Spring Showers

A little imagination can freshen up the timeless tradition of gathering to honor brides and mothers-to-be

Focus On Parties

April 18, 2004|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,Special to the Sun

Stacy Correll loves to cook.

So, when Correll, a marketing project manager, got married a few years ago, friends gave her a bridal shower at A Cook's Table in Federal Hill. Her two dozen guests did traditional things like watching Correll open such kitchen-related presents as a new breadmaker, but they also cooked and ate an Asian-inspired meal of spring rolls and salmon. Guests mingled, and they learned something too.

"I always tell people it was the best bridal shower I've ever been to," says Correll, 34, of Owings Mills. With bridal showers and baby showers, "you go through a period of your life [when] you go to so many of them they really start to all run together. You can guess how it's all going to go. My shower was different. It was very interactive and got people talking."

The tradition of showering a bride-to-be or new mother with gifts at a single-sex gathering has been forever transformed. At some bridal showers, couples toast to the bride and groom-to-be with a wine tasting or mojito party or paint ceramic plates in their honor. And as for baby showers, Dad and the baby are becoming as much a part of the party now as pink punch and paper umbrellas filled with confetti, says Mary Bauer, president of Bratt Decor, a Belvedere Square baby furnishings store.

"Some new trends in baby showers we've heard about [include] waiting until the baby is born, so everyone knows the sex. The gifts are then gender-appropriate," Bauer says. "Another ... is including the father, and purchasing gifts for him. There are some new products that speak directly to the new dad, including male diaper bags."

Sure, traditional showers are out there still. But the new take is more reflective of people's lifestyles today. "The old stork party with the umbrella and the ladies seated in a semicircle" is over, Bauer says. "Now it's much more of a social event."

6 ideas for giving a bridal shower

1 GET OUT Nobody ever said showers had to be gigantic gatherings at home. Take a small group of friends out to dinner at the engaged couple's favorite restaurant. Organize a rock climb at their gym. Head out and tour the vineyard where they had their first date. Go somewhere. Do something. Just be creative.

2 PAINT IT Give your guests something to do besides watch the bride open gifts. Painting studios such as Amazing Glaze in Mt. Washington give adult parties where revelers can paint ceramics while nibbling on the wine and cheese they brought with them. At Amazing Glaze, a two-hour party for adults is $10 per person, plus the cost of whatever items guests wish to paint. Team up and paint the engaged couple a platter. Or make something for yourself. Call 410-532-3144 for details.

3 MARTINI MADNESS In this age of green- apple martinis and cosmopolitans run amuck, what could be more fitting than a stock-the-bar shower? Guests can sip on cocktails, nibble tapas and watch as the bridal couple unwrap barware, appetizer plates, wineglasses and bottles of Grey Goose Vodka. Or, if you prefer, hold a wine tasting. Invite guests to bring a bottle of wine to taste and one for the couple's wine cellar. Serve cheese and other cocktail foods and give gifts such as cocktail plates, wineglasses and corkscrews.

4 COLOR ME FABULOUS Pick a color, any color, but a favorite of the engaged couple is nice. Now ask guests to wrap presents in the color, send invitations in the color and serve food at the shower that comes in the color of choice. Choose orange and you'll be serving mimosas or screwdrivers made with fresh squeezed orange juice, a nice butternut gnocchi pasta with butter and sage, and carrot cake for dessert. Mmmm.

5 COOKIE TIME Evoke the simpler days of preschool with a "cookies and milk" shower. Ask guests to bring their favorite cookie recipes and invite them to buy baking supplies off the couple's registry as gifts. As for refreshments, a dozen varieties of cookies, some espresso and a couple of gallons of milk should do the trick. Naptime is optional.

6 HON SHOWER Shower a Baltimore bride and groom with a round of duckpin bowling followed by crab balls and Natty Boh or a chicken salad and aspic lunch a la the Woman's Industrial Exchange. Give gifts that celebrate the city, such as a marble-stoop scrubbing kit, a Greg Otto print or a gift certificate for crabs at Obrycki's Crab House, 410-732-6399.

6 ideas for giving a baby shower

1 RUBBER DUCKY you're the one. Send invitations on duck-shaped cards and ask guests to bring bath toys, towels, shampoo, lotions and other tub time essentials.

2 SIP AND SEE Wait until after the baby and mother are home from the hospital and invite friends to meet the baby and toast the new parents. This option is particularly good for parents who didn't find out their baby's sex before birth and now can receive gifts that are gender-specific. Also nice for those who are celebrating the birth of second and third children.

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