Although we prefer the old-fashioned "girls only" showers (hanging out with girlfriends is cathartic, and it lends to our mystique), many people nowadays insist on inviting both men and women to bridal showers. If this is really what you want, then fine, but keep in mind that most men just don't really appreciate the ritual. If you do opt for a co-ed shower, try to gear the shower theme and games toward something both the women and men will appreciate. A Victorian tea makes for a beautiful shower, but very few guys can comfortably hold a teacup.
Whether you decide to have a co-ed shower or a shower for "girls only," having a theme can make a party more personal and add charm as well as provide you with a general guideline for decorations and games. There is no limit to the kinds of shower you can throw; most important, a theme that is chosen to reflect the couple's interests and tastes will guarantee gifts they can use. The following is a list of common, and not-so-common themes.
Wishing Well. This is the most traditional of themes and is also often used as an accompaniment to another theme. We like to think of this as a "gadget" shower because it calls for guests to bring a small secondary gift—a gadget—that the couple can use in their kitchen or home. The gadgets (which can be marked with the guests' names, or not) are placed in a small fake well covered in cheap-looking lace or crepe paper (why this design has caught on is beyond us). After the bride opens her other gifts, she opens the treats in the well. That's it. That's the whole theme. The point is to buy little things she won't think to buy but are useful, such as a flashlight, corn holders, a garlic peeler, a mushroom scrubber, an egg timer, a meat thermometer, a melon bailer, or a vegetable peeler.
Time-of-Day Shower. For this shower theme, each guest is assigned a different time of day (7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., and so on) and is supposed to bring a gift that is useful at that hour or reflects the mood of that time of day. It's okay, if you have a lot of guests, to break times into half-hour intervals. This is a great way to ensure that the bride will receive gifts she can use throughout the day. Interesting sample gifts:
7:00 a.m.—massaging shower head
8:00 a.m.—-egg cups, breakfast-in-bed tray
9:00 a.m.—cereal bowls, coffeemaker
10:00 a.m.—toaster oven
11:00 a.m.—newspaper subscription
1:00 p.m.—picnic basket
2:00 p.m.-—videotape of Love in the Afternoon starring Audrey
Hepburn and Gary Cooper 3:00 p.m.—afghan throw (nap time) 4:00 p.m.—tea kettle
5:00 p.m.—a foot massager (long day, aching feet) 6:00 p.m.—one or more settings of the registered dinnerware 7:00 p.m.—pizza stone with all of the fixin's (pizza cutter, recipes)
8:00 p.m.—wine glasses
9:00 p.m.'—brandy glasses
10:00 p.m.—universal remote for the television
11:00 p.m.—lingerie, sex toys (don't forget batteries)
12:00 midnight—popcorn popper (for late-night munchies)
Kitchen Shower. If the bride or groom loves to cook, this is a great idea. Guests bring gifts for the kitchen: pots, pans, griddles, icecream makers, waffle irons, place settings, cookbooks, baskets of utensils, and so on.
Around-the-House Shower. Each guest is assigned a different room in the house and brings a gift for that room. This will vary the type of gifts the bride receives.
Lingerie Shower. (Is the mother of the bride going to be there?)
Linen Shower. Guests bring bed linens, towels, and so on, as gifts. Before you throw this kind of shower as a theme, check the bride's registry to see if she has requested this stuff. If she hasn't, stay away from this theme; chances are she'll want to pick her own linens.
Time-of-Year Shower. Assign each guest a month and have them bring gifts that reflect their designated months. This is also a good theme for decorations; you can decorate the tables in different seasons. Gift ideas include: February, lingerie; June, an iced-tea pitcher and tumblers; October, an afghan or wool blanket; December, a cappuccino maker and/or mugs.
Seasonal Shower. Same as the Time-of-Year Shower, but broken down by seasons—spring, summer, fall, winter.
Hobby Shower. Everyone brings gifts that reflect the couple's favorite hobbies or activities. If the couple is extremely active, gifts could range from one-year memberships at a health club to home free weights. Are they an outdoorsy kind of couple? Try camping stuff (such as tents, a hibachi, mess kits, and so on). A hammock can remind them to enjoy some quiet time together.
Scrapbook Shower. Along with miscellaneous gifts, guests bring either a scrap of something they shared with the bride—such as ticket stubs or an old picture—or a written anecdote about the bride. Everyone saves this kind of junk; some pretty wonderful stuff will turn up. During the shower, everyone pastes her scrap or anecdote into a scrapbook for the bride to keep.
Recipe Shower. Everyone brings, along with her gift, a favorite recipe. Collect them in a recipe file for the bride to keep. This can be done in conjunction with the Kitchen Shower.
Invent some of your own! Shower themes can be personalized to encompass anything, from the location of the honeymoon (a Hawaiian theme) to how the couple met (Gym theme). Decorate accordingly and you're off!
Okay, so the guests have come from all corners of the state and even farther, lugging large, expensive gifts. Are you going to have them just sit around eating and ooMng and ahhing while the bride opens her gifts? Boring! That's why the bridal shower game was created—so that we can inject a little flavor into this redundant ritual and tease the bride at the same time, all in the name of good old-fashioned fun. Some ideas for shower games and activities include the following:
The Bridal-Gown Game. Hostesses provide lots of rolls of toilet paper. Guests get assigned to groups of four and each group gets one roll of toilet paper. Each group selects a model; they proceed to design a wedding gown and headpiece for her made out of toilet paper. No tape or glue is allowed. Then there is a fashion show and the bride chooses the best gown. Each person in that group wins a prize. (See the list of suggested prizes).
The Clothespin Game. This traditional game has been around forever. When each guest arrives, she gets a clothespin put on her sleeve. The guests are instructed that they are not allowed to cross their legs during the party. Whoever catches someone else crossing her legs gets the offender's clothespin. If that person has several clothespins, the person who caught her claims them all. The point is to collect as many as possible. The woman with the most pins at the end of the shower wins a prize.
The Roast. Guests are asked to come prepared with little pieces of poetry or anecdotes about the bride to read aloud at the shower. This game can get ugly, however.
The Wedding-Night Game. Another traditional game is for one of the bridesmaids to secretly write down each exclamation or remark made by the bride as she opens each gift. After all of the gifts are opened, the remarks are read to the guests as the things she is going to say on her wedding night. The responses range from "OOOOOO" and "AAAaaahhhh" to "I'm so excited" or "Oh, it's so beautiful." You get the point. Another twist on this inane, yet somehow pretty entertaining ritual is to add the words "under the sheets" after each remark. (Personally, we don't think this is as funny.)
The Trivia Quiz. Ahead of time, a sheet of questions about the couple, some of which are about things that can only be guessed, is prepared and copies are made. At the shower, the quiz sheets are distributed to the guests. Whoever answers the most questions correctly wins. Since the. bride knows the answers, she is the judge. Here are some sample questions we think will get the party rolling:
1. Where did the bride and groom meet?
2. The groom is a ____ man.
a) leg b) breast c) butt d) other
3. What does the bride like best about the groom?
4. The couple's first date was where?
5. The couple's first trip together was to where?
6. What is the exact day the bride or groom proposed?
7. What is the groom's favorite activity or hobby?
8. What is the bride's favorite activity or hobby?
9. What kind of birth control does the couple use?
10. If the groom were a fruit, what would he be? Why?
Note: (Of course, the more shockable the guests—such as Great-gramma Flo and her 70-year-old spinster daughter—the tamer the questions should be.)
Suggested prizes. "Door prizes," as they are commonly known, are a great way to provide a little incentive and introduce some friendly competition into a shower game. They are also nice tokens of the shower for the victors and they don't have to be expensive. Try small picture frames, sachets, attractive note pads, atomizers, silver-plated bookmarks, a small plant, and so on.