While the baby shower is a comparatively new celebration, it has developed into a reasonably common pre-birth welcoming ritual, where a pregnant woman is ‘showered’ with gifts for her new baby.
Like a birthday or a christening, it’s a ‘life-cycle’ event – and that means cake!
In fact, providing a special cake for a baby shower has become such a common custom that many cake decorators now include cakes specially designed for baby showers in their portfolio.
There are two types of baby shower cakes – traditional edible cakes, and crafty, decorative ‘nappy cakes’ (known in North America as ‘diaper cakes’) filled with little gifts.
Just as we celebrate birthdays and weddings with a ritual of cake-cutting, it’s appropriate to provide an edible cake for a baby shower and to take some time during the baby shower event to gather around the guest of honour as she cuts the cake and perhaps makes a short speech.
The cutting of the cake is a good way to indicate to your guests that the end of the party is near; it is often followed by opening the gifts if you choose to do so while the guests are still present.
Decorations for a baby shower cake
Check with your mum-to-be to (or her partner or close relative or friend) to make sure the cake is a flavor they will like – no point getting a chocolate cake if it will give your guest of honor migraines!
If you are making a cake yourself, organize it a day or two before the shower – you’ll have enough to do on the day of the baby shower without having a cake crisis.
Avoid cream cheese or cream in baby shower cake fillings if possible because pregnant women are very susceptible to levels of listeriosis and other bacteria found in some foods like soft cheeses and shellfish, that would not normally be harmful to non-pregnant people.
If you know the baby’s gender, then you can decorate the cake with blue or pink to suit; for a surprise baby, perhaps a white-iced cake with decorations in different pastel colors will be best.
The baby shower cake can often be the decorative masterpiece that holds the baby shower theme together! So if the baby shower has a theme of ducks, or teddy bears, or certain animals, make sure the cake decorations reflect the theme in some way.
There are plenty of cookie-cutters to make decorative shapes like teddy-bears, trains or little animals for the cake. You can cut pretty shapes from slabs of icing or pastry for the cake.
You might even decide to wash the cookie-cutters after you have used them, and give them to your mum-to-be as an extra gift!
You can decorate the cake with pretty satin ribbon, or put a few little plastic toys that fit in with the theme on the top of the cake. Or you might choose to use a little reusable gift on top of the cake – perhaps a plastic duck that can be used in baby’s bath, or a tiny stuffed toy for baby.
But the edible, celebratory cake that guests share is not the only cake that is common to many baby showers – the crafty ‘nappy cake’ is also something to consider.
Also called a ‘diaper cake,’ a nappy-cake is not meant to be eaten, but is a carefully constructed collection of useful baby items that are bound together in a cake-like structure built on rolled-up disposable nappies.
While the cake won’t be served out to the guests at the party, it will be a lovely and very practical gift for your mother-to-be – and will make a fun decorative centerpiece during the baby shower.
While there are a number of crafty people who have managed to make a commercial success out from creating and selling cleverly-made nappy cakes, it is not a terribly difficult thing to do – so if you have a crafty bent, or you know someone crafty who could help you, why not have a go at creating a nappy cake yourself?
Get a few friends around to help – you can do this a week or even more before the baby shower, this is one cake that is not going to go stale!
Depending on the little gifts that you buy to use as decorations, the nappy cake can be quite costly – so if there’s a few of you involved in the construction, you might wish to make this your baby-shower gift to the mum-to-be.
Instead of an empty baby bottle in the center, some people choose bottles of skin lotion, baby bath liquid, or other baby care items.
You can be as flexible as you like when buying gifts to decorate the baby shower cake; a packet of children’s wooden alphabet blocks can be scattered around and on top of the cake, or you might use a collection of bibs, rattles, toys or even little washcloths, rolled to match the cake.
Step one: Get your ‘ingredients’ together
- One box of newborn nappies – around fifty nappies is a good number, if you get a larger box you can donate the extra nappies to your new mum.
- Lots of cheap little baby gifts – things like dummies, rattles, tiny tubes of nappy cream or nipple cream, pretty washcloths, a bib or two and perhaps a little stuffed toy for the top
- One baby bottle – go for a safe BPA-free bottle, thin and tall is best! (Fill the bottle with colorful sweets like smarties for extra impact.)
- About 60 strong elastic bands – if you can do a test run, make sure the elastic bands are the right size and stretchiness to hold a newborn nappy in a rolled-up state without crushing it and without breaking or giving way
- About twenty meters of thin satin ribbon to wrap around each group of nappies and tie gifts to the ‘cake’ structure
- Around five meters of thick satin ribbon for finishing the nappy cake off
- lots of sticky tape and some double-sided tape if possible
- a platter to set it up on
- an extra pair of hands if possible
Step two: Roll the nappies
You’ll be creating a three-layer cake that builds up around the baby bottle.
Roll about 40 to 50 nappies up, then secure each one with an elastic band – try and make them all look consistent. Make sure the rubber bands are in the middle of each nappy so that the bands on the inner layers are hidden by the layers around them, and those on the outside layer will be hidden by the thick satin ribbon.
Step three: Construct the three layers
- Set the bottle up in the middle of the platter.
- Stack the nappies around the baby bottle, using a small piece of sticky tape to join each one together. (try to make sure the sticky tape won’t tear the nappy when your mum-to-be takes the cake apart).
- Start with the bottom layer, which will have three ‘rounds’ of nappies stacked around the bottle.
Each time you have a full circle of nappies around the bottle, tie a length of thin satin ribbon around the group of nappies.
You will end up with three circles of rolled nappies on the bottom layer, two circles of rolled nappies on the middle layer and one circle of rolled nappies on the top layer.
Step four: The final decoration
- Place your stuffed toy at the top of the baby bottle, using sticky tape to secure it if needed
- Tuck the little baby accessories as decorative features around the cake – use extra ribbon if you need to.
- Wrap a length of satin ribbon around each layer, using sticky tape or (even better) double-sided tape to attach the ribbon to the nappies
Don’t forget to take a photo of your cake when you have finished!
What’s a party without the decorations? There is no better excuse than a new baby’s arrival to really unleash your creative side. The hardest decision you’ll need to make is what theme you’d like or perhaps, you’re not keen on a theme at all?
Remember – there are no rules when it comes to baby shower decorating. Just keep the mood light, fun, exciting and joyous.
But you do have some options and could do:
- Classy and elegant.
- Gender specific-this only works if the mother to be has shared her special news with the guests.
- Novelty such as a bear, truck, dolly, bee or duck theme.
- Color specific such as white, yellow, pink, blue or green.
Decorating the tables
- Sprinkle baby related confetti over the tables. Confetti is available from specialty supply shops.
- Intertwine plates with ribbons, bows and streamers.
- Use color coordinated plates, serviettes, cups and cutlery. There is a huge range of choice available for matching sets.
- Use an appropriately decorative tablecloth to drape the table. Keeping the color theme consistent always looks good.
- If the guest of honor is having a girl, you could scatter rolls of musk flavored Lifesaver lollies on the table. Or make necklaces out of ribbon tie with a few lifesavers threaded through.
- If she’s having a boy you could use a needle and thread and sew together a few jelly babies on a blue ribbon and make every guest their own edible necklace.
- Place large bunches of flowers and/or foliage in vases on the tables. Lilacs, hydrangeas, magnolias and frangipani look wonderful.
- Use recycled baby food jars and small votive candles as centerpieces.
- Large vases or bowls filled with water and a toy duck or two look really cute.
- Bunches of balloons always look festive. Check out the range at one of the large haberdashery stores; they have helium options as well.
- Tie pink/blue ribbons to the back of each chair.
- Ask each guest to bring a photo of themselves as a baby and attach it to the back of their chair.
- Before the baby shower, make some biscuits with cut-outs which relate to babies or children. Decorate them with white, pink/blue icing and wrap in cellophane and ribbon. Give one to each of the guests as they leave.
- Ask every guest to bring along a baby toiletry item. Place a basket in the middle of the table and watch the pile as it grows. For guests who don’t have much money to spare for a separate gift, this is a sensitive option.
- If the baby is being born close to Christmas, you could ask each guest to bring along a “special” ornament. Similarly, if the baby is to be born around Easter there are a world of choices. Drape these on a tree or branch inserted into a floristry oasis and decorated pot.
- If the parents to be are financially stretched, you could place a couple of money boxes or piggy banks on the tables. Contributing in this way is a personal and practical way to offer support.
- Little tins filled with mints or sugared almonds are a lovely memento for guests to take away.
- A compact mirror or egg shaped soap wrapped in cellophane would be special gifts for guests.
- Buy a bunch of patty cake papers and fill them with pink and white marshmallows/blue jelly beans or a little toy doll in each one.
- Ask all the guests to bring along a meal which can be frozen for the new parents to use when the baby is born. Do your homework first though. Freezer space is crucial for this to be a success.
Decorating the room
- Arrange to have a potted pine tree or similar positioned in the room. Attach luggage labels to the tree so the guests can write their hopes and wishes for the new mother and her baby. You could arrange to bring pens, stickers, glitter and other decorating bits and pieces so the labels are uniquely individual.
- Another option is to hang soft toys, dummies, rattles and baby paraphernalia to the tree. The mother to be can take this home with her as a practical memento.
- Streamers, balloons, banners and bunches of tulle tied into bows transform a room from boring to brilliant!
- Set up a miniature clothes line and peg up baby singlets, all in ones, booties and nappies. This looks fabulous and the guest of honor can even bring in the washing and take it home.
- Place a (new) cane washing basket in the middle of the table and place the presents in it. You may need to reposition seats so everyone can still see each other!
- Make a baby garland with the words “Welcome little one” or “Welcome Baby” on it. Printed off letters on A4 paper and pegged to string are simple but effective.
Decorating the Mother to Be
- Make a sash for the new mother out of wide white/pink or blue ribbon. Get creative and write “Mother to be” across it.
- You could do the same for the “Grandmother to be”, “Aunt to be” etc.
A useful baby shower decorating idea
Have a guest book which everyone signs as they enter. Before the shower, ask everyone to think about their best baby raising tip and request that they write it in the book. They could also suggest websites, blogs and phone apps they have found really useful. Present it to the mother to be as a memento of the day. Include everyone’s contact details so they can be easily contacted when the new baby has arrived.
You could also ask all the guest to bring along their favorite, easy to prepare recipe. These can come in very handy in the early days of baby care. Collate them altogether in a book and present them to the new mother.
Guests at a baby shower are usually delighted to be a part of the celebration of the pending new arrival, whether they are family or friends. They give up their time, travel for miles – and often bring lovely gifts and perhaps contribute food or help for the shower.
Giving baby shower favors is a lovely touch that allows the host of the baby shower to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who attended the party.
Shower favors are usually small, inexpensive and often home-made gifts – and usually each guest will receive the same little favor as a ‘thank-you and goodbye’ gesture, presented at the end of the shower, when they are leaving.
Sometimes baby shower favors are also used as prizes for those who win at the baby shower games. If that’s the case, do think about whether you will have one type of shower favor for prizes and another as thankyou gifts. If you just want to ensure that everyone receives one favor, you might need to ‘rig’ the games!
The challenge when shopping for baby shower favours is to find a little item that will appeal to all of your guests, that also fits in with the theme and the style of the shower.
Because you are usually buying in bulk, unless you have a large budget it will be important that the item not be too expensive – but you also don’t want your baby shower favors to look cheap!
If you have the energy and ability, making home-made treats like brownies can be a lovely touch.
Other popular gift ideas for baby shower favors include:
- scented soap
- scented candle
- pretty pen, matching the theme of the baby shower
- flavored lip balm
- pretty compact mirrors
- colorful notebook
- tiny tea or coffee sachet kits
- chocolate coins
- tiny jars of lollies
- photo frame
Don’t forget to include your mum-to-be in the decision making when you are choosing baby shower favors; after all, she is the one who probably has the best knowledge about most of the guests you are likely to invite and should be able to spot potential problems before the occur.
Making it personal
Plenty of retailers sell favors that are personalized with the name of the mum-to-be. You can also choose to personalize baby shower favors with a photograph if you want to.
If you would like to organize personalized baby shower favors, do make sure you leave plenty of time for these to arrive, especially if you order online.
One popular idea that is catching on, is that all of the guests line up for a photograph with the guest of honor near the beginning of the party. Then someone is given the task of taking the digital image and making prints for each guest, then putting each print into a photo frame, then having it wrapped and ready to hand out at the end of the party.
This can be a great activity for a competent junior member of the baby shower hosting team – a teenage cousin and her friend could probably get these all done in less than an hour or so – and have a lovely time doing it!
Guest books and Messages
Where do you put the baby shower favors during the party? A basket near the door is often a good solution! That way, if someone needs to leave a little early you are less likely to forget to present them with their favor.
You might want to also keep the baby shower favors in the same area where guests leave their baby shower gifts.
Another nice touch is to keep a memory book near the baby shower favors. As each guest prepares to leave, ask them to write a special message in the book, something memorable that the parents-to-be can look back on later.
Baby shower favors to inspire – it’s all in the presentation
No matter what your budget, you can make the smallest gift look a million dollars by spending a bit of time and thought on the wrapping.
Try these ideas for unusual baby shower favor wrapping ideas:
- get a large roll of brown paper from a stationer to wrap gifts – then wrap a strip of tinsel around for extra impact
- obtain tiny baskets from florists supply shops
- old china teacups from a second-hand store are cleaned with bleach, packed with sweets or chocolates and wrapped in cellophane
- small ceramic flowerpots from a garden store – filled with chocolates
Planning your menu
Planning the menu is an essential part of the baby shower.
There are four main things that will dictate the baby shower food options you will choose:
- the time of day;
- the style of the shower;
- the budget;
- and of course, the preferences of your guest of honour.
Another key component is the resources you have to call on. Are there a few organizers or just one person?
If the baby shower will be held at a restaurant or café.
And if you’re hosting a party for a friend and relative, you’ll find lots of baby shower ideas below.
Once you’ve got the type of event sorted out, it’s time to get some ideas together for your baby shower theme.
The theme of the baby shower will give you plenty of ideas for tying in lots of the critical elements such as invitations, decorations, and often even the food and the games.
How to pick a theme
Choose a theme that suits the style of baby shower party that you are throwing. Will it be girls-only, or will the new dad and some male friends be attending? Will it be a formal affair at a hired venue, a less formal party at the home of one of the hosts, or a very casual event in a park or at a cafe?
The idea that you have for the baby shower theme can be influenced by the gender of the baby.
Baby Shower Ideas: Themes
Here is a list of ideas for different themes that you can adapt to suit your baby shower.
Pink for girls and blue for boys are classic baby shower themes, but of course they will only be appropriate if the new mum knows the gender of her baby and is happy for everyone else to know it too. Spark it up a bit by adding a second color: perhaps blue and white? Or pink and gold? Color themes give your guests lots of ideas for baby shower gifts too.
Teddy Bear theme
This is a gender-neutral theme with lots of cute possibilities! From teddy bears on the invitations, to teddy bear decorations, it should be easy to get some ideas to keep this theme going. Tie pink or blue bows on your teddy bears if you want to let people know the gender of the baby. Food ideas can include using tiny teddy biscuits to decorate cakes or slices, or making bear-shaped pastries.
Farmyard, Noah’s Ark or Zoo theme
Animal themes are lots of fun, they are gender-neutral and quite easy to stick to as you can find ideas for invitations and decorations for all budgets. Using a farmyard, Ark or zoo theme also gives a range of animals for guests to choose from if they are stuck for ideas!
If you know that a baby girl is expected, this theme is a nice idea. can be a nice theme. Princesses are all the rage among little girls, and with this theme you can make your mum-to-be a princess for the day. Toy tiaras, lots of pink satin and bows and plenty of glitter will hep make this baby shower a right royal occasion.
This is a good one if your new parents are expecting a little boy. Invitations and decorations can use generic train pictures or you can use a character like Thomas the Tank Engine. A large enough toy train carriage can even make a useful platter to serve food!
Children’s Book theme
This idea can open the baby shower up to a really wide range of possibilities! Use characters from nursery rhymes or favorite children’s books for invitations and decorations – buy a bunch of inexpensive children’s books, such as the Little Golden Book range, which can be given to baby after the shower. Get the guests involved in this idea too, ask them to give their own favorite children’s book as a baby shower gift.
ABC Blocks theme
Another good gender-neutral theme, having little building blocks with letters and numbers scattered around can make for a great decorative touch – plus the blocks can be gathered together for a nice present for baby at the end of the party.
Rubber Ducky theme
Inexpensive rubber ducks make colorful and fun decorations – and you can stretch the duck idea by continuing with a yellow theme through your food and games as well.
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