In Photos: Anatomy of a Baby Shower

A line drawing of a baby in black pen. Only the top half of the picture is visible, showing a baby with his tongue sticking out and a caption balloon that has the baby saying: Garcon! I'll have the chili cheese fries this evening, if you please. The drawing is intentionally cryptic to draw you into reading this story to find out more about it.

We had our baby shower on Friday. Or as my 3-year-old daughter calls it, our baby bath.

Eleven folks attended, and most brought their tots, ages 18 months to 4 years. It’s three days later now, and Little Miss’ room is still in manic disarray.

Here is a recap in photos.

A photo looking up at a blue ribbon on a ceiling with yellow, white and blue streamers extending out from it like a star.

Have your friends organize the baby shower for you. If you can do it at their house, even better. We chose our home because with a mix of work and non-work friends, it’s the one location everyone knows.

The organizers came in and hung ceiling decorations.

Photo of three cardboard color decals of a boy rubber duck wearing a sailor hat, as seen attacked to our living room wall.

And they stuck goofy baby stuff on our walls.

Photo of a white macrame plant hanger with baby alphabet blocks woven into it as various positions. A stuffed panda bear is sitting in the hanger as it is displayed in my living room.

I got into the spirit by hanging the macramé plant holder my mother sent me last week. I then passed out for two hours, only to awaken with recovered memories of my mom dragging my poor toddler self to inanely boring macramé classes in the basement of Pottery World every week in the late 1970s. Pottery World wasn’t like Pottery Barn. They sold pottery and taught macramé classes. I survived somehow.

The plant holder is new, but the alphabet blocks have 45-year-old holes drilled in them from a craft project my mother started for the first baby born in her circle of college friends. The panda is my daughter’s. She begrudgingly permitted it to overlook the baby shower for one day.

Photo of a long rectangular bronze serving tray half filled with a mountain of cut strawberries and orange slices.

Oh. My. God. This platter was brought in and they began slicing organic strawberries, oranges, mango, grapes and blueberries. I thought it couldn’t possibly be emptied, but the guests had a good go of it, and two normal size platters, too. It was a 1:30 p.m. party, presumably after everyone had eaten lunch.

(Guests ate with our plates and utensils. Between the buffet and cake, I tossed everything into the dishwasher for a quick 30-minute wash.)

Photo of an end table with a stack of envelopes and one pen on top.

A pen and envelopes were placed at the door so guests could pre-address their thank-you envelopes.

Photo of a white cake with yellow icing roses on top, and the following phrase inscribed: Welcome ot the world Little One.

Here’s the requisite too-big-to-be-eaten cake. Before the party started, I headed out to get paper plates so folks could take some cake home with them.

Photo of a black pen drawing of a baby taped to a wall. Red strings are visible in various locations around the baby. The back of a blindfolded child is visible as she tried to pin her own red string on the baby's bellybutton.

The first party game was Pin-the-Umbilical-Cord-on-the-Baby. The drawing is positioned a little high because we expected only adults to play.

The "cord" that guests attached with tape consisted of one white and two red strips of yarn. It’s supposed to represent the two arteries and one vein in a real umbilical cord (white was just the color we had available).

The baby drawing was done by a friend. The original plan was for him to draw a fetus inside its mother, but the images the artist googled weren’t too attractive. We eventually opted for a newborn, but we didn’t specify its appearance. So, left to his own devices, the above image is what he came up with.

The "Garçon! I’ll have the chili cheese fries this evening, if you please." quote has no intrinsic meaning that we know of. Incidentally, garçon is French for "boy," but in English it commonly means "waiter."

You can’t tell from the image, but the drawing was made on four 8"x11" sheets taped together.

Our friends’ original idea was for the game to be Pin-the-Baby-on-the-Breast using a drawing of a mother. Except, I thought the object people pinned on the breast should be an open pair of baby lips so you could accurately gauge proximity to the nipple, but that seemed a bit much.

Photo of a piece of paper titled: Famous Mothers. People are asked to fill in the blanks to describe different types of mothers, such as: a major or profitable source or supply, and a nonprofit, left-wing, progressive political magazine.

Three fill-in-the-blank party games were next.

Guess the mother — Fill in the names of various types of mothers. The funniest query? Not an outlaw: mother-in-law.

Photo of a piece of paper labeled Name the Baby. People are asked to fill in blanks to name different types of baby animals such as a duck, horse, goat, butterfly and rabbit.

Guess the animal baby names — Given a list of animals, write down the name for the baby version of that animal. The hardest query? A baby eel: elver.

Photo of a piece of paper titled ABC's of babies. The alphabet is displayed as a vertical line and people will write in a word next to each letter.

Alphabet — Write the name of a baby toy, gear or other "thing" that starts with each letter of the alphabet. We didn’t have time to play this promising game.

Photo of 15 pairs of socks lined up. They are varying shades of baby blue, light green and white and are confusingly similar in appearance.

The idea with this game is to see how many pairs of baby socks you can match together in 60 seconds. Someone was rather fiendish when they shopped for such similar looking socks.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to play the game. There was enough mayhem with toddlers running around. Fortunately, we got to keep the socks!

Photo of a bunch of filled water balloons sitting in a sink.

My wife’s grand idea was for everyone to play Don’t-Break-Your-Water. People would race (outside) with a water balloon tucked between their thighs. Guests were asked to bring a change of clothes. Due to the style of event management we had (people talking and having a good time is a good thing), we never got around to doing the race. Oh, what do we do now with 20 water balloons in the middle of winter?

Photo of seven potted blooming flowers arranged on a tray.

The prize for each party game was a potted flowering plant.

Photo of an assemblage of gifts on the floor and adults, Little Miss and another child surround it.

Next, we opened gifts while a friend wrote down who gave us each item, in order to make our thank you notes easier to manage.

A lot of people gave us two gifts—one for the baby and one for our daughter. It’s a good idea in principle to ward off a sibling from feeling jealous of the baby. Her gifts included a toy baby stroller, a wristwatch and a "I’m a big sister" T-shirt.

The baby received what you would expect—lots of nice clothing, Robeez shoes, and such. My wife received a nightgown and some essential oils.

Photo of a three-tier diaper cake. The first two tiers are composed of tightly rolled disposable diapers and banded with blue ribbon. Baby hats and mittens are tucked under the ribbons. The top tier consists of a teddy bear hugging a rolled up baby blanket.

One of our friends also made us a diaper cake (following these instructions). It was composed primarily of rolled disposable diapers (wrapped with hair ties my daughter can use). We’ll be using reusable diapers, but we will use disposables for the first week or two until the baby poop isn’t so thick.

Photo of a close-up of the teddy bear hugging a rolled up baby blanket.

A teddy bear and baby blanket cake topper!

Photo of the bottom two tiers of the diaper cake.

Now we don’t have to buy a box of disposable diapers and leave half of them unused.

Photo of the core of the bottom two tiers of the diaper cake, each tier revealing a core consisting of a glass baby bottle and a baby outfit.

The core of the cake was held up by 8-ounce and 4-ounce Evenflo
glass bottles
, each wrapped in baby shirts. The outside of the cake was
wrapped in ribbons with baby mittens and hats attached. All of this was
on a platter lined with cloth diaper inserts.

Photo of an end table filled with water color painting sets and adjustable crayons that reside in a plastic pen-like housing.

No party would be complete without party favors for the kids… paints and crayons. Yeah, those are retractable twist-out crayons in plastic holders, which seems a bit silly to assure sharpness, but OK.

Photo of Little Miss smiling while wearing a pink T-shirt featuring a big and small giraffe sitting together below the words: I'm a big sister!

Other than hosting the party in our home, everything was arranged by two friends in consultation with my wife. They outlayed quite a bit of time, money and effort for us. In retrospect, this baby shower meant even more than that.

With our first child, at this time in the pregnancy my wife was well into her prenatal depression, and later her postpartum depression. We wouldn’t recognize it until many months later, so a great deal of our first pregnancy was unhappy to my inexplicable dismay. ("Thing seems to be going pretty good for us, so why are we arguing so much? Why is she crying over this baby she has wanted for so long?")

Statistics vary widely, but 50 to 90 percent of mothers who experience pregnancy or post-birth depression have it recur with later children. As a precaution, this time we’ve had a therapist involved from the get-go, and so far haven’t needed antidepressants (a concern of ours).

So it was delightful to be surrounded by friends and be filled with happiness and hope for the future. And, the day after the shower, the baby became full-term at 37 weeks; if he comes out now, there’s no stopping him.

But you know, it’s not all good. When I got around to washing all of our new baby clothes this weekend, I had a holy @#$%^&*! moment when I realized we’ll soon be doing 2 to 4 loads of wash every day.


14 Responses to “In Photos: Anatomy of a Baby Shower”

  1. Inki says:

    I love the diaper cake! And the don’t break your water game seems like it would have been fun :-)

    March 3rd, 2008 at 1:15 am

  2. Paul says:

    My comment is off topic but all the gifts reminded me of this. One great thing we did before our Son Noah was born was to take his sister Robin (2-1/2) shopping for a gift for him and to secretly buy a gift from him for her. The first time she was to meet him she eagerly brought him the gift and then was so surprised and touched that he had a gift waiting in his crib for her. She spent the rest of her hospital stay taking very good care of him (supervising the nurses etc) and to this day I’m convinced getting them off on such a good foot had a huge lasting impact of her brother being an integral part of the family and not some new intruder into her life.

    The link on my name is Robin marching through the hospital on her way to meet Noah for the first time.

    March 3rd, 2008 at 2:00 am

  3. thordora says:

    Sounds awesome. I didn’t even have one the second time, but they were so close, there wasn’t much need. LOVE the diaper cake!

    March 3rd, 2008 at 4:55 am

  4. Cindi Hoppes says:

    Hi, I only had one baby shower and that was for my first son! Very impressive decorations and gifts. I like the games! They are a hoot! The favors for the children and very cute. I’ll bet everyone had a grand time…..Cindi

    March 3rd, 2008 at 7:37 am

  5. Diana (Holes In My Shiny Veneer) says:

    OK, Pin-the-umibilical-cord-on-the-baby is the most hilarious shower game I’ve ever heard of! I’ll have to remember that one…

    March 3rd, 2008 at 8:49 am

  6. Jessica G. says:

    It looks like you had fun! On a serious note, it is great that you have involved a therapist with the ppd from the get-go. I had severe ppd with my first and mild with my second. The good news is, you know what to look for the second time around and you can jump on it faster and embrace the resources faster. More women need to be open about their experiences with postpartum depression (and prenatal). It literally can save lives.

    One of the presents I give my pregnant girlfriends is a note that says something like: “Life with babies can be tough. I am keeping my cell phone on my bedside table for the next few months just for you. Any hour. There is nothing you can say that will shock me – I have probably thought it myself! Joking aside, I know you are going to be a great mom and I will still love you even in the not-so-great mom moments.”

    It is a way to reach out to new moms that does not bring the mood “down” at a shower.

    March 3rd, 2008 at 8:58 am

  7. JMo says:

    I love the drawing for the pin-the-umbilical-cord-on-the-baby game. And I love the game too – I’ve never seen that, but will def suggest it for the next baby shower. That’s awesome!

    The diaper cake is great. The fruit looks so good – yummy!

    And YAY for baby making it to full term!!!

    March 3rd, 2008 at 9:03 am

  8. lace says:

    What a fun looking shower. I only hope the shower we have planned for this Sunday is just as much fun.

    March 3rd, 2008 at 9:44 am

  9. kelli says:

    I love the flower centerpiece/prize. I’ll have to use that at the next shower we throw.

    March 3rd, 2008 at 10:05 am

  10. Alisha says:

    I love those bear socks! I must find some for my son.

    Also, Paul — that sounded like a really sweet thing to do with your daughter when faced with a new baby. If we have another, I’ll have to do something like that. What a great idea!

    March 3rd, 2008 at 2:37 pm

  11. Amber says:

    Sounds like you had fun! What creative ideas for games. I’m throwing a baby shower for my friend later this year, so I’ll have to remember some of these ideas. Giving little plants out as gifts is a cute idea.

    March 3rd, 2008 at 2:48 pm

  12. Priscilla says:

    Very creative games…look forward to using these possibly. Congrats on making it this far in the pregnancy, and I hope the rest of it goes smoothly! Kudos also for continuing to talk about the depression. I’ve seen you mention it several times, and I really appreciate your candor on that subject.

    March 3rd, 2008 at 6:04 pm

  13. artsweet says:

    What fantastic games – and good luck with the new little one!

    March 4th, 2008 at 6:42 pm

  14. Rachel says:

    I LOVE your diaper cake! CUTE!! It sounds like you had a wonderful shower. Best wishes!!

    March 6th, 2008 at 6:41 am

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