Sunday, August 14, 2011

Shower the ones you love with they baby or bride.

{I wrote this a couple of years back as a guest post for my friend, Amy Beth. Since Kelly is doing a wedding shower link up for her "Show Us Your Life" series, I figured it might be fun to edit it and post it over here as well. Are you on tap to host a wedding or baby shower in the coming months? Read this and then hit up Pinterest for more great ideas!}

I have three best girlfriends, sisters of my heart, really. We are known as The E-Ranch {short for The Estrogen Ranch} due to the nickname given to our house when we lived together after college. Between the three of them, I have co-hosted three wedding showers and six baby showers to honor the epochs in their lives. From 2008 to 2009, I helped give each of them a baby shower.

Y’all, I think it is safe to say that I could throw a shower in my sleep.

{Also, I have informed them that their ration of baby showers has run out and I won’t be throwing any more of the baby variety until I get one of my own.}

Now, lest you think I have done the planning all on my own, I have not. We are a team, The E-Ranch women, and so there are always three of us to help organize our soirees. At the point, our roles are well-established: I mine the crafty corners of my mind for invitations, Carlye and Anna are menu planners extraordinaire and Debbie is a genius at any and all other logistics. We all pitch in for the decorating part. You know, like our own Carolina version of “Designing Women.” Just call me Julia Sugarbaker.

Our showers are… well, they don’t always happen inside the typical shower box. Now that we’re in our thirties, we have been subjected to our fair share of showers with no end in sight and really painful shower games. We prefer our showers lively with a side of sass that's unique to the guest of honor. So, here's a few of our shower-throwin’ tips for y’all. Take these with a grain of salt or a whole salt lick, if you want. It's just how we've done things through the years...

1.) Don’t be afraid to print your own invitations.

After I paid nigh unto $80 for a baby shower invitation design and printing, I decided it was time to make use of the perfectly good printer I had sitting at home. Check for local stationary and invitation stores in your city. Lots of places sell blank invitations by the box or even by the piece. Make sure you buy two or three extra invites so you can do a test run. I used Microsoft Word and mess around with the margins until I have the text space just so. Have fun with fonts. There are lots of free fonts to be had out there. My favorite site is Pick a font that jives with the theme of your invite. Have fun with it! Remember, your invite sets the tone for your shower.

2.) Plan the menu with the bride/mama-to-be in mind.

Sure, I suppose that you want to be thinking about the guests. But, truly, who is the party all about? That’s right. The girl who has spent the last six months stressin’ over whether the flowers will coordinate with the carpet in the church and has successfully managed to find a dress that will miraculously work with the five different body types of her bridesmaids. {Actually, I’ll tell you how to solve that last one: Pick a dress company that makes several different styles of dresses, pick a color and let your bridesmaids pick the style. Bam! Done.} It’s about the woman who has endured seven months of complete strangers manhandling her belly while they utter completely inane things like, “Golly gee, you look like you’re due any day! You’re huge!”

That bride? That pregnant woman? They at least deserve the kind of eats they really enjoy. Carlye and Anna are gourmets at heart, so for their showers we served things like mini stratas with bacon & summer veggies, zucchini cupcakes with homemade cream cheese icing, chilled strawberry mint soup and ricotta cheese on French bread with figs & honey. Debbie loves all things preservative-laden so we took her favorite foods and put a gourmet twist on them. She and her guests enjoyed foods like Macaroni & Cheese Spanakopitas, homemade marshmallows {the woman adores Peeps} and non-alcoholic cream cheese icing shots. Oh yes, you heard me correctly. Cream cheese icing ready to eat straight out of a shot glass.

Which leads me to my next tip…

3.) Give the guest of honor the kind of party they want.

Remember the guiding rule when it comes to the menu? Same goes for the party itself. For instance, when Debbie was pregnant with her second set of twins {oh yes, you heard me right, second set} she told us that she didn’t want another baby shower. What she really wanted was a cocktail party one evening with her girlfriends to celebrate not being pregnant anymore and the fact that she could once again enjoy an adult beverage.

The woman brought four children into this world, two at a time. We figured the least we could do was throw her a fabulous party! For Carlye’s second pregnancy {she was due with her second boy and the testosterone was about to become overwhelming}, we knew she would love an intimate girly lunch with pedicures to follow. Nothing says “I love you and value you as a friend” like crafting the ideal setting to celebrate this landmark in her life.

Even if that setting includes jello shots or a nail salon.

4.) To game or not to game?

I’m going to be brutally honest here and tell you that if I find myself at a baby shower where diapers with melted candy bars are being passed around, I’m going to find an excuse to leave pretty darn quick. Let’s just all agree that if the menu and the party itself are about the guest of honor, the games/activities should be about the other guests. We at The E-Ranch tend to stay away from games altogether, but if we really need one, we find some sort of activity that does not subject our guests to guessing what baby food is in the jar. She who gives birth to the wee babe can deal with that one all on her own.

Try to make your activity something that will engage everyone and that might bring about some genuine laughter. I'm a big fan of wedding shower games that happen while the presents are being opened. Bridal Bingo was a go-to game of ours for our wedding showers. You'd be surprised at how competitive a roomful of women can get when there's a stellar prize awaiting the winner! At Carlye's wedding shower, we split the room into smaller groups, gave each group four or five kinds of candy bars and had them write a poem for the soon-to-be-wed couple that incorporated the names of the candy. Those poems were wedding shower gold, y'all, and everyone had a blast working together to write them.

At Anna’s baby shower we asked everyone to anonymously write down a funny moment from their childhood or parenting experiences and the moral/lesson from it that might benefit Anna as she embarked on the road to motherhood. We all got to hear some hilarious stories, Anna had fun guessing which memory belonged to whom and she came away with some pretty stellar parenting advice. See? Everyone wins.

So there you have it! As one of four co-presidents at The E-Ranch, I wish you lots of creativity and outside the box thinking. Now, go forth and shower…


  1. this couldn't come at a better time - I'm co-hosting my first baby shower this wknd! thanks leslie ;)

  2. I'd like to go on the record (if I haven't already) that opening presents is quite a drag at these things. I know the point is to shower them with gifts, but after about four presents everyone's over it. I am a most enthusiastic gift-opener but I say let the presents be opened later and let everyone meet and mingle, pray, or gossip. I especially recommend this for children's birthday parties, unless it's just family and you're celebrating at a restaurant. Opening gifts is the perfect child-occupier until the food arrives!

    PS--You ladies have got it down pat!

  3. These are some fantastic ideas that I absolutely intend to steal! I've got baby showers on the horizon and these tips are going to save my life.


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