7 Fun and Unexpected Themes for a Bridal or Baby Shower
Invites, venues, decor, menu choice, games — the to-do lists for planning a bridal or baby shower is long. But the primary task of choosing a theme is usually what helps you make all of those important decisions with ease.
If you're planning a shower this spring and you're looking for more than the typical ho-hum suggestions, this roundup is for you. I’ve gathered the best ideas for a standout shower that will keep your guests oohing and ahhing all through your party.
If you want to relive the fun of sleepaway or day camp, a camp-themed shower is the perfect choice. Activities could include making adult friendship bracelets or creating a faux "color war" with guests divided into two teams that compete against each other for prizes. In terms of food, s'mores would be a fun option for dessert, and typical grilled fare, like burgers and corn on the cob, would be perfect for savory entrees. Consider making your own "bug juice"-themed cocktail with cranberry juice for another fun camp homage. Pull in nostalgic elements like vintage cafeteria trays (check eBay) to serve food.
Pajama Party Shower
For a fun, casual afternoon, consider throwing a pajama party shower. Guests can come dressed in their PJs, and you can hand out slippers as a party favor. Serve up a crowd-pleasing popcorn bar with a variety of toppings and flavors with mini popcorn boxes or tubs. Ask guests to bring their favorite DVDs as part of their gifts so the bride or soon-to-be mama can enjoy binge-watching them in the months to come.
Flower Shop Party
If your guest of honor loves flowers, a flower shop party would make for a truly unique and special afternoon. Hire a floral designer who can come and give everyone at the event a lesson on how to put together their own boquets (and provide enough flowers for everyone to take home their creations). Use crepe paper flowers as part of the decor, or blow up large photos of beautiful arrangements. Serve fresh sandwiches and salads (think poached salmon on a bed of greens or mozzarella caprese sandwiches). For dessert, dish out mini cakes each covered in yummy frosted flowers.
Set Up a "Flower Market"
The day before the party, head to your local flower market to pick out the best and brightest flowers the season has to offer. Be sure to get greens, fillers and flowers in an assortment of colors and sizes. Avoid yellow leaves and brown stems, and don't hesitate to ask a sales associate for help. On the day of the party, display your finds in market-style galvanized buckets, where guests can easily access the flowers they'll be using in their own arrangements.
Create a Seasonal Table
For lunch, cover the dining table in butcher paper and add a romantic runner made with floral fabric cut straight from the bolt. Place a few beautiful arrangements in the center of the table, along with small dishes full of seasonal sweets like peaches and cherries. After the meal, remove the runner to reveal a functional workspace for the "flower school" portion of the party.
Create a fresh menu full of vibrant and seasonal snacks that reflect the natural garden feel of the party. And don't be afraid to have fun with your food. These miniature shrimp salad sandwiches are topped with green onion and cut into hearts for a fun, feminine touch.
Honeycomb served with Blue Cheese, Blackberries + Pears
Key Lime Cake
Martha Washington Candy
Sweeter Than Honey
Create a simple yet impressive appetizer display by ordering a square of raw honeycomb, then arranging it on a wood cutting board with ripe pears, fresh raspberries and a strong blue cheese like Roquefort or Stilton. Set out knives so guests can help themselves by digging out pieces of fresh honey to drizzle over the cheese and fruit.
Flip the Switch
After guests have finished eating lunch, clear the table of the flowers, runner and dinnerware, and leave the butcher paper to serve as a workspace that can be thrown away for quick cleanup at the end of the party. Give each guest the tools she'll need to get started with her own arrangement: a pretty vase or pitcher, pruning shears and an apron.
Invite a florist or experienced friend over to lead the flower-arranging instruction and teach tips to the group. At this particular party, instructor Ash Bailey from The Byrd Collective shows guests which foliage works best for forming a stable base for the rest of the arrangement. Rather than prescribing a formula or "recipe," she teaches guests how to have fun with the flowers by putting together the colors and textures that capture their attention.
Fun With Flowers
After the lesson, invite guests to head to the "market" and choose the flowers they'd like to use for their own arrangements. Using their newly learned skills, everyone will have a blast creating their own beautiful arrangements. The instructor can circulate to each guest, offering assistance and guidance as they work.
Book Club Party
Book lovers would go crazy for a library-themed shower. For a baby shower, tell guests to bring along their favorite children’s books to help the mom-to-be build her collection. For a bridal shower, choose a theme based on the bride’s likes (such as historical fiction or romance), and advise guests to each bring along their favorite book in that category. Visit a thrift store to pick up some vintage books to use for decor throughout the event space. Create beautiful letterpressed bookmarks as a party favor for each guest. For food, think along the lines of a French cafe and offer savory fare like quiche, small salads and roasted vegetables.
If you’re missing Mad Men as much as I am, a mid-century modern shower would be a fun choice. For a unique twist on food, update some old recipes from a '50s cookbook (think delicious, modern updates of beef wellington, salisbury steak, creamed corn or jello molds). If you really want to go all out, ask your guests to dress in '50s attire and to bring along MCM-inspired gifts. Visit a flea market or some thrift stores to find some great '50s serving pieces or glassware to go along with your theme.
For a travel-loving bride-to-be, a destination shower is an awesome way to celebrate her love of adventure. If she already has the honeymoon destination picked out, it would be fun to tie in her shower theme with this choice. You could coordinate all the decor and food around her travel plans. For example, a honeymoon in Italy could translate into a beautiful Italian lunch with Italian ceramic serving pieces, Italian background music and even an Italian cooking gift theme.
Out of Africa Party
Another fun idea is to build your shower theme around a favorite movie of the bride or mom-to-be. Out of Africa (my favorite!) would make for a fun and elegant African safari or glamping-inspired theme. You could create a dramatic safari tent vibe by pinning and draping white sheets on the ceiling. Faux sheepskins on each chair and exotic flowers (like birds of paradise) can also help to create an African safari feel. Consider a menu featuring chicken skewers, roasted vegetables and couscous salad.
Fresh Color Palette
Color is the easiest and most effective way to make an event your own. Choose a palette that works as well for baby boys and girls as it does for moms, dads, husbands and wives. A palette of coral, navy blue, white and silver is a sophisticated fit for both baby and bridal showers.
Easy DIY Invites
Creating a one-of-a-kind invitation is easier than you think. Start by photographing a single object relevant to your theme, like wedding toppers for a touch of bridal or baby bottles filled with milk for a baby shower. Print the images on photo paper, and either add text and borders with photo editing software or simply stamp the party information on the back and mail as a postcard.
A great alternative to renting banquet tables for your shower is to add a larger, temporary top to your existing table. Have a piece of plywood cut six inches larger on all four sides than your actual table. For round tables, simply add six inches to the overall diameter. Enlist a friend to help place the plywood directly on top, then conceal it with a tablecloth.
Clever Place Card Favors
Bridal shower place cards can also make for unique party favors. Instead of folding paper cardstock, opt for colorful journals or notebooks. Write each guest's name down on decorative paper, and attach it to the front of the journal with double-sided tape. Slightly open the book, and place it on its side in front of the place setting.
Select meaningful keepsakes as party favors and double them as napkin rings for the party. While figurines work well, tree ornaments are an even better option due to their attached ribbon. Simply loop the hanging ribbon or string around the napkin, and position the keepsake in place.
Trays of Goodies
To ensure your shower remains interactive and engaging, enlist guests to pass around easy-to-eat finger foods on serving trays. Not only is this is a great way to show off your beautiful culinary creations, it helps break the ice in the event guests may or may not know one another.
Tasty and Colorful
Creative Food Displays
Mocktails for All
Bring the look of fun, colorful cocktails to non-alcoholic party drinks. A splash of cranberry juice added to orange-flavored sparkling water gives it a coral hue – coordinating with your color scheme. Rim each glass with sugar and garnish with an orange wedge to evoke an adult-beverage aesthetic.