A few years ago, I hit an age where spring and early summer became shower season, a time to celebrate moms-to-be and excited brides with food, friends, and maybe a few games. I never thought I was a Shower Person — I will flunk your quiz on celebrity couples, I despise the color pink — until my own bridal shower, which was beautiful, not at all cheesy, and most of all fun. So I was excited to plan a baby shower for my friend Beth for our Gatherings from The Kitchn series, a grown-up party full of colorful details, a fresh, sophisticated salad bar, and nary a baby rattle in sight. Want to see how I did it?
The Party Idea: A Sophisticated (But Not Stuffy) Baby Shower
My friend Beth loves traveling to far-flung places, digging through flea markets looking for treasures, and making her tiny, 550-square-foot home a cozy, stylish space. She's obviously going to be a very cool mom and I wanted to make her baby shower just as cool — neither a stuffy ladies lunch nor a day dedicated to baby-themed decor would be right for her.
I teamed up with my friends Lydia and Jen to put together a party full of the kinds of beautiful details we knew Beth would appreciate. (I knew from the start that I would need help, since I am expecting my own baby just two weeks after Beth is!)
The Party Menu: A Fresh Salad Bar for Everyone
With a guest list of a little over 20 people, I wanted to plan a meal that would be easy to execute and serve. Buffet-style was obviously the way to go, but nothing sounded right — taco bar? build-a-BLT bar? — until I hit upon the idea of a salad bar, which seemed lady-like enough for a baby shower, but adaptable to a more modern menu.
This being 2014, I didn't know what dietary restrictions guests might have, so I made sure to have a variety of protein choices and gluten-free options. I wanted everyone to have a full, satisfying meal at this party! I decided on a slightly French influence to the menu, which Lydia would be echoing in the styling, and definitely wanted to start the party with a selection of pregnancy-friendly cheeses, if only for my own enjoyment. (Look for a full post on pregnancy-friendly cheeses later this week.)
To drink, I planned on a colorful spring sangria made with rosé and berries, and a non-alcoholic drink that was just as festive and tasty: lavender lemonade.
To cap it all off, I decided to make a glazed bundt cake, my favorite style of cake for big gatherings like this because they look fancy and special, but take much less work than a frosted layer cake.
A Spring Shower Menu
For 22 people
- Chopped Romaine Lettuce
- Mustard-Glazed Salmon
- Poached Chicken Breast
- French Lentil Salad (no bacon, to make it vegan)
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Herb Garden Potatoes (I skipped the spinach)
- Roasted Heirloom Carrots
- Roasted Asparagus
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Shelled Pistachios
- Dijon Vinaigrette
- Quick Ranch Dressing
- Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
- Herbed Olive Oil Fantail Rolls
The Party Look: Cool Blues, Vintage Touches & Lots of Citrus
Beth is expecting a boy, but a party filled with blue frosting and pacifiers wasn't the way to go. Lydia — who also styled the pumpkin-carving party I hosted in October — decided to focus on Beth's love of flea markets and vintage finds, with a color palette that included deep blues, turquoise and pops of bright yellow and orange.
Being a lucky Southern Californian, Lydia had access to lots of free citrus fruits, which she used to decorate the tables and platters of food. (You could mimic this idea with whatever fruits, vegetables or flowering branches are abundant, inexpensive and pretty where you live.)
We also set up a craft table where guests could stamp burp cloths for Beth (such a fun and easy project!) and write a message to the baby in a book of Beth's favorite fairy tales.
It ended up being a really lovely day that accomplished the most important task: making Beth feel showered with love and support from friends and family!
Keep an eye out for the big party reveal on Wednesday, and throughout the week look for our cheese expert's advice for building a cheese platter that even pregnant ladies can eat, my tips for setting up your own salad bar, and several party-friendly recipes for your own grown-up showers.