Just got back from a baby shower. Said my Hellos. I stayed 30 minutes because there was nothing for me at this party. First, it was one of those invite the whole family type showers and I don’t have a kid or husband to reluctantly drag. The mutual co-worker who was supposed to attend with me cancelled (ugh, 4th time in a row this bitch has bailed on concrete plans). I showed up with my thick stack of Dr. Suess books elegantly wrapped. I dropped the present off at the designated table occupied by several medium-sized gift bags. I greeted the mom-to-be who was dressed in a tight, fuchsia, cotton, ruched tube dress. She looked like a raspberry. I told her as much, which in hindsight she may not have appreciated, but I love raspberries so I didn’t intend the comment pejoratively. Dad-to-be and I chatted for awhile, but I noticed the side-eye of the older ladies when our conversation extended beyond 5 minutes of appropriate small talk. Who is that predatory single woman circling the dad-in-waiting? Please. There are no secret yearnings. Excuse the blatant bitchery, but if I wanted him I could have him a year ago when we first met and he was drooling all over himself.
After I was done talking to the two guests of honor, I wandered around a little bit and introduced myself to a few other folks standing solo. Nobody seemed very interested in small talk, and it’s not my strength anyway. When in doubt, hit the buffet, right? Well you already know that I refer to buffets at barffets and am never in the mood for a group feeding. This spread was particularly bleak. Two circular trays of Subway-style sandwiches of dubious origin and questionable content. The fold-out tables lacked proper placards describing the menu. Just down from the sandwich wheels where huge bowls of standard potato chips. Why do people do this? Put out enough potato chips to feed and army just to watch them soften into stale after the first hour. Plate of pickles, ok, I get the nod to pregnancy cravings. A couple of large bowls of mystery potato-salad glop remained untouched. The beverage options included electric yellow “lemonade” and something that looked like soda. Not a cupcake in sight. Killing time with mindless eating would not be an option at this shindig.
The one activity provided for the children was butcher paper on the tables and crayons. I made a doodle. I met a couple kids. I drank some neon lemonade. Then I split. There was nothing left for me.
To that end, if you want people to stay at your baby shower for more than the obligatory 30 minutes, consider the following:
1) With regard to length. 2 hours maximum. This one was scheduled for a tedious 3. I like the idea of a short and sweet 90 minutes.
2) Delicious food. Lots of options. Baked goods. Simple non-dressed salads. Fruit. Cheese. Crudites. Readily available sweets. Warm offerings. Coffee. Tea. Iced Tea. Water. I personally prefer an elegant seated brunch.
3) Make introductions. Reign in loners. Ensure everyone feels included.
4) Create intimate seating arrangements to encourage eating, drinking, and conversation.
5) Designate a separate (but within eyeshot/earshot of helicopter parents) fun space for the kids.
6) It’s fine if you aren’t into “baby games,” but do provide some sort of entertainment or fun. Music. Dancing. Karaoke. Ice your own cupcake. Whatever. These activities start conversations and save people from dreaded awkward mingling.
7) Attentive hosting takes work, the preggo shouldn’t be hosting her own baby shower, but these two did it as a couple. Designate a host devoted to socially lubricating the shower. Mothers and mothers-in-law love this job.