Hosting a Baby Shower

by Tricia Goss

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Hosting a baby shower is a wonderful way to honor a new mom (and dad!) and welcome their little blessing, as well as helping the new parents garner some much-needed baby gear. But between favors and food, decorations and organization, you can find yourself running low on funds and on time! Here are some tips to help you throw an enjoyable shower while keeping your budget (and sanity) intact.

If someone offers to help, don't be afraid to take him or her up on it. Let the friend who's a whiz in the kitchen bring a cake or finger foods. Assign organization duties to your pal whose checkbook is always balanced. Not only will this help you make sure everything gets taken care of and save you some money, but it also provides an opportunity to spend time bonding with buddies you might not see frequently.

Consider sending invitations via email. If that simply doesn't seem fitting, you can make cute postcards on your computer and print on cardstock (four will fit nicely to a page). Or check your local dollar or discount store for invitations. Blank cards in an appropriate color work just fine.

Decorations needn't be extravagant. One easy way to decorate is by letting gifts do double duty. A baby bathtub makes for a darling punchbowl. Hang gifts of clothing and receiving blankets on clothesline strung along the wall. Create a "diaper cake" by stacking bundled tiers of rolled up diapers tied with coordinating ribbon.

Another idea for decorating is to create favors that also serve as decorations. Bake homemade cinnamon rolls, wrap in pretty colored plastic wrap and attach a note saying, "Thank you from Bob & Susie's little bun in the oven." Look at dollar or thrift stores for small, ornate picture frames. Print place cards on your computer that fit the frames and then let each guest take hers home. Or place economical, fragrant votives inside clean baby food jars for a sweet decoration they will love to keep.

Cake, punch, coffee and bowls of mints, nuts, or pretzels are more than sufficient food items to offer guests. You might be surprised at how charming a homemade cake can be! Bake a bundt cake using your favorite recipe (or mix), frost, and place a baby bottle in the center. Or purchase or make a plain sponge or pound cake and cut it into small squares. Frost and pipe with a bit of icing and you've got impressive, yet inexpensive petit fours. If you do decide to feed guests, you can't go wrong with simple veggie, meat, and cheese trays. Make sure you buy blocks of cheese and whole veggies and slice, dice and cube them yourself, rather than spending too much on the prepared platters.

Games are fun and don't have to be cost or labor intensive. Use a roll of toilet paper to pass around for guests to guess how big mommy's tummy is by having them tear off an appropriate length of squares. Give each guest a diaper pin to wear and let them know no one may say "baby." Whoever catches someone else saying the forbidden word gets their pin; the guest with the most pins wins a prize. And a door prize "game" that helps the new mom and dad is to give each guest a blank envelope and have them address it to themselves. You draw a winner from the pile, and the new parents have pre-addressed thank you card envelopes! Pick up three or four cute prizes from the dollar store.

So with a bit of planning, preparation and smart shopping, your guest of honor will be pleasantly surprised with a wonderful shower. And you might be surprised at how much you enjoy hosting it!

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