By Christina VanGinkel
A good friend calls and tells you she is expecting her first baby. She has several female relatives, but not even one that lives nearby. You have decided that it would be appropriate for you to throw her a shower for the impending birth, and even go so far as to call her mother to discuss it with her. The one problem is that you are on a strict budget. Do not despair, as it is possible to hold a gathering of this type without it costing you a bundle.
Keep the number of guests equal to what will comfortably fit into you living room or family room. A hall rental is not necessary. Until recent times, all baby showers were held in homes, usually as an afternoon or early evening gathering, and this is an ideal place to host one. If some of the guests that you will be inviting are friends of yours, besides being friends of the mom-to-be, ask them if they would bring a dish to pass. Among my group of friends, this is just a given, that when an occasion such as a baby shower is being held, that everyone pitches in with a dish. If this is not the case with your personal group of friends, be the first to start a new tradition. Just be sure to pitch in down the line when someone asks for the favor in return.
The current trend is also not to play games at showers, but I see nothing wrong with having a few games to get everyone chatting and to just kick back and relax while playing. Look up some old favorites, such as Baby Name Scramble, Cotton Ball Carry, or Remember. For the Baby Name Scramble, just write down a list of fifteen or so items that are relative to babies, such as rattle, diaper, crib, etc., and scramble the letters. Time everyone for one minute, and whoever gets the most unscrambled wins a small gift. Cotton Ball Switch is always good for a laugh, just dump a bag of cotton balls in a bowl, blindfold the player, and give them an empty bowl in one hand and a large wooden spoon in the other. Time them for thirty seconds and see how many cotton balls they can transfer to the empty bowl. For the Remember game, place twenty items on a tray, a safety pin, a spoon, a cotton ball, a playing card, etc, then walk around the room allowing everyone to get a look at the tray. Place the tray in another room and give all the guests a minute to write down what they saw. The most correct wins a prize.
Prizes do not have to be a big cost issue either. I always grab a few things at our local Dollar Store, or check out the dollar value aisle at Wal-Mart. A candle, a picture frame, a hot pad set, evening a pair of decorative gardening gloves, all make good gifts. It is not so much the gift itself as it is the thought. If you are the crafty type, make a few things. One friend I know always gives hand knitted dishcloths, and all of her friends just love them. Your friend will be pleasantly surprised and appreciate this just as much as any large gala affair!