Monday, October 16, 2006

The Mega-Shower is Dead!

When I first received the invitation to my husband’s cousin’s baby shower, I was a little leery. She lives 1 ½ hours away, which means three hours in the car, a good three hours spent at the shower itself, and a standard an 1 ½ of getting ready with hair and make-up. As you might guess, I was planning on this event taking up a considerable portion of my day, which did not make me happy. I’ve probably been to fifteen showers in the past three years, either for a wedding or baby, and they all have one thing in common…they were huge. In fact, they were what I have deemed “Mega-Showers.”

By my own definition, a Mega-Shower is one that is attended by over 40 guests, lasts over 3 hours, and is filled with three or more of the typical I-found-this-on-the-Internet-type shower games such as the blind baby food taste/sniff test, guess which melted candy bar is lying in the bottom of this diaper, and the always popular baby shower standard - baby bingo, where attendees must pay close attention to the guest of honor as she opens her gifts in order to mark down what she receives on our individual bingo cards in nervous anticipation of being able to yell those five letters – BINGO!

But don’t think for a minute that the baby shower guests have all the fun. No, no, no…wedding showers are filled with their own spirited competition with such classics as wedding day word scramble, and my own personal favorite, pass the tray of useless objects before the bride steps in the other room and – oh! we tricked you! – remember each piece of her personal attire (the tray has nothing to do with it).

Such silliness has played out at showers for years, but what I am most concerned with is the trend-of-late…the Mega-Shower. For those of you planning a shower for someone special, please keep in mind a few simple rules…
1) A shower does not need to be attended by every person you’ve ever met, chatted with in line at the grocery store, or your daughter’s/sister’s/friend’s first babysitter’s neighbor’s kid.

A shower should be intimate. People are spending their hard-earned money, and more importantly, taking time out of their day to make sure you are showered with gifts on this day. They have already gone out shopping and picked out your present, being extra careful to compare the SKU numbers on the box to the gift registry they printed after waiting in line for 10 minutes. It would be nice if when the gift were opened, the guest of honor could show a little appreciation and adoration for what she has just received. At a Mega-Shower, the guest of honor is often so rushed to hurry through the endless stack of gifts, that there is no way to possibly spend time admiring each gift. She often grabs a gift bag, opens whatever is inside, throws out a quick “thank you” and moves on.

(Shower attendees take note: You DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT have to wrap each individual item inside a gift bag. While you may think you are cute by forcing the guest of honor to unwrap each individual item from a seemingly bottomless gift bag, what you are really doing is wasting time. Guests at the shower do not think you are cute. In fact, we consider this action incredibly annoying as we watch the guest of honor spend 20 minutes opening one present). Not cool.

2) Whenever possible, keep it short. This issue can also be tied to our first rule of keeping the shower small. In most cases, a smaller shower means a shorter shower. All women understand the purpose of a shower. We agree that it can be overwhelming trying to furnish a new house or outfit a nursery and a baby, and we want to help. No one has any problem buying you a present and dropping it off, playing a game, and grabbing a bite to eat. However, having a Mega-Shower is a good way to keep us from doing EVERYTHING else we had planned for the day. I’m convinced that the reason people don’t go to showers is because they don’t want to be stuck there the entire afternoon. Keeping it short makes everyone happy. The guest of honor can enjoy her new fortune, take it home and put it away, while the party guests can keep their dinner plans and still have time to bathe their children before bedtime.

3) Eating and opening gifts can be accomplished simultaneously. Joining these two tasks will save a tremendous amount of time and will keep the attention on the guest of honor and all the wonderful presents being bestowed among her. Guests will be less apt to talk to their neighbors while chowing on taco salad and chicken croissants. The focus will rightfully remain on the bride-to-be/expectant mother and their gift. Additionally, this will allow the guest of honor an opportunity to look across the room at the gift-giver and issue a heartfelt “thank you” before moving on to the next gift.

(Another side note: There should be NO downtime at a shower – no wasted time filled with idle chatter or empty socialization. Keep things flowing and fast, and you will have a successful shower).

Before yesterday’s shower I had only been to Mega-Showers in the past few years. I have been to showers that lasted almost 4 hours, showers where countless minutes were wasted as guests waited for the food to be served or games to begin, and showers where no one paid attention as guests talked loudly amongst themselves while the honoree opened her gifts. Yesterday’s shower was none of that. It was small (with only about 15 attendees), intimate, and lasted only 1 hr. and 50 min. The guest of honor wasted no time, opening presents first (which worked out well, late comers can always just add their gifts to the pile and will be around to see them being opened), and then playing games, which were short and to the point. We ate dinner last, which tasted great and was a healthy mix of sandwiches and salads.

The bottom line is this…the Mega-Shower is over. They take way too long, are very impersonal, and are only fun when the guests are enjoying themselves. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you are consumed with thoughts of errands that you need to run or other plans you have for the day. Showers do not have to be the huge spectacle that we have made them. Two hours is a perfectly sufficient length of time, and if you can’t get it done in two hours, re-prioritize.

And to all my girls who are guilty of having a Mega-Shower – I still love you...your shower was just a little long.

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