Celebrations look a little different during this time of COVID-19, and baby showers are no exception. While the guests and games might be virtual, the warm intentions of celebrating new parents and their impending bundle of joy remain the same. “One of the benefits of a virtual shower is that people from far away can attend and there’s no limit to the guest list,” says Emily Irwin, a Saline resident who recently threw a baby shower for friend Maegan Brege during the pandemic. “It was easier to plan in certain ways, as I didn’t need to organize a bunch of stuff to take somewhere like games, decorations, and food, and the party required much less time for set-up.”
Here are some fun ways to virtually celebrate a new parent during the pandemic:
Choose a platform for a video call. Pick a date, time, and a platform most convenient for your parent-to-be and their guest list. Zoom calls are free for basic users and allow groups up to 100 people but calls are limited to 40 minutes, while paid accounts allow meetings up to 24 hours — not that you’d want a party that long! Skype allows calls for up to 50 people for four hours but the experience can be less seamless than others. Google Meet (formerly Hangouts) allows up to 250 participants and is free through September 30, 2020. Whichever platform you choose, consider recording the call as a video memento for the new parents.
Pick a moderator. Even in casual social settings, it’s often helpful to have one person host a video call and direct the flow of events. The moderator can make sure everyone on the call is introduced to each other, manage the games, and help with opening gifts, and generally ensure the party keeps moving forward. This also takes some pressure off the honoree, so they can relax and enjoy the festivities rather than thinking about what happens next.
Send invitations. A real invite — whether emailed or mailed — marks the occasion as special, and ensures guests will mark their calendars. Think about including a timeline of the party’s activities (such as introductions, trivia game, gift opening, etc.) as well as a deadline for gift drop-offs if the parents will be opening them during the call. Share easy snack ideas that everyone can simultaneously enjoy together on the call. “I included links to the food and mocktails that I prepared for the mom-to-be to enjoy during the call so that all the guests could eat them along with her as a way to further share the experience,” said Irwin.
Create some fun. Have guests post their own baby pictures or pictures of the parents-to-be as their background on the call. Create a trivia game of facts about babies or about the new parents. Ask guests to wear a specific color to match the nursery theme or go for the traditional blue and pink.
The presents. Opening a stack of new gifts is often the capstone of a baby shower. Some new parents enjoy opening everything live so the guests can “ooh” and “ahh” along with them to replicate the in-person experience. Alternatively, consider what Brege did at her pandemic shower. “I opened all of my gifts prior to the shower to save time on the call and posted individual photos of the gifts labeled with each gift giver’s name,” said Brege. “That made it easy for me as I could put away each gift as I received it and keep track of who sent which present.”
Give non-gift gifts. Consider giving the new parents the gift of not sending thank you cards. Or offer future ways to support new parents after the baby arrives. Third time mom Christine Jones says, “I think the most helpful thing is having freshly cut and washed fruits, and easy to grab health snacks after the baby is born.” And the free gift of regular contact can be incredibly valuable while new parents are isolated at home. “So many people reached out to me with texts and phone calls to let me know they were there for me if I needed anything,” said Maria Nivia, new mom to Luka. “This really helped my emotional and mental well-being, it made feel that I wasn’t alone.”
Host a baby shower follow-up or baby introduction. Some new parents might be thrilled to have a friend help coordinate a virtual “introduction” of their newest member. Similarly to the shower, schedule a short video call for the parents to introduce their new little one. “I’ve felt emotional about the fact that our baby hasn’t really had an ‘official debut’ into this world,” said Sarah Magee, mom of six including recent addition Ace in May. “We’re grateful to be healthy and happy but it’s hard that none of our family or friends have met Ace in person yet.” New parents may appreciate the chance to share their new child with many loved ones all at once, saving them time on multiple calls.
The pandemic is dramatically changing the way we all experience milestones and celebrations. And yet creating connections seems even more important to many people right now. Hosting a baby shower virtually can help new parents enjoy and share their excitement with loved ones near and far.