I went to a baby shower disguised as a Thanksgiving pot luck. It was a surprise shower with members of Thursday’s softball team. My friend Mel was 5 months pregnant and they just learned the L.O. is a girl. The organizer decided to throw a pot luck and asked everyone to gift according to a sports theme. What happened next was a shower with few, practical gifts for a new mother among well-intentioned supporters. Half our team showed. The whole thing was kind of depressing…
So, after being to more than my fair share, including my own shower, here are some helpful tips:
1. RSVPing “Yes” Means You Actually Have to Show Up.
There is something about accepting an Evite or Facebook invitation that makes commitment effortless. People don’t realize that an RSVP of “yes” actually means…yes, I’m attending. Case-in-point, my team had 20 “yes” responses, 4 “no” responses, and 2 stragglers who didn’t know to click the Evite link. Of the 20, we all listed the pot luck item we were bringing to decrease the chance of duplicating Thanksgiving dishes. Because 12 were no-shows, we had a SAD Thanksgiving. No mashed taters. No candied yams. No mac n’ cheese. No salad. A tiny green bean casserole meant for five. Too many damn pumpkin-themed pies. Three incarnations of cranberry sauce. Two types of stuffing. We did, however, have a turkey, compliments of the host. Had our no-shows been honest, our pot luck wouldn’t have been so lopsided with sugar and sweets.
If you can’t make it, please reply “no,” especially to a pot luck. People plan the shower’s food and activities. Not showing is just plain rude for any party. Also, send a nice note if you can’t make it via snail mail. A personal touch means the world.
2. Gifting is Personal. Give Your Guests Options or Leeway.
So, I completely went against the etiquette of a sports-themed shower with the gift. I wrapped my present in soccer balls, basketballs and baseballs, but the actual gift wasn’t themed. I got my friend bottles, a breastfeeding wrap, cute owl onesies and matching socks. The look of disappointment from the organizer was priceless. She pointed out my faux-pas in front of the baby maker and her husband. The organizer is childless and having been in my pregnant friend’s position, I knew how important it is to contribute newborn essentials. This gift was personal to me. It was a show of support. Knowledge passed down.
If you are going to do a theme for a baby shower beyond “baby” or gender stereotypes, give your guests some leeway. As the title states, gifting can be a personal thing. You don’t get to control what type of generosity a guest wants to bestow on their friend. Additionally, if a guest has a cool gift in mind that isn’t part of the registry, lighten up! If the organizer is kind of a tyrant, bent on themes and conforming to a registry, find themed wrapping paper and get a cheaper registry item to pair with your (much cooler) gift. If all else fails, get a gift card. New mommies LOVE gift cards.
3. If You Can’t Make it, Send or Deliver the Gift.
Beyond the no-show attitude of my fellow softball teammates, most of my childless friends won’t think to send a gift. You are being included in an important chapter of your friend’s life. A little person is being cooked up! This is worth a measly card and/or gift to show your support.
If you can’t make it, send or deliver a personal touch — it goes a long way. Even if all you can afford is a card, just freaking do it! With a cornucopia of hormones, pregnant women are sentimental, emotional and anxious during this time. They need all the support and well wishes they can get!
4. Remind Preggo You Are There For Her.
Sounds like a no-brainier, right? Not so fast. You’d be surprised how many people drop off the map after you’re with child. Just because she’s having a baby it doesn’t mean the aftermath should be treated as a funeral. She is still that silly, sweet and kind friend you knew in college. The only difference is the baby attached to her hip will be cooing while you recount the latest sex-capade or fight with hubby.
Remind her in a card or with a hug, that you’ll be there through her pregnancy and beyond. Share in her joy. Invite her for a drink after breastfeeding is over. Invite her for dinner if she doesn’t drink. Sometimes a mom feels depressed when her relationships with others change suddenly. Don’t forget her.
5. Don’t Leave Out Hubby or Daddy-To-Be From the Fun.
Guys can be just as excited as their wives or girlfriends to celebrate the new baby. We live in a culture of “Boys Are Not Allowed” when it comes to baby showers. Now, if he’d rather gouge out his eyes than participate, it’s completely acceptable to make it family and friends only. I’d err on the side of being inclusive, lest he feels overlooked or devalued to not share in the excitement. A guy might not express it, but he’s secretly peeved he doesn’t get a little fanfare as a new dad.
Invite daddy-to-be. What could it hurt? Worst case he ouuuuhs and awwwwwhs while he’s checking football scores or reading the news on his phone. Best case scenario, he wins pregnancy trivia and all the baby games. Don’t rob him of the fun! Also, think about inviting non-traditional guest according to your friend’s relationships and network. If she has a really good work friend, consult her on inviting coworkers. If she prefers to do a smaller, more intimate shower with her family, respect her wishes and keep this shower to friends. This is about HER and her new family member. Watch “Bridesmaids” the movie and apply the lessons to baby showers.