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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baby Shower - How I pulled it off at 8 months pregnant

I've had several people ask me how I pulled off throwing my friend's baby shower when I, myself, was 8 months pregnant. Well....here it goes! 

The best tip I can give y'all is do as much cooking and preparation in advance as you can. Pregnant or not, this is my philosophy for EVERY party I throw. No one enjoys going to a party when the host or hostess is visibly exhausted or frazzled. I view part of my role as the party-thrower to be the "fun maker" and "instigator of shenanigans." 

Now, in light of the fact that I knew I would be very pregnant at the time of this party, I started planning early. Here's what I did:

1-2 Months Before the Event
  • I wrote out my entire plan for the event, including:
    • Food I would serve
    • Beverages
    • Games we would play
    • Decor I would use 
    • Favors I would give
    • Easy tasks I could assign to other people 
Keep in mind -- it's easy to either get carried away or not feel obligated to plan enough when you are brainstorming this far in advance. Stick to the basics and keep it simple. When planning your decor, focus on 2-3 elements that pack a BIG punch. For the baby shower, I had three decor elemtents:

  1. Flowers -- I bought two bouquets of white flowers and divided them up between about 10-12 small glass jars (these were all leftover jelly, pickle, olive, pepper jars I had saved over the years).  By using flowers in a single color, I established a color motiff for the shower. 
  2. Tissue Poofs -- I did a Pinterest search for tissue poofs and found a tutorial to follow to make my own. I made about 17 or so white tissue poofs and hung them over the kitchen island where lunch was being served, over the fireplace, and over the dining table where dessert was being served. These poofs signaled to my guests where the action would be taking place. 
  3. Onesies and socks -- I picked up a 4-pack of plain white onesies and a 6-pack of cute baby socks, and hung them with cloths pins across the front of my fireplace. I gave all of these items to my friend as part of her gift. 
1-2 Weeks Before the Event
  • I made or prepped all of the non-edible stuff I would need for the event, including:
  • I reviewed all of my recipes and made a detailed shopping list
  • I also shopped for all of my non-perishables -- I can't stress enough how helpful it was to break up my shopping into two trips. By buying the non-perishables earlier, it made the days leading up to the shower so much simpler. 
  • Purchase and WRAP whatever gift you are planning to give to the momma-to-be.
Keep in mind -- it's easy to put this step off....don't underestimate the power of starting early. Make yourself focus and do as much ahead of time as possible. You don't want to be up in the wee hours of the morning the night before the event making party favors or planning games. 

We had a REALLY fun time with games. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of shower games unless I'm the one picking the games (surprise, surprise). Here's what we played:

  1. Ice Cube Baby game -- Buy small plastic babies from your local craft store. I got mine at Michael's in the baby shower section. Wash them, and then freeze each baby inside an ice cube (you'll need ice cube trays for this). When you're ready to play the game, make sure each guest has a beverage in-hand, and place one ice cube in each guest's glass. First one who's "water breaks" (i.e. baby is completely free from the ice cube) wins!! It's fun, and people really get a kick out of it. I stole this game from my husband's cousin, Kristen, who is the BEST party-thrower and hostess ever. She makes this stuff look so easy. 
  2. Complete the Nursery Rhyme -- Each person gets a sheet of paper with 20+ lines from nursery rhymes with missing words. They must fill in the blanks. Whoever gets the most right wins! You can Google nursery rhyme games and tons will come up. Just pick whatever ones you like. 
  3. Just Ask Mama -- This game ended up being a HUGE hit. Each person gets a small piece of paper and a pen. On one side they must write a question a new mother might have (any question they want, and encourage them to be creative). Some of the questions people wrote were: "How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?" "How do I get rid of these hemorrhoids?" and "What do I do if my baby has a fever?" You may want to have a few questions handy in case people need help thinking of a question. Once everyone is done writing their question, tell them to turn their papers over and hand them to the person on their left. Now, tell everyone to write the answer to their ORIGINAL question on the back of the paper they just received. You might have some non-moms or kids in the room who don't know the answer to the question they wrote  -- just tell them to write down whatever they think the answer is. Once everyone is done, collect the cards and shuffle them. Then read them out loud. You'll now have a bunch of questions with random answers on the back, and the result is quite hilarious! We actually asked my husband to read the questions out loud for us, because for whatever reason it was even funnier listening to him read them. The group was in tears laughing. There's not really a winner to this game, obviously. :)
2 Days Before the Event
  • Shop for perishables
    • I bought my veggies, fruits, beef and flowers and any other last-minute items I needed
  • Start prepping!
    • I froze my ice cube babies
    • I arranged my flowers in jars
  • I made a checklist of everything I wanted to get done the day before the event, as well as what I would need to get done the morning of the event -- this ensured nothing got overlooked.
  • Plan your outfit for the event -- seriously. You don't want to be scrambling to get yourself ready the day of the event. If you plan your outfit ahead of time, you'll have time to do any extra laundry you might need to do to have that perfect outfit. 
1 Day Before the Event
  • Made all of my desserts
  • Made the BBQ beef in the crockpot
  • Set out all of my serving dishes and corresponding labels
  • Did all of my decorating
  • Mixed apple and cranberry juices together. I wrapped cloves, cinnamon sticks and a sliced vanilla bean in cheesecloth and placed it in the juices to steep overnight in the fridge.
  • Sliced oranges and froze them in the freezer
  • Crumbled the blue cheese and sliced the havarti
  • Sliced red onions and tossed them in red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to marinate overnight
  • Cleaned the house! With the help of the hub of course.
I was exhausted at the end of the day, but it was well worth the effort! And I was still in bed by 10pm. I got a good night's sleep and woke up ready to party! The morning of the event, I only had a few easy things to do.

The Day of the Event

  • Got myself dressed and ready -- do this FIRST!
  • Get some fun, energizing music going. I played disco music and kept it going through the entire party. It just makes you smile and want to shake what yo' mama gave you. 
  • Warmed the BBQ beef in the crockpot
  • Made fruit and veggie skewers -- I had a friend come over early and she made all of these
  • Tossed the coleslaw together -- this literally took 5 minutes
  • Sliced the pretzel rolls
  • Washed and leafed the lettuce for lettuce wraps -- my friend did this as well
  • Put the rest of the food and desserts into their serving trays
  • Added ginger ale and frozen orange slices to the punch
  • I recruited my husband to move some chairs, clean the bathroom, and be our photographer for the event -- his reward was getting to taste

I was so relaxed when people started showing. I had confidence that everything was done exactly as I wanted, and I had so much energy, I was able to enjoy the party as much as my guests. 

You can find all of the recipes I used by clicking here. The only recipe missing from this link is my Autumn Punch, which I outlined below:

Autumn Punch
  • 2 parts apple juice (I used one giant jug of apple juice from Costco)
  • 1 parts cranberry juice (I used about half of a giant jug of cranberry juice from Costco)
  • Frozen orange slices
  • 10-12 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, each cracked in half
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle and cut into a few pieces
  • Cheesecloth
  • 1 liter of ginger ale
Combine apple and cranberry juices in a HUGE pitcher or beverage dispenser. Wrap cloves, cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans in cheesecloth and tie off the end (like a big tea bag). Drop the cheesecloth bag into the juice mixture and let it steep overnight in the fridge. Before your guests arrive, remove the cheesecloth, and add the ginger ale and frozen orange slices. 

Cheers!!! 

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