As social distancing takes on more of a critical role in our daily lives during the coronavirus outbreak, many expecting mothers are having to get creative when it comes to planning for that highly anticipated baby shower.
Fortunately, fêting a mom-to-be doesn’t require in-person interaction—there’s plenty of celebrating that can be done behind a computer or smartphone screen with a virtual baby shower! Though there’s a real need for them now, long-distance or virtual baby showers have been around for a while. Typically, they are planned for friends and family who live in other states or countries. Military families who move around a lot often use them to bring their far-flung friends together. With a little bit of planning, you can easily adapt your baby shower plans into a virtual party without missing a beat.
Just like with an in-person meet-up, the first step to planning a virtual baby shower is to pick a date and time for your party. A couple of things to consider:
If you’re inviting guests in multiple time zones, try to pick something that works for most people, if not everyone.
Put a time limit on the party. Even though it might feel like you have all the time in the world, you still want to be respectful of other people’s time. One to two hours should be all the time you need, depending on how many guests you have.
Next, send an invitation. You can personalize a digital invitation with an online invitation service, like Evite or Paperless Post (this might be a nice touch for a mom-to-be who’s feeling blue about not having a “real” baby shower). Or you could simply set up a group event on Facebook where all of your friends and family can easily see details and interact with each other. Regardless of which invitation route you go, make sure to include instructions for which platform you’ll use for your virtual party such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Speaking of which…
After you’ve chosen where to host your online party, make sure to give it a test run. If you’ve never used Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts before, then it’s a great idea to enlist a couple of friends to test-drive a virtual hangout. Try having a happy hour together and use the time to smooth out any technical glitches so that you’ll be prepared to be the shower hostess with the mostest.
We’ve all become accustomed to shopping from our couch, and this is really no different. Head over to a site like Babylist or your favorite online store where you can easily set up a baby registry. Your virtual baby shower guests can then choose the perfect gift and have it shipped directly to you. With any luck, you’ll have all of the gifts before the party starts.
However, the host might want to encourage guests to send their gifts by a certain date to accommodate coronavirus-related shipping delays. You may also want to ask that guests spring for gift-wrapping on the gear they’re shipping so that the mama-to-be has something fun to open. (Need a gift idea that you can send virtually? The Gift of Sleep—A Happiest Baby Gift card can be used to buy or rent SNOO Smart Sleeper—the only baby bassinet proven to add 1-2 hours of precious Zzzs per night for babies...and their parents!)
You can’t go all-out with a baby shower theme and baby shower décor during a virtual hangout, but you can still add some fun touches. If you’re hosting, put up balloons or streamers in the background. Or use a festive Zoom backdrop. Another idea? Have your guests get dolled up, all wear the same color, or don a fun accessory (like heart-shaped sunglasses).
Half the fun of a baby shower is seeing all the sweet gifts, so why not enjoy a little show? There are a couple of ways to make gift-opening an integral part of your virtual shower:
If guests sent gifts ahead: You can pretty much go forward with the unwrapping process just as you would in person. Mama opens, while everyone else ooh’s and aaah’s at the cute duds she unboxes.
If guests already bought gifts: Since many moms are having to scramble and shift from a traditional baby shower to a virtual one, they may be trying to figure out exactly what to do about gifts. One fun solution is to have a gift reveal be a part of the party. Each guest can take turns opening the gift that she bought and saying a few words about why she chose it.
Eating and drinking during a group screen chat might be distracting for some folks. For others, it could be no big deal. Depending on what you decide, on the invite you could ask folks to refrain from munching until the end or specify that guests are encouraged to eat.
If everyone is okay with eating on camera, food and drink could be a unifying aspect of the shower. In your invite, share a recipe for a baby shower mocktail that guests can make and sip together during the shower. Or, time your baby shower to a certain meal—for example, you could all enjoy a long-distance baby shower brunch or midday tea party together.
What’s a baby shower without games? Although playing games is more fun in person, there are still some classic baby shower games that can be adapted to play from afar. A few that work well (and check out more fun baby shower game ideas here):
Name that tune : Play a few chords of baby-themed songs, and let guests guess what they just heard.
Baby alphabet game : Go around and take turns trying to name a baby-related word for each letter of the alphabet—try not to break the chain!
Baby gear ‘Price Is Right’ : Take turns guessing how much different types of baby gear costs.
Want to go above-and-beyond as a host? Ship some party favors to your guests as a token of your appreciation for their virtual attendance. It could be a traditional baby shower favor that you send in the mail, or you could send ?1000 gift cards that guests can use on digital gifts or takeout food. Or, instead of sending favors after the shower, pick out something that guests can use during the shower, like matching coffee mugs.
While it’s not difficult to go virtual with your baby shower, being pregnant during the coronavirus crisis is incredibly stressful. So, consider asking each guest to send an encouraging hand-written letter—or even just a nice email—to the mama-to-be in order to help lift her spirits and make her feel extra special during this challenging time. It’s a gesture that will help her really feel the presence of friends and family, even if they’re miles away.