Yesterday marked a very special day for me for two reasons. The first, it was my baby shower which is something I imagine all preggos look forward to. The second, I became 37 weeks pregnant and therefore was off bed rest for the first time in six very long weeks. My pregnancy road has been a bit rocky, and when I had my biggest scare at 33 weeks where I was in the hospital for 4 days, all the doctors and nurses laughed when I told them my baby shower was June 6th, they were all convinced I was not going to make it that far. I was lucky enough to have my sister help with the planning and execution of the big day, while my mother-in-law was in charge of food, and my work-mom was able to host the party at her house. We did pretty much everything ourselves, including food and decorations, which saved us a ton of money and at least for me, was a lot of fun. We decided to go with a garden theme for the shower, 1. because who doesn’t like flowers? 2. because the baby is a girl and so it is a good excuse to have a bunch of pinks and girly things 3. it was in June (aka spring), and 4. it is easy and there is a lot out there to work with. Here is what we did:
Along with your typical appetizers we had sitting on the table when the guests arrived, for lunch we served make your own sandwiches with side salads. It was quite easy. The night before my hubby and I had a grand time walking through Stater Bros picking out all the food we wanted to offer and calculating how much of everything we needed (and of course, we bought too much of everything!! Hello leftovers!). For the sandwiches we bought an assortment of rolls and sliced breads, sliced turkey, ham, roast beef, salami, cheddar, and provolone cheese from the deli, tomatoes and a head of lettuce my mother-in-law cut up sandwich sized, and then mayo, yellow mustard, and honey dijon mustard for the condiments. For the sides, my mother-in-law made her amazing famous baked beans, I had the intention of making potato salad…but everyone convinced me since I was technically on bed rest to buy pre-made potato salad, and we made our own easy coleslaw which consisted of buying bags of coleslaw cabbage mix and coleslaw dressing.
I have a thing where if it is my party I want to be able to eat all the food at my party, which is hard when I am allergic to gluten and milk. I also love to bake, so I decided to make my own cupcakes. I made two different cupcake flavors, one a red velvet from scratch with “cream cheese” frosting, and the other a lemon cupcake with orange “cream cheese” frosting. First I made the GF DF red velvet cake recipe that I have (maybe I’ll post the recipe in a future post). For the lemon cupcakes, I took a GF Betty Crocker yellow cake mix box, followed the directions on the box (except for water I always substitute almond milk), then I added the juice from two lemons and the zest from one of them. At the end it had a nice light lemon flavor without being too overpowering. Then for the frosting I made a batch of the “cream cheese” frosting that was big enough for both batches of cupcakes. First, I took 3 tubs of the Pillsbury Cream Cheese frosting (if you check 99% of their frostings are naturally [or I guess….unnaturally?…] dairy free). I emptied the tubs into a big bowl, and whipped it a bit with my hand mixer. Then I added about a teaspoon of vanilla extract and then slowly mixed in about a cup of powdered sugar. I cut the sweetness with a dash of salt, and then whipped it all up with my hand mixer for maybe about another minute until it was fluffier. I then put about half of the batch into a quart sized Ziploc baggie. Then I cut off the tip of the bottom corner and used it as a piping bag, circling the frosting around the top of the red velvet cupcakes starting from the outside and working my way in. Then with the leftover frosting I added about 1/4 tsp of orange extract and mixed that in to the frosting. I wanted a very subtle flavor, so if you want an orange-ier flavor you may want to add more. then I added about 2 drops of red food coloring and 5 drops of yellow and mixed that in to make a light orange color. I then piped the orange frosting on the lemon cupcakes in the same fashion as I did above. I bought really pretty floral cupcake liners from a small little place online, and I bought sugar flowers from a shop on Etsy. Both finished off the cupcakes nicely.
I decided to invest in a cupcake tower, mostly because I love to make cupcakes and I figure I will be baking for most of my children’s birthday parties for the rest of their life. The cool thing about the cupcake tower I bought is that on the bottom of each level there are holes for cake pops if I chose to make those for a party instead.
Throughout the day the cupcakes got a little drier than I would have liked, but they at least made a really cute decoration.
I wanted to keep the decorations simple and easy (and cheap). I figured less was more, and it turned out to be true. I would rather have a few pretty handmade decorations than a ton of cheesy store bought crap.
I made three banners myself, one spelling out “Baby Shower,” one saying “Torey Anne Wright,” (my soon-to-be daughter’s name) and I had a few pieces of paper leftover so I made a small one that said, “Love.” First, I wrote what I wanted to spell out on a piece of paper (1. so I knew how many letters I needed and 2. so I didn’t accidentally spell the words wrong in the heat of the moment, happens more often than you would think!) Then I went to Michael’s to get cute scrapbook paper. If you want your letters to be about the same size as mine, you can get four letters from each piece of paper. First, count how many total letters you need and then divide by four. This is how many pieces of paper you need. I wanted a lot of different patterns and colors, so I picked eight different papers. To make sure the banner didn’t become too busy, I made sure four pieces were patterned and four were solid colors. If you wanted to just pick two or three designs and follow that pattern you could totally do that too.
Then when I got home I cut each piece of paper into fourths with my paper cutter to get a nice clean line. Then to make sure I didn’t mess up my pattern I laid all the pieces out and chose the pattern I wanted, and then put them in a pile in order of how I wanted the letters. This way I could just pick up the paper on top, make a letter, and so on and didn’t have to think about it. If you don’t know how to make bubble letters you could buy letter patterns and trace them, but I decided it would be way more fun and unique to make my own. The main problem was since I drew on the back of each letter I had to write the letter backward! Let’s just say I was very thankful for letters like “T” and “I.” Once I was done with each letter I placed a hole in the top corners and then strung the letters together with white twine.
The pictures turned out horribe because of the sun, but you can see them well enough to know what I did.
I am lucky enough to have a good friend who is an amazing florist. But even if you aren’t as lucky as me, you could make these floral arrangements easy enough yourself. First, I bought a bunch of watering cans. I searched for a long time both in person and online and Michael’s actually had the cheapest watering cans that looked like what I wanted. To put together the arrangements, my friend realized that the mouth of the watering can was a little too wide, so she filled them with mason jars and then stuffed them with pretty flowers in various pinks and yellows and other colors to match the rest of the theme. She also added a very cute touch of wrapping the handle in some twine to add a little rustic flair. The main problem I found was the watering can wasn’t actually waterproof, so if you don’t use the mason jar inside make sure you either buy cans that can actually hold water or waterproof it yourself. I bought some tea candles from the 99 Cents store and added a few around each watering can to add to the ambiance. I thought the end result was absolutely adorable and they really added a cute splash of color throughout the house.
The rest of the decorations consisted of magenta table clothes and cotton candy pink plates, napkins, and cups. I found super cute floral patterned straws at the same place I found the cupcake liners so I got a bunch of those to keep the floral theme going.
To continue the garden theme, my sister and I came up with the idea of having a make-your-own flower pot as the party favors. Even though the favors were much more popular with the kids than the adults, it worked out well because it kept the little ones busy for a while and it let the creative people have a little fun. First, I took a trip to the 99 Cents store. I love the 99 Cents store, but unfortunately that place can be hit or miss. I was very fortunate when I went. They had the right sized pots for 2/$.99 and they were in cute bright colors that I wanted. They also had a nice assortment of flower seeds, all 4/$.99. I then got a medium sized bag of soil from Home Depot, and we bought a large metal bucket to put the soil in and I had a trowel from home. I bought a bunch of paint markers from Michael’s. We had two leftover watering cans from the floral arrangements, so I filled one with water (how I found out they weren’t waterproof) and the other one we put all the paint markers in.
I wish I got a picture of the setup because it was really cute, but I totally forgot. I highly recommend having this favor station outside because then it doesn’t matter how much soil or water spills.
I was pretty adamant about not having any cheesy baby shower games. It is not that I am against playing them at other people’s parties, but for my party I just wanted something casual and laid back. We did have one “game” though, we created a “Torey’s Arrival Guessing Game.” I made a calender that had five weeks on it, the range was my 37th week of pregnancy to my 42nd week (those being the weeks most women give birth). For $5, a person could “buy” a day and write their name on it. Whichever day Torey decides to show up, whoever picked that day gets half of the pot. It actually turned out better than I thought and people were getting pretty into it. There were a few spots on the calender open at the end of the shower so I posted it on Facebook to ask friends who were unable to come if they wanted to play.