For some expectant parents, the all-female baby shower has given way to a coed party that includes a broader range of friends and co-workers in the celebration of a new birth. Expanding the concept means expanding more than the guest list. A broader range of gifts can help ease the path from pregnancy to parenthood. From what you call the event to how you plan its activities, keep the gender-blending aspects of it in mind.
Men may flinch at the "S" word. Call the event a celebration, a get-together, a baby party: just about anything except a shower, let alone a sprinkle, the latest label for small showers that welcome births after the first. You can find plenty of room for cuteness in this kind of event, but renaming it to something that men don't find too "girlfriend" may help increase your attendance. If you're unsure what label to apply, use that to your advantage. Send an inquiring email message to the impending dad and any of his male friends or relatives whom you know, asking them to answer a multiple-choice question. Alternatively, put up a social-media poll and wait for the replies to trickle in on your smartphone or tablet.
Make them appealing to the full range of prospective attendees. If you're handy with an image-editing application, use your computer to create a funny photo montage that exchanges the parents' silhouettes, giving him her expanding midsection. For a cohesive event, build your plans around a theme you can carry throughout the entire process from invitations through decorations and gifts.
You can celebrate the time of year in which the birth will occur or the gender of the child, if the expectant parents know and don't object to disclosing that information. You can build a gentle parody of the parents' personalities, likes and dislikes, billing the event as a combined celebration of their occupations, favorite TV shows or musicians, or a deliberately nonsensical title based on personal attributes: "A Pre-Baby Bash in Support of Left-handed Redheads and Right-handed Brunettes." The more colorful—and less traditionally pastel-pink-and-blue—your invitations look, the greater their appeal to a broader population of guests.
Games, Entertainment & Food
Defer to the happy soon-to-be parents on the inclusion or exclusion of the roster of lightheartedly silly games that typically pops up during traditional baby showers. If both of them agree on including them, ask what they'd like to play and tailor your plans to their joint preferences. You can have anything from a diaper-changing game conducted on dolls to a guess-who contest using baby pictures supplied by attendees.
To provide the needed ambiance, put together a playlist of music for your home theater system or audio dock. With Wi-Fi®–enabled entertainment technology, you can combine songs from your smartphone, MP3 player, computer and tablet. Lean heavily on music that appeals to your guests of honor, of course. Let their tastes—and her pregnancy-influenced tolerances—help you determine the food you serve, too. Bake up a tasty sheet cake or batch of cupcakes in your range's convection oven and keep a big tray of veggie hors d'oeuvres in the flexible storage drawer of a French door refrigerator. If your refrigerator makes sparkling water through the freezer door, you can serve up on-demand flavored drinks that accentuate the bubbles without the alcohol.
A blend of "baby stuff" and "parent stuff" makes for a better means of eliciting oohs and aahs from a mixed-gender audience than just itsy bitsy baby clothes. The major focus of a practical baby shower falls on getting the parents prepared for the upcoming birth, however, so if you're trying to help the happy couple stock up on onesies and diapers, make the focus of your gift giving clear on the invitations. You even can turn your decorations into gifts by turning baby bottles, bibs and blankets into place card holders and centerpieces. Try to assure that the presents include a digital camera, camcorder and plenty of memory cards to give the new parents a head start on documenting everything about their new arrival.
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