The season of babies is upon us, and the ministry of community comes alive to support new and repeat mamas to be. Baby showers are a wonderful means of support, and way to celebrate new life and life change. If anything, they are an excuse to gather with friends over sweet treats, silly games and pictures while you’re more dressed up than normal.
When your toddler turns two, you will begin to notice that the baby announcements commence again. I was lucky enough to be pregnant with my two best friends from college, and many of my friends and neighbors. And in the flow of time, two years later, we are surprising each other with pregnancy announcements all over again.
This year, I had the chance to help throw my fourth shower for a dear friend having her second little boy, as well as a sprinkle of my own for number two. Once you become a mom, there is an unique understanding of what this pregnant mama will experience with each stage of pregnancy, fourth trimester and early childhood. Rightly so, there’s a motivation to help, make her feel celebrated and supported. These are my favorite tips, tricks and words of wisdom…
Baby Shower as Hostess
As a hostess, there are some tips and tricks to help you throw a party that is useful and celebratory – without being expensive or overwhelming!
- Share the load: Hosting is time consuming and expensive – it really is! It serves the mom, and yourself, to reach out and share the role of hostess. Delegate the planning: the decorations, the food, the games, the hostess gift. Give each hostess a vein to reign, and divide the cost. This is a good area to have excellent communication so budgets aren’t busted, and DIY-er’s don’t overwhelm others.
- Think through the theme: This is a fun opportunity for creativity! A shower theme can reflect the new baby’s nursery so decorations can be used. Decorations or games could include useable items like onesies, hair bows, diapers, etc. You can go with a seasonal theme where the rest of the family can enjoy leftover summer popsicles, or winter cocoa.
- Take on some tasks: While it may be old fashioned, thank you cards are really a meaningful tradition to carry on in our generation. It really is a treat, not an expectation, to receive much of what you need to raise a baby as gifts from friends and family. A little note acknowledges that gift, the cost, the time to attend, and the community you have walking alongside you. As hostess, help mama-to-be by writing down which gifts came from who when opening presents.
- “Instead of a card…”: Bring a book! A book is a two fold gift for quality time with mama and imagination development for child. A book with a note in the cover is a memory that will last through childhood, and help stimulate a child’s love for learning. I recently finished “The Read Aloud Family” by Sarah Mackenzie, and wholly recognized the need for good books for little lives. For Sarah’s own book lists and recommendations, visit her website, The Read Aloud Revival.
Baby Shower as Mommy-to-be:
- Thank the guests: Saying thanks to your guests with a favor is a small way to acknowledge their time, generosity and friendship. Plus, it is a sweet memory of the event and to keep mom-to-be in their thoughts in the coming weeks! A favor can be as simple as a cut flower with a cute tag, a homemade spice mix or flower seeds. With our recent Winnie-the-Pooh theme, we chose Honey Jars filled with local honey!
- Thank the hostesses: Your hostesses have made this day special – this is your chance to reciprocate! Send your hostesses home with a hand written note paired with something simple, joyful and useable. You know them, and you know what suits them! For some creative ideas, check out “10 Thoughtful Ideas” by Our Happy Mess.
- Bridge the gaps: If you’re anything like me, you’ve been lucky to make lifelong friends from many areas of life. But only you will be the connector between these crossing paths! Take a little extra time to find connection points between friends before introducing them to each other. This will help with ease of conversation and create a more lighthearted atmosphere for the rest of the event.
What activities should you do?
- Gather: As guests arrive, greet one another and settle in, have passive activities and snacks available. Printables are available on Pinterest for due date guessing games, advice cards, or “how many gummy bears are in the bottle” type games. These are fun for the mama to read post event too!
- Games: A shower almost doesn’t feel complete without a few games! The “Price is Right” for baby items is always tricky, for moms, singles and empty nesters. A timed competition to fill out “Baby Item ABC’s” is also a tricky one – hint: “N is for nightlight”! More recently, we played “present Bingo” to take the spotlight pressure off the mama. Give a blank bingo sheet to each guest and have them fill out what items they think she might open! Cross off each item as the gifts are opened to score Bingo.
- Prayer: A great way to close out a baby shower is to gather around to pray for the mom-to-be. So much change occurs all at once with the introduction of new life, and that can be overwhelming. Prayer for delivery, sibling relationships, newborn sleep, productive nursing, and strengthening of this family/marriage are great places to start.
2nd Time Mama Gift ideas:
If you’re looking for a gift idea for an upcoming shower, it is great to have some context for what a new mama (or mom of multiples) might need! Mama will be sure to have pricier items on the registry that you can help come alongside to purchase, as well as the many little items that add up.
- Multiples, for subsequent children: These are the items that she’ll need more of with more kids! These could be a sound machine, pack-n-play, monitor, car seat, etc. Chipping in with a group for a higher priced item like a car seat can mean a lot!
- Seasonal clothes: Clothes run from newborn, 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 months so check the calendar and make sure that cute summer onesie is the right size for those summer months!
- Feeding replacements, for second time mamas: Certain breast pump parts, hygiene items, medicines and bottle nipples must be replaced after long term storage! Great gifts include new bottle tops, breastmilk storage bags, pacifiers, or a haaka.
- Diapers & wipes: Babies spend the longest time in size 2, least amount of time in newborns. And, as simple as it may be, your mama will need many.
- Present for sibling: A gift for the older siblings is a gift for the whole family! These can be books to share, puzzles, magnets for fridge, yard sprinkler, bubbles, chalk, cookie cutters, or coloring books. These items will be helpful to occupy bro or sis when mom needs to accomplish something. Phew!
- Mom specific items: It is a treat to receive items that will help mom with her specific needs such as being more active, organized, outside, on the go. These can be carriers, storage containers, baskets, playmats, stroller fans, car shades, etc.
For specifics on gift giving and registry building, find the links here: “2nd Time Mama: the actual things”.
Ways to care for a new mom:
The first few weeks after new baby are a wonderful, adjustment filled blur! Mama will almost always receive most of her support in the first three weeks. Between visiting family and paternity leave, those first weeks can be restful and essential for establishing new rhythms and getting to know this new family member. It is the weeks that follow that can be the most exhausting. That second and third month lead to hormonal changes for mom, developmental changes for baby and a sinking feeling that maybe there hasn’t been enough sleep for anyone in the last month! This is a great time to reach out with a favor, or help a mama get out of the house for a bit! Here are a few other ways you can help:
- Meals: for now or frozen
- A visit with a helping hand
- Take older sibling to lunch
- Walk together
- Check in after two months
All needs are different, and all service to others is heartfelt. What are you favorite ways to love on a new mama and her family?