By Erin Walters
Baby showers once meant awkward small talk and tiny sandwiches, but times are changing. From backyard barbecues to wedding-scale blowouts, today’s baby shower is a whole new animal. “People are starting to get a lot more snazzy,” says Tina La Morte, owner of New Jersey’s Oh So Fabulous! Divine Wedding. “They’re doing linen rentals and napkin treatments, and really stepping it up.” Now, why is a wedding planner talking about baby showers? Aside from recently delivering her second child, La Morte has been getting more and more calls for baby showers these days. That’s right — baby shower planners. (Try explaining that one to grandma.)
If you’re planning a shower for a friend, don’t worry — she’s probably not expecting 200 guests or a $90 centerpiece. Don’t be afraid to step it up in terms of breaking a few traditions, though. Here are a few modern shower trends to get you started.
GIFTS FOR MAMA
Exciting trend No. 1: Gifts for mom! “We’re seeing lots of gifts for mothers,” La Morte says. “They’re giving baskets of goodies, bottles of champagne, massages...” Baby still comes first, but grownup indulgences are always appreciated — especially at a time when the mom may be feeling pretty uncomfortable (aka, all of late pregnancy). To pamper both mom and baby, consider a shareable treat like the Honey Child gift set from Noodle & Boo ( http://noodleandboo.com ).
DADDIES ON BOARD
Men? At a baby shower? That’s right. While daddy-to-be might not be into unwrapping breast pumps and bibs, why shouldn’t he (and his buddies) join in the celebration? La Morte isn’t crazy about the idea, but some moms take a different stance. “I think that more women would come to showers if their husbands were invited,” says one mom-to-be on our message boards. Another mom agrees, “It’ll be like a last little get-together with our friends before we’re super busy with the new baby.” If you decide on a couples’ party, just be sure the boys have something (food/beer/”Guitar Hero”) to bond over. One couple even held a poker tournament, with $10 and a pack of diapers as a buy-in!
KIDS AT THE PARTY
Not only are men joining the ranks, but now tots are tagging along, too. The downside of this addition? “It’s one of the last times you have when it’s all about you,” La Morte says. “It’s your last time to shine.” True, kids can steal a bit of focus, but some moms claim all-inclusive get-togethers are best. “It was baby’s first party! I wanted everyone to be there!” exclaims one Oklahoma mom. To keep things under control, definitely provide fun distractions and places to play. (Kids are better suited to a big backyard than a nice restaurant or reception hall.)
No alcohol for the expectant mom, but does that mean the shower has to stay dry? More and more showers are including fun adult drinks. “Mix it into a brunch, with bellinis or mimosas,” La Morte says. One Minnesota mom is prepping for a backyard baby-q, which will include beer, mocktails and mimosas. “I can have fun mocktails; no need for everyone else to suffer just because I can’t drink!” she says.
More in baby news: Showers aren’t all about firsts anymore. Second- (and third-, and fourth-) borns are getting more recognition lately, thanks to the “sprinkle” (as in a sprinkling of gifts, rather than a full-on shower). Second-time moms are usually well set up with gear, but there’s still reason to celebrate! At a baby sprinkle, the new addition is honored with a get-together including small gifts like diapers, wipes or books.
FUN THEMES AND FAVORS
As if boys, babies and booze aren’t enough, showers are taking on a whole new look. Forget your average pink and blue pastels — today’s hot shower hues include bold yellows and cool combos like blue/brown, paisley/pink and periwinkle/cream. Favors are getting a makeover, too, straying from the typical candles or candy. One of La Morte’s recent faves: old-fashioned milk bottles filled with different kinds of milk and served, along with cute cupcakes, as guests headed out the door. “Edible stuff is a real favorite,” she says with a laugh.