When my best friend Juls (Julia but referred to by her high school nickname Juls because it’s too confusing with our other best friend being named Julia!) found out she was pregnant with her first child, she lived in Georgia and we weren’t able to have a shower for her. They moved back home to Massachusetts just after her son turned 1. This past New Year’s Eve, I showed up at her new house with good beer and snacks and was excited to celebrate with them and a few of their friends. But before anyone else got there, she told me she wasn’t drinking.
She wasn’t drinking!
She had taken a pregnancy test earlier in the day and the rest is history. I kept my mouth shut until she started telling people (aside from her family and other close friends, who knew sooner). But the wheels in my head were already turning. I had so much fun throwing her bridal shower in 2013 that I couldn’t wait to throw her a proper baby shower. At first she wasn’t too keen on the idea of have a baby shower for her second baby. We both find it incredibly tacky when people have multiple baby showers. It’s just not appropriate to continue asking for gifts, but some people thrive on attention.
Juls is not that person, and this wouldn’t be her second baby shower. At first we settled on the idea of a “sprinkle” but finally she took off the reins and let me go wild.
The first order of business was selecting a date. Her due date is September 5, and ideally you want to have a shower 8 weeks before then so that you have all the necessities and aren’t feeling too enormous and also don’t run the risk of having the baby a bit early before the shower. Well she and Donny have almost everything they need, and since it’s another boy, they really don’t even need clothes aside from winter newborn outfits. So the date was more about what worked for us – her, me, her mom, Julia (my co-planner extraordinaire), her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and her brother’s girlfriend. We finally narrowed down a date that worked for all 7 of us, it was in the middle of July and we knew people’s summer vacations could conflict, but forged ahead with the guest list. We actually ended up needing to move it up by one week (hence the different dates in the invitations below), but fortunately right before I printed all the final design.
After much convincing, I agreed to throw it at her house. Her house is huge and beautiful and centrally located to many of the guests, but I didn’t want her to feel at all obliged to clean before or after or do any lifting of her pregnant little fingers during the shower. I have to admit that it was nice not having to worry about paying a venue to rent their space.
I love designing. I don’t have a degree in it and I’m not super skilled at InDesign, so making one project takes me hours that it might take even a semi-trained designer a few minutes. But I enjoy the process, and always save my first draft to see how different it always ends up being from the final version.
At first, I really toyed around with the design. Juls didn’t have a theme in mind, but knew she didn’t want it to be strictly blue boy stuff. She doesn’t particularly care for gender-specific colors, which is great because neither do I.
The first design was whimsical and playful. She liked it, but we didn’t really confirm anything for a bit. Life kept moving. It was April, and I knew we had at least a month to land on a design. Then she told me she had thought about it, and wanted a garden party theme. It fits her style, her house is perfect for it, and she was envisioning light blues and greens and whites. Having a theme to keep in the back of my mind when re-designing the invitation was a HUGE help. I don’t do well with a blank canvas and often spend hours searching online for inspiration to serve as a starting point.
She said the second draft was closer to what she was thinking, but still not there. She even apologized for being pregnant and indecisive. I suggested she go on Shutterstock to find some imagery that she loved or want me to use as a guide or color palate. She found this, and I made my first Shutterstock image purchase in years.
Of the 3 options I gave her, she liked the third one best. So that’s what we sent! I printed them myself on cardstock. I also made and included a small card in place of a registry card, instructing guests that no gifts were needed but if they really wanted to bring something, books diapers, and outfits were welcome. I found these brown Kraft paper envelopes at Target, made my own mailing and return address labels, and off they went the Wednesday after Memorial Day, giving people 6 weeks to respond and 8 weeks for me to plan and prep.
I’d be lying if I said I started planning well in advance. Instead, the same day I mailed the invitations was the day my stress fracture bubbled to the surface. I spent the next several weeks feeling sorry for myself, in loads of pain, hysterically crying for the 10 days between the injury and the diagnosis.
RSVPs slowly began to roll in. At first, it was mostly regrets. But soon, people began confirming they’d attend and I knew we’d need to start thinking about food – something Juls’ family does incredibly well so honestly, there’s no point in me even attempting to cook when I know her parents enjoy doing it and are SO good at it. That was also a huge weight off my shoulders, for the second shower in a row. Her bridal shower was much bigger and move involved, but they still took care of all the food and we even had enough for a huge family leftovers dinner later that night.
On the same token, they are also extremely green-thumbed, and her mom especially has a great eye for floral arrangements. She did all the flowers for the bridal shower. Juls has reminded both Julia and me that she wanted to “keep it simple” and I knew she had stressed this to her parents as well, so while they agreed to do food and flowers, I didn’t want them killing themselves over it either.
Out of the 28 possible guests (which included Juls and myself), we ended up with 17 yes’s, 9 no’s, and 1 unsure. Juls’ cousins from Russia ended up booking their trip liked we hoped they would, and so that meant another 3 guests plus her dad and brother and of course, Donny! A total of 24 people c definitely a good number to work with. Originally I looked into renting tables, chairs, and even one of those party tents since July tends to be a scorcher around here, but after thinking about it Juls decided she didn’t want such a formal gathering. She had enough tables and seating in her house for people who needed to sit and plenty of space for people to stand and mingle, so that saved almost $400 on rentals – fine by me!
I had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to do for decorations and favors, but I have to admit that I really didn’t start fleshing them out until 2 weeks before the shower, when all the RSVPs were in, I was no longer in pain, and I was back from my much-needed 10-day vacation.
More on the actual prep work in the next post…