If your baby shower guests are aren't the type who like to play goofy shower games, check out these fun activities. Many of these will engage just a few close friends or a crowd.
Write a book
Buy a small blank book and ask each guest to write down some advice for the mother- or parents-to-be.
Expectant mother Arielle Ikeda of Forest Knolls, California, gave us a sample of the words of wisdom culled from family and friends at her baby shower. "Most of the advice was about sleep, like, 'Sleep when the baby sleeps,' and 'Get as much rest as possible,'" she says.
But some of the more unusual advice was to remember that when she's up at 2 a.m. nursing the baby – feeling exhausted and lonely – hundreds of other parents are up with their babies too. Her favorite piece of advice came from the hostess: "Whatever works."
Another variation is to ask each guest to write a wish or proverb for the baby. They could choose a favorite poem or quote, or write something original.
Arts and crafts
Craft projects can be a relaxing social activity at a shower. Here are a few suggestions:
Baby blocks: Buy plain blocks at an arts and crafts store and let your guests decorate them. Use food-safe markers or food coloring for decorating, or buy non-toxic paint that’s safe for children’s toys, such as milk paint. You can also go to a cake decorating store for gel and paste colorants used on cakes.
An alphabet wall: Make an alphabet wall for the baby's room with wood letters from a crafts store. Using the colors for the baby's room, set out pretty papers, small fabric swatches, paints, and decorative trims and let your guests get creative. When the letters are finished and dry, cover everything with a finishing sealer, like Mod Podge.
If all that sounds like a lot to do, your guests can simply wrap colored yarn around the letters and secure the ends on the back with a few drops of hot glue.
A felt board: Choose a theme or a book and buy a felt board and felt. Have guests trace shapes, cut them out, and glue on features. You could do an animal theme or numbers and letters. The possibilities are endless: Think of Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, or The Cat in the Hat. When you're done, the mom-to-be has a wonderful decoration for her nursery.
A handmade wall hanging: This is a great group project – guests can design and paint wall art for the nursery that will be cherished by the family for years. "If you know the future parents' taste and preferences and are artistically inclined, this can be a wonderful and unique gift," says Jill Wood of A Child's Eye View, a children's design firm in Oakland, California.
"If you know the baby's sex and name, you can even personalize it. Take cues from the baby's room. For instance, if it's a nautical theme, create an ocean mural, or a circus scene if it's clown wallpaper," says Wood.
You'll find everything you need at art supply stores. Use acrylic paints, a primed canvas mat, and a satin polymer varnish to seal it.
Paint-your-own pottery: These studios offer a great setting for parties. You can host the shower at the shop and decorate plates, bowls, mugs, or picture frames for the expectant parents. The studio will fire the painted pieces in their kiln and have them ready for pickup in a few days.
Blow by blow
Consider a piñata. The mom-to-be should be cautious about swinging a bat, of course, but this can be a fun activity, especially if the shower is an outdoor event like a barbecue.
Some party stores have piñatas in appropriate shapes, such as a stork or baby carriage. In addition to baby-themed candy (like mini Baby Ruths), you could fill the piñata with small baby gifts such as pacifiers, little socks, or teething rings.
A personal touch
Rituals can be nice. Suzi Lee of Davis, California, organized a small shower for her best friend. "There were only four of us, which made it intimate. Each of us had a candle wrapped as a gift. We lit a candle and said a blessing or poem for the baby."
Suzi's son gathered stones from a nearby river and she put them in a dish, which became the candleholder.
Arielle Ikeda described a similar ritual from her shower: "There was a cake. Each of us lit a candle and made a wish out loud for the baby. The wishes reflected all our personalities. Then, like a birthday cake, I blew the candles out."
15 minutes of fame
If you're handy with a camera, consider making a video. Interview family and friends about the parents-to-be and ask who they think the baby will be like – or produce a mock documentary about the family. Show the video during the shower, and make sure the parents-to-be get a copy.
Another great idea is to make a video version of the advice book. During the party, ask each guest what advice they have for the new parents. Or better yet, ask them to address a message to the baby or offer some wise words to remember.
A new kind of group photo
Ask your guests to take candid pictures during the party and then upload them to an online photo-sharing service. You can design a collage and have it framed and shipped to the expectant parents.
Some parents may prefer the idea of a baby shower that benefits others. They still get to celebrate with their friends and family, plus have the deep satisfaction of sharing their happiness with those who may not be so fortunate.
If you think the expectant parents would like this type of shower, float the idea first to get their input. If they give the green light, check with your local hospital, Ronald McDonald House, women's shelter, or similar charities that help families. They can tell you what sort of items they need. That way you won't donate something the organization can't use. (Many charities don't accept stuffed animals, for instance.)
Another gratifying way to help others is to support our troops by giving to Operation Shower. Started in 2007, Operation Shower holds showers for military moms-to-be and wives whose military spouses are overseas.
What are your favorite activities? Read about baby shower activities other our site parents have tried, or swap ideas in our Community.