Are there any magical alternatives to a baby showers?


meggyfin
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Minted's Cheers baby invitation
Minted's Cheers baby invitation

I am knocked up for the first time, and my friends are all asking when they can throw me a baby shower. The thing is, I'm excited about my growing foetus, but I really, really hate baby showers. I don't want people to have to buy me things or play ridiculous games. I know we could bend the rules and have a gender-mix and alcohol but I'd really rather skip it altogether.

So… do you have any magical alternatives to a baby shower that would allow my friends to celebrate, but wouldn't have the term "baby shower" in the title? -Kate

We've featured a alternative baby shower ideas before, and if you remove the term "baby shower" from the invites, these party ideas could do the trick…

Throw a onsie decorating party:

Invite people over to drink beer out of baby bottles:

Have a Monster Mash:

Throw a bohemian style pool party:

Invite people over to enjoy a Uteriñata

What are the ways you threw an alternative baby shower?

  1. We aren't pregnant yet, but I intend to have a Baby Kickstarter or a Go fund Baby, since that is really what they are. Since small people and a whole new expense even with being minimalist, I fully intend to crowdsource my offspring.

    Margarette J Shegog MD MPH

  2. Have a Blessing Way! There are a lot of different ways to do it, but basically it's a way for your friends to support you in your journey to parenthood. It's about you, and the experiences you are having and preparing for, and not about a future baby, who can have their own party some other time. THey can bring you candles, or each can bring a bead that they string during the party, or each can bring a blessing they wrote down for you, or something like that.

    • While I love the idea, I recently learned that there's been some pushback re: the term "blessing way," as it's the name of an actual Navajo ceremony unrelated to these parties. Mama blessing, mother blessing, etc. are more accessible terms and don't run the risk of cultural appropriation.

      • Good to know! I like the idea of the party of supporting the person about to embark on parenthood, not the name specifically. So yeah, call it a mother blessing, or whatever makes sense to you.

        • Thanks for this! I like to idea, but like Shannon, I was a bit wary of the cultural issues. I'm also Australian, and it's not really a thing here (yet – I'm sure it will happen!). It definitely seems like a gentle alternative though.

  3. Ours was still a shower but it was low key – superhero themed, pizza and pasta for food, and there were only two games. The first game was for me and daddy-to-be and had a bunch of harmless, silly questions like "If you could have a superpower, what would it be?" and "Who will probably be the more strict parent?" and then each of us would write our answer on a whiteboard and then hold it up for the crowd to see. I think there were only fifteen or so questions, it went by pretty quickly. The second game was baby shower bingo – everyone got a blank bingo card and had to fill it out themselves with stuff they thought we might get. A lot of people couldn't remember much in the way of baby gear so they'd work together to think of stuff, it was a great conversation starter. Then when the actual present opening happened people were a lot more attentive and might ask the room "Does a rattle count as a toy? Cause if so, bingo." or "Wait, is that clothes or a blanket? Clothes? You're suuuure it's not a blanket?" The prize for winning bingo was something small, like $10 to Starbucks or something like that. Even after the first person won the prize, people enjoyed playing for second/third/etc. It ended up being a lot of fun even though I went into it thinking the games were something I'd have to "get through".

    Our friends had a baby shower that was just a gathering of friends. Some people brought gifts, some didn't. There was a baby bottle game (but the alcoholic beverage of your choice in and then the first person to finish their bottle first wins) but that's the only game I remember. Other than that it was just hanging out and having fun.

    • Um – can I travel back in time and go to your baby shower? Particularly because it was about the parents – not just the Mum. And while I'm totally gestating the hell out of this thing, he's going to be dealing with plenty of screaming and nappies. And, you know, years of parenting, so I love that you celebrated for both of you.

  4. If you're willing to do something after the baby is born there's the "sip and see" which is a cute southern tradition where you invite everyone over for a casual get together to celebrate and meet the baby.

    • I'd never heard of a sip and see! Cute idea. I'm Aussie, so that makes sense if it's a southern tradition. Do you do anything special, or is it just a relaxed catch up?

  5. Realize that baby showers, like weddings sometimes, are not entirely about the mama. It's about people who care for you who need an outlet for their desire to help and show you that they are excited for you. They want to support you, and this is an obvious way of doing that.

    I would probably allow someone to throw you a baby shower, and just tell them that you want it really chill (a pool party sounds like fun) and maybe no games, and make sure on the invitations they state that gifts are not necessary. But don't tell people not to bring gifts; again, they WANT to show you they love and support you, and that is one major way they can.

    If you truly want to skip it altogether, here's an alternative: a 100 days party. Say you don't feel up to a baby shower, and put people off it by promising that instead you will have a 100 days party. When your baby is born and has gotten to the age of 100 days, you will celebrate with everyone! I just learned about these parties from my sister who is in China at the moment, and it sounds like an adorable idea. It's far enough after the birth to hopefully not stress you out too much, and people get to see the baby while it's still small and super cute. And asking people to throw you that party instead of a baby shower will be a lot easier than asking them not to throw you a party at all.

    • Right?! I got really militant about how much I hated baby showers when one friend suggested it, and then I realised that it's about love and wanting to share the experience. Much like accommodating all the things my parents wanted/needed at my wedding. It's not all about me. So this is my compromise to just shutting down the conversation, and there are some awesome ideas! 100 days is a wonderful one – sounds like enough time to get to know this new being, and it's been planned in advance, so you know it's coming. I think you're right about gifts too. I am super gift shy, and I hate feeling like people have to give me things, but that means risking offending someone who genuinely wants to give. Thanks so much.

    • Bonus to a pool party – baby's first experience submarining! (Mama being the sub, of course).

      Now I want to have this party just to do a "Yellow Submarine" theme …. or maybe 20,000 Leagues Under The Pool ….

  6. We haven't started trying for our first yet but I'm already getting ideas from Pinterest. So far my favorite is Burgers, Beers & Baby talk. Take the word shower out of it. Keep it casual and comfortable especially if you want to invite both female & male friends, traditionally baby showers are attended by just women but we have more male friends & it's not a party without them.

    • We did this – our invites were "Burgers, Beer & Baby Talk" and we just had a big co-ed cookout for our family and friends. Lawn games, husband at the grill – very chill and awesome. We asked for unwrapped gifts as well, since I didn't want to spend an hour sitting in front of people, but kept all of the presents in the new nursery so that we could show it off as well and people could see where their gifts would be used. No "shower" games, but I did allow my MIL to do a few baby-themed desserts so she felt it was more "shower-esque." We also had everyone sign a heart, which we compiled in a shadow box afterwards for a nice keepsake. It was a really great way for my family to feel like they got a traditional shower without giving me anxiety about being on display!

  7. I hate the part of baby showers where the parent-to-be feels compelled to open all the gifts in front of the crowd. Sometimes I've felt like I've had to spend more money than I was comfortable with to "save face" during the public showing of gifts. I do NOT want to do that when it comes time to have my own baby shower. Does anyone have any ideas to avoid it?

    • Just tell your host that you don't want to open presents in front of people, then they can plan other things to do, leaving no time to open presents

    • Do an unwrapped shower? Most things are coming off a registry so they aren't a surprise. Have a place (crib if you already have it otherwise a table works) where gifts can be displayed so people can ooh and ahh, but you don't have to open anything.

    • We did an unwrapped shower. It was awesome, and I didn't have thirty people staring at me intently as I unwrapped gifts. My husband and I were able to unwrap things at our leisure.

      • We have asked people NOT to bring gifts ! so no problem. But I know people just want to share love, so we asked them to bring us some meal they have prepared for us after the birth (freezed one or caned), so that we can have a break of lunch preparation.

  8. We had friends from a very active subset of our social community who threw a baby shower for us, and I had mixed feelings, like you do, about asking people to give us stuff. A) who needs stuff? I am fighting packrat genes and I am afraid of Stuff. B) We are financially stable and we can afford to buy the necessary items for our upcoming critter…..but, as Donteatmenooo points out, it turned out the baby shower isn't really about the stuff, it's about the community showing their love and excitement for you and your anticipated addition to the community. So despite my nerves before the event, it was totally great.

    That said, I turned down offers to organize another shower for our more general social circles and instead we are having a "Last Chance Grown-Up Party" this coming weekend (critter is expected at the end of next month). I suspect that some people may bring us gifts, but we're not asking for them, we're just asking for our friends to come hang out. Here's the text we put in the invite:
    "We want to see friends one more time before we cross over into parenthood – a state that puts a crimp on social plans, or so we hear.

    Please join us for an evening of food, drink, and uninterrupted conversations while we can still focus on things other than keeping the next generation alive and happy. (If you've already got kids, you're welcome to bring them and show us how it's done!)"

  9. We're having a "growing a human" party. It's co-ed, very laid back, no party games or set "schedule" -basically just a cookout at my mother-in-law's house. We're expecting plenty of gifts, so I'm sure we'll all have to sit around and be bored while we open them, but other than that, it should be fun!

    In short, make your party what you want it to be, make sure the person hosting it is on the same page, and then invite away!

  10. I can't speak to baby showers, but for my wedding shower we had a co-ed affair since most of my friends are guys. Also, I was super-clear with the host (my mother-in-law) that if there were any games, I would leave in the middle of my own party. I imagine my baby shower, whenever we get around to having kids, will be something similar.

    One great idea that I'm going to steal from a recent shower I attended was that instead of bringing cards for the gifts, to bring a favorite children's book — used was totally fine — to stock the baby's library. I thought that was so smart!

    • Yes! I have been to a book shower and it was super chill – the gift opening portion ended up being everyone passing around the books, reading and either reminiscing about the ones remembered from their own childhood or exclaiming over cool unknown books. We made our main ask on the baby registry be kids books.

  11. I've thrown two baby showers, and some of what we did to help alleviate was: decorate a onesie/square for a quilt. This lets people rotate off, gives them something to do while gifts are being open, and took place of the game. I liked the quilt way more than the onesie because people were really thoughtful about what they put on the square, moreso than the onesie.

    I'm a huge fan of unwrapped showers. The gift opening is the worst part. So, if the gifts are brought unwrapped, they can be displayed for people to ogle at their pleasure (or not) without forcing the expectant parents to open anything.

    If you really don't want gifts, and people want to give something, consider asking for frozen meals/meals when the baby is born, type of things.

  12. We just got invited to a Baby BBQ (Wait….I just typed that and realized that can't possibly be what they called it. I'll have to re-check the invite). A party for both men and women, kids and adults, to come enjoy a cookout and celebrate a new baby.

    My sister also had a Fetus Fiesta…..basically just a Mexican-food themed party without gifts.

  13. I've been to one shower where the gifts weren't unwrapped in front of guests, which I found refreshing. I don't like opening gifts in front of groups of people, nor do I enjoy watching gift openings, so to bring a gift and then just chill was a nice alternative.

    Book showers are another way to go. My church threw me this kind of shower, and it was amazing to see the diversity of titles-and no duplicates!

    I would also advocate for a mixed shower or party. Women-only showers squick me out. While I can appreciate the need for women-only spaces and events, it seems silly to exclude men from showers. My husband is the one who knocked me up in the first place, he's my co-parent and co-pilot, so why shouldn't he be at a baby shower? Buck tradition and invite who you like.

  14. A lot of these are great ideas. We had a very small gathering of stones collecting to put into a keepsake box for when my son came of age (first seed, for those who are unfamiliar). I didn't want a shower either. My idea was to make a "dinner pool" where friends and family would pick a square on the sheet "betting" on when the baby would be born. The cost per square was bringing dinner to us one evening during the first couple weeks the baby was home. The prize for the winner? I made them dinner when I got the hang of being a new mom.

  15. I'm anti-party (as in, I love my peeps, but please don't come at me all at once), so I try to spin everything into one-on-one visits if I can. It's way more time-consuming, but I think the quality time is worth it. So on that note…

    Go old-school. Send everyone a notice saying, "We're having a baby! Yay! We'll be at home and receiving guests on A, B, C, and D dates at X-Y time. If you'd like to stop by and feel baby kick, leave a present, or just hang out with us for a bit, please feel free." Chances are good that you won't be swarmed with people at any one time. If no one shows up, you can just enjoy some downtime, and people don't have to worry about missing the party because they can't get off work. Plus, you avoid that pressure that comes with trying to say no to everyone asking you to open gifts when you didn't plan to do so.

  16. I live in a very small northern community and very few people have baby showers – it much more common to have a Baby Welcoming party – after the baby is born. Usually it's a multi generational and gender part with lots of food and fun. It's lovely to be able to introduce the new little one to everyone all at once.

    • We had two boys, so they each had a Bris at one week. If you remove the ritual circumcision part, that's basically what it is.

    • Yeah, I had forgotten about the fact that we can actually include the baby until this thread. It's a really good idea, and people get to meet this being that has been chilling out in here for the last few months. It probably feels a little less staged than a baby shower as well 🙂

  17. I organised a baby shower type thing for my best friend last year.

    I let people know I was putting together a kind of baby-starter-kit, basically just a bunch of clothes and toys and blankets and other basics bundled up in a baby bath with a big ribbon around it. People could either buy something to add to it, give me some money to put towards it all, buy a present on their own, or opt out of gifts entirely. Especially since this friend group ranges from independently wealthy to living week to week off welfare, it was really nice to let people have fun and go all out, or stay within their means without making it obvious to the whole group that they couldn't afford gifts.

    Parents to be had been painting the nursery and loved the idea of everyone contributing so we had paint and brushes for people to go and doodle something fun on the walls so people came and went doing a bit of that throughout the afternoon while the rest of us sat around chatting and eating snacks and drinking beer.

  18. We had so many hand me downs we didn't need gifts, but we did need labor. So we had a nursery building day where people built furniture, mounted shelves, and painted the nursery walls. Because I always underestimate how long painting takes, we didn't get as much done as I wanted (stupid walls having to dry between coats), but it was so much more than we ever would have found time for otherwise

    • What a really really good idea. Throw in some drinks and food (after construction is finished of course!), and this could be a good party. Nothing gets people together like putting something together! (And they would be physically contributing to helping with the baby instead of a bought gift).

  19. YES, I totally feel you on this. I'm in no way a girly girl and baby showers are not my bag. We did a coed dinner at a friend's house with Thanksgiving food (it was the end of November) and Cards Against Humanity. The invitation was sort of Halloween/autumn-themed and had a black background with orange font. And we put an ultrasound photo of our baby's spine and ribcage that sort of looked like an alien on it. No gifts. No baby-related games. No pastels.

    • Does anyone like baby showers? I feel like they are used as a hazing ceremony…… but then again I said I didn't want to go to my cousin-in-law's baby shower and my Mother-in-law was like "Why?"….. uh cuz it's a baby shower. It sucked btw. XD

  20. I had a blessingway… or mother blessing for both my pregnancies and loved them. People brought gifts of handmade or very personal items or books if they felt the need to gift us something. We ate food, danced, had a ceremony, and all the "mothers" in my life spoke about what it meant to be a mother and welcome me into the fold. It was amazing. I want every new mother to feel that loved and supported.

  21. Ours was mixed gender. And it was just sandwiches and friends and family hanging out. Very low key. Definitely recommend that. 🙂

  22. We had a coed Baby-Que a couple weeks ago. I wanted my husband involved (it's his kid too), and wanted him there. So we invited our friends and family. We also did it open house style, so people were able to come and go as they pleased. We served bbq, had a candy buffet (because it was a hit at our wedding), and had a block decorating station, an advice station, and a photo booth.
    I threatened my mother that if there were stupid games, I'd leave, lol. I think it turned out really good.
    It's your baby shower, you do what you want!

  23. A great way of all your people supporting you but NOT having to do any kind of baby shower: instead of your friend organising a shower they organise a Food Roster. So anyone who would have been invited to a shower is invited with no pressure to participate… and everyone is allocated a date for after baby is born where they take dinner to the new parents so they don't have the added presure of cooking with a new bub and every one gets one on one chats with mum and dad and get to to meet baby…. i would also add something about a visiting time limit or please don't be offended if parents dont ask you to stay and eat, it may have been a rough day

    • That's a gorgeous idea! I know from friends that those first few weeks are hard, and it's a great way to show love, which is what they really want to do.

      • I was going to suggest this! We didn't want all the Plastic Baby Stuff / gifts, so my friend (host of a rained out pool party) asked people to bring frozen / canned / gift card / whatever food instead! This time around I'm planning on at least 3 months worth (Easy Meals seemed to run out quickly).

  24. We had friends throw us a Pregger Kegger at their house. It was an evening party. There was a keg of beer and people played beiruit (the correct name for what many call beer pong), and flip cup, and drinking jenga. We had Knocked Up playing on the TV upstairs and lots of food items. The only "game" was a guess how many bottle caps are in this giant baby bottle to win a 6-pack. And the other "activity" was a bunch of white diapers and sharpies so people could write hilarious funny messages for those late night changes. There were some fancy sodas for me to drink and some Non alcoholic beer so I could still play the drinking games. They got my husband a medal thing that said "dad to be" to wear and he got super drunk. It was SO much fun!

    We did not send out formal invitations (there was a facebook event) and we did have a couple of people bring us gifts but we didn't ask them. It was more like a bachelor party for parent hood.

  25. Along the lines as you mentioned, my sister had a "baby shower" that was just sort of like a big-ol' BBQ. It has males and females, and there wasn't (I don't think) any cutesy gift opening ceremony. Everyone mingled, and talked. I told my husband that is what I want to do, and tell his mom (I am 15 week pregnant and it is his Mother's first grandchild so we have a hunch she will want to host the party) and I told him I want everything wrapped in dough! XD Empanadas, dumplings, calzones, pirogies, steamed buns, Jamaican seitan patties, the works. I don't know if the food wish will be granted though.

    Otherwise this falls under the same category of wedding shower- it is up to whoever to throw it for you. I think it is best to be open about what you want, and don't want. I felt so bad for my cousin in-law. Everyone planned a baby shower during the World Cup, and she is a big soccer fan. I think she would of rather watched the game than play stupid shower games.

  26. Lots of great ideas here. I would like to incorporate hand-me-downs or gently used gifts into our future "baby warming" or shower. I have heard people call these "green showers". We have a very small house and won't have room for much baby furniture, so I love the ideas of asking people to bring meals or books.

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