(Taken from The Hope Chest: A Legacy of Love)
A shower for the bride-to-be can truly be a blessing if it is done properly and with forethought and effort on the part of the hostess. This should be a time for blessing the new bride with items she will need and not for showing off in any way or hoping for expensive gift items. Practicality and frugality should hold an honored place at these showers.
There are many different theme showers that can be given for the bride-to-be. It would be wise to spread these out somewhat so they continue to be a fun time for the friends and relatives of the bride. If you choose to host several kinds of showers, they should be informal and fun. Having a potluck meal get-together is a wonderful idea, and it helps keep the cost of the multiple showers low. Another shower can have an "afternoon tea" theme to it, with everyone bringing their own cup and saucer. Yet another shower can be a "board or card game" theme, where everyone brings chips, dip, and drinks and plays games. Leave room open for these smaller informal showers where very inexpensive and small gift items are given to the bride.
If you would like to have one formal bridal shower, by all means do so. There should be a formal bridal shower, and it should be as special as you can make it. This shower will be the "big" sendoff for your daughter from all those who love her.
"The person for whom the shower is being given should not suspect, as that would spoil the fun. She should be invited simply "to tea" and her invitation should be for an hour later than the time set for the other guests to arrive. No elaborate decoration is necessary, nor is it advisable to plan any sort of entertainment, for the chief entertainment of the afternoon is the opening by the bride-elect of one package after another, disclosing the gifts and thanking the donors." -- The New Book of Etiquette, 1924
It was once tradition to give several kinds of showers, each one with a specific purpose in mind. Today we have lost the wonderful ideals and purpose behind the showers, and it has turned into one large frivolous party. Showers today have no real meaning except to follow the newer modern version where everything is combined into one large shower and high-priced gifts are presented to the bride-to-be, often selected from the bridal registry list.
Included here are many wonderful ideas for informal fun showers, or you can invent your own. These showers should be fun, with no emphasis placed on perfection or the quantity of the gifts. That is secondary to the enjoyment and time together for the bride-to-be and her guests. There is no reason why the traditional showers should not be brought back for your daughter and her guests to enjoy. By spreading them out over several months, it will be something that everyone can look forward to. And she will be able to accumulate many small items needed for her new home without causing financial stress on her friends and family.
The Favorite Recipe Shower
A "favorite recipe" shower is a fun way to provide refreshments for the shower, with each guest bringing a dish and the recipe for it. The hostess arranges beforehand for each guest to bring her best or favorite recipe which is written on a pretty recipe card and signed and dated by the giver. The recipe cards can be individual ones from each guest, or the hostess can present each guest with a special card that will match all the other recipe cards. If matching cards are chosen, consider sending the card with the invitation, so the guest has plenty of time to write down the recipe. If a guest is unable to attend, she also has the option of sending the recipe card back to the hostess to be included in the recipe file. This is a wonderful way to include family and friends who live too far away to attend the shower.
Each recipe should be placed under the right heading in a special recipe box and then presented by the hostess to guest of honor. It is usually the privilege of the hostess to provide and prepare the recipe cards and recipe box. If the hostess prefers a notebook to recipe cards, she should find one that is spiral bound and try to arrange a time for the guests to write their recipes down prior to the shower. This may not always be feasible, so recipe cards are usually the preferred choice.
Another twist to the recipe shower is to have each guest choose a recipe that can be made from "stored food." Items like canned goods, dried goods and possibly frozen goods would be part of the recipe. The guests should bring the recipe as well as all the food items needed to the party, to help stock the bride-to-be's new pantry.
As a hostess, it may be a good idea to have extra recipe cards and pens on hand, just in case you have guests who would like to copy a recipe for dishes they have enjoyed eating at the shower.
The Linen Shower
At a linen shower, any item considered to be "linen" or made from fabric is an appropriate gift. Some of the more traditional gifts were often marked or monogrammed bath towels, hand towels and wash cloths. Other items were quilts, blankets, sheets, embroidered pillowcases, dresser or table scarves, doilies, a tea cozy, tablecloths, napkins, kitchen towels, hot pads, dish cloths, aprons and more.
If a "towel shower" is given, and if the hostess can take the time to arrange it, a whole set of bath towels can be purchased, one or two pieces by each guest, and all monogrammed with the brides' initials. If the bride-to-be already has a set of towels, perhaps a "sheet shower" or one with another theme can be given for something that she could use.
If there is someone who is handy with embroidery, or has an embroidery machine, and she would like to offer to embroider a few or even all the linens as her special gift to the bride-to-be, this will allow all the gifts from the shower to match in their monogramming style. But this will need to be done ahead of time. If there is no one available who is handy with a needle, for an additional charge some stores will have the items monogrammed for you, or you can find small business that will also do this for a fee.
A Friendship Quilt can be made ahead of time, with the hostess overseeing the making of it and obtaining clothing samples from the different guests. The clothing would be made into a beautiful quilt to grace the bridal bed. Or, if each guest were to bring a special quilt block made specifically for the bride, each block signed by the maker, these could be sewn together to make a quilt top. Perhaps another shower could be arranged for all the guests to help hand-quilt the top or tie it down.
Consider what linen or fabric items the new bride will need, and center a shower around those needs. If you are unsure what her needs are, please ask her! A gift and a shower are always welcome, but to end up with doubles or even triples of items that a bride already has, and to have items that are really not needed, is something of a waste. This is not unusual either; many brides end up with doubles or triples, and they often unable to return them all. So don't be shy...ask!
The Kitchen Shower
Long ago the kitchen shower was to entertain the bride as well as help provide her with the basic necessities for a kitchen. A hostess who knows the needs of the bride-to-be and can help supervise the guests, by giving suggestions on needed items, will be a very welcome blessing. This helps avoid an over-abundance of any one item, like the egg beater, measuring spoons or hot pads.
Have a simple list of inexpensive items that the bride can use, and send a copy of the list in the shower invitation to the guests. As the guests RSVP for the shower, you can check off the items that have been purchased by each guest. This will allow the guests to give items that the bride-to-be specifically needs, like measuring spoons and cups, pot or pan and strainer, without giving extras or unneeded items.
The kitchen shower should be for the smaller items the bride-to-be will need and not place an un-necessary burden on any of the guests to provide something expensive. Cooking spoons and utensils, salt and pepper shakers, common spices in jars, egg slicers, spatulas, a metal whisk, hot pads for the tabletop, placemats, paper towel holder, small kitchen scale, can opener, bottle cap opener, graters, biscuit cutters, cookie cutters, potato peeler, oven thermometer, candy thermometer, flour sifter, potato masher, pastry blender, rolling pin, cooling racks, kitchen clock, kitchen timer and other small inexpensive items are appropriate for this shower.
The emphasis should be the enjoyment of all present, and the gifts a token of the affection each guest has for the bride-to-be. Everyone can afford one of these little gadgets, so there is no worry that someone will not be able to attend due to the financial cost of a gift. If a pot luck meal is provided, this is a fun and easy get-together that will help defray the cost for the young bride after the wedding.
The Pantry Shower
For this shower, the hostess has planned a wonderful form of entertainment. Perhaps a high tea is planned, or a night of playing board games, or watching a special rental movie or another type of entertainment.
The invitation would have asked the guests to bring several items they think would be a welcome gift for the bride's new pantry. This helps defray the cost of buying starter items for her new kitchen. Some examples would be: baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, food coloring, flour, assorted spices, vanilla extract, canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned meat, dried beans or noodles, canned sauces, salad dressing, mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, salsa, bread crumbs, tea bags, coffee, powdered creamer, etc.
Other items might include paper items: paper towels, muffin cups, napkins, paper plates, plastic utensils, paper cups, tissue boxes, even toilet paper!
The Glass, Steel, Aluminum or ‘Other' Shower
These showers are centered around one specific material. Glass bowls, vases, drinking glasses, wine glasses, platters, casserole dishes, mixing cups or bowls are only a few items in the glass category.
Stainless steel pots, serving spoons, frying pans, spatulas, mixing bowls, measuring cups, teaspoons, aluminum bread pans, muffin pans, cake pans, cookie sheets, cooling racks and more would be in the metal catagory.
"Other" can include anything like a roasting pan, tea kettle, coffee pot, stock pots, canners, or many other items. Grannyware, which is the speckled enamel coated metal, is often a good alternative to the high-priced "pure" steel or aluminum items.
Categories of the different items can be determined and suggestions written down. Again, the cost should not be burden to any guest, so make sure there are enough low-priced items.
Other categories for similar showers could be:
- Paper - envelopes, stationary, assortment of cards, stapler, scotch tape dispenser, waste basket, calendar, address book, assorted paper clips and other similar items, and more.
- Laundry Supplies - iron, ironing board, spray bottles, laundry soap, stain remover, laundry baskets, drying rack, lingerie bag.
- Plants - either artificial silk plants or flower displays, or real houseplants to be given right before the wedding to make the new home beautiful.
- Entertainment - Board games, cards, movies, CD's, music, etc.
- Tools - assorted tools for the bride-to-be's small under-the-sink tool chest, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, emergency candles or lanterns, and other useful "new home" items.
- First Aid and Herbal Kits - to stock the new home with needed items, make sure you ask the bride what items she would appreciate receiving and if there are any allergies to medications or herbal treatments that should be avoided.
The Book Shower
For this shower, anything can be included from the Bible to the current best-seller. The hostess of the shower can supply a bookcase as her gift, or if she likes, an attractive book rack or shelf, while the guests supply the books. Again, the hostess would be wise in having the invited guests let her know which book is being given to avoid duplicates. And each guest should inscribe a note inside the cover of the book she gives, and her name and the date.
The Apron Shower
A young lady who enjoys pretty things will enjoy having an apron shower. The gifts could include dainty tea aprons, substantial kitchen aprons, canning aprons, roomy sewing aprons with a sewn in pincushion, great white cooking aprons, baby-bathing aprons (for the future), gardening aprons, BBQ aprons and any others you can think of. Create a shower game, inviting the guests to come up with unique apron ideas and uses. All the aprons the bride receives can be packed neatly into a crisp new laundry bag for the bride to carry home.
The Picture Shower
"The picture shower puts happiness into every room. Just a few close friends are invited, and each one brings a framed picture for a room in the new house: one for the dining room, one for the living room, one for the bedroom, one for the hall. The wise hostess will see that notes are exchanged beforehand so that none of the pictures are duplicated and there is sufficient variety to appeal to the bride. No one should attempt a picture shower who is not familiar with the taste of the person for whom the pictures are intended." -- The New Book of Etiquette, 1924
If there is uncertainty about what pictures the bride would enjoy, it would be best to instead have the guests bring a nice frame. What new bride can not use picture frames for all those wedding photos? The gift of a mirror or two would not be unwelcome either.
Comfort or Miscellaneous Showers
The idea behind the comfort shower was to provide items for the bride-to-be that were not necessary but would make her home more comfortable. Pillows with removable and washable slip covers, small slumber or throw pillows, monogrammed laundry bags instead of a laundry hamper, colored throw blankets, flannel covers for hot water bottles, hand-embroidered or hand decorated book covers, reading lamps, small throw rugs or anything that would add to the comfort and happiness of the bride and her new home could be included at the comfort shower.
The comfort shower began in the very early 1900's, and it appears that through the years many of these old theme showers were combined together, to produce the "everything-in-one" showers that are given today.
Suggestions for Hosting a Shower
Bridal showers are usually given on weekends in the afternoon, and if they do not include a luncheon, some kind of refreshment is usually served. Consider making it easy and fun by having a shower where a potluck, barbeque, pizza delivery, submarine sandwiches, dip' n' chip, veggies n' dip, homemade ice cream and cookies, or a tea party can be used as the refreshments.
If the bride is working, and is not able to free her weekends for a shower, or a surprise shower is planned, an evening shower is an easy alternative. You can also have a shower following a church service on Sunday if that will work out for everyone.
You may also want to consider having a shower as part of a "hightea" entertainment. Here is a wonderful explanation of what "high tea" is, by a lovely lady who teaches this lost art to young children today:
"Traditional high tea or afternoon tea was (is) served between 4 and 6 PM. Anna the 7th, Duchess of Bedford is believed to have been the originator of "afternoon tea" which she had sent with "tray of sandwiches, cakes and tea" to her boudoir. A little later on, this type of afternoon tea was then enjoyed in the drawing room...it soon became a time for social visits. This became a British National habit, still very popular today.
In our present day, "high tea" has been popping up all over North America. Each year sees the opening of new "tea houses" which specialize in high tea for their customers' afternoon enjoyment. Not just enjoyed between 4 and 6, but any time of day now. There is as much pleasure in the surroundings, the tea and sandwiches and sweets, cream scones with clotted cream (heavy cream in England or whip cream here) and jam...usually served on tiered trays. This is the time to be properly attired (dresses or skirts for ladies), minding your manners and appreciating the genre which includes music to elevate the spirit. A time for peace and pleasant conversation.
This memory maker can be enjoyed to celebrate a birthday, an engagement, a wedding or baby shower, a baptism or just the sheer pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea with family or friends. I highly recommend mother and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter taking high tea together. When and where to have high tea? It can be anywhere...your home, a tea house, your friend's home or if you wish to go uptown, the Ritz!" -- Faye Filiatrault
Groom's Shower - No Stags Allowed!
There is one more "shower" that you might like to consider. That is a shower for the groom! Granted, the term "shower" might be a tad unmanly, so the host or hostess can rename this little get-together if they wish. Instead of having a stag party, or something similar, consider hosting a barbeque, pizza or submarine sandwich "groom shower."
There are three types of acceptable showers for young Christian men. One is the light-hearted, joke-filled, fun night that he spends with his close friends, who bestow on him silly and useless gifts for his amusement. This is harmless fun at its best, and a good stress reliever right before the wedding!
The second type of shower is the more formal shower, dedicated to preparing the young man for his new career as a husband. This too can be a very fun and happy time for the young husband-to-be and his friends and family members. But the gifts will be items that he will need and use. The host can furnish a large metal toolchest, and each guest can bring a tool gift to fill the chest. The tool shower is the most commonly heard-of and often very appreciated if the groom has never "physically" prepared himself to be a husband and future father. Tools are something almost every man on earth can use or would like to have handy. Other ideas could be how-to books, automotive supplies and tools, yard tools and any other ideas "the men" might have.
"Showers for grooms appear to be very popular at this writing, though they are more generally silly and humorous in character than otherwise. Instead of a shower of pleasant gifts, the groom is usually greeted with a non-too-gentle barrage of packages containing such ridiculous gifts as gaudy socks meant for display rather than wear, bow ties eight inches wide, lace-trimmed handkerchiefs, a budget book, an alarm clock, a curling iron. These gifts are usually wrapped in yards and yards of paper that must be patiently unwound by the groom. And tucked in with them are bits of written advice and suggestions that cause as much merriment as the gift themselves.
But there is no reason why a young man's friends may not shower him with gifts if they feel that he would welcome and appreciate such an expression of friendliness from them. Most men would feel sheepish at receiving ties and socks and handkerchiefs in a "bridal shower" from friends, but the same men would appreciate a book shower, for instance, or a shower of smoking necessities.
When a shower is given for a man, the women arrange the tea or luncheon, providing the place and the eatables, and the men supply the gifts." -- The New Book of Etiquette, 1924
The third type of shower is a little more detailed and complex. This would be given directly before the wedding, when the bride and groom have picked out where they will be living. The "shower" would be time donated to helping prepare the apartment or house for the young couple. Guests could give gifts of their time, either a few hours, an afternoon or a whole day. They would be helping the groom with cleaning and painting the walls and floors, checking and fixing the plumbing in the bathroom and kitchen, checking appliances and all outlets in the new home, moving the heavy items into the new home, putting up shelves and pictures where they are wanted, helping with any yard work or cleaning out a messy garage and generally trying to be a help wherever they are needed.
If the young couple has bought a house that is a fixer-upper, it would be a wonderful gift to have help fixing the basics around the house. Patching the roof if it leaks, laying new carpet or flooring, installing new toilets or sinks or tubs, replacing any broken windows, installing new appliances if necessary, trimming overgrown trees and shrubs in the yard, and anything else that would take a great deal of effort if the new husband was working alone, would be appreciated.
Once all the heavy things have been handled, then the bride could have a day where her friends and family come to help her set up her new home. Dishes could be put away, linens stored, the bathroom and kitchen disinfected, windows scrubbed and left spotless and shiny, curtains hung, rugs laid out. A place for everything, and everything in its place....the little home is set and ready for the new couple, all they need now is God's blessing.
A Happy Home Defined
"Six things are requisite to create a happy home. Integrity must be the architect, and tidiness the upholsterer. It must be warmed by affection, and lightened up with cheerfulness, and industry must be the ventilator, renewing the atmosphere and bringing in fresh salubrity day by day; while over all, as a protecting canopy and glory, nothing will suffice except the blessings of God." -- Rev. Dr. Hamilton, 1878