While soft pastels are traditional colors for a mom-to-be's party, the dad-on-deck will appreciate less muted hues. For co-ed showers, Seri Kertzner and her team at Little Miss Party Planner in New York like to work with either a neutral palette or a mix of bright colors like yellow and purple. For mama Megan Kopf Stackhouse's gender-neutral baby shower brunch, the party stylists decorated with giant white balloons anchored in cubes filled with white jellybeans.
Instead of typical shower fare like dainty cucumber sandwiches, offer heartier eats that men and women alike will enjoy chowing down on. State College, Pennsylvania-based creative services company Pie Collective threw a casual backyard barbecue for a soon-to-be mom and dad of three. The summertime shindig featured lots of grilled goodness and picnic-inspired decor, with just a few baby-related items.
Make sure to offer a variety of beverages that appeal to teetotalers and drinkers alike. Though the mom-to-be may be sticking to festive mocktails, be sure to keep the bar or ice buckets filled with beer and bubbly for the rest of the party crowd. Placing bottles in silver buckets with some on-theme decor makes it easy for guests to serve themselves while maintaining a special vibe.
Consider your crowd when it comes to planning guest activities and incorporate games that involve both partners—and that both male and female attendees will want to play. Kertzner had guests at the co-ed shower she planned face off in "Baby Bottle Chug." To play, give each guest a baby bottle filled with milk, juice, water, soda, or beer, which they try to drink as quickly as possible. Whoever finishes first is declared the winner.
Another gender-neutral game option is a quiz. At the Stackhouse shower, guests played a game answering pregnancy-related questions that could apply to either of the soon-to-be parents, such as, "Who gained more weight during pregnancy?" If the answer was Megan, the couple held up a pink paddle; if it was father Britt they held up a blue one. Though Britt and Megan, who's vice president of public relations for NBC's "Today" show, had expert interviewers Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales running their game, amateurs can totally pull off this activity.
Games need to be fun for both sexes, agrees Ara Farnam-Levinson, owner and creative director of event design and styling firm Rock Paper Scissors Events. A crossword puzzle like the one guests filled out at Savannah Guthrie's baby shower, which Farnam-Levinson's team designed, is something guests can work on together and inspire conversation and connection among attendees who may not know each other yet.
Remember games don't have to be played indoors, either. For the baby BBQ the Pie Collective planners organized, guests participated in a "Don't Break Mama's Water" contest, throwing and catching water balloons at increasing distances until the last pair of competitors emerged victorious—and dry.
These days it's not a party without a photo booth, some fun props, and major Instagram bait. Farnam-Levinson suggests creating a D.I.Y. backdrop with a pretty sheet or ordering a custom one (like the one at designer Rebecca Minkoff's shower, shown) from a print shop like Minted. Be sure to come up with a fun custom hashtag so the parents-to-be can check out all the snaps on social media post-shower.
Men are unlikely to be excited about baby registry items like breast pumps and swaddling blankets, so give the fellas in attendance the option to bring a gift especially for the dad. At the baby BBQ in Pennsylviania, the dad got to open fun toys and baby boy-related surprises in honor of welcoming his first son (the parents' other two children were girls) as mom opened the family-oriented gifts.
Traditional baby shower favors like personalized tea bags, cute seed packets or mini bubble-bath bottles are perfect for the lady guests, but the dudes in attendance deserve something customized more for their tastes. Spinster Sisters collaborates with local breweries to create blends for its beer soap. Instead of water, beer is used in the soap-making process, with hops and barley mixed in for exfoliation. The all-natural soap from the Golden, Colorado-based company comes in an assortment of guy-approved scents including "Workshop" and "Pine Tar." The "Grit & Suds" four-soap sampler costs $36, while an individual bar is $9.
In addition to serving dessert and passing out gender-specific favors, send guests home with something sweet and that everyone enjoys—chocolate! Kertzner of Little Miss Party Planner suggests chocolate cigars, a nod to that old tradition of fathers passing out the real thing after their babies were born.