Host the Ultimate Bridal/Baby Shower

I always get a lot of questions about hosting events, but people seem to be most curious about baby and bridal showers. I totally get it – these events can be a mine field! Games or no games? How do I manage all the co-hostesses? And of course, how do I choose decor?

Well, wonder no more! This weekend I hosted a baby shower at my house and kept track of all my best tips and tricks which I’m sharing with y’all today. In anticipation of this, I also styled a shoot earlier this month that I hope will give you ideas and inspiration for themes, table settings, and more. You’ll see I chose blue for this, and yes, I do use it a lot here at Mrs. Southern Social. What can I say? Blue is the perfect palette for showers because it works on so many levels (a “Something Blue” bridal shower, an “It’s a Boy” baby shower, a “Blue and White is Always Right” baby girl shower). I hope you love this setup as much as I do, and if you’d rather just skip ahead to my “Shower How-To’s,” click that link and it’ll take you right there.

The Table

Note that even though this is a shower, I stuck to a fairly neutral motif (gingham). I don’t love it when things are too “on the nose” and this way, I can use these pieces for lots of different events. (If you watched my stories this weekend, you saw that I did the same thing. The bow motif I used is timeless and I just added a few “baby” accents to set the tone.) If you’re hosting a shower at home, go through the linens you already own BEFORE buying anything; I’ll bet you already have beautiful things that fit a creative theme. As for the other pieces, you’ll recognize the flatware, napkins, and glasses from many of my past tables (as always, I encourage y’all to reuse, reuse, reuse).

One new item to highlight is this incredible candle centerpiece from Tost & Co (gifted). They very kindly gave us a discount code – use Mary15 for 15% off site-wide through 8/27. I love a creative centerpiece, especially one that can be repurposed in lots of ways. Basically you select your base and candles, and you can also get these darling “posy pipettes” for flowers that fit in the candle holes. So clever and I think this would be fabulous for holidays, birthdays, or just decorating your dining room table.

The Sangria Station

Y’all know how I feel about a self-serve beverage station: empower guests to serve themselves and the hostess will have a MUCH better time. I also love a batch cocktail because it’s make-ahead and low-maintenance but looks fancy. For this, I used Katie Jacobs’ delicious Rose Tequila Sangria and also had bottles of rose chilling alongside should people opt for wine. Of course, for a baby shower, plan to offer two batch cocktails: one spiked and one virgin for the mom-to-be. I love sangria or anything with fruit because it looks so gorgeous set up like a toppings bar!

As for décor, who needs flowers with serving pieces this stunning? I worked with Beatriz Ball again for this setup (paid partnership); you might remember their beautiful cabbage pieces and bud vases from Easter. I absolutely love this brand for their gorgeous serving pieces, glassware, and home décor/gift items, so much so that I included them on both my registry guide and hostess gift guide. Everything here is from their Latur collection – the feminine, ruffled detailing coordinated so perfectly with my table. Bowls and platters in various shapes and sizes held fruit for the sangria and introduced some dimension by creating different levels of height (along with the pitcher and ice bucket). Remember, you never want everything in a vignette to be all the same size/height or it’ll look flat.

Hosting a Shower: My Top Tips

  • Choosing Co-Hostesses. Generally speaking, a shower has multiple hostesses and this can be a recipe for great success or frustration. If you can, organize a small group who will likely share a common vision for the day. Hosting a shower in someone’s home is typically less expensive than an outside venue, which means you need fewer hostesses to shoulder the cost. I like this option because you can have a say in more of the details AND be choosier about the people you hostess with. Again, it’s SO much easier when you know you’ll be aligned on things like budget and aesthetic. That said, there are times when you might be one of several hostesses, and in these situations, you just have to accept that there are things you’ll likely have to let go. For example, eight people can’t all have a say on the invitation or menu. In a larger group, these tasks will generally be divided up and unless something is truly awful, it’s best to just bite your tongue and focus on your piece of the event. At the end of the day, you’re doing something kind for someone else and that’s what counts.
  • Paper Invites, Please. For something special like a bridal or baby shower, paper invitations are a must for me. Some of my favorite resources are Dogwood Hill, Sweet Caroline Designs, Nico & Lala, and Katie Corley Art. It’s nice to hold back an extra invitation in a fresh envelope for the honoree (and her mom!) so they have a keepsake that didn’t go through USPS (especially if the envelopes have calligraphy).
  • Who’s the Boss? It’s your party, so you call the shots. Other than helping with the invite list, the bride or mom-to-be shouldn’t be involved in decision making, so don’t feel like you need her approval! The only thing I recommend against is trying to replicate her wedding décor. For example, if you know she’s doing peony centerpieces at the wedding, don’t do the exact same for the shower (her big day should feel fresh and new).
  • Plan a Logical Menu. Be mindful of your setup. A seated luncheon calls for different fare than a living room situation where people have plates on laps. For the latter, stick to finger foods and things that only require a fork. Also, steer clear of anything that stains easily (I’d have a stroke if someone ate a beet salad on my white sofa). If the honoree has any dietary restrictions, be considerate of that, as well.
  • It’s the Little Things. If your budget allows, I love special details like custom cocktail napkins and cups. Choose a neutral design (e.g. the bride and groom’s initials) vs. something event-specific (e.g. “Mary’s Bridal Shower”) so the honoree can take the extras home and use them for hostessing. Favorite resources include Sweet Caroline Designs, Nico & Lala, Emily McCarthy, Haute Papier, and Essential Market.
  • Think Activities, Not Games. I like a fun activity to get the party going but keep it chic. Think outside the box – something like a food truck is unique or a “make your own bouquet” area. For the love of all things holy, can we banish “candy bar diaper” and “toilet paper bridal gown” forever??
  • Please Don’t Open Presents. People fall into two camps on this tradition – you love it or you hate it, and I’m squarely in the latter group. To me, it feels old-fashioned, not to mention awkward for guests who might have sent a gift to the bride/mom-to-be directly vs. bringing it to the shower. But if you must, do it at the very end so guests can duck out without missing any of the main event (not everyone wants to fawn over a breast pump).
  • Transporting Gifts. Even though you (hopefully) aren’t opening presents at the shower, it is a good idea to have several large bags on hand to help the honoree pack gifts at the end. This makes it much easier to carry everything to the car and keeps things contained for the drive home. If you’re hosting a shower for someone who lives out of town, indicate that gifts should be sent to the honoree at home (or wherever she’s having wedding/baby presents delivered). Otherwise, you’ll be stuck schlepping a carload of gifts to UPS.
  • Favors are Unnecessary. In this age of Marie Kondo and The Home Edit, people don’t want a tchotchke. My rule is to give something consumable or nothing at all.

*All photos courtesy of Lele Fain Photography*

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