There is only one event in the calendar that I genuinely dread: the baby shower. I wholeheartedly admit that some American exports are fantastic (such as fast food, films and Bradley Cooper) whereas some things should stay firmly in the States – baby showers being numero uno.
Maybe I’m just being too British about it but I really dislike baby showers. It’s the expectation of a gift (given before the person receiving it has even materialised), the disturbing foetus-themed games and baby-themed non-baby food. Most of all I hate the celebration of an event which hasn’t even happened yet – that poor woman in the middle with the giant belly has got a LOT to go through before her little bundle of joy arrives (or indeed before she manages to catch up on enough lost sleep to realise the joy of her little bundle).
I noticed, at the last ordeal that I went to, the difference between the ‘done it‘ and ‘haven’t done it‘ women (for some reason they all must be women). The ‘done it‘ camp were calm, bored even, and had a look about them of “you have no idea what is about to befall you”. The ‘haven’t done it‘ camp were divided between those finding it all very novel and exciting, or those that were entirely ambivalent. The one thing I was certain of was that this was definitely forced fun, and there was a distinct absence of the f-word (I meant fun – but interestingly no swearing occurred, as people seemed to feel best behaviour was appropriate despite the fact that the tiny star of the show was very far from putting in an appearance).
I also wondered at the cold irony of the dry baby shower. Why must everyone drink soft drinks at these things? The only good baby showers I have been to involved either booze or men or both. There are other oddities, too. This seems the only occasion where a woman’s stomach girth can be openly measured and estimated in front of a crowd. I’m not sure how this is fun for anyone. I have also heard horror stories of grotesque games featuring chocolate bars melted into nappies (you sniff to guess the chocolate) which made me gag a little. What a waste of chocolate.
Recently I read about a rise in a new type of celebration called ‘the post-baby party’. This sounds far more fun. That way it can be a true celebration – the arrival has actually arrived, both parents can be present, as well as (shock horror) other male friends and family. Presents, if present, can be bought with the actual person in mind. We know their name to be able to toast them, and it can be a genuine party to mark a safe arrival, a new beginning and the end of what was probably a harrowing labour. There can even be wine.
I am spreading the word to get rid of baby showers and welcome post-baby parties. Seriously, they are so 2010. But, if you really have to do it, here’s how not to do it:
Invitations: please don’t make your guests want to vomit up their cornflakes when this pops through the post:
Cakes: this is certainly one occasion where realism isn’t appropriate:
(Upon Googling ‘baby shower’ I came across this truly terrifying compilation – WARNING remember that some things cannot be un-seen: http://www.preggoleggings.com/blogs/preggosphere/19094731-baby-shower-epic-fails-disaster-cakes-that-will-make-you-cringe ).
Booze: get some. Just because the Mummy-to-be isn’t on the fizz it doesn’t mean everyone else has to abstain. This is just good manners (and besides, they will need something to get them through the below)…
Games: if you really must devise games to make the time pass PLEASE don’t make them weird. Or boring. No one wants to sniff nappies, decorate bibs or ‘guess the weight of the baby’ unless there is genuine money or decent prizes up for grabs. Remember your audience, people!
Blokes: whoever said the entry requirements for a baby shower are that you must have a uterus? Some of my female friends are just as (un)likely to pop their own sprog as my male friends are, and find it all equally as uninteresting. Mix it up – it will make it less contrived.
Make it interesting: there’s got to be something in it for your guests. They will have bought gifts, pretended to be interested in everyone else’s gifts (“oh look, another pair of shrivelled-looking baby socks”) and tried to make polite conversation with people they have nothing in common with and will probably never meet again. Give them something for their efforts: a free bar, some serious buffet food that isn’t baby-themed (nobody ever wanted to eat something with a pram iced onto it) and maybe even some entertainment. Just because one of you isn’t going to be out partying any time soon doesn’t mean everyone else can’t let their hair down!