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Shower theme ideas

Keep the following in mind when choosing a shower theme:

  • Choose a theme that will allow guests to find gifts in all price ranges.
  • Ask the bride and groom what they need before you begin any elaborate plans. They may tell you what they really need is plastic measuring cups and mixing bowls. Sometimes, simple is better.
  • Use the bridal couple's gift registries as your primary source of information for gift ideas. The bride's mother or the wedding host should be able to provide a copy of the registry lists. These lists can not only provide valuable information on the couple's likes and dislikes, but can be the inspiration for a theme or supply ideas for organizing group gifts.
  • If the couple asks for gifts in a particular color, send a paint chip in that shade with each invitation.

Here are some suggestions for shower themes.

Round-the-clock
Each guest is instructed to bring a gift inspired by the hour of the day assigned to him or her. For instance, an alarm clock or a set of coffee mugs might be appropriate for 7:00 a.m.; 10:00 p.m. might suggest a pair of brandy snifters. The party heats up when guests have used their imaginations for hours such as 3:00 a.m. or 5:00 p.m.

Luxury is the limit
This is usually reserved for an all-women shower, but why not let the men enjoy some pampering, too? Pull out the stops with an elegant tea or buffet dinner, complete with silver service and damask napkins. Have guests bring "splurge" gifts like tickets to a concert, his and hers silk pajamas, trays for breakfast in bed, even gift certificates for his and hers facials or massages.

Paired pleasers
Shower both the bride and the groom at a "Jack and Jill" shower. Ask couples to bring gifts that can be used by both the bride and groom, like a board game, a coffee grinder, a magazine subscription, a wine rack, a popcorn maker, or a TV converter.

Group dynamics
A great idea for a shower thrown by an affiliated group of people (all work in the same department, belong to the same sports club, volunteer for the same charity, etc.) is to let their association suggest a theme. All of the guests can contribute to the price of one representative gift for the couple: his and hers workout bags from the team, luggage from the gang in promotion and sales, a telephone from the volunteer group.

Bargain bounty
Strapped for cash? Shower gifts needn't break the bank. Often the gifts of greatest value are those that come from the heart. Have each guest bring a "coupon" they've made and decorated themselves that the engaged couple can redeem for personalized services. This idea is particularly appropriate for a couple about to buy their first home or move into a "fixer-upper". A guest who is handy at gardening may offer a coupon worth two Saturday afternoons of landscaping chores. A van owner might offer his services to help the couple move. A handy fix-it person could give a coupon representing one freshly caulked bathtub or six hours of wallpaper stripping.

Room assignment
Possibly the simplest shower idea, and still one of the most popular, is to choose a room in the future newlyweds' new home (the kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom are perennial favorites) and ask guests to bring suitable gifts. These showers are easy to organize because guests can take advantage of the couple's bridal registry to make sure their choice of kitchen appliance, towel color, or sheet pattern is just right.

Garden of delights
If the bride and groom are avid gardeners, and especially if their new home has the yard space to allow them to indulge their hobby, the garden is a wonderful theme. Any visit to a gardening store will yield a wealth of gift ideas, from books and seeds to wheelbarrows and lawnmowers. Make the shower a garden party, too.

Bon voyage
Whether the guests of honor love to travel or you want to help them with their honeymoon trip, a travel-themed shower offers great party inspirations. If you know the destination of their honeymoon, use it to inspire the decorations and menu. Some guests may want to chip in to buy the couple luggage or a camera. Gifts can range in price from economical (a compass or guide book) to lavish (a night's stay at a beautiful hotel or the cost of the car rental). The bridal couple may even have registered for honeymoon travel, giving guests an easy travel gift option.

That's entertainment
When the bride and groom are well known for throwing parties themselves, make their shower a great way to acknowledge them as "hosts with the most." Gifts might include bar glasses, trays, table linens, liquor decanters, folding chairs, etc. Alternatively, if the couple are self-confessed occasional couch potatoes, suggest gifts such as books, board games, videos and, of course, a popcorn-maker.

This old house
First-time home owners will appreciate a shower whose theme is home maintenance and repair. Assign each guest a season or a floor of the house as inspiration for their gift, then watch as everything from a snow shovel to a floor mop to a crate of window cleaner arrives.

A taste of heaven
Indulge the engaged couple with this shower idea. If they love wine, throw a wine-and-cheese shower and have guests bring a bottle or wine accessory as a gift. Some guests may want to pool their money to buy the couple a set of wine glasses or a wine rack. Alternatively, if the couple loves to cook, have guests bring a kitchen utensil and tag their gifts with a recipe. Then challenge the couple to identify the giver of each gift by its representative recipe.

Wishing well
Along with regular gifts, guests are asked to bring tiny presents for a "wishing well," such as a small kitchen utensil (a wooden spoon, a spatula, a whisk, etc.), a tiny cookbook, a spool of thread, a bar of soap, etc. This is explained on the invitation, and if you wish, a limit may be set on the price (e.g., a dollar or two). The hostess supplies a "wishing well" a box or basket trimmed with ribbons, for instance and the gifts, wrapped and tied to long ribbons, are tossed in. There are no cards, but guests may write and attach poems. The bride pulls each gift out by its ribbon and reads the poem aloud.

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