For starters, skip the silly games. Do you really need to stock up on Pampers so you can play Pass the Diaper?
“My favourite baby shower asked everyone to bring their favorite children’s book signed to the baby on the way so that they could begin a library,” says Angela Barton, a writer who’s adopted a nonconsumerist lifestyle and who blogs at My Year Without Spending. “My least favourite blindfolded us and asked us to taste baby food and identify it.”
Strength in numbers
Barton’s preferred way of keeping costs low is to get invitees involved. “With food, I try to cook and bake for a few days before the event and then ask people that I know like to cook and have time to bring some of their signature dishes,” Barton says.
Make the event a potluck. Send out a sign-up sheet requesting people bring things like napkins and plates, cups and glasses, cutlery, chairs, tablecloths and so on. Mismatched furniture and dishes go over well in design mags; why not at your own party? If you’re worried about the place looking like a garage sale, pick one or two colours and ask people to limit items that theme.
A second-hand store is another place worth checking out, or ask friends or family members who aren’t coming to the shower if you can borrow things. Put out a call on Facebook; you never know who might have a crystal punch bowl or fold-up tables kicking around.
Consider the venue
If you don’t have enough room in your teeny condo to host a gathering, don’t bother renting a venue. Rather, put the word out: does anyone who’s coming happen to have appropriate digs that they’d be willing to open up? Just be sure they know that you’ll be doing all the prep and clean-up, so they don’t get stuck with it.
Regardless of where the pink or blue cake gets cut, set limits to your guest list, suggests Katrina Bearinger of Canadian Budget Binder.
“If you’re hosting a baby shower for a friend, then inviting friends only instead of every aunt or cousin will keep the size of your event manageable,” she says.
Watch your timing
Avoid timing the get-together right at lunch or dinner. “Consider planning the shower during non-meal times and offering finger foods,” Bearinger says. You could have afternoon tea, coffee and desert, or appetizers and drinks. Ideally those nibbles will be home-made, costing a fraction of the amount that a catered event would go for.
You could skip the alcohol too, but if you’d like to offer some kind of cocktail, think about what’s the most economical: instead of wine, opt for spritzers, for instance. Offer only one type of alcoholic beverage instead of stocking up on wine, beer, and spirits. And do as restaurants do: be stingy with the sparkling wine in those mimosas.
Decorate on a budget
As for decorations, try not to get carried away with pricey centrepieces from a party-supply store. The dollar store is always a go-to source, but try your own home first. Do you have anything on hand that could be reused? Do you keep things like wrapping paper or ribbons? Head over to Pinterest to get ideas on things like making your own tissue-paper balls if that suits your fancy.
Instead of a budget-breaking bouquet of flowers, would a simple bunch of flowers or mixed greenery from your own garden or a friend’s do? Borrow some baby bottles or baby-food jars from a mom friend to use as vases.
An idea for a centrepiece is a cake or cupcake stand. It will serve double duty as a memorable decoration and as dessert.
Here’s another practical décor idea: hang a clothesline across the room or over the table. Attach onesies, bibs, or receiving blankets with clothespins or safety pins and let the mom-to-be take home the whole lot.
Although sending your guests off with a party favour isn’t absolutely necessary, if you’re set on the idea, Bearinger suggests baking your own cookies, brownies or cake pops and wrapping them in cellophane or goodie bags from the dollar store. Small jars of seasonal jam or jelly would work too.
Another idea? Fill up recycled baby-food jars with bath salts that you bought in bulk and decorate with a ribbon — a gift from your shower to theirs.