Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to Throw a Virtual Baby Shower

We've all got far-flung friends; Facebook and blogs make it easier than ever to stay in touch, but it's not always possible to make the long trip for special occasions.

Most of our best friends went to high school with my husband. That's what happens when you live in one spouse's hometown, I hear. One of those friends hasn't actually lived here since graduating high school, but she and Matt have always stayed close, and while she and I have only met in person three times, I think (two of which were our weddings!) we've grown closer over the years. Dear Lisa is expecting her first baby soon, and though it's long distance, I wanted to give her a shower so those of us still in Nashville could bless our old friend during this special time.

Hence, the virtual baby shower.

What is a virtual baby shower, you ask? Well, it's like any baby shower, except the guest of honor isn't physically there! It requires a little more advance planning, but overall I found it to be easier to host than a regular party! Just follow these steps:

Step 1: Schedule and Invite
After setting a date and time with the guest of honor (taking into account any time zone differences!) you need to send your invites with a little more time to spare than for most showers, and with a little more explanation. I designed this invite incorporating the keyboard and mouse imagery to set the tone.

The reason for the extra time is to accommodate the sending of your "baby shower in a box." Guests need to deliver their gifts to you (or send them directly to the mom-to-be) by a certain day 4-7 days prior to the shower.

Step 2: Prepare the Box
In addition to your gift and gifts from guests, include a bit of festivity that the guest of honor can easily set up for herself. A tabletop decoration is good, since it won't require hanging or much assembly. Think lightweight as well, since you'll be paying to ship it. I also included a pink lei she could wear (a tiara or ribbon-badge would be cute as well), and a couple of the plates and napkins we would be using. You want things to be as similar as possible on both sides to give a consistent aesthetic and help everyone feel part of one big cross-country party.
One place where that isn't totally possible is food. You need treats that will not go bad or be destroyed in transit. I asked my mother-in-law to make some of her wonderful miniature cutout cookies in baby-themed shapes; she'd made them previously for a long-distance shower we flew to Chicago to throw, and we knew they traveled well. Well-wrapped muffins or non-melting candies would work well also. I'd thought about tossing in some jordan almonds, but opted for more whimsical treats: candy necklaces and twisty straws, which I knew the little kids attending our side of the shower would enjoy too!

Step 3: Prep Your Side of Things
This was the part I found to be so much easier than a traditional shower. Since the guest of honor is off-site, not there to enjoy every detail of your "tablescape," and you don't want her to feel left out of the party, it's a good idea to keep things on-site low key. I decorated just one small area of the house—the area that would be on-camera when we Skyped with the mom-to-be—and kept the food simple. We had some pasta salad, fruit salad, store-bought mini-muffins, and some of the awesome cookies my MIL made.

Step 4: Skype!!
Or Google Hangout, whatever video chat provider you prefer. We Skyped for about an hour, chatting with our guest of honor, seeing the baby bump, getting a virtual tour of the nursery, and watching her open presents!

We did some baby-related trivia during our Skype session as well, though if you planned this part further in advance, you could include materials for games in the box to share with the mom-to-be: a roll of toilet paper to do the "guess-how-big-the-belly-is" game, or a printed word jumble game.
We all wish we could be close to special friends during such a special time in their lives, but social media makes virtual connection possible, and you can still celebrate together, though you're far apart.

Congrats, Lisa; we can't wait to meet Baby Jellybean!


Jellybean's Mom said...

It was such a wonderful, wonderful party! Thank you again for everything. I learned something new from this post, too--I had no idea Debbie made those cookies!!! I wish I'd included that in my thank you note. They looked so professional I was sure they were store bought! :) Glad we'll be in Atlanta soon so we can up our meeting-in-person quotient! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. We are planning one for my daughter. Do you know if you can have several locations skype at the same time. Mom to be I suppose would view on split screen?

Lala Thomas said...

Thaaaak You!

Anonymous said...

Is there a site you used to design the darling invite.

mark lawrence said...

Wow, I am in love with the idea of Virtual baby shower. I am truly impressed with this idea. Well, my cousin lives quite close to my home so I would like to host a real baby shower for her. Your party will be a big inspiration for me. I want to host this bash at a nice outdoor venues in San Francisco.

Teri said...

My daughter is in Alaska and we are all in Ohio! Great advice and ideas, thanks!


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