Scribe
If you do choose to open gifts in front of people, ditch the note taker unless you’re out to get revenge on someone and want to see them suffer. It takes forever to watch someone open a million gifts and write down every single item along with the proper credit. I realize this is so the expectant mama can write thank you cards, but you don’t need to list each item you received. It’s just as polite to say ‘thanks for celebrating with me, I’m glad you came.’ Trust me, your guests will appreciate your appreciation.
4. Include Men
Why are men left out? Why are showers only about women? The dad-to-be is a part of this scenario, isn’t he? Why can’t dad’s friends be invited? At least there’s the potential for single folks to mix and mingle. There’s just something about the all women vibe at showers that is stilted and uncomfortable. Not only do the fellas know how to lighten things up, but guests can bring their husbands so they always have someone to talk to and not feel so uncomfortable. As my friend Sarah Bouchard says, “I went to a Happy Procreation Man Shower in honor of a first time dad, and it was amazeballs. Chugging milk stouts out of baby bottles = win”. Chugging milk stouts? That’s a game I can get behind!
5. Get Rid Of The Tiny Finger Foods
Come on, serve some good food and offer libations. Make it a real party where folks can hang out and chat without feeling like they need to eat fifteen of something to get full. And alcohol is just fine. We’re all adults and we need something to aid us in conversing with your great Aunt Diane who has a difficult time hearing.
6. Skip The Registry
Let’s be honest: baby showers are a thinly veiled charade to collect gifts. Some people might argue that you shouldn’t be having a kid if you can’t afford the appropriate gear. Also, registries kind of take the fun out of the gift. Although some people prefer them because it makes gift-giving easier, registries make the whole process feel like more of an obligation than a thoughtful gesture. Plus, putting it on the invite seems tacky, does it not? Close family members should get you stuff you desperately need, otherwise folks should bring what they want, which can include nothing.
Consider making it a diaper party where everyone brings a box of diapers. You’ll always use diapers. Besides, registries often encourage you to register for stuff you don’t necessarily need. My kids didn’t wear half the stuff I excitedly signed up for. In retrospect, I wish I’d just had a diaper party.
7. Establish An Official End Time
Listen, people receive an invitation to your shower and they sigh. It’s just another thing to add to their to-do list. But personally, if I got an invite that allowed me to bring my husband and the time of the party said 6pm – 7:30pm, I would be stoked. Putting an end time on the invite gives guests an escape. It also gives a tired mama an excuse to end the party when she’s had enough. Now that’s my kind of party! Here’s your gift, where’s my dinner, gimme some alcohol, let’s chat and I’m out. That, my friends, is the ideal shower.