Monday, July 1, 2013

Throwing a Baby Shower on Budget

My friend Kristina is about two months away from being a mom. Since I'm pretty sure that without her, I wouldn't have consumed enough food or fluids the week leading up to my wedding, I really wanted to throw her a nice shower. Also, I love the challenge of throwing a great party on a budget. 

I must admit that I had a bunch of stuff left over from said wedding that happened to work well for a shower — plates, cups, napkins, straws, tablecloths, a framed chalkboard, and booze (who says you can't have booze at a baby shower?) — so this isn't exactly a how-to-throw-a-baby-shower-on-a-budget post.

That said, if I'd had (er, taken) more time, it would have been easy to use my own mismatched vintage dishes and silver, whip up some decorations, and ask everyone to bring a moderately-priced bottle of wine or make a punch with cheap champagne and juice. Hosting the party at my house would have been a free option, too, but I was grateful to borrow a friend's beautiful studio (where I'll also be hiding out working on freelance projects soon — more on that later) so I didn't have to speed clean in anticipation/party panic mode. 

Before my co-host Amanda and I started to plan the shower, Kristina mentioned she really wanted to have a Blessing Way. Different from a shower, a Blessing Way is a gathering in which pregnant woman and her close friends celebrate her transition into motherhood (and which I admit seemed way too touchy-feely for me until I learned more about its history).

That worked out well, because Kristina and her partner live in a small apartment and we didn't want to shower them with too much stuff. Still, we found a way to combine the rituals of the Blessing Way with the materialism of a contemporary American baby shower. Go us!

We started by asking everyone to bring a dish that reminded her of a woman she loved. This was also a totally selfish request since the shower was on a Thursday and Amanda and I would have gone insane and completely trashed our kitchens trying to prepare all of the food on our own. (I like to make people think I have my shit together, but it's much more convincing on a Saturday or Sunday when I have a few extra hours to actually get my shit together.) It worked well with the theme.

I was able get it together enough to make one dish, and that was my aunt Susie's (which I've since learned she spells Suzie) tuna noodle casserole. That was the first $10 I actually spent. 

Some people clearly grew up in healthier families. 

There were other presents — that I failed to document because my phone was also the iPod — which included a beautiful handmade baby blanket and adorable, tiny clothes. Even I couldn't resist picking up a $9.00 denim romper from Target (I look terrible in them, so I decided that I will live vicariously through Kristina's daughter this summer). Someone bought Kristina a massage, and since she plans to make her own baby food, another friend decorated a bunch of glass jars.

In addition to the potluck item, we asked attendees to bring beads or buttons to contribute to a garland to go above the bed. We all added to it as we sipped on horse feathers and listened to Kristina share her fears and concerns about the future.

Though she didn't bring it up that night, I know that one of her concerns is money. And as someone who has always worried about money, I didn't want her to have to feel that when she was about to bring her daughter into the world.

To help lessen that burden — and not stuff their small apartment with a bunch of crap they don't really need — we asked everyone to chip in to help pay their rent for August, the month the baby is due.

While I won't get into numbers (beyond saying that everything combined cost me less than $100), I'm happy with the fabulous party/bastardized Blessing Way we were able to put together on a budget. I'm even happier that we were able to give Kristina and her new family a gift that will allow them to spend more time together, and less time worrying about money when the baby comes. 


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