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Getting the Baby Shower You Want

If your hostess's idea of a great party clashes with yours, with a little tact you can still get the shower and gifts you want.

Coed Baby Showers and Games continued...

Another strangely contentious area is baby shower games. Some people think they're hilarious; others think they're awful. But most agree it's important to have some kind of activity to bring guests together -- and your hostess, who may not know many of the guests, wants to make sure that everyone has a good time.

Fortunately for the game-phobic mother-to-be, other activities can serve the same ice-breaking function. Haller -- who sells hand-crafted baby shower invitations and decorations online and at her shop, My Favorite Things -- says that crafting brings guests together to create keepsake gifts for the mother. The crafts studio behind Haller's store has become a popular baby shower venue because hostesses can make unique decorations there instead of buying them and guests can create nursery garlands and other mementos "that last longer than the shower."

Whiteboard baby books are another popular item at baby showers. With a digital camera for on-the-spot developing, each guest can design a special page for the mother-to-be, using photos from the party. The involving activity is a lasting reminder of the guests' support and best wishes, as well as a memory book of the event.

No Gifts, Please: Baby Showers for Strapped Times

What if you'd prefer that your guests bring no gifts -- or just small ones? Perhaps some of your guests have been invited to more than one shower for you, and you don't want to strain their budget. Perhaps this is your second (or third, or fourth) baby, and you already have most of the big-ticket items. Or perhaps you want to emphasize the gathering and not the gifts.

Consider suggesting one of these ideas to your hostess.

•    "Baby's first library" shower. Baby books are inexpensive, personal, fun to buy, and generally something a child can't have too much of. 

•    "Best advice" shower. All the guests are asked to write out their best piece of advice, and all the advice is put together in a book at the shower.

•    "I.O.U." shower. Perhaps nothing is more appreciated by new moms than the gift of time. Each guest offers to provide a specific service: a week of carpooling, a night of babysitting, a delivered dinner, a free housecleaning.

Enjoying Your Baby Shower: 3 Tried-and-True Tips

No matter what shape your baby shower takes -- and whether you're involved in the planning or leave it all in the hands of the hostess -- there's no reason why you can't enjoy it. Here are three tips for making any baby shower a happy celebration.

•    Be open-minded.

Especially for first-time moms, opening shower gifts and playing games can be awkward. "Everyone is looking at you so expectantly as you're opening a wipe warmer," says Spencer, "and you're trying to figure out the correct expression of gratitude, but you don't even know what a wipe warmer is yet." Instead of worrying about awkward moments, she says, just expect them and open yourself up to them.

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