Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Baby Shower on a Budget

I gave my first baby shower last month. It was a labor of love for my daughter-in-law who has since delivered their firstborn son, Timothy. I learned a lot in the process about creativity, function, and fun. May I share some ideas with you? Then, when you want to do it yourself, you’ll find it an easier time.

Choose a Theme. Because a baby shower works better for everyone and is infinitely simpler with a theme, choose a piece of clipart to repetitively use. It can function well on the invitations, at the entrance to your home, with your printed games, and even on your thank you notes. Once this theme with its accompanying clipart is on place, everything just makes more sense. I chose the “safety pin” as my theme and found a simple but clever clipart with a safety pin, shirt, and pants to use over and over again. Of course, with the baby boy coming, my colors defaulted to shades of blue.

Check Out the Dollar Store. I found many useful items at my local dollar store and used these inexpensive tools as the foundation for my decorations. The items I purchased included blue forks, spoons, and cups, a hanging “Baby Shower” banner for my patio window, and little plastic blue shoes. I also bought a roll of blue wrapping ribbon. These simple tools became the basis of my creative efforts.

Use What You Have. Decorations need not be expensive and yet they lend so much to the mood of your party. After my tour of the Dollar Store, I looked around the house to find items which would be helpful to use as foundation decorations. For this shower I choose wicker baskets (always good for party needs), glass vases (another classic foundation for decorating), stuffed animals, and shredded blue cardstock (which I made myself by crunching shreds I made using my shredder).

Choose Your Activities. My guest list included young pre-school girls all the way through the spectrum of seasons to my more aged aunts. I chose simple, group games that could involve everyone, wouldn’t last too long, and had plenty of potential humor to them.

For instance, we did a scrambled word game (useful for mothers and daughters to do together). I found it on the internet and copied it on golden cardstock. We laughed together because no one could guess the scrambled word for cradle, but everyone noticed that it did spell my maiden name “Calder.” I decided to let each game have its own colored paper to facilitate keeping the paperwork together and setting it aside easily after a game was done.

The second game was choosing creative infant words for each letter of “B A B Y B O Y R I C K S.” Any time there was a duplicate answer, both answers were deleted. The one left with the most creative answers won the game. (Of course, because I was still learning with this shower, I forgot to gather pencils and pens for everyone’s use and had to find some at the last minute for my twenty plus guests.)

The last game was a candy bar game, where two sets of cards were used. One set had letters on it. The second had numbers on it. On the reverse side of these cards were maternal descriptions (alpha cards) and candy bar names (numbered cards). For instance, "New Family" and a Three Musketeers candy bar went together. Matching the phrases with candy bar names resulted in receiving the named candy bar. This was especially popular with the younger crowd. However, I learned that next time I will eliminate guests after receiving their first candy bar because one especially bright child kept getting the right answers time after time.

You can see that each printed game has the same repetitive element of the clipart at the bottom of the sheets. This helped give a more professional look to my party because the shower activities all looked more coordinated.

I prepared a basket with simple edible candies wrapped in white tulle (netting) with blue ribbon ties. These I placed in one of my wicker baskets along with Mr. Teddy, who was dressed up for the occasion with curled blue ribbons at his neck and a seat in the middle of the basket surrounded by treats. This became one of my focal points in the family room where we gathered for the games.

Keep On-timers Busy and Interested. I have learned from other experiences that guests will not all arrive at the same time. I chose to have two activities for those who would arrive early or on time and those who might get bored with the games. One was a quilt square signing table near the front door. This activity allowed me to get the younger girls involved right away even while I was welcoming and chatting with their mothers. It also will be a keepsake for my daughter-in-law and their son in later years because I will include these autographed squares in a fun, colorful quilt for our grandson.

The second activity was a “Count the Baby Food” cheerios guessing contest. I placed the glass jar with blue shoes, shredded blue paper, and cheerios in a safe place with guessing cards and pens nearby.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.
As you plan your party, remember that repetition is the key to decorations looking like they belong to each other. So the blue plastic shoes found their place in my “Count the Baby Food" game, on the refreshment table, and were given to my younger guests as favors at the end of the day. The stuffed animals all had curly ribbon around their necks and the curly ribbon also found itself on my front door.

Once I had my clipart chosen, my trip to the dollar store done, and my in-house classic decorating tools in place, I continued to play on the theme.

For example, I took blue and white wired bows and blue/light blue/brown placements from a recent wedding that I had inherited and placed them strategically around the serving table to add bulk and interest. (I have learned that keeping simple decorations from previous activities always pays off. Don’t keep too many and don’t keep things that will crush, fade or look old with time, but the singular items are worth their weight in time and trouble when it comes to making for a great shower.)

Refreshment Delights. Another need I had was to please my younger guests, work with dietary limitations of my more senior guests, and keep everyone eating and happy around the table. I chose to have a vegetable plate, some fruit pieces with a dip, and then classic, fresh homemade brownies and ice cream along with diet lemon-lime soda served in my glass punch bowl with floating sliced limes added for color. (Clear, diet liquids keep your floors from becoming sticky and your carpet stained from spills. I don’t use any other color punch when having guests.)

Help Your Guests Find Your Home. Many of my guests had not been to my home before. Yes, we put the address on the invitations and even gave out the directions to some by phone, but it helped to have a simple sign on the front door so people knew they had arrived at the right place.

All in all, it was a great shower. Two sides of the family in addition to my own neighborhood friends and girls from my daughter-in-law’s circles joined us. We laughed, we shared, and we rejoiced in the upcoming birth of a new child. It was a great day. Hope your next baby shower will be this way, too!

©2010 Marie Calder Ricks/www.houseoforder.com

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