Tuesday 25 August 2015

Summer Strawberry-themed Baby Shower

Having a baby shower is really an American thing but like many US exports, the idea is becoming more and more popular over here. I’ve only been to one before, which was actually combined with the mum-to-be’s birthday; she received a selection of birthday presents which were mainly things she needed for the baby.
Then my friend P said she would like to have a small baby shower and we decided to make it the theme of a barbecue I was hosting at my house. I’m going to share with you some ideas for decorations, recipes and games if you want to host a baby shower yourself.
For three reasons: because it was summer; since P didn’t know if she was having a boy or a girl; and because I bought some cute strawberry-print tableware from Tiger, I decided to give the baby shower a strawberry theme. There’s also a connection between fruit and the idea of ‘be fruitful and multiply’ I suppose! So you could choose any theme of course, but if you wanted something along the same lines, any fruit would be quite fun for a baby shower I think.

I already posted a picture and instructions for a baby shower invitation which you can see here.
You don’t need to send out invitations, especially if there are a lot of people coming (stamps are expensive!) so you could email – or make one invitation, take a photo of it, and email that out.
I actually started with the decorations to decide the theme but if you didn’t do it that way, now is the time to think about what you want, as you may need time to make or source things.

There are loads of partyware websites with baby-themed paper cups, plates and napkins; most of them seem to be pink or blue but there are a few ranges available featuring animals for instance that would work for either gender. However, they tend to be expensive especially if you have to order oneline and pay postage (though do try Ebay) so my advice would be to try the pound shops or places like Tiger, and don’t feel it has to be baby-themed specifically. I bought these paper plates, cups and napkins from Tiger; I also got a tin tray with high sides that is perfect for carrying a round of drinks into the garden and a pretty ceramic strawberry bowl.
Also, bear in mind that while paper plates save on the washing up, many people prefer to eat from real plates!

If your party is outdoors like mine – or at least like mine started until it began to rain – you can put up bunting. The Dotcom Gift Shop sells some lovely bunting and I got this for mere pennies in their recent sale. This one you make yourself but it only takes minutes and everything is provided apart from the glue; they also sell lovely ready made packs.
I bought this Mum to Be rosette badge from Amazon and thought it was so pretty; if you have time you could make a badge or sash yourself.

I also had some pink and blue sweets, in little cardboard trays with the same strawberry design from Tiger. We challenged the father-to-be (who was at the baby shower as well, as my friends had come to stay for the weekend and the baby shower was part of that) to close his eyes and choose a sweet as a silly gender predictor and he chose pink – both times! We joked that the sweets had spoken... but he ended up having a son!

I also bought a baby shower cupcake stand from Amazon, made by the Wilton brand; it’s cardboard so can be flat packed and I can use it again or sell it – at some point I must go through my themed party decorations and get rid of the things I am unlikely to use again! It was very easy to assemble and looked very cute filled with cupcakes. I made pina colada cupcakes and chocolate blueberry cupcakes and added some rice paper baby shower cake toppers which I also bought from Amazon.

For the food itself we had a pretty straightforward barbecue; sausages and burgers, marinaded chicken and veggie skewers. The side dishes were a vegetarian pasta salad, potato salad and crusty bread with oil and vinegar to dip.

For dessert we had the cupcakes; I also served strawberries and cream in my bowl from Tiger, and made a vegan pavlova – there seems to be some debate about whether pregnant women can eat meringue with some websites saying yes and others saying no. I think the point is that you shouldn’t eat uncooked or undercooked eggs when pregnant and sometimes meringues can be a bit undercooked if they are gooey in the middle. So by making a meringue that didn’t use eggs – yes, such a thing is possible – we didn’t have that problem.

To drink I had Pimm’s and lemonade, and plenty of wine and beer, but also made some non-alcoholic cocktails and iced tea which were lovely – and in one case in keeping with the strawberry theme!

I also bought this great little chalkboard from Tiger and some chalk markers from Lakeland in the sale, which you can write very easily with and wash off, so I could write up a menu:

The father-to-be was very keen to play some games and suggested one where everyone cuts a piece of string from a ball of the length that they think will fit around the mum-to-be’s tummy and whoever has guessed the right length or closest wins. However I think some women are a bit sensitive about their size in pregnancy and even though we weren’t taking actual measurements, the mum-to-be wasn’t so keen on the idea. In any case I couldn’t find a ball of string!
Asking guests to share advice for first-time parents from their own experiences of having children is a popular baby shower activity but I would steer well clear of this unless you know that everyone coming has had children. It would be awful to have one person unable to offer advice and feel left out because they haven’t had children if they want children but haven’t had one yet.
I’ve heard about other games that involve tasting baby food, or one where the host buys disposable nappies and smears things like nutella on them, for the guests to pass around and smell and guess what it is. That actually sounds pretty gross to me!

I did prepare some games of course which were a lot of fun to play. First, we did ‘pin the dummy on the baby’. I bought a cheap poster of a baby’s face that came with some cut-out dummies and a blindfold; take it in turns to stick the dummy where you think the baby’s mouth is. You can buy games like this on Ebay and Amazon or even make your own. Don’t forget to buy something to give as a prize!
I also did a quiz in two parts; the first round gave a list of famous parents and famous children and guests had to pair them up. The second round was celebrity parents and the ‘unusual’ baby names they had chosen; again the idea was to match the correct ones up. I thought it would be a bit of fun but was surprised at how seriously everyone took it – and how much some of them struggled! I don’t buy celebrity magazines but knew who almost all of these people were (I got some of the names by Googling) but a few of my friends were completely stumped by a lot of the celebrities!

You should be able to open and save both games as PDF documents here:

I made a list and then rearranged them in a different order onto pages which I photocopied and handed out – make sure you keep one copy with the correct answers!
We did buy presents for the parents-to-be as well but didn’t go overboard; in my opinion this was a UK-style baby shower and not on quite the same scale as I’ve seen on American TV shows but it was a lot of fun!

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