With the help of friends, family, and poor recruits who didn’t know what they were in for, this past Memorial Day weekend, I hosted a nautical baby shower for my best friends, Rachel and Shayne, who are expecting their first child – a little boy, due to arrive in August.
Rachel picked a nautical, under-the-sea theme for her shower, which I promptly ran with and turned into an “Ahoy, It’s a Boy!” -themed shower as soon as I caught wind of that hilariously cute phrase. Exhibit A:
Rachel also picked the cutest colors – mint, navy, gray, and white – and then I went to town on the rest. I love throwing parties, and this was probably one of my favorite events to put together, aside from mine and Russell’s wedding.
I’ve thrown…a few…parties/showers/get-togethers, and thought it would be nice to share some tips with you that I’ve learned along the way. I was asked a few times by guests at the shower if I was a party-planner full-time (oh, the ego-boost THAT was), and sad to say, no. I’m so not and don’t think I ever could be, haha. I have a full-time job and fit this kind of stuff in when the opportunities arise. Regardless, I do enjoy it, and do want to brag just a teeny tiny bit, because I think Rachel’s shower turned out really cute! haha.
When we first started planning, we found the perfect invitations on Zazzle, pictured above. The stripes and colors quickly set the theme for the rest of the shower. I put together a Pinterest board for inspiration – which is always my first go-to – and quickly found that Etsy was my best friend for affordable printables which I didn’t necessarily have the time to create myself.
Tip: I frequently buy party supplies and stationary from Zazzle, because the sales that go on are insane! All of our wedding stationary came from designers on there. They have incredible deals and the quality is pretty good. I recommend it to everyone. Sign up for the emails and you’ll never miss a sale! I’m talking up to 50% off sometimes; it’s well worth looking into.
Tip: Square invitations cost more to mail than rectangular ones – almost double, in fact. If you’re trying to save money, pick a design that fits into a rectangular envelope.
The shower was really a picnic, and held in an outdoor pavilion in our small hometown. I wanted to have classy and fun decorations, without making it look like a wedding, so I stuck to the basics: pretty flowers, baby-appropriate framed printables, sand and seashells.
Oh, and live fish – because you can’t have an under-the-sea party without at least one fishie! I gave the fish away as prizes for the games, and it was a hit. (Somebody thought we were going to end up with two new pets…how’s that crow taste, Rusty?)
Shoutout to Kristi, Rachel’s cousin, for stopping at the party store to pick up the biggest balloons ever created, when we mis-judged the time the store opened…and for not floating away once she took them out of her car. Seriously, a few of these could lift a little kid off the ground, easily. I don’t think they would have fit in our truck regardless, so thank you, darlin! (and for a million other things as well!)
When it came to decorating the picnic tables, I went back and forth a lot on what I wanted. There are so many pretty ideas out there! Sketching out my ideas in a little notebook that was dedicated to the shower helped me decide what I wanted, and also kept me on track, budget-wise.
I wanted to buy table runners for each of the picnic tables, but about had a heart attack when I saw how much they were selling for. So instead, I bought my own fabric online for cheap, measured, and cut the edges with quilting shears. This way I didn’t have to spend time sewing or ironing Stitch Witchery on 12 of these runners; the edges didn’t unravel on me.
Tip: Use what you already have and recycle for events! The votives, pictured above? I bought them at IKEA for our wedding; they’ve been in a few weddings since then, loaned out to friends, and were used at the shower, too. They are plain and simple, glass – they won’t go out of style. I filled them with sand and seashells for the shower rather than lighting candles for a day-time event. I also took picture frames right off my walls, changed the photo inside, and used them for the shower.
Tip: Make affordable centerpieces by buying cheap glass vases at Dollar Tree and ordering flowers from Trader Joe’s! Big thanks to My Pal Mal for this tip; she bought vases for her wedding there and passed on this handy advice for the shower.
I also recently learned that you could order flowers from Trader Joe’s – just like at any florist but for a lot cheaper. I ended up with ten bunches of blue, green, and white hydrangea for $60. To put that into perspective, when I bought white hydrangea stems for my bridal shower, I spent $120 on 10 stems. Not bunches. Stems. I’ll always go to Trader Joe’s from now on!
The table decorations were rounded out with onesie and baby whale cookie favors, which my aunt made (shameless shoutout: you can check out her bakery, Whimsy Cakes, on Facebook). I ordered stickers at the same time that I ordered invitations, and we placed them on the favor bags right before the shower.
I also printed and assembled game packets, and we placed a few on each picnic table so we didn’t have to pass them out later. As guests sat down, they were able to begin filling out their wishes for mama and baby.
I thought, instead of a traditional guestbook, using a child’s book would be a cuter idea and a nice memento from the shower. As guests walked in, they had the chance to sign the book on the gift table. If Rachel or Shayne read this to their little guy, they can tell him who everyone is by their signatures, an idea I thought was sweet and heart-warming. Rachel’s also a bibliophile, and I’m sure the little one is going to start early, too.
We decorated the rest of the pavilion with crepe paper streamers and plenty of paper lanterns, which Rachel’s family, Russell, and Shayne dutifully assembled the morning of the party. I purchased these from Oriental Trading online.
Tip: Pack a supply bag for every shower, picnic, event, etc. you throw. Include a staple gun, staples, tape, thumbtacks, a hammer, string, ribbon, command hooks, soap, dish towels, aluminum foil, scissors, and any other emergency contraption you can think of. We threw everything into a giant IKEA bag, and used probably every single item inside. Something else to think about if you’re hanging anything? A ladder. And a spotter.
At the risk of sounding like Raj from the Big Bang Theory, no party is complete without an appropriately-themed menu. There are tons of ideas for beach-themed food on the internet, and I couldn’t – I mean I just couldn’t – pass up the opportunity to glue googly eyes on toothpicks and stick them in croissant sandwiches so they looked like crabs.
Tip: If you have cake stands, use them at a buffet as food risers so your guests aren’t leaning too close to the food in front while serving the food in back. Another tip: make individual serving veggie cups with dip on the bottom. No double dipping!
I used all of my glassware for the party, which I thought looked a little bit nicer than mis-matched aluminum pans. It was kind of a pain hauling everything and hoping it didn’t break, admittedly, but I liked the idea of glass dishes too much to say no.
I know this is getting long, but I haven’t gotten to the best part of the shower yet…you see, I know a lot of people who are talented, crafty folks. Chassity, Rachel’s step-sister, took a ton of beautiful photos at the shower; my aunt made the cookie favors; Kristi and her mom wrapped up chocolate bars in coordinating party wrappers; people pitched in and offered to bring food and drinks, and overall were just a huge help.
But the downright best thing about being me is that one of my best friends in the whole wide world is a cake baker for Bella Christie’s bakery, which is THE up-and-coming-maybe-already-arrived new best bakery in Pittsburgh.
And this is what she created for Rachel’s shower:
Eek! These were the cutest cakes I had ever seen in real life!
Rachel, being the pregnant lady that she currently is, couldn’t decide which cake flavor she wanted most (and I certainly didn’t mind because I love cake and am not even a little bit pregnant), so we ordered two cakes.
One, her favorite – carrot cake with cream cheese buttercream icing, and another, which is pretty reminiscent of my wedding cake – almond cake with berry compote filling and buttercream icing.
To get these cakes to the shower – which was about an hour from where we live – I squished next to Russell in the middle seat of the truck while the cakes took up the floor and passenger seat. The only time I was ever more nervous about a special delivery was when we picked up Mallory’s wedding dress, haha. I think that says a lot about my life if I can put food and a wedding gown on the same level of importance…
Anywho, the above cakes were drool-worthy. Multiple people tried both. If you need a cake for any event, call up my man Dimitri at Bella Christie’s and ask Rose to put her magical touch into the batter.
I have one final crafty, DIY-tip for y’all. Did you know that you can buy plywood at Home Depot that has already been painted with chalkboard paint? For like 7 bucks? I’ve spent plenty of my time and money painting things with chalkboard paint over the years, and let me just tell you, if you don’t have the time to make your own sign, this is your answer.
We bought a long sheet of this plywood, and Russell cut it in half and added hinges to the middle so we could make a road sign for Rachel’s shower. (Don’t mind my weak attempt at hand-lettering; I’ve not been practicing at all lately). I’m re-using the sign as a horseshoes bracket this weekend at the reunion.
Over 1,000 words later and that’s all there is to it! haha. I know, I know. The best advice I can give is to start looking early for what you want, and you’ll be surprised at what you can find at Target, the local hardware store, and in your own house. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; support as many local artisans as you can; and have fun with it. That last one is easier said than done; having a Type A personality (cough, who? Not me!) will also help when planning a party, but you’ll also tear half of your hair out. So really, fun – I recommend that one the most.
Thank you to everyone who helped by bringing food, helping me set up and tear down, and just being generally supportive of Rachel and Shayne. We love you guys so much, and it was SO NICE to spend the day with you!! Congratulations again, pretty lady!! I can’t wait to meet the little guy.
Aww…wishing you all the best in the world as your start your little family, you two crazy lovebirds!! I can’t wait to be an Auntie again! 😀
You can view more of Chassity’s beautiful photos by visiting her Facebook page.