For An All-Girl Guest List
1. A "Onesie"-Painting Party
Let your guests to get creative by making clothes for the baby. Have plain "Onesies" (cotton snap-crotch undershirts) and fabric paints, brushes, rubber stamps, and clean sponges on hand, and each guest can decorate one (or more!) for baby to wear. Be sure to buy an assortment of sizes so that baby has a supply of personalized threads that lasts the whole first year.
2. A High Tea
Forgo the usual "theme shower" in favor of a simply elegant tea, complete with china tea set, finger sandwiches, and traditional British goodies like scones served with jam and clotted cream (extra-thick cream available in gourmet shops and online). Serve a selection of teas, and give tea packaged in pretty containers as favors. For the right mom-to-be, it would be a lovely "grown up" choice.
3. A "Knit-a-Blankie" Shower
At this version of the old-fashioned quilting bee, each guest knits a 4-inch square, which will be sewn together to make a patchwork blanket for the baby. It's not necessary for everyone to know how to knit--as long as there's at least a couple of guests who know what they're doing, they can teach the others a simple garter stitch in no time. Hosts should supply the yarn (in a color or colors chosen by mom-to-be) and needles (for those who don't have their own set). If you use big needles and thick yarn, it should be easy even for novice knitters. The most experienced knitter should be assigned the job of sewing the squares together.
For a Co-Ed Group
4. A "Build-Baby's-Library" Shower
Each guest is asked to bring a beloved children's book or a tape or CD of favorite kids' tunes. This is a great shower for co-workers to hold in the office (it spares everyone from bringing in bulky boxes and keeps the costs down).
5. A "Safety" Shower
Guests bring baby-proofing devices such as specially designed locks for appliances, cabinets, and toilets, protective cushioning for sharp edges, and safety gates. If the shower is held at the baby's future home, the guests can even install the gadgets -- even though the house won't need baby-proofing until baby starts to crawl, it's a great timesaver for the new parents to have this chore done.
6. A "Send a Message to Baby" Shower
Each partygoer is given a thin piece of cardboard and a thick felt marker and is asked to write a greeting, a wish, or another special message for the baby. The host then takes a picture of each guest holding up his or her greeting (a Polaroid instant or digital camera, for immediate results, makes this the most fun). The photos can then be assembled in an album or saved for the baby book. As he grows, the little one will surely get a kick out of seeing familiar faces and receiving the messages sent to him by close family and friends before he was even born.
7. A "Nursery Set-Up" Shower
The new parents will be wildly grateful when the shower guests go to work on the baby's room. Assign a few especially handy types to assemble the crib and other nursery furniture, while the rest of the group paints or hangs pictures, curtains, etc. (be sure to tell everyone to wear old clothes). Have a barbecue after the work is done. It's probably best to forgo the usual gifts at a shower like this -- expecting guests to buy a gift and work for their meal is probably asking too much.
For Repeat Parents
8. A "Stock the Freezer" Shower
For parents who already have most of the baby gear, throw a "bring-a-dish-to-freeze" party, so that Mom and Dad don't have to worry about what's for dinner when they're adjusting to life with one more. If the guests of honor don't have enough freezer space to store everything, the host or hosts can keep some of the dishes, to be delivered periodically after the baby arrives.
9. A "Home Entertainment" Shower
Guests are asked to bring gifts for parents, who'll probably be spending most of their Saturday nights at home. This could include videos or DVDs of their favorite films, music CDs, a nice bottle of wine, and board games.
10. A "Coupon" Shower
Guests are given paper and markers and invited to make a personalized coupon, to be exchanged later for a specific favor, such as a night of baby-sitting, a trip to the grocery store, or a load of laundry. This is a thoughtful idea for parents who have small children and no family members living nearby. They'd probably consider your freely offered help the greatest gift in the world.
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