Who doesn’t love a baby? I’ve never once felt that obligatory, “Ugh, I have to go to this baby shower but I don’t want to” that I often feel with other social events. There is something about walking through the baby section that brings out the mushy gushy in me. I could spend hours walking up and down all the baby aisles… I even stop and ponder bottles (I, who breastfed my babies and had no need for bottles). This baby stuff obsession can lead to some ugly consumerism (which is exactly what the stores and manufacturers want). Because of my adoration of babies and all their junk, I’ve become the Queen of Baby Showers. Here are some idea’s I’ve come across to help baby get started in a more sustainable way.
Pound Showers- Especially for 2nd or later children, or those families that already have all the baby stuff from a previous baby. At a Pound Shower, ask all invitees to bring a freezer meal for after the baby is born. Set out a large cooler and stock it full for the parents to take home to their freezer. This way, after baby, the parent’s can pull out a meal to defrost in the morning and bake or reheat it at dinner time for an easy, hot meal.
Recycled Shower- Let the guest know that the parents would like second hand items. Provide a list of what is needed and local resale shops where you might find baby gear. Build a cake out of cloth diapers found on Craigslist or your local cloth diaper exchange, it makes a beautiful centerpiece and serves one of the most frequent needs of baby. Remember that carseats should NEVER be purchased used. If a family member has a seat which was used for their own child and the history is known (a seat which has been in a crash could fail in the next collision) and the expiration date hasn’t passed, then by all means share the seat. Otherwise, this is the one item that should be gotten new. I cringe every time I hear someone I know say how they bought a carseat on Craigslist or eBay… All I can think is, “what if”.
Organic Baby Shower- This is a fun one for first time parents. Provide a list with your invites detailing fabric and product choices as well as stores and online sites where items can be found. List preferred brands of baby body products and diapering choices (flat cloth, type of wrap, AIO’s, gDiapers, Seventh Generation, Tushies, etc…). This will reduce returns. If returns are needed, offer to do them for the Parents to Be and find out what else on their list you should pick up instead.
Upcycled/Reclaimed- If you have a crafty bunch, this is a great idea for a fun filled shower. It’s a good idea to send sample gift sheets out with the invites. What is upcycled? Provide simple ideas (decorating a onesie found at a resale shop) with ribbon, fabric or applique and welcome creativity. Also let families know where you might be able to buy something if they guest isn’t crafty (Etsy, Forever Jack). Another take is to have everyone bring crafting scraps from home and an item of baby clothing (onesie, t-shirt, pants, socks) and decorate them at the party. Stress that they should bring a clothing item which has been found used ( small stains and holes can be repaired and covered) and washed prior to the party. Provide fabric glue, iron on fusing and fabric paint/pens.
Handmade- be sure to provide ideas as to where a guest might purchase a handmade gift if they don’t have a crafty streak.
Decorations- use fabric table cloths, mix and match china, cloth napkins, lace doilies, etc… to decorate. You can probably find what you need between your cupboard and those of your friends. If you need extra’s or don’t like to borrow for fear of breakage or stains, then hit Goodwill and stock up. Add some flowers, a cloth diaper cake, a plate of cupcakes or other desserts, pitchers of ice water and tea pots for a “shabby chic” shower.
The key to having a successful sustainable party is to be VERY specific. Ensure that guests have all the information needed to bring gifts which will help lower the new babies carbon footprint. Start with recycled paper, scrap paper, seed paper, etc… for the invite, print with soy ink if possible, add a “please recycle” or “please plant” this invitation where it will be easily seen(or just go with an evite). Provide natural, organic foods and beverages. Use live plants and flowers for decoration, make a cloth pendant banner, provide plenty of cloth napkins (set out a basket to collect dirties). Have fun and remember to not get stressed if a well meaning guest shows up with a gift that doesn’t fit the theme.
Photo Credit: Virtual Ravelry Baby Shower by WonderMike at Flickr under Creative Commons License.