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Planning a Baby Shower

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In the late 1800s, planning a baby shower meant organizing a tea party after a baby was born. In those days, a baby shower couldn’t be held before a baby was born because it was considered unseemly for pregnant women to be seen in public.

Today, baby showers can involve almost anything you want — a formal dinner, a backyard barbecue, Sunday brunch, or a cocktail party. You can make it a girl’s night out, an afternoon at the spa, an evening at the theater, or a poker party. What’s more, baby showers aren’t just for women anymore — they can, and often do, include husbands, boyfriends, children, even pets!

How to decide what form your party will take? First consider that a typical shower is two to four hours long. It usually includes refreshments (which can range from a snack to a full meal), some sort of activity or games, and the opening of presents.

The next step is to think about who you’re inviting and what they would enjoy doing. A group of office colleagues may want to go out to lunch during the week, while neighborhood friends may enjoy a weekend pool party.

While a typical shower is held in someone’s home, you might also think about having it at a restaurant, banquet hall, office conference room (for an office baby shower), community center, or house of worship. Another popular trend is the “destination baby shower,” held at a beach, garden, spa, sporting event, etc. (For more on this, see “Planning a Home Baby Shower,” “Planning a Restaurant Baby Shower,” and “Planning a Destination Baby Shower.”)

Always keep your guest of honor’s condition in mind when planning. This is especially important when considering venues. Even if she loves the outdoors, hiking to a secluded picnic spot in the woods may not be her idea of a good time when she's in her third trimester or one-month post-partum. Baby shower guests will also appreciate a convenient location with adequate parking.

Finally, picking a theme often makes planning a shower easier. Once you select a theme, many decisions will naturally fall into place. For example, if you choose a storybook theme, your baby shower decorations could include pictures and toys taken from storybooks as well as the actual books themselves. Guests could be invited to bring their favorite children’s book as a gift. Refreshments could be inspired by children’s stories — like Green Eggs and Ham Quiche and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Fruit Salad. Baby shower games could revolve around children’s stories, and party favors could be a bookmark. (For more on this, see “Picking a Baby Shower Theme.”)

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