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The Baby Shower 2.0: A much needed makeover


Emily Greenberg

Baby showers. We've all been there – navigating through the age-old games and quirky cringy traditions. Like that time when Aunt Mary tried to pin the diaper on a baby cutout while blindfolded. Classic (and kind of funny), but why not evolve the baby shower agenda to represent the modern parent? The times they are a changin', so it's time we gave the baby shower a bit of a revamp.

At Poppylist, we believe that there are some standard "baby shower" activities that really just...gotta go. Here are some suggestions for what we think has had its day, and also some ways to make your baby shower do what it is supposed to do: celebrate you and your community of support, prepare you for parenting, and allow you to relax and have a great time with family and friends.

The “Not-To-Do” List

First on the chopping block - The Performance of Gift Unwrapping.

In our opinion, his is must-go numero uno. Let's face it, despite best intentions, baby showers often become all about the "oohs" and "ahhs" of opening tiny little new baby booties, or those "big ticket items" like strollers or carseats. The whole show of opening gifts in front of guests is giving major ick. Pregnancy and preparing for parenthood is about more than just purchases, and sitting down watching someone open presents is frankly just a bit out of touch.

Plus, if you build your baby registry with Poppylist, gifts are sent directly to the parent (plus, any gift can be saved for later shipping- hello delayed delivery!). The absence of the "performance" element will shift the focus from items to experiences.

Here are some other baby shower "staples" that we think need a bit of a revamp:

1. Tacky "baby" games

Forget the melted chocolate-filled diaper changing race (gross) or blind folded guess the baby food game (double gross); it's more engaging and far less messy (and weird) to have guests share their funniest parenting moments (or for non parents, maybe memories or stories of you!). You'll get authentic, candid stories that everyone can laugh and learn from.

2. Themes That Resonate

Omg- the baby shower theme: Rubber ducks, teddy bears, princesses – we've seen it all. Perhaps it's time for a fresher, more personalized approach. After all, the guests at your shower are all your closest friends and family- shouldn't the theme be more about you and less about baby animals? What about celebrating the type of parent you want to be, or the memories you want to create with your new family?

3. The Pricey Prediction Pool

Betting on the baby's birth stats may be fun for some, but for others, it might come off as insensitive, especially if there are concerns about the pregnancy or it’s a topic the new parents would rather not turn into a game.

4. Tacky Decor and Disposable Wastage

All those disposable banners, plates, and cups? Environmental faux pas, expensive, and frankly kind of overdone. Opt for sustainable decor that can be recycled, reused, or even better, is biodegradable.

5. Overly Personal Question Games

Games like "Who knows mommy best?" can sometimes veer into personal territory. I remember a baby shower I attended where there was an incredibly cringy question about guessing my friend's bra cup size. Umm...38 Double None of our Business! Keep games fun, light, and respectful of boundaries.

6. “Touch the Belly” Assumptions

Speaking of boundaries, baby shower or anywhere, this has gotta go. Some guests (or errr...mother-in-laws) might assume it’s okay to touch the expectant mom's belly without asking. A big no-no. Always respect personal space.

7. Girls Only Guest Lists

We love hanging out with women, but why does the baby shower have to assume that the men or non-female identifying friends in your life don't want to or can't support you? And what if the person welcoming the new baby is not a woman? There are so many reasons to not worry so much about the gender identity of your guest list, but more so about surrounding yourself with (all) the people who love you and want to celebrate you.

Here are our top 10 suggestions to spruce up the baby shower with some modern, forward thinking ideas

1. Hand Me Down Hacks

What if your guests who are already parents come prepared with an item or a suggestion for an item that really changed their parenting journey? Beyond objects lie stories. That sleep-inducing shusher, that magical teething ring – it's these shared stories and "hacks" that can actually make a difference. Find a way to have parents share the items (yes- they could even bring them to hand down to the new parent!) that really changed their experience. Hearing this type of advice from my closest friends and family was absolutely invaluable, and I will never forget when someone gave me their baby's no longer needed baby lounger. We at Poppylist love the idea of not always buying new. Having a way to pass on something useful and pre-loved is a double win, and whenever you use it, you'll think of the friend or relative who gave it to you.

2. The Culinary Calendar

Consider a meal train sign-up sheet, a gesture that provides practical support. Knowing I’d be treated to home-cooked meals or take out from our go-to places after the baby arrived made the daunting first weeks seem manageable. My friends loved being able to know they were tactically helping just by signing up to sponsor a day or two.

3. Workshops That Matter

What about hosting a mini-workshop, demonstration, or hands on experience to actually prepare for some of the skills you may need when the baby arrives? Here are a few ideas:

  • Baby Sign Language: An excellent tool to communicate with infants before they speak. I was amazed at how it transformed my interactions with my baby.
  • CPR/Infant First Aid: Maybe someone could come and teach your friends and family (and you!!) what you need to know. After all, they'll be the ones around your baby when they arrive, right? Empower attendees with essential skills.
  • Prenatal yoga: What about having someone come lead your friends and family members in some guided meditation or yoga practice? What a fun non traditional group activity.

4. Soundtracks & Stories

Invite guests to share their favorite songs by adding them to a playlist that you'll play for the baby after they get home. You can make the playlists thematic, or just ask guests to send over songs that they feel represent the journey to parenthood. My favorite is "The Circle Game" by Joni Mitchell.

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5. Game Zone: Let's get creative, people

Reimagine the traditional baby shower games. Think about things like a ‘Fact or Fable’ trivia quiz we hosted, debunking parenting myths, or a trivia game where guests have to answer baby-prep questions in teams. We even upped the stakes with silly prizes for the winning team. Questions can include something like "What is the baby's first poop called?" (A: Meconium). "What are the first colors a baby can see in?" (A: High contrast black and white). You could always spruce it up and give each team a lifeline in Ask Poppy where people can text Poppy for some hints.

6. Book Nook: Legacy Libraries

Encourage guests to bring a cherished childhood book. This gesture isn't just about building a library; it's about passing on favorite stories and memories. Ask guests to write a message to your baby inside the front cover and sign it, so you'll always remember who it was from. We have so many of these still, and we love sharing the messages with our kids.

7. Crafting Corner

Offer a space where attendees can co-create something special for the nursery. Imagine a giant canvas where every attendee leaves their mark – be it a handprint, a quote, or a personal doodle. You could even choose paint colors to match the theme or the vibe of your nursery. How cool would it be to hang something in your baby's room that was literally created by the people who love them?

8. Get a little silly

It's totally fine to have guests let loose a little. What about, and hear me out- Karaoke but only with songs that use the word "Baby" or only with lullabies? Could be fun! Get ready, Aunt Mary- you're up first!

9. Other non-conventional activities

Who says you have to have guests play "guess the baby photo" for the 20th time? What about some really fun other ways to engage your attendees that (ready for this?), maybe don't even have to do directly with babies? You know your guests so think about what they may think is fun. What about getting an aura photographer, or a Tarot card reader, or afternoon tea? What about setting up some chair massage stations for guests (and you, obviously) to relax?

10. Dessert meets giveaway

Instead of the traditional blue or pink cupcakes or macaron plate (which are obviously delicious), what about something a little different? I recently hosted a shower for a friend who I know loves gummy candy. We ordered mason jars with custom stickers (with a silly phrase about the new parents) and laid out a gummy bar with all different kinds of gummy candies. During the shower, guests took a jar and filled them with any of the gummies they wanted. So much fun, and people loved snacking on these throughout the party. Pro tip: use to bulk order the gummies!

Closing Thoughts: Connection Over Convention

Wrapping up, modern baby showers are less about following a playbook and more about reading the room. It's not just about the baby gifts, the tiny onesies or quirky games; it's about rallying around soon-to-be parents and offering them genuine support. So, as we plan, let's keep it real, ditch the fluff, and focus on what truly counts. Also, ps. - why does it have to be called a baby shower anyway??