Baby Showers Without Tears

Since I never got to do the traditional stuff when I got married-bridal shower, bachelorette party, wedding registry etc, I wanted to have a baby shower. The challenge in having a baby shower for me, though, is that I haven’t been working for quite some time and I’ve lost touch with many people I used to see everyday. In addition, I’ve been to baby showers. And I hated them. I enjoyed food and cake and seeing people and speaking to mom-to-be, but I can’t stand shower games. Personally, I think they are inane and they are really only fun if you’re drunk (and I’ve been told they aren’t even fun then either) and almost everyone I’ve spoken to also hates these games. So why do people play them?

Simply, you have to do something. Alcohol can help move a party along, but generally with parties that have a theme (birthday, wedding, baby) there is a flow: meet & greet, food, some kind of activity to get people who don’t know each other to mingle, cake, gifts. An activity is a great way to break ice and have fun and keep people from falling asleep in the spinach dip. I don’t know where shower games came from, but I knew I didn’t want those at my party, but I did want something to do.

For my shower, I decided what better than something artistic for people to do? What’s artistic, fun, inexpensive and produces something useful? Tie-dye. Yes, I’m that type of hip mama. I love tie-dye. I know it has some negative associations but I still can’t help how much I love it. So I purchased a bunch of baby clothes from Dharma Trading Company and a tie-dye kit for people to hand-dye as an activity. Why did I love this activity? It’s simple, it’s relatively inexpensive,  it’s hard for people to mess it up, even if they’ve never done it before, it produces really unique items that are useful, and all the items are perfect for a mom like me who doesn’t know what gender child she’s carrying.  Dharma Trading even has a kit specifically for baby showers, you can find it here.  Why did my guests love this activity? They got to make something-nothing is more exciting and satisfying than producing something, especially when it’s fun to make. Many of my guests had never tie-dyed before, so it was a novel experience. Getting messy can be fun. I was prepared with gloves, aprons and warned them of a “messy activity” so they didn’t come dressed to the nines and could participate. Kids who came with their parents loved it. And the best reason my guests liked it (overheard several times) “I’m so glad we’re not playing silly games, I hate those.”

While I was fairly well-prepared, having many items to dye, purchasing plastic aprons and gloves, and setting up a table outside with a cloth for people to work on, I could have been better prepared. Here are some hindsight pointers if you are planning a tie-dye baby shower (or any type of party) activity:

  • Have your table prepped and soda ash and dyes pre-mixed to reduce prep-time
  • Read all the instructions in advance, so you won’t need to do so at the party
  • Ask for a volunteer to man the tie-dye table
  • Have guests write their initials on the tag of the item they are dying before they are wrapped and soaked, so you can identify who made what later
  • Have lots of baby hats-I only hat 3 and everyone wanted to dye baby hats
  • Have a lot of plastic bags available to put the dyed items into to keep moist while they are curing (grocery bags work well, but you can use small trash bags as well)
  • Blot extra dye from the table often so you don’t get dye transfer

These are the things I can think of off-hand that helped or would have helped, had we thought of them initially. Live and learn, and improve. This was such an enjoyable activity that one of the other pregnant women at the shower has decided to do this activity as well. I’ve also decided that I would like to do this again for the baby’s first birthday, but in addition to kid items,  I’d like to have people bring their own shirt or hat or such to dye for themselves as well. I plan to have laminated care cards for them to take home to do the rinsing and initial wash when they get home.

Here are some examples of what the guests made at the shower:

You can see how well the items the shower guests turned out, despite that none of them have tie-dyed before.  That’ is one of the benefits of tie-dying-as long as people have a basic knowledge of color (yellow and blue make green, red and yellow make orange and so on,) don’t over-saturate the items (which can lead to colors bleeding together) and the area is kept clear of extra dye (to prevent dye transfer from the table to the item) you will have nice results. An additional benefit I’ve found about tie-dying is I’m never without a matching sock, because each item is unique, how would anyone know I mismatched them? 🙂

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