If you're throwing a baby shower for a relative or friend, creating a suitably festive atmosphere is part of the fun.
Some people go all out by hiring an event planner, while others go more simply, taking the do-it-yourself route.
Whether you're nurturing an elaborate party plan or just want a little inspiration to get started, the Internet opens the nursery door to a wide range of ideas from baby shower experts. Here are a few with their favourites:
Maureen Anders and Adria Ruff, who run the Anders/Ruff event planning company in Charlotte, N.C., recently went with a colour scheme of aqua, mint, lemon and lime for a gender-neutral shower. Mint and orange, grey and yellow, and aqua and coral are also on trend, Anders says, and even black and yellow — for a "baby to bee" theme.
"'Gender reveal' showers are really popular," she says. The guests don't know if it's a boy or a girl till the mom-to-be cuts the cake and reveals a pink or blue interior. Even the future mom can be in on the surprise; party planners can have the ob-gyn contact the cake baker with the information.
Book showers are another hot trend: Guests bring a children's book to help build the new baby's library. Party planners A Good Affair, in Newport Beach, Calif., created a "Peter Rabbit" and "Pat the Bunny" theme at one recent baby shower, in Anaheim, Calif., with vintage rabbit books as décor.
On the pregnancy website The Bump, Allison Micarelli-Sokoloff suggests a "Goodnight, Moon" theme, with dark blue and white polka dots and hanging silver foil stars. Blue lemonade with star shaped fruit, a round cake with dark blue icing and white dots, and starry sugar cookies as favours round out the party elements. For an activity, she suggests gathering each of the poem's items: mittens, a toy house, etc. and having each guest list them in the order they appear in the story.
For their gender-neutral party, Anders/Ruff used colorful yet inexpensive yarn to make decorative pompoms, gift ties, even flowers. They dipped marshmallows in colored chocolate and candy pearls to make table displays, and served tinted macarons and paper-cone popcorn.
Designer and party planner Sunny Duran got inventive for a twins baby shower in Ramstein, Germany: Inspired by Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat," she decorated with book images and typography, and served green egg salad and goldfish in a bowl.
"I wanted everything to have a very playful feel. My favourite part of the book is when Thing One and Thing Two run through the hall with kites," she says, so she ran kite banners around the space and used the motif on labels. The Cat's red-and-white top hat became the party cake.
More tips for a successful baby shower:
— Research a theme. Websites like Hostess with the Mostess, Catch my Party and Any Given Party have dozens of detailed ideas.
— Don't try to do everything yourself. Farm out the sweets-making to bake-savvy friends. Printables are a great way to co-ordinate all the elements of your theme, with banners and tags. For around $10, you can download artwork from one of Etsy.com's talented designers, and print out as many pieces as you need.
— Choose a favour that's unexpected and useful. Anders and Ruff made tiny pickles and packed them in recycled baby food jars with a cute label. There were also colour-co-ordinated candies in spice jars. A food gift's always appreciated, and will be remembered longer than a cheap tchotchke.
— Save money by buying latex balloons instead of pricier Mylar ones. And with food costs averaging about 40 per cent of many shower budgets, opt for a DIY cupcake bar instead of a big cake, and offer finger sandwiches, cheese and fruit instead of fancier fare.