I co-hosted a baby shower this weekend for one of my best friends, Kim. We had about 25 people at my house on Saturday. I think a real test of a good entertaining house is whether it can stand up to a bridal or baby shower. These events are intimate, so the space needs to be cozy, but they can also be large so there needs to be quite a bit of seating, unlike cocktail parties where I limit seating to only the largest pieces of furniture. I have hosted at least 5 showers at my house over the years so I feel like I have a good general plan but I customize and tweak the details for the specific honoree.
Here is my general plan, and then I'll tell you how I tweaked it to suit Kim perfectly, in my opinion.
Timing - I really enjoy a brunch shower starting at around 11 a.m. and finishes 2 1/2 to 3 hours later. No one wants to spend 4-5 hours at a baby shower if you can help it. Remember that people are often late so things really won't get started for 30 minutes after your start time. For the first 30 minutes, have drinks available for people to serve themselves while the hostesses greet arriving guests and get food ready to put on the table. I often have the honoree stand relatively close to the door since she knows the attendees better than anyone else. I like to be relatively close to her and direct people to where to put their coats and grab a drink.
I start directing people to eat about 30 minutes into the shower. I always do a buffet so people can go in waves. Those who arrived late can enjoy a drink for a few minutes before getting their food.
Everyone then eats, drinks, and mingles for 30-45 minutes. If there's a craft project (more on that later), I ask people to work on that while others finish their food. Once people are close to finished eating, we play a game or two. Followed quickly by dessert and coffee while the honoree opens her gifts. Hopefully everything is close to wrapping up by 1:45 if you started at 11, so most people are on their way by 2.
Food - Since I usually do brunch food, I'll focus on those options. I like to have one main breakfast casserole. I try not to do something too sweet (e.g., French toast casserole), so I generally do an egg, bread, cheese, and chicken sausage combo which is sinful but completely delicious (the basis for my recipe is here). There are usually plenty of other sweets so people need a bit more substance by late morning. I supplement the casserole with veggie quiche or frittatas (especially if we have more than 15 people), fancy green salad, fruit salad, and pastries (muffins, danish, scones, coffee cake, etc.). For an especially large group, you can add a spiral sliced ham and rolls, which we did for this past weekend's shower. If people volunteer to help, say YES and ask them to bring a specific food contribution. Ask the bakers to do muffins, scones, or coffeecake. Cooks will be happy to bring quiche or frittatas, and those less handy can handle salads, or anyone can order and pick something up ready made! I generally do the breakfast casserole in case someone can't come at the last minute, I always know we have our main dish.
Of course we also have cake and/or cupcakes. Kim loves chocolate cake so her mom got her a chocolate cake but felt that we should have white cupcakes for those who don't like chocolate cake. This was an AMAZING cake so even non-chocolate lovers were drooling over each bite.
Activity - Sometimes, we do an activity in addition to, or instead of, games. For baby showers, I often set up a onesie decorating table in the kitchen where people can decorate pre-washed onesies with stamps and fabric paint. The stamps make it easy for even the least crafty person to participate. The results are often adorable and very personal. Kim LOVES this activity so we had to do it, although it's not an ideal activity when you have more than 15-20 people because of the space it requires. An alternative is to set this up on a porch or deck if the weather cooperates. At a smaller shower, everyone will generally do one, but at a larger shower, maybe half or more might do it.
Decor - Decor is my favorite topic, of course, and I'll give you some pointers on that tomorrow!
Hosted any showers recently? Any good tips to pass along to others? Any shower horror stories?