For some, bridal showers are a timeless tradition that signifies a community of women gathering around a young bride-to-be, sharing knowledge and helping to prepare her for an exciting new chapter of life. For others, a bridal shower feels like a tasteless gift-grab, a cruel reminder of one’s own seemingly eternal singlehood or a time warp that suddenly transports one back to a strange, pre-feminist era. Whichever side of the fence you fall onto, if you are tasked with planning a bridal shower and the traditional trifecta of finger food, sundresses and toilet-paper wedding gowns just isn’t working for you, take a gander at the innovative bridal shower ideas on this list.
1. MAKE IT ABOUT THE BRIDE
No matter how you feel about bridal showers, remember that ultimately, whatever party you plan is about the lovely lady who is about to get married — not you. So if tea parties are her favorite, grit your teeth and brush up on your cucumber sandwich technique, even if the mere scent of Earl Grey makes you nauseous. If you’ve been tasked with planning this party, you probably know the guest of honor pretty well. So honor her spirit and make it a party she’ll love, whether or not it matches your aesthetic.
2. PICK A THEME
The options are endless when it comes to shower planning, so avoid analysis paralysis and pick a theme. This is also a great way to make sure the person you’re planning for actually has a good time, since you’ll most likely choose a theme that aligns with one of the couples’ interests. Do they lust after kitchen gadgets? Plan a culinary-themed shower with an Iron Chef-style cooking competition. Are they fans of a smart cocktail? Then help the couple “Stock the Bar” and ask guests to bring quality booze. Are they world travelers with a dozen countries on their honeymoon itinerary? Then ask for gifts to be travel-sized (or at least travel-themed) and create an atlas of places the couple should go next. You get the picture — ooh! Have a photography-themed shower for the couple that Instagrams everything!
Hosting a shower does not mean that you have to do every little thing yourself. In fact, the party will be better for everybody if you reach out to other guests who are close to the bride and ask them for help. When I was tasked with planning my best friend’s bridal shower remotely earlier this year, I didn’t try to do everything from my home in Seattle. Instead, I reached out to all of our amazing friends who lived close to her and asked for help. The foodies recommended an amazing local caterer I never would have found on my own, the crafty gals created an army of favors and decorations, and a certified genius picked us up a case of champagne when BevMo had their 1 cent wine sale. It relieved my stress, made everybody feel involved, and my bff got the party she deserved.
4. ACTIVITIES > GAMES
Listen, some people love a good shower game. I am not one of those people. However, showers are often a time when lots of guests meet for the first time, you need something besides food and presents to break the ice. So I suggest you have activity stations, like easy craft projects, in lieu of complicated or trite shower games. They allow people to gather and gives them something to talk about. We decorated mugs with colored sharpies at my afore-mentioned bff’s shower, but you can also consider a candle-making station, ask guests to decorate scrapbook pages, or wine glass charms. The possibilities are endless, and the bride will have a keepsake to remember forever. (Or at least something that will make her giggle, depending on her friends’ crafting abilities.)
5. SAY SOMETHING NICE
Okay, so this might sound a little sentimental, but I’ve seen it bring tears of joy, so go with me here. At some point, have everybody take turns introducing themselves and saying one thing they love about the bride-to-be. No matter how cheesy it sounds, you’ll be amazed at how touching it turns out to be, and you’ll probably get either the bride or her mom/sister/great-aunt-Lily to get a little misty-eyed in the process. (Then you can go back to the mimosa bar.)
6. DO SOMETHING ELSE
Listen, nobody says you have to have a bridal shower. If the idea of asking for more presents, putting on a sundress and being the center of attention is just not your idea of a good time, it’s totally fine to skip it altogether. But you can also consider an alternative, like a Jack and Jill Party (aka Stag and Doe Party), where friends of the bride and groom contribute a small amount of money and have a big casual party, pub crawl or other celebration. Or just grab your nearest and dearest friends and do a spa-day, or take trapeze lessons, or go to a fancy brunch. Don’t let party planning stress you out.