A time-honoured tradition to welcome a new baby into the world is the baby shower – and they don’t seem to change much over the years. When I had my children, I had the opportunity to attend many baby (and wedding) showers for friends and acquaintances who were going through the same life events as I. I was never all that excited about wedding showers, particularly when they made everyone play silly games and dressed up the bride-to-be with a ridiculous-looking pie plate hat covered with ribbons and bows.
Over the years, many wedding showers seemed to become extremely elaborate, with gift expectations growing beyond the small household odds and ends that wedding showers were originally intended for. When you watch a bride open the tenth toaster, you have to wonder what the point of it all is, especially when another shower of gifts would be expected at the wedding itself a few weeks later. Nowadays, of course, most brides have already been living away from home and are well set up with household necessities, so perhaps wedding showers have evolved in the process.
Baby showers, on the other hand, seem to be far more meaningful and necessary, an opportunity to share the excitement of motherhood and welcome a new life into the world, while helping new parents with many of the necessities that come along with the birth of a child. Oddly enough, I did not have a baby shower given for me until I had baby number four. When I had my first, there were two others in my circle of acquaintances who were also having babies around the same time, so friends just did one large get-together with gifts for everyone. It was nice, but it was not the same as a baby shower.
My circle of acquaintances believed that once you had one child you did not need any further gifts, on the assumption that you will have enough baby stuff already. So no one gave a shower for babies two and three. Beyond the idea of always dressing younger children in hand-me-downs, however, it always seemed to me that this thinking was flawed – every new child is an individual and deserves its own special welcome. By the time I had my last child, of course, I had long disposed of any baby items that were not already well-worn and I was a struggling single parent, so the baby shower was necessary and greatly appreciated.
I’m not a great fan of parties in general, especially those that require you to spend several hours in close company with a bunch of other women you don’t know very well. My favourite kind of baby shower is given after the baby is born, so that the star of the show is able to be there and it becomes a true “welcome baby home” event. I’ve even given a wine and cheese post-birth shower for both parents with a mixed crowd in attendance, and it was an extremely enjoyable event. Somehow those silly shower games take on a new sense of fun when you add a glass of wine to the mix!
The days of baby showers seem very long ago, and my circle of friends has diminished greatly over time. But with a new baby in my family and another on the way, baby showers are part of my life once again. This past weekend I attended one for my daughter, an intimate gathering of close family and a few friends only. My youngest took the lead in organizing it, and because she was trying to spare me, knowing how busy I am, she kept refusing all my offers of help throughout the week. Unfortunately, when the day of the shower arrived, she suddenly realized that food preparation was going to take much longer than expected – so I was abruptly pulled out from my computer room and recruited into the kitchen.
For a wild couple of hours we chopped, washed, blended and sliced; filling trays and dishes with tempting treats – bean and pasta salads, hummous and spinach dips, sandwiches, cheese & crackers, veggie trays – enough food for 100 people! By the time everything was packed to go, we were already late and on the run. My kitchen was a disaster, pots scattered everywhere, floor covered with crumbs, sink piled high, and countertop covered with bits and pieces of assorted food preparation leftovers. Frazzled and drenched in sweat, I threw on the first change of clothes I could find and we headed out the door. Fortunately everyone else was late too!
Something I was amazed to discover in the process was the amazing wealth of baby shower planning resources available on the Internet. A Google search brings up dozens of sites with ideas, games, activity suggestions, recipes, and much more. It seems that baby showers are big business these days! I had no idea there could be so many shower games. Some of them are interesting and fun, others are downright gross or humiliating. Stuffing shirts with balloons and engaging in pregnant belly races around the yard, or trying to walk around with a water-filled balloon between your legs doesn’t quite fit my idea of a dignified party activity. Identifying baby food while blindfolded does nothing for my appetite (what on earth do they put into those little jars anyway?), and bobbing for pacifiers in a bowl of pudding is just plain nasty as far as I’m concerned. Judging by the websites, however, a lot of people apparently enjoy these kinds of baby shower activities.
Fortunately, my daughter kept the games to a minimum, creating a custom crossword puzzle with clues that were specific to this baby and a baby bingo game that kept us entertained in between the gift opening. It was a lovely afternoon, a lovely welcome for my eagerly-awaited new grandchild, and we had way too much food.
Of course, the party was over once I arrived back home and had to deal with the mess left behind!
Some baby shower sites & games:
Baby Showers Central
Baby Shower Games, etc.
The Baby Shower Site