Planning a Baby Shower on a Budget
Today's economy has everyone working hard to save money. If you want to get more bang for your buck, yet throw a baby shower that looks like you spared no expense, here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Planning, planning, planning
If you make a budget you will be more likely to stick to it and spend the amount you can afford. Decide how that can best be accomplished. If the shower is at home you may want to use your own plates and silverware, and make it baby themed with shower designs on the napkins and decorations. If time is more important than money, go with disposables and pick a theme. Another good idea for saving money is to host the baby shower with a friend. If that isn't practical, ask for help with supplies or clean up.
Food can be one of the best ways to save money. It isn't necessary to have a meal; cake and beverages will be just fine. If you do that, it's important to make sure the guests are expecting dessert only. Mention on the invitations that you are looking forward to having them join you for dessert, and make the time of the shower during non-mealtime hours.
Cupcakes are very popular and inexpensive to make. Dress them up with colorful frosting in pink or blue or add some festive party picks. Put them on a tiered tray and use them as the centerpiece. Or, for a casual shower, just serve pizza or tacos. Beverage options can be coffee, tea, punch, ice water or lemonade.
3. Pick a theme and a place
A summer baby shower could be a tea party. Have everyone bring their favorite tea cup, and serve tiny tea sandwiches. Another idea would be a garden party with your own flowers on the tables. Or, if it's a couples shower, how about a barbeque with everyone bringing a dish to pass? If you live in an apartment or subdivision you may be able to rent the clubhouse if you need more room. It would probably be cheaper than a restaurant, and since you would probably be cleaning it up yourself, you wouldn't have to worry about a tip. Sometimes a church basement is an available resource, without spending a lot of money.
A themed baby shower makes it easier to decorate. How is the Mom-to-be decorating the baby's room? Maybe it's Winnie-the-Pooh, or a frilly pink or soft blue. Following that theme with decorations will allow the guest of honor to talk about the baby's room and give the guests some gift ideas. If that isn't practical, a Noah's Ark theme is always fun. Put a stuffed animal or two on each table as a centerpiece and give them to the Mom after the shower. You can get stuffed animals cheaper than flowers, and they will do double duty.
4. Baby Shower Party Supplies
If you have a theme, try to start with matching invitations. If you can't find them in bulk or on sale, consider making your own. With a computer and printer, you can find some appropriate graphics and personalize them as well. That can save time since you won't have to fill each one out by hand. If you really want to save money, you could send e-invitations to those guests who have e-mail. If most of the guests are friends, and you know them well, it would not be inappropriate. You can always save the formal invitations for older guests or relatives, and people you don't know personally. Look for discontinued baby shower supplies online because most e-tailers will mark them down and you can get some really good buys. Even if they are out of one item, such as the beverage napkins, luncheon paper plates, or cups, you can buy what is available and substitute plain coordinating colors for the item that is no longer available. Color goes a long way in decorating. Bright primary colors will jazz up a room, or go soft with baby blue or pink and decorate with multiple banners, confetti, and lots of balloons for a festive atmosphere at an inexpensive price.
5. FUN, fun, fun!
A baby shower should be fun for both the guests and the guest of honor. One of the first things you can do to make people feel comfortable and help break the ice is to give everyone name tags. Last names aren't necessary, but make sure you include the relationship to the Mom-to-be, such as "Sharon, Michaels Aunt", or "Rebecca, childhood friend of Amy's". For an older guest, it might be appropriate to put, "Mrs. Jones, Amy's Grandmother". When guests are seated at the same table and name tags are available, it makes everyone feel at ease and conversation will begin in a natural way. Decorating with pictures of the parents-to-be when they were kids is always fun, especially for the guests who didn't know them then. If you have a mix of ages and some people who don't know one another, there are games that are quick and easy for everyone. Consider baby style scratch off lottery style tickets. They can easily be found online and they are fun with no need for competition. Today's baby shower guest may not want to tax their brain and waste time with long involved games that may require skill or agility. Get to the main event (opening gifts) as quickly as possible. The more guests there are, the more time that takes.
Guest favors are not required, but they do add a nice touch. You can go to the Dollar store and get something inexpensive, or there are lots of options available online. Don't forget you'll also need some prizes if you play games. Prizes can often be a favor item if you buy or order just one.
After the games the honoree will open the gifts. Of course someone is designated to record information. Make sure everyone can see the gifts or pass them around if that is feasible. When the gifts have been opened and the guests are departing, it's a nice touch to photograph the Mom-to-be with each departing guest. Have double prints made and let the Mom include one in each of her thank you notes. That's a very thoughtful gift for both the Mom and the guest. Most of all, relax and have fun!