My cousin is having a baby and I hosted our family baby shower! It was my first ~real~ non-college hosting situation and it felt like a Big Femme Deal to me so here’s what happened:
We went with Saturday brunch for scheduling reasons. My cousin is having an AMAB (child and naturally my whole family is “so excited for a boy” and that seeped into people’s theme opinions. As a trans nonbinary person who really thinks gender should just die already, I was SO uncomfortable with all the blue things suggested for this shin-dig. The baby’s nursery is Peter Rabbit from Beatrix Potter’s children’s book series, so the baby shower was Peter Rabbit themed too. This was manageable for me. Those “Daddy's____” onesies are not.
Thankfully the parents-to-be requested a mixed-gender baby shower so everyone in the family was there and I didn’t have to navigate being a nb femme at a ‘traditional women’s shower.’ That said, gendered dynamics in Midwestern families, mine included, can be really severe and hosting was a disaster gendered experience in and of itself. But this post is about cute decorations and pulling off a party, so let’s get on with it!
I made a Pinterest and that helped with coordination. I could keep track of ideas I liked, games I wanted to play, and see what had worked well for other people. What’s most important when planning an event is making sure you can bring the theme together—from vision to execution. And my Pinterest board kept me accountable to that goal.
My budget wasn’t very big, in fact it was next to nothing, so I knew I couldn’t have specialized everything. Instead I went with the theme of Peter Rabbit and brought some broad concepts together, highlighting them in cute in personalize ways, in order to pull it off: a Mr. McGregor’s Garden chalk board, watering cans filled with flowers from the garden, nice floral china eatery, and radish cake pops. Sure, I would have wanted to do more given more money, but the shower was absolutely lovely and everyone had a great time. It is possible, ya’ll.
My brother works at a print shop so I was lucky to be able to have him make these gorgeous invites for free. They were guests’ first introduction to the party and I felt set the tone nicely. Image: Photo of one of the Peter Rabbit invitations, personal information blacked out.
For games I used supplies I already had or printed out sheets that I devised. And the games were the best part! We played: Name the Nursery Rhyme, the Price is Right, and The Tray Game. I went for classic and classy, no fake-poopy diapers, and it was enjoyable all around. I intentionally chose games that are actively facilitated by the host with little side discussion because that is the dialogue flow that my family needs. But think about how you want conversations and food to go during your game time and choose your games appropriately. There’s so many to choose from, you will find some that work for your group dynamics.
Here is where having a tight budget and little time synched me and I would have loved to have more of both, but I still cobbled together a few things. Tricks that helped me immensely included:
· Decorating with things you already own—see the aforementioned watering can, garden flowers, and wooden baskets.
· Turning gifts into decorations. This is the diaper cake idea! My aunt did an incredible twist on this baby shower classic and made a diaper vegetable basket with presents wrapped up as eggplant, potatoes, radishes, tomatoes, and cabbage. It was incredible.
· Lastly, Etsy. Etsy has so much to offer when it comes to printables and they can be extremely affordable. I especially loved the banner, cupcake toppers, and Beatrix Potter wall prints (all pinned on my board).
Images: Top is of the chalkboard welcome sign greeting guests on the presents table. It reads, "Mr. McGreggor's Garden (no rabbits allowed!) Middle: A display of the gifts table prominently featuring the diaper vegetable basket with all its wrapped produce gifts and a stuffed Peter on top. Bottom: A display of the brunch dessert layout with the Radish Cake Pops and doughnuts from our favorite bakery.
My mother was in charge of the menu and did most of the food but I contributed with radish-shaped cake pops so I’ll include that recipe:
Radish Cake Pops—
Since our theme was Peter Rabbit a lot of our motifs related to the garden and I thought these radish cake pops would make the perfect dessert contribution. I got the idea from this pin, but instead of making carrots and bunnies too I just went with the simple radish. Again, simplicity means fewer supplies which means softer on the budget!
I swear every time I embark on making cake pops I think what fun it will be and then halfway through I remember what a nightmare it is. I never have enough candy melt and then I end up desperately rolling crumbling cake pops in the remnants trying to get a full coat but still having cake pieces peak through. So take it from this sad pro and buy more candy melt than you think you could possibly need. Also, get a drying rack for the cake pops. That uniform perfectly-coated pattern for every pop is so worth it!
Those complaints aside, the process of making cake pops is very straightforward:
· Buy your favorite box cake and bake it!
· Let cool for 10 minutes out of the oven, then take a fork and scramble that sucker like an egg.
· Dump your cake into a large mixing bowl, add half a can of frosting of your choice and combine until your cake bits can hold together.
·Put wax paper out on a baking sheet (I even use the same pan I made the cake in for less washing).
· Roll your cake bits into balls—I go for just smaller than a golf ball. Too large and they won’t stay on the stick, too small and they just won’t be worth the bite.
· Melt one batch of candy melts and dip the tips of the cake pop sticks into the melts. When dry, stick the cake pop sticks into the center of your cake balls.
· Pop your tray of sticked cake balls into the fridge for 10 – 30 minutes.
· Take pops out of the fridge, dip them into your melt mixture, ensuring your melts stay deep enough to coat the entire cake pop. Add and melt more candy melt as necessary.
· Put your dipped cake pops onto the drying rack for smooth results. Cheat: if you can’t get a rack, trying using the holes in your colander.
· Voila! Decorate with sprinkles, edible glitter, fondant, frozen chocolate, or whatever your heart desires! I made little radish ‘leaves’ with baker’s chocolate that I piped onto wax paper and then froze.
I trust you to try these out, finesse your technique, and become a cake pop master. Just get enough candy melts and a drying rack and you are well on your hassle-free way.
Images: Beginning and End stages of cake pop assembly!
And that about covered the party—we had simple decorations around the Beatrix Potter theme, delicious food and even better doughnuts and cake pops for dessert, and my family had a lovely time. The vegetable garden diaper basket was a huge hit and my games were popular even though I was disappointed with how few nursery rhymes were known. I feel my first grown, domestic femme resisting patriarchy but still serving hostess excellence event went well and I look forward to sharing more with you all!