Thursday, October 04, 2007

Frugal baby shower

Q: I have offered to throw a baby shower in January for my best friend...she suggested that we go to a restaurant so that nobody has to have the burden of being the hostess. (We live in different states, so I can't host the event or else I would.)

My mind immediately went to the cost of renting a space and feeding 15 women lunch! ... Do you have any thoughts on ways to be frugal in terms of decorations or food without sacrificing the feeling that it is a special occasion?



A: Let's talk out-of-town logistics. You may want to consider renting a public space for a nominal fee and buying a cake from a local grocery. Does your friend's church, city park, or local library have a special meeting room available? Punch, cake, nuts and mints are really all you need to offer. Bring along your own sale-purchased paper goods and ingredients.

Compare that time and expense to the cost of renting a special restaurant or tea room. You may find that the $10 lunch per guest is cheaper than renting a room, buying a cake, and furnishing your own decoration. Most Southern showers involve light refreshments rather than a full meal. Restaurants should charge less for off-peak hours in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Your friend will feel honored by your gesture, no matter how you decorate. For January, I think a soft white scheme with hundreds of paper snowflakes would be easy to transport. (Start raiding the office recycling bin now!) I'll send you to Homespun Heart for more inexpensive party decorations.

Readers, any ideas for hosting or decorating the perfect out-of-town baby shower...on a budget?

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Meredith,
After Christmas last year I approached the customer service desk at my local Publix and they glady gave me the snowflakes they had hanging in the bakery/deli area. It might pay for the lady questioning to seek out that option for snowflakes. Assuming my husband did not throw mine away I plan on using them for my daughter's Winter Wonderland birthday party.
Elise

Donna said...

Hi Meredith--check out my blog the helpful homemakeron how to make a diaper cake--it is a practical and beautiful decoration for any baby shower--You can also use this idea for a housewarming party, but instead of diapers use dishcloths rolled up.

Anonymous said...

I had an experience similar to Elise's (the first commenter on this post) happen last year on Christmas Eve. Due to extended family illness, and the cancellation of our Christmas Day time together, my husband and I were at our local Kroger store late on Christmas Eve, trying to pull together a last-minute Christmas dinner for our kids, since everything with our family was cancelled (There's a stress-inducing experience for you!!). We were AMAZED at the things they were marking down- all kinds of Norfolk Christmas pine trees in lovely pots, large hams, floral arrangements, seasonal winter items....obviously, I'm not saying the lady in question needs to spend her Christmas Eve scouring the stores for bargains for a shower in January(!!), but it might not hurt to really watch for decorations, foods, etc. that she could get cheaply the closer it gets to Christmas. And I would agree about the church. Many churches have kitchens that can be used, so that makes it easy to get foods ready that need to be prepared. Maybe her best friend's husband and some of his friends could help set up and tear things down as their way of contributing to the shower. My last thought is that Sam's Club has an option where you can order items online from almost any of their stores in the U.S., and then arrange a pickup time, which might help in this situation since she is traveling out of state. They have some great foods that could be incorporated into a brunch for ladies, especially if you have it at a facility like a church, where things can be warmed/cooked, etc. I hope the gal who wrote the question will let us know what she decides to do!
Susan

2boysmama said...

I've been to several no-host baby showers at restaraunts where everyone is expected to pay for there own food. No one minded and it was lots of fun with no mess to clean up.

SongBirdy said...

Often Churches will rent out rooms for very nominal costs, often free if you are a member of that church.

Every year my husband's Grandfather hosts a Christmas dinner at his church. Some of us, including ourselves, drive very far. Those of us farther away bring deli plates, desserts or finger foods. Those closer bring warm foods. We schedule the timing of the meal so that we start with finger foods and give time for other dishes to cook in the church kitchen ovens.

We've always been on a very tight budget and this has never hurt us financially. The greatest expense has always been the gas to get there!

Tammy said...

No ideas here, but I have been invited to showers where the guests were asked to pay for their own meals. For me, it takes away from the amount I would have spent on the gift, having to pay $10-12 for my meal!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I want to know where you could find a place for a baby shower that is only $10.00 per person. In my area all places start at 17.95 and up, including churches, firehalls etc.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I too have done the diaper cake-I've also made diaper wreaths, which would be smaller and more easily transported. You can have guests bring little things to add as decorations!

diaper cake: http://frugalupstate.blogspot.com/2006/03/diaper-cake.html

I also wrote about other frugal ideas I used for my SIL's shower, such as free invitation templates and baby shower game ideas. You can make some really cute invitations for next to nothing, and many of the games take almost no supplies.

http://frugalupstate.blogspot.com/2006/01/frugal-baby-shower-ideas.html

I also like the idea of luncheon meat or cheese trays from a grocery store and then some rolls etc if it is hosted in a church hall or such.

Good luck to the original poster on the shower.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of having it at a church. They may charge nothing at all. Sometimes libraries & community centers have nice rooms too, for a small charge. or, the bride-to-be may have a favorite restaurant, & you could do just some hors d'oeuvres (bought from them), & then they might allow you to bring your own cake. Good luck with the planning!

Brenda

NeedANap2 said...

Most restaurants don't charge to use a meeting room (just have to set up a reservation with expected number of guests). I've been to a couple of baby showers like this. It's nice for moms to have a meal out with friends and no kids. Usually everyone pays for their own meal, maybe have everyone contribute to the honoree's meal or hostess will pay.

Decorations can be minimal, balloons look nice (dollar store). Meredith might have other suggestions (I'm not into decorating, just don't have an "eye" for it). Would help if you knew the layout of the meeting room and what decorations were already there. We once met at an Italian restaurant that had nicer decor. HTH

3bean said...

The Dollar Tree has great baby shower accessories. I recently hosted a work shower for our secretary and purchased cute baby shower themed napkins, cups, balloons, table cloths, and a few table topper decorations at the Dollar Tree for a song. I also purcahsed a few cute vases at Dollar Tree and filled with carnations for center pieces. Dollar Tree dinner sized plates are flimsy, though-- as is the plastic silverware. For these items I purchased Chinet and sturdier plastic ware at Target. The cake came from the grocery store (1/2 sheet with real whipped cream for $18.99) and everyone brought a dish to pass. Granted, the dish to pass thing works fr a work shower, but it won't work everywhere.

It's a Mom Thing said...

Some of the prettiest baby showers I have been to have had a simple tablescape. Just a nice tablecloth that you could pack with you. And a vase of pretty flowers that you could pick up in the destination city. Like Meredith said, you could take your own paper goods. I also agreet that cake, punch, mints, and nuts are all that is really needed to make a lovely shower.

konolia said...

Does she have a friend who can open up her home-and then have everyone else simply bring a finger food to share? I've gone to showers where this was done-the other ladies were quite creative and it was a lot of fun!

Anonymous said...

Our church charges $50 use our fellowship hall and that also includes the cost of the kitchen (you have to know a church member) if you do all the clean up then it is returned to you.

Shannon@Idylwild said...

Several of the banks in our town have beautiful meesting rooms, free to use.

Meredith said...

I can think of several small cafes where entree and drink would cost about $10.

Catering and rental places generally charge more per person than the average, small, cute restaurant where women like to lunch. Even someplace like the Spaghetti Factory, with its private dining rooms, would come in at $10 a head or less.

Then again, most places in the South are cheaper for things like that than the equivalent in the North.

Just another reason for y'all to move!

Ewokgirl said...

Does the mom-to-be have family in the town where the shower will be held? If so, perhaps one of them would be willing to open her home for the shower. They wouldn't have to worry about anything other than providing the location. The hostess could still be the one to bring in paper goods (unless the host home is willing to use their china), transportable foods, etc.

Otherwise, I'd probably see about having it in the fellowship hall of the honoree's church, assuming she goes to church.

Having a no-host shower at a restaurant is fine, I suppose, but it makes for an awkward invitation, and as somoeone already stated, it may take away from whatever gifts the new baby may receive. People with tight budgets might find it hard to swing a meal out AND a gift.

Anonymous said...

A cake and punch reception sounds wonderful. HEre in the Northeast, a full sit-down meal is expected.

Jenn said...

Not only is a full buffet with a cake and full coffee component at a baby shower, a nice take-home favor for each guest is expected...at least in my corner of the Northeast. Same is expected for a bridal shower. IMHO, the best course of action is to have heart-to-heart with your best friend and be honest about what you can afford. I know conversations about money and what you can swing aren't always comfortable, but the honest route is always the best, and I'm willing to bet your friend will be just as relieved as you'll be to have everything be out in the open.

I hesitated to comment on this topic for the same reason I didn't comment on the wake/funeral customs because what I was typing made us Northerns sound so, I don't know, snobbish and overly concerned with the $$ factor of everything. And, maybe that is the case in some respects, but it isn't for me, personally. I'm just as frustrated as the next by how overly elaborate and costly all of this can be.

JB

Harper said...

Many restaurants have the facilities for a large reservation, meaning that you all can show up as "Jane Doe, party of 15" rather than the Doe baby shower paying $X for the back room. My husband got the local taxpayers' association in the black with that one.

Anonymous said...

If you are able to talk with any of the friends/family that live in her town, ask if they are willing to help to simply locate and connect you with a church or their own church hall or other location. Maybe someone would be willing to cohost by opening up their home and letting you do all the set up and clean up as someone else suggested. I can't imagine your friend expected YOU to pay for feeding everyone on a restaurant unless she knows you have plenty of money or perhaps she wasn't thinking of the expense. (And a lot of people might not be willing to pay for a meal, give up a Saturday, AND buy a gift). You have to think about how dear a friend this is. Talking $ can get uncomfy; so perhaps asking her to set you up with a contact person (who can help you find locations) is the frugal-friendly way to go. :)

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of cold platters or simply a gorgeous dessert. The "baby" food idea is cute. Have baby carrots and other bite sized foods spread out for a snack feast and one delicious cake. Is the guest of honor willing to host the party as long as you take care of everything? Maybe you could go early and tidy up her house as a no-stress treat or pay someone to touch up.

Scribbit said...

I had no suggestions of my own but liked reading the comments that did have some good ideas.

Meredith said...

When the original reader wrote to me, I didn't even think of something obvious. Perhaps her friend's restaurant suggestion was made to spare the financial burden of hosting, not the trouble of hosting itself.

Since my reader and I come from similar backgrounds, I'm guessing that she--like me--didn't know that no-host, guests-pay-their-own-way showers were that common.

I have really enjoyed seeing the cultural differences in traditions like showers and funerals.

The way I was raised, it would be unthinkable to ask guests to pay for food at a social function to which they were invited...just as our Northern readers would be horrified at an afternoon shower with punch, cake, and tea.

Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by all this! It's not just cultural differences between North and South - I'm in the UK and haven't a clue what a baby shower is, though I'm guessing it's do do with someone expecting a baby! If anyone's got the time and inclination to explain a little I'd be glad to learn.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous in the UK!

You're correct...a baby shower has something to do with having a baby!

We have a party and "shower" the mother (or bride) to be with gifts.
It's generally a ladies-only kind of thing.

When I was little my mom took me along to a shower. It was in someone's basement and there was a curtained off area which to my little eyes looked like a shower curtain--I asked if that was where we'd take the shower!

2boysmama said...

Meredith,
On the topic of no-host restaraunt showers:
I think it depends on how well you know the guest of honor. I have a close group of girlfriends and we would have no problem getting together for dinner and calling it a "shower" for one of the gals who is expecting. We are all on our 2nd, 3rd or 4th babies so we are laid back. We all bring diapers for the mom instead of a gift. Its just our way of honoring the arrival of the new baby. (and an excuse to get out of the house for a night of mom chit-chat without kids)

For first time moms in our group we would be much more formal--Hosting a traditional shower and not expecting guests to pay for their meal.

2boysmama said...

oops forgot to say that i'm in the northwest.

Anything pretty much goes here: cake and punch, full meal, guest favors, no guest favors, no host restaraunt. I don't think anyone would expect any particular kind of shower. Although I do like food so I like trying new kinds of appetizers, etc!

Donna-Jean said...

Wow - talk about timely!
At our church, we have a once-a-month event called "V-Clubs": Virtue Club for girls, Valor Club for boys. At the end of the month, the Virtue Club will be having some new moms with babies and moms-to-be come and teach the girls a bit about the joy of babies. What the moms DON'T know is that I'm secretly teaching the girls (that is, I'm about to be - hence the timeliness of your post and the comments!) about 'how to host a shower' - since women so often have that job.

I'm going to try and teach it to them in a Proverbs 31 kind of way - showing hospitality and good financial stewardship, too - so I'm enjoying all these ideas!

Thank you!

Gina said...

WHAT A SWEET BLOG!
IF YOU HAVE TIME, STOP BY MY BLOG AND ENTER MY "BIRTHDAY GIVE-AWAY!"
I'D LOVE TO MEET YOU!!

Kate said...

This is nothing to do with your post, I am afraid, but I just wanted to let you know that I discovered your blog today though your lovely comment on mine and I really like it. I'll definitely be back later.

The Proverbs 31 woman is an inspiration, isn't she?

spinninglovelydays said...

hi, meredith. i was "appointed" (hosts usually volunteer, lol) to host a churchmate's shower a few months back. i had no budget for it, but couldn't refuse, so decor came from my stock of arts and crafts supplies (it pays to be a packrat, lol). for favors, i bought a big bag of candy and just repacked them (tulle and ribbon from my art cabinet as well). i indicated in the emailed invite (i printed one for our church bulletin board for those who didn't have an email address) that the event was to be a potluck so i didn't need to worry about food. i included the option to bring drinks, plates, utensils, cups, and napkins in the invite instead of food and just organized the details when they rsvp-ed. the venue was our church. my husband provided his photography services for free. i just made a flickr account for the couple and uploaded the pics there (up to them to print:-p). i didn't have to spend much beyond the prizes for the games and they were just little tokens. for setting up, i coerced the youth group to come early and help me out, hee! i think the recipient of the shower was satisfied.:)
love your blog.:)

blessings,
ivy

Martha A. said...

I am a northerner, but Northwest. We have simple showers here, but one where you had to go and pay for your own food would not be good, at least in our circle as we are not upper class, i guess you could say.
Anyhow, that said, we had a baby shower for my sister at a church that someone that went to the church let us use for free. We just had to have it clean when we were done. Someone made and decorated a cake, we had taco salad and a decorated with teddy bears. We had a bowl of teddy grahams and gummy bears, cake, punch and taco salad. It was cheap too!
We also had a nice basket with some wine glasses, sparkling cider, chocolates and a candle in it that we had a raffle for. In order to enter the raffle you had to bring a package of baby wipes or diapers. There were like 4 of us putting the shower together so we each bought something for the basket. Another gift you could do would be like a $15-20 gift card for somewhere. People didn't enter unless they could! One family got really excited and bought lots so they could enter more than once and won!
Anyhow, the new mom had lots of diapers and wipes to start out with.

My Boaz's Ruth said...

Bellevue, WA here. At work at least, having a baby shower at a restaurant and everyone paying their own way + 1/# of people of the guest of honor's meal is standard practice.

thehomespunheart said...

Lots of great ideas here - I gave a bridal and baby shower for my sister out of town. One was at the home of a family member and one was at an icecream place which had an extra room for about $35. I took fabric strips and used them to decorate the tables, filled some helium balloons and it looked amazing! We let everyone go through and get ice cream for dessert instead of cake. My thought is to take as MUCH as you can with you - buying on the road or spur of the moment will be where the big cost comes in!

Mrs. Darling said...

I dsont knwo if this baby shower has come or gone but I have just posted spoem food trays on my blog that I made for my daughters shower. You might get a few ideas for food there. I did it from scratch and of course there were sandwiches and veggie platters added to it. I just posted the trays I made not what the other grandma bought.

Mrs. Darling said...

Goodness, sorry about all the typos.

Everybody's Mom said...

Just hosted a baby shower in our church basement (free), used their white table cloths with center strips cut from a roll of baby wrapping paper, one person furnished punch, another who happens to be a professional baker donated the cake, and good old Dollar General had marked down miniature bassinets for take home favors. Napkins from the Dollar store had an animal print to go with our Noah's Ark theme, using miniature stuffed animals from my stash, a doll baby in a decorative buggy, and an ark for decorations. Twin sisters brought "onesies" on sale at Michaels along with fabric paint, and each guest decorated a onesie for the baby-to-be. We also furnished a guest book ($1 journal) with space to write advice to mom on one side of the page, to baby on the other. What fun!!!