My daughter is pregnant with her first child. Our family is over the moon excited for her and her husband. As she announced this fantastic news I’m positive I didn’t miss a beat or check with my husband before shouting “I want to throw the baby’s shower!”.
Cucumbers Sandwiches and Pixar
Once she was far enough along in her pregnancy with an ultrasound or two under her belt, we discussed what type of shower to throw. “Like, I don’t know, a garden tea party with cucumber sandwiches sounds fun?” she pondered. We would be inviting both husbands and wives plus babies to the shower. A total of around 40 guests. There would be no gender reveal. No pastel colors. The baby’s room was being decorated with nods to several Pixar films. Favorite flavors are lemon and raspberry. More than one close friend is Vegan. More than one friend has a baby who will need to be breast fed with some privacy.
It all seemed doable, I was just going to need to get creative in some areas…ok all areas.
We live in Arizona. The Valley of the Sun. Temperatures climb to 100 as a high by June. We have zero moisture in the air. A light breeze isn’t really a thing. Water spraying misters on your patio are. So, having an outdoor tea party is an entirely different concept here than if we lived in a mild climate like the East Coast or England. Not only is grass hard to come by but a slice of bread unwrapped dries out to a crouton in approximately 3 minutes. The internet is filled with advice about how to make sure your tiny tea sandwich’s do not get soggy! HA! Not one article on what to do if the bread on your tiny cucumber sandwich feels like 40 grit sandpaper before your guests arrive. I was ready for the challenge.
Before I could even get started with the fun stuff like decorating, serious cleaning of the entire house top to bottom took place. Floors scrubbed. Windows washed. There was not a spot of this house that did not receive a good once over. Cleaning is crucial. We removed things like our wall clock, our tv and certain personal items that would distract from the theme.
Dinosaurs, Balloons and Babies
Decorating started happening in my mind as soon as I got the go ahead to have the party. I love Pixar films. Toy Story is one of the best ever made. Rex seemed to fit the part as our main attraction perfectly. I ordered a life sized cutout, around $50 and figured I’d find him a home once he arrived. He wound up fitting perfectly on the mantle in our living room. But, after staring at him for a few days, frozen in the position he was in, he looked like he needed to be doing something more like holding balloons. A lot of balloons. The Pixar movie UP came to mind. Our house is small and white. What if Rex had run into the house with a huge handful of balloons and they kind of got stuck on the way? We ordered 100 balloons. Done. Concept in place. We simply strung ribbon along the ceiling and attached all the balloons to it!
Next up, outdoor décor. Online I found a wall sized fabric mural of the entire Toy Story gang running at us for around $50.
I knew where it would go I just didn’t know how. Problem solved by using poster board taped together to form the exact size. We taped the fabric to the poster board with painters tape. We hung the entire thing with Gorilla Tape. I was also going to need to create a safe area for all the little ones, roughly 9 of them, coming to the party. We live on a hill in the desert. We have plenty of cactus and even lots of trees but zero grass. We do have a large wrap around brick patio with a lot of space and fantastic views but no where near the actual seating for 30 adults. Creativity was critical in keeping everyone from getting hurt. We bought a patch of fake grass from Home Depot for around $80 plus grabbed $20 worth of misting hose while we were there. The grass worked perfectly as a play area along with a small table from the house filled with toys and bubbles from the Dollar Tree. Spinning Flowers also from the Dollar Tree hung upside down were a great effect.
Our best advice to help keep costs down on the big stuff is to go on Craigslist. We found a huge wooden picnic table and benches that seats 9 easily for only $125. It is so heavy I think I still have a hernia from moving it!
( side note : If you are like the rest of us and are an average working person (non millionaire) and want to decorate and afford that “next level” look, you need to start ordering things in advance and on pace for the date of the party. Having all of my decorations in hand a month ahead saved me a ton of stress and anxiety and helped me to budget along the way. It also allowed me to take my time decorating like I would for Christmas. Disney level decorating comes from setting aside time specifically for concept drawings, choosing colors, layering ideas, readjusting and finishing small details, all of which simply can not be achieved day of the event.
Buying things last minute tends to lead to over spending on things you do not use or need and paying for faster shipping, never to the items we really wanted. Plus if you have to wait to decorate at the last minute you become rushed and it shows. Other important things like getting yourself ready or answering the door are no longer done at the pace or attention they should be.)
A Quiet Place
Being a mom I know how trying to soothe a fussy baby can really stress you out when you are at a gathering or an event. Even a happy baby enjoys some quiet Mom time when feeding whether bottle or breast fed. That in mind, we set up a room that was specifically for moms to head off to if needed. Quiet with light music on, much cooler than the rest of the house, with a cozy chair, bed, pillows and blankets. This room has a small bathroom as well making it easier for mom or dad to wash up. It was appreciated.
Let The Games Begin
To me the harder, more pressing question was “What games were we going to play?” There will be at least 9 small children ages 6 and down attending the party. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 adults give or take. Some adults may be holding babies but want to play the games too. My daughter, like most of her friends and co workers are in their 30s. They couldn’t possibly still be playing the same games in 2022 as we did back in my days like “identify the baby food in the jar” right?
I go online to search.
I’m going to be honest here. Besides being amazed that the exact same games are still being suggested, some versions have gotten worse. For example:
Bobbing for Pacifiers
This concept literally has me dumbfounded. What planet are you on that you can invite your beautifully dressed up friends over for a day party and tell them to stick their face in a bucket? Its over 100 degrees here and not a one of my guests are going to be told to do a face plunge with their full makeup and hair and come up with a pacifier in their mouth. Who is this fun for?
There were games suggested like “What’s in your Purse or Wallet?”
The obvious rudeness of this game is appalling. We showed our guests where they could set their purses. I can not imagine asking them all to dig around in them telling everyone what they did or did not have as a game! I literally felt a smack in my head just now from my dead Italian Grandmother for even suggesting it.
Or the ever popular “lets melt different candy bars into a diaper” and then what? Insult my guests some more I guess. Maybe they can stick their face into a diaper and then go wash off bobbing for pacifiers? Oh hey! lets blindfold people and change dirty diapers.
Exhausted and Disgusted I ended my search realizing me and my husband, my partner in crime, would need to come up with our own version of games. These are the games we came up with.
20 Words or Less Baby K Version
The popular game show hosted by Meredith Viera 25 Words or Less was the perfect solution to playing a game with everyone included when you have a large group. The concept of the original game is fairly simple : You have a card with 5 words on it. You are given 45 seconds on the clock to get your team to yell out those five words. You have 25 words in which to give them clues. You cannot act it out or say the word. If you’re not sure you say “pass” and it does not count as one of your 25 words.
For our game we started at 20 Words or Less for the first round, 15 Words or Less for the second round and 10 Words or Less for the final round all with 45 seconds on the clock. We did not tell anyone but all of the words were somehow baby related. After all our guests had settled on the patio we visually split them in half as two groups. My daughter had one side, her husband the other side. In prepared gold envelopes they could not see, they chose their card with their words. We also used the theme music from the show! Believe it or not they tied so we had to do a final word. Gifts for both teams were candy.
Blue Sour Punch Straws for the winners. Blue Mike and Ikes for the second team.
For our Second Game:
Baby Duck Toss
Babies need bath tubs. Why should it be some boring regular tub when you can actually have an inflatable duck as your tub!? We ordered a Duck Tub online from Munchkin. Good Quality. We then ordered a dozen small ducks, smaller than the average tub duck.
How to play: First you will need to determine exactly how many people are going to play. Example:
We set our bracket up for 8 teams of 3 which means you need 24 people playing. We put numbers in a bucket 3-1s, 3-2s and so on up to 8. We asked everyone to pick from the bucket. This is how we selected teams and kept it fair. You picked a number then had to locate your team. During this break as our guests found their teammates and grabbed snacks, we were able to set up the duck ( pre blown up of course! also had a bucket of soapy water ready and waiting to pour)
Music was ALL duck! The Duck Song ( got any grapes?) Rubber Duckie, Disco Duck, Darkwing Duck…..
Two teams would go head to head trying to lob 6 baby ducks in to momma ducks tub by using a long sleeve baby onsie! One team member holds the arms. One team member holds the legs. One team member gets ducks
In 2 minutes the team with the most ducks in moves into the finals!
Winners took home large sparkling rubber ducks found at 5 and Below
.Got any Grapes?
We chose to play only 2 games outside due to the heat and to allow more time for socializing, eating and watching presents being opened.By our fish tank we had filled a large clear bucket with Goldfish Crackers and a sign saying “One fish Two Fish How many Gold Fish are in the Jar?”.
Guessing games are extremely popular and anyone can play. In advance I counted out 1422 goldfish. It was a lot of fun to hear the guesses and how wildly off they were! Our Winner took home the container.
And finally we had a corner area you could write your baby name suggestions.
My daughter had told us a story awhile ago about an event her and friends all attended where no arrangements were made for those in their party that were vegan. Simply a plate of lettuce (no exaggeration) was given. Such a ludicrous story they all still talk about it years later. Though I am not vegan I was positive there are plenty of foods you can offer besides lettuce. By using hummus as my mayo I found I could make all kinds of variations. Bread, depending on your guests and dietary needs was still easy as pita, pumpernickel, whole grains etc. We eliminated meat entirely from our party. Nuts, fruits, veggies, I even bought Lemon Curd! We filled up a kitchen with Vegan friendly things none of which were fake versions of anything. Drinks were Green Tea, Simply Lemonade and water.
Now the cake…I have to admit, I was obsessed with making sure we got a good cake. As hard as it might be to believe living in such a popular place as AZ but we do not have tons of local bakeries here like they do in some parts of the world. Our bakeries are few and far between and more often than not you’ll be getting cake from the grocery store or Costco. I refused! Not for this party! We need yummy lemon and raspberry. We searched on line and found Sassy’s bakery in Mesa. We said baby shower but no pastels, make it pretty. And they did. You’ll need to figure about $3 a slice per guest to give you a budget on a fancy cake. Now the next hurdle was keeping the cake and most importantly the frosting and filling from turning into a soft mess. Though our house would be airconditioned, Arizona heat wasn’t going to let a cake sit out for the entire party. Buttercream frosting and raspberry mousse filling have their limits. Sassy’s did a beautiful job on the cake. We took the cake out of the fridge after the Duck Game ended. Had I not cut a hunk of it to save for me and my husband to eat later we would have had none! Proud to say our guests enjoyed every bit of it! Bravo Sassy’s!
While presents were being opened and guests started to leave, we gave each flowers and a yummy Trader Joes Mango Tangerine Candle from the guests of honor, my daughter and her husband.
They have great prices and I can count on them for having a good selection with unique flowers and colors. I bought cellophane and ribbon that was also used for decorating Rex, then bundled 3-4 flowers each .
Probably the best piece of advice I can give to anyone planning something this big or this special is to enjoy the entire process. Every step of it. Do not wait until the end and the party is over to get fulfillment. If you are waiting for your praises and applause, the honest, smaller compliments you get during the party and moments of joy will be lost. You will be left in the empty silence that falls upon any finished event. Enjoy the ride. Celebrate for others. Give. Love.