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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

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In Kids & Family

Henna the mom-to-be's belly at an upcoming baby shower or blessingway.

2010 guide to planning a baby shower or blessingway


Planning a shower or blessingway for yourself or a friend? Before you run out and buy pink-and-blue party favors galore, consider a few important details so the mom-to-be is pleased-as-punch with your pre-baby bash.

First and foremost, what does the new mom want? Ditch the conventional "Miss Manners" rules and give her the shower or blessingway that she'll remember until the kid graduates from medical school.

And remember, planning a shower or blessingway -- which is a baby shower alternative that has a spiritual component -- is different from other events. The planner gets to flex his or her creative muscle, but it's the new ma's big day and should only include what she wants, even though she probably won't lift a finger to prepare.

Who should plan it?

Showers can be planned by anyone: friends, coworkers or family members. If you are thinking of planning one, just make sure you chat will other people who are close to the newbie mom so there isn't simul-shower planning. Traditionally, a close friend plans the shower because gifts are involved and to some it is in poor taste for family members to combine social events and money issues. However, many a-sister -- including this one --has thrown a kick-booty shower for their preggers sibling.

When, oh, when should it be?

Having the shower three to four months before the due date is a good idea, just in case the little dude or dudette decides to make an early appearance, but really, anytime is fine. Women having a particularly difficult pregnancy may even want the option of a post-baby shower. If the mom is adopting a baby, it's fine to throw a shower any time during the process. International adoptions do not always have concrete timeframes so it might be impossible to time it out to happen right before the baby arrives, but no worries. Adoption is stressful and chances are mom (and dad) will be up for a party just about any old time.

Men folk or no men folk?

Couples showers are really popular, and usually are more like a party than a shower. Ask her, and the dad-to-be, if they want it to be an all-XX event or if the Y's can come, too. In any case, get a solid guest list from mom, and be prepared for a half dozen calls or e-mails with "just one more name" to add to your list.

Themes?

Does the mom want a themed shower? We're not talking freaky tiki or '80s theme here (although the sky's the limit, remember) but in some ways the shower is simpler to plan around a theme because the decorations, invites and even food are easier to choose from massive selections. Just a thought: Choose a holiday close to the baby's due date and have a "Halloween Baby Shower" in July or an "Easter Baby Shower" in January. Themes around the baby's heritage work swimmingly, as well. This is a good way to get grandparents, aunts and other family members get involved in the event.

Paper or cyber?

What kind of invites does the mom want? Are e-vites an option, or are some of the guests -- like Grandma -- not so Web savvy? How does she want the invitation worded around the subject of gifts?

Gifties

We all know that for most moms-to-be, the best part of the shower is the presents, but in rare occasions -- especially if the baby is number two or three -- moms don't want or need gifts, and would prefer donations in the family's name to righteous organizations instead. However, if she is going for the gold, find out where the mom plans to register.

Find out if the new mamma plans to use cloth diapers -- an environmentally friendly choice that has fallen back into fashion -- in which case, getting all of the guests to pitch-in for a year of diaper service is a great gift. Most importantly, don't hesitate to buy a gift for baby AND mom. She will really appreciate the massage or the pedicure when she's two months post-partum and certain her body will be elephant-esque until Little Frankie runs for President.

Location, location, location

Does she want the event indoors or outdoors? At a house or a business? There are pros and cons to all of the options. Deanna Inniss, owner of the Third Ward's Freckle Face Boutique, offers her space for showers -- or to get ideas for your shower. "As a planner, this is a good place to come for ideas on decorating the venue. Why not buy a small wooden rocking chair with a stuffed animal or a book propped on it? Then you are not only providing a great gift but making a nice display at the shower as well," she says.

Games: Hokey or hilarious?

Games are a funky aspect of baby showers. Some new moms find them fun, other think they're down-right stupid, so be sure you get the mom's approval before planning any games. Classic shower games include tasting baby food inside label-less baby food jars and guessing the flavor, or doll-diapering races (this is especially popular at couples' showers and usually a game the guys are forced to play.) Perhaps the mom would like a non-traditional game, like "Famous Moms" trivia, which involves finding 20 or so "famous" moms (Hillary Rodham Clinton, Courtney Love and Sarah Jessica Parker), writing a few clues on a piece of paper and holding a trivia contest.

You can also choose an activity instead of a game, like having the shower guests design a onesie with fabric paint.

Booze at the baby bash?

Perhaps the best part of throwing a shower for an adoptive mom is that she can drink! Showers for pregnant moms sometimes include lightly spiked punches or mimosas for the guests, but again, it's up to the mom. If you know the sex of the baby, consider getting creative with your libations, such as pink squirrels or Blue Curacao concoctions. Or, consider an alcohol-free champagne toast.

Edible edibles?

Full-on meals, appetizers or potlucks are all excellent options for the food aspect of baby showers. Make sure you find out if mom or her close family or friends are allergic to anything, and if you are having the shower at a business, be sure to check into the ramifications of bringing food before you start going wild in the kitchen. Consider a "kid food" buffet with mac 'n cheese, "knox blox" Jell-O snacks, PB&J with the crusts cut off and juice boxes. Other ideas include appetizers that begin with the same letter as the baby's first name (unless it's Xavier or Quinn) or food reflecting the family's ethnicity.

Pamper party!

Including chair massage, pedicures or henna adornment will really bring your shower or blessingway to the next level and offer activity that's not game-related. Mom might even want her belly henna-ed.

Is she more of a "blessingway" type gal?

Having a blessingway, instead of a shower, is a popular choice. The blessingway usually doesn't include traditional games or decorations, and has more of a spiritual -- rather than material -- flavor. Blessingways are often appreciated by moms having their second or third child, because they really do not need any baby items, but still appreciate the camaraderie.

Often, blessingway guests bring a poem as their "gift." The hostess provides a blank book, compiles the poems into the book during the blessingway and gives it to the mother at the end as a gift.

Sometimes, guests are asked to bring a bead that someone represents the mother. The, at the blessingway, the beads are strung onto a cord and given to the mom to wear during labor.

Other popular blessingway activities include: belly casting / painting / henna-ing, washing the mother's feet and / or brushing her hair or having each guest light a candle while saying something supportive to the mother-to-be.

And they all lived happily ever after: Final words on planning a baby shower / blessingway.

The most important thing to remember is the shower or blessingway should be centered on the mom-to-be first and the baby second. For months and years to come, life is going to be all about the kid and, in some ways, this is mom's (and dad's) last hurrah. That said, personalize the shower as much as you can, whether that means playing Mom's favorite CDs at the event, or including pictures of her as a baby or tying in family heritage in some way. Anyone can throw a generic baby shower or blessingway, but the truly memorable and most fun showers are the ones with unique choices and a whole lotta panache.

Resources:

Boutique Bebe -- Gifts, planning
2630 N. Downer Ave., (414) 964-2323

Destination Maternity -- Gifts, planning
16010 W. Bluemound Rd., (262) 786-9872
www.destinationmaternity.com/

Sprout -- Gifts, planning
241 N. Broadway, (414) 289-0844
www.sproutmilwaukee.com/

Anita Reed -- Henna
(414) 263-4557

Hands of Henna on Facebook.

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