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Use these tips to throw a rustic, DIY baby shower

Throw a rustic, Southern DIY baby shower using these time honored tips and tricks

We Southerners love to throw parties for just about any event, and there are few more joyful than baby showers. But, like other parties, a proper baby shower can be expensive. Instead of going wild with store-bought food and decor, try going the DIY route with this how-to guide for a rustic Southern baby shower.

Planning a celebration for the arrival of a new baby is a rite of passage for relatives and close friends of expectant mothers, but it can be a daunting responsibility. Many shower-planners wind up experiencing at least some anxiety. It's easy to feel overburdened while attempting to make every last detail go off without a hitch. 

Thankfully, by using this guide you won't have to stress over extraneous details, whether you volunteered (or were volun-told) to manage a friend or family member's pre-Mommy party. Remove the burden of worry by using the steps below to throw a rustic-chic baby shower with a heavy emphasis on good drinks, elevated comfort food and do-it-yourself projects. 

Get crafty with the décor
Let's face it, baby showers require a good amount of decor and, with little bundle of joy being the reason for celebration who can resist going a little over board. Thankfully going a little decoration crazy doesn't mean you have to over spend. If you’re looking to strike the right balance between dazzling and inexpensive decorations, going the DIY route just makes sense. Here are a few low-stress options that can make a big impact:

Tissue paper pom poms
Show off your creativity with just a few sheets of colorful tissue paper, wire and ribbon for hanging. Not only are these pom poms easy to put together, they take up a fair amount of space meaning less labor (no pun intended) and decoration that don't look like you spared any expense. 

Baby clothing garland
You have to admit there really is something so inherently sweet about babies' clothing. Here you can go two different routes: either buy all white onesies and invite friends and family to decorate and hang their work or have everyone purchase a onesie and hang it up upon arrival. Make sure you purchase a long clothesline and some clothespins ahead of time. 

Diaper cakes
This age-old baby shower favorite features elaborate sculptures shaped like multi-tiered cakes, and because these "cakes" are made from dozens of rolled diapers, they double as both decor and a gift.

Secondary 02bsUpcycle, upcycle, upcycle
In addition to crafty decorations, you can tie the “rustic chic” look together by repurposing items like straw baskets, glass jars, vintage suitcases, old picture frames and tiered serving trays. Thrift stores and yard sales are great places to look for these statement pieces, and you might be surprised at what you find simply lying around your house.

Harness the power of fresh flowers
Nothing warms a space quite like a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, whether you hire a professional florist to design the perfect arrangements or just stop by a farmer’s market to pick up local, in-season blooms. Given the theme of the day, you may want to go straight for the Baby’s Breath. Another option is to choose potted plants, like succulents, as centerpieces. They can double as thoughtful favors or shower-game prizes for your guests.

Secondary 01bsFood and drink
Make everyone happy with both mocktails and cocktails
Just because the future mom must abstain from alcohol doesn’t mean a baby shower has to be a dry event. Still, while accommodating every guest is important, the last thing you want to do is make your pregnant guest of honor feel left out, so keep it balanced for both sides.

Atlanta-based event planner Eliana Baucicault of EllyB Events recommends the perfect solution: an alcohol-free version of whatever your signature cocktail will be. “The best way to include alcohol at a baby shower is to create a mocktail and a cocktail,” said Baucicault. “Essentially everyone will be drinking the same thing.”

One of the easiest options is to serve mimosas, everyone’s favorite brunch refreshers. While the traditional recipe calls for equal parts orange juice and Champagne (or prosecco), you can easily make a non-alcoholic “mom-osa” by swapping the alcohol with sparkling water. For more variety, set up a mimosa bar with a selection of different juice mixers and flavored sparkling waters.

Go beyond the typical fruit and cheese platter
A well-curated fruit and cheese platter never fails to please. But if you’re hoping to add an extra dose of whimsical Southern comfort to the festivities, opt for something like a BYOBB: Build Your Own Biscuit Bar.

The most important aspect of pulling off a BYOBB is providing a diverse array of sweet and savory fixin’s to suit all palates, from homemade fruit preserves, honey and butter to more robust fillings like sausage gravy, bacon and sliced cold cuts. Make sure you attach labels so guests know exactly what they’re getting into.

As for the biscuits, try these Southern-Kitchen-recommended buttermilk biscuits. They take less than a half-hour to prepare and bake, which means you can easily whip them up the morning of your baby shower.

Skip the bizarre baby shower games
Baby showers have a reputation for featuring silly games and gimmicks, but let’s be honest: Very few pregnant women want their bellies measured and approximately zero guests will be thrilled to play around with — much less taste — anything in a diaper.

“It is definitely OK not to play baby shower games,” said Baucicault. “People are moving into more of a celebration with their family and friends, and less of the games and favors.” Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t find a happy medium between good silly fun and preserving your dignity. Here are four low-key baby shower activities that your guests will actually enjoy:

Late-night diaper thoughts
Invite guests to write words of encouragement for the parents on the outside of unused diapers — they’ll appreciate your support when they read them during late-night diaper changes.

Reading’s greetings
Instead of greeting cards, ask guests to bring in a children's book signed with their own personalized message.

Photo booth
No matter the type of party, a photo booth stocked with props is guaranteed to be a hit.

Whatever activities you plan, just don’t forget the most important part of the day is to have fun. This will be one of the final gatherings the mother will have before her life-changing day, so prioritize revelry and laughs over formality. After all, isn’t that pretty much what being rustic and low-key is all about?

Keeping this in mind, along with proper planning and experimenting with a few tried-and-true traditions, you can throw a baby shower that all guests will enjoy — and one the guest of honor will never forget.

Photo (cheeseboard): Maura Friedman