If your new mom doesn't need
a new stroller or car seat, consider chipping in and getting her
something unique and memorable.
Sabrina Hill and Joni Russell, authors of The Everything Baby
Shower Book suggest buying birthday cards for birthdays 1 through
21. Give one card to each guest and have them write an
age-appropriate message to the baby, child, teenager or new adult.
Collect and seal in an attractive box and present them to the new
parents. These cards can be given each year on the respective
birthdays, a lovely and loving way to be gifted anew each year.
Photography session. Professional baby
portraits are priceless treasures. No one else can capture those
little toes or triangle mouths quite so well. When Bethany Priester
of Hinsdale hosted a baby shower for her good friend, the women all
contributed toward a gift card for a photo session. "She was able
to get some amazing photos," Priester says. "She chose to take some
pre-baby, beautiful belly pictures and then went back and got baby
and family pictures later. Since this wasn't her first baby, she
knew the value of those photos and how magical a newborn's photos
nursery. Have guests bring necessities for a
newborn-plenty of diapers, onesies, wipes, formula and burp
clothes. Forget the rubber ducky that tests the bath temperature;
just ask guests to bring along items that new parents go through
quickly. They'll be particularly grateful when they run out of
something in the middle of the night.
service. Chip in and hire a cleaning service for a couple
of visits. Besides home-cooked meals, a clean house is one of the
best treats for any new parent.
Find something the mom normally wouldn't buy for herself, such as a
double jogging stroller or a double bike trailer. Or find something
the family would enjoy, like a pool, museum or zoo membership.
Know a mom (or dad) expecting
another child? Is it appropriate to throw a shower? If so, what's
Lavish showers are generally
reserved for first babies, a way to "shower" soon-to-be
first-timers with the necessities of new parenting: high chair, car
seat, crib, bedding, changing pads, diaper bags, layette clothes
and on and on and on. Or if there's a long gap between babies, a
second shower can be a godsend.
But for parents who are
already well equipped, instead of a shower, think more in terms of
"sprinkle." Second or third or even fourth babies aren't any less
welcome, but parents generally already have most of the major baby
gear. By throwing some originality into the mix, you can host a
party for a second- or third-time mom that will sprinkle her with
something she'll really use and enjoy.
Sabrina Hill and Joni
Russell, authors of The Everything Baby Shower Book (Adams
Media, 2008), suggest throwing a shower where friends get together
to help the mom cope with the impending complications of multiple
offspring. Plan out a calendar and fill in days with babysitting
services, grocery store runs, carpool duty, laundry, even garden
weeding and flower planting.
"We sometimes call it a
'shower shower,' meaning we're going to give mom a chance to get a
shower every day," says Hill.
Such showers work well for
moms without family nearby. You're giving her breaks without her
having to ask. Find someone super-organized who can coordinate
schedules and then fill out the calendar: "June 3: Johnny has
playdate at Sue's from 10 a.m.-1 p.m." or "Round-trip ride to
preschool every Monday." Hill and Russell have a template on their
If you have a friend who
loves to scrapbook, consider a baby book shower. Scrapbooking time
falls off rapidly for the first few months of a child's life, and
never more so than with a third or fourth child. Host a party where
everyone creates a scrapbook album. Andrea Wolbers of Archiver's in
Downers Grove holds many of these showers in her store.
She reports that two themes
are particularly popular. One is a traditional baby book. "Everyone
does a different page-baby's first smile, baby's first tooth,
baby's first food and so on," she says. At the end, you have a
beautifully coordinated template and all the mother has to do is
fill in the details.
Another popular concept is to
have each party guest write advice for the mother-to-be. "Everyone
decorates their own page with advice and a photo of themselves and
the mom then has a beautiful and very personal book," Wolbers
Bringing food to new mothers
is a time-honored tradition. But that usually lasts two or three
weeks-about the time most parents are at their most sleep-deprived,
as babies hit their fussiest stage and older kids demand their
share of attention. A "freezer shower" may be the answer. Ask
everyone to whip up a casserole or soup or some type of dish that
freezes well. (Pre-frozen foods and restaurant gift cards are good
options as well.) Include a card with the name of the dish and
instructions for reheating.
The birth of a subsequent
child may mean major redecorating. Hill and Russell recommend what
they call an "Extreme Nursery Makeover." A nursery shower brings
together friends (dads too!) to help set up the new baby's room. If
the nursery needs to be painted, everyone can pitch in. If a crib
or changing table needs to be assembled, bring along the Allen
wrenches. Other tasks: wash and fold the clothes, line dresser
drawers, assemble the stroller and set up the car seat. This is a
great way to involve the older siblings and it's especially helpful
for moms on bedrest. Order bagels and coffee or pizza and pop.
Encourage guests to bring gifts that complement the nursery theme
or upgrade the baby's room.
Give a child the gift of
reading. Laura Rehling of Elmhurst threw a book shower for her good
friend who was an avid reader and pregnant with her third
"I asked everyone to bring a
children's book to the shower," she says. "It could be their
favorite book from childhood or one that they enjoyed reading to
their children or grandchildren. Or it could be the latest
beautiful picture book at the store."
The only stipulation was that
the books should have meaning for the giver, accompanied by cards
that expounded on why the book was chosen. The results can be quite
moving, Rehling says. Choices needn't be limited to picture books.
Chapter book classics like Mr. Popper's Penguins or Charlotte's Web
can also be encouraged.
All babies are cause for
celebration, but the arrival of a second or third baby provides a
poignant reminder of how lucky we are. To celebrate the baby
without inundating the parents, consider a donation shower. When
Amy Engstrom Clugg of Elmhurst adopted her second child from
Russia, they invited guests to bring donations for the children
left behind in the orphanage.
"These were children who may
never know the love and security of their own family," Clugg
explains. "My pediatrician donated loads of important things like
Neosporin. My mother-in-law sewed mountains of flannel baby
blankets and my parents donated a suitcase full of Beanie Babies so
each child could have something warm of their own to hug.
"We had or could buy whatever
was needed for both of our kids, but overseas, donations were
desperately needed," she says. "In addition, we wanted Russians to
know how much people in the USA welcome children like ours,
children who join their families through adoption."
Find a charity close to the
mom-to-be's heart and consider collecting donations for babies in
Laura Amann is a freelance writer and a mother of four living in Elmhurst.
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