While throwing fathers-to-be their own "man showers" is a growing trend, so are showers that honor an expectant couple together by inviting their closest female and male friends. "To throw a great co-ed baby shower, you have to get rid of the kitsch," Lauren Haselberger, food and beverage manager at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois says. "The silly, frou-frou, run-of-the-mill games, like 'guess the number of pacifiers in the jar' or baby gift bingo aren't gonna fly as well in a mixed crowd. Whatever you would do for a regular social gathering with friends is what you'll want to do at a co-ed baby shower."
Here, your guide to throwing the ultimate shower both sexes will enjoy.
- Keep the guest list balanced by inviting the guys who are closest to both the mom- and dad-to-be. Future grandfathers, uncles, and college buddies alike! And when you address the invites to couples, include names of both wife and husband.
- From the get-go, you want to set a tone that speaks to all your invitees, so gender-neutral colors and themes is best. A photo of the happy expectant couple is a nice touch. (Both TinyPrints.com or SimplytoImpress.com have couples' baby shower sections.)
- Watching the wording of the invitations can be helpful, too. Instead of a "shower," you could call it a "celebration." Refer to both parents as your guests of honor.
- To prevent the event from erring too pink, frilly, or feminine in tone, consider a general party theme, like a luau, BBQ, or sports teams the parents-to-be root for.
"'Baby'-sized finger foods, such as little quiches, mini-cupcakes, or tiny cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, may be old standbys at traditional baby showers, but for a co-ed crowd, it's best to get away from that," says Haselberger. A few recommendations ...
- Chicken wings: Not just loved and devoured by guests on Super Bowl Sunday!
- Pizza: A similar party staple beloved by the majority of guests at any party.
- Chips and dip: No fail hit for any party. Crowd-pleasing alternatives: Pita chips and hummus, crudite and dip, guacamole, etc.
- Alcohol, but specifically ... beer: This is the key to pleasing the guys, as those who've jumped on the co-ed shower bandwagon can attest.
- Mocktails: For the mom-to-be and any other expectant moms in attendance.
- Taco bar: A taco bar -- or if you're doing a catered event, maybe even a taco truck -- sets up a natural opportunity for mixing and mingling, notes Courtney Lutkus, event planner and owner of Simply Radiant Events in Southern California. It also allows guests to customize their meal.
"Traditional baby games may have men running for the door and other games simply won’t work," explains Lutkus. "However, games both men and women enjoy can be a great icebreaker." Still, giving guests the ability to opt in or out of games may work best for a co-ed group, as there will be those who are more interested in sticking with talking and mingling. If you do decide to play games, a few ideas:
- Guess the Beer in the Baby Bottle: Buy baby bottles and fill them with six different beers. Post a list with the names of the possibilities, and ask guests to guess which is which.
- Diaper decorating contest: Everyone can show off their artistic side -- or sense of humor -- by drawing with Sharpies on diapers for the newborn. Parents-to-be will love to look back on the messages and pictures.
- Diaper raffle: Who doesn't want to win a raffle? "Ask everyone to bring a bag of diapers, and if they do, they get a raffle ticket to win a prize," recommends Lutkus. You'll want to pick a prize that's suited both for men and women, of course, like an iTunes or restaurant gift card.
Baby bottles filled with jelly beans might not be your best bet in this case. A few other options:
- Candy or cookies: Think personalized candy bars. One popular option: Hershey bars with the "HE" colored blue, if the couple is expecting a boy, or "SHE" colored in pink, if the couple is expecting a girl. Brownies or customized cookies are always winners, too.
- More beer and wine: Those who have successfully thrown co-ed baby showers say favors like 40s of specialty beer and bottles of wine were a hit with guests.
- Seeds: Lutkus recommends a packet of seeds for everyone to take home and plant once the baby is born, as it serves as a constant reminder of the new little addition to the world.
What do you think would make a co-ed baby shower a hit?
Image via Corbis