Over the weekend I was in Chicago furiously planning and executing details in preparation for co-hosting the perfect baby shower for my friend. I arrived Thursday evening and we began preparations early Friday morning. A ten hour day with shopping, cooking, running errands, and prepping with my co-host Lexi was a Friday well spent and it paid off when our mama-to-be arrived at 1pm on Saturday, giddy with happiness. This was the first shower I have ever hosted and I learned a lot from it and I’m excited to share some planning details with you!
Here is a step-by-step guide for planning the perfect shower!
First thing’s first, talk to the mama-to-be and set a date! Coordinate weekends where you, your co-host, and the expectant mother are free!
Pick a location! Are you going to do in the expectant mother’s hometown? Current city? At your house? At a friends? This will help you decide the “who”…
Once you know your location, decide on a guest list! Will it be local friends’? Will it include any family? The where might be a huge factor in your planning. We decided to plan this particular shower in Chicago though the expectant mother lives in Baltimore. A large portion of friends are still in Chicago and it was a good central place between the mama-to-be (Liz) and me (traveling from Austin). My co-host Lexi lives in Chicago so I knew I’d have someone local to help me plan while I was far away!
If truth be told, I had some planning mishaps. I offered to host a large guest list of people before consulting my co-host and we had to switch locations because our party size became too big. ALWAYS talk through everything with your party partner and the expectant mother before making an executive decisions! #rookiemistake
We switched the shower from Lexi’s humble abode to my parents’ apartment because they were out of town. We were lucky and it worked out perfectly :)
After you’ve got the initial details planned out, you can relax a little. The when, who, & where are the first most important details!
Next, set a budget…this detail is so important! The difference between planning a shower and a bachelorette party is that the expenses fall on you, the hostess. Make sure you plan a shower you can afford! And there are many things to start thinking about when it comes to planning. What time of day are you hosting? What kind of food do you want to prepare? Will you have games you want to play? Do you have a theme? There are also plenty of expenses you might not anticipate like last minute inspiration or the expense of getting balloons filled with helium. Give yourself a little room in your budget for miscellaneous expenses.
We decided to plan a theme for Liz’s baby shower. Liz is not going to find out the sex of her child until birth so we went with a gender neutral theme: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Because Liz’s husband has been called “Hallstar” since his high school days and because their wedding hashtag was #theHallstars, we made the party #TwinkleTwinkleLittleHALLstar :) Kind of a nice ring to it if you ask me! Plus it was so much fun finding stars and moons for the shower.
Pick your invitations & send them out. We found our invitations on Etsy and had them printed at Fedex. They were the cutest thing ever! Invitations should be sent out at least 4 weeks out if you plan on including out of town guests (which we did). Even if you’re not, I highly recommend giving guests plenty of time to plan so they are able to attend!
Decide on a Menu… This is something that you can prepare the day before if you wish. Lexi is kind of a shower guru so she had plenty of ideas for what to create. She even put together the most gorgeous cheese tray I’ve ever seen… Martha Stewart, move over! Mrs. Hinkle will give you a run for your money ;)
I made my favorite butternut squash salad (sans chicken) and paleo chicken salad and we bought croissants and Dorite donuts (gluten free Heavenly donuts in Chicago). YUM! And Lexi’s sweet Aunt made the most beautiful cookies!
And of course we had options for mimosas and delicious bloody Mary’s. And alc-free champs for our favorite bubbly loving mama.
Once we had an idea for our menu, we had to get together our decorations. We had balloons filled at Party City and for anyone planning a party, a filled 36 inch balloon will NOT fit in your car. Neither will a full 24 inch one unless you have a totally empty row of seats (ha)! I had three blown up and then had to downsize so they fit in our vehicle… and guys, I was driving in a 12 seater van! Unless you’re taking a bus to go pick up your balloons, I think you might have a similar experience I did. My brother (thank goodness he drove me) and I had to lean forward with zero vision as we moved the balloons from the store to the apartment. It made for lots of giggles.
Large balloons are AMAZING though. They really add the perfect touch to a party. As Lexi and I went on a mission for string to hang onesies from (another brilliant Lexi idea), we found the cutest wood letters at Target and HAD to make a HALLSTAR sign for our mantel. It was so perfect!
Other decorations included framed photos of both Mom and Dad as babies as well as a wedding picture. And there were lots and lots of white flowers! All different kinds we could find. Baby’s breath is always a good touch to mix with the group and the flower arrangements looked beautiful around the apartment. We created mug vases that said XOXO (because letters nationwide for both LOVE and BABY were sold out) and they were so cute with their floral arrangements.
We had a basket of diapers out and a sign asking guests to write notes on the diapers for late night changes. We thought this would be a cute little touch and some people got creative with their silly notes… “Daddy’s turn” might have been written more than once ;)
Let’s talk activity and games. With a mixed group like ours: friends, family, and a few who didn’t know one another, we knew we had to pick activities that everyone could enjoy together. Lexi’s friend Katie has a business in Chicago called Make to Celebrate (IG: @maketocelebrate) and she came over and helped us create a gorgeous ABC book for our gal. Each of us crafted two pages for the book and it was a great way to spend time and chat with each other. Plus the end result was awesome!
And of course, make sure you have a good playlist going, places for people to sit while the mother-to-be opens gifts, and someone taking lots of pictures. We played “Who Knows Mommy Best” – a questionnaire of about 16 questions that mommy had to fill out as well. The top three winners got prizes :) I highly recommend this game for answering in between gift opening!
Last, we gave our friends a little shower gift…AUNT SQUAD t-shirts (similar here) because so many of our friends are having babies and because these shirts are just too adorable. It was the perfect little touch at the end of the party :)
We love you, Liz! Cheers to becoming a Mother! xoxo
Ps: you can shop my outfit here ;)
HUGE shout out to my parents for letting us take over their place, move all their furniture around, use their china and crystal, and for having their apartment cleaned before the party! And another shout out goes to Lexi who has to be one of the best and most prepared party planners I know. This shower would not have been the same (or even close) without you! xxx