Sometimes baby showers can get the best of your budget. It is easy to justify a chunk of change because you will be sharing memories with friends and trying to show your love and support for the mom-to-be. Then, there is the ever enticing cuteness of baby stuff everywhere you look and the elaborate decor on Pinterest. The truth is, you can throw a fantastic party for just a few dollars.
Why it Matters
Even more important than saving a few dollars is the impact on others. Put yourself into the shoes of this new mother. She faces intense baby marketing pressure every single day. She is scared to become the provider and example for a perfect, tiny, helpless human and the advertisers know she is easy prey. Show her and those around her that you don’t need to get every gadget, every adorable nursery item, or even many practical things. Outside any initial medical expenses, babies are actually fairly cheap!
You might not be willing to fight the consumer mindset in other places in your life, but please do it here. How she provides for her baby may set the tone for the rest of her life and the life of her child. You CAN have just as much fun, special-ness, and joy for nearly free.
For me personally, I have a hard time spending money on anything that isn’t useful, so throwing a fancy party takes some creativity. The good news is, I’ve been throwing plenty of parties for free (as a teen, I usually didn’t provide the food) since I was about 14. Here’s what I’ve done for baby showers…
Budget Baby Shower Planning Guide:
For parties here’s what I try to have: something snacky, something sweet, something filling, and something to drink. Depending on your audience and audience size, you can double up on some of those categories.
Homemade cinnamon rolls are a great option for both something filling and something sweet. You could even put a little sign that says “Bun in the oven”. At a cost of $3.60 for 24 huge rolls, you will have plenty of food for your dollar.
Chips and homemade salsa or dip is probably my favorite inexpensive snacky food, but since it doesn’t fit well with the cinnamon rolls, I’ll have to recommend a fruit salad. Just pick out whatever is cheap. You’d be surprised at how well most fruit goes together. I’ve done a cantaloupe, nectarine, orange, apple salad before and it turned out delicious!
Another idea that is REALLY cheap is homemade popcorn. A few kernels go a LONG ways. Here’s the recipe I use. You could label it “ready to pop” if you are doing cute puns.
For a drink, lemonade from store-bought lemon juice is very cost-effective. Milk, juice, or even just ice water are great too.
Baby shower games are my favorite part to plan. I’ve got lots of fun practically free games that aren’t at every shower. I’d choose two paper based games and two other games out of the following options:
This one is a Milly special and I’m quite proud of it.
In traditional Jeopardy, there are various topics and hidden words or phrases. When words are revealed, it is a race between the contestants to hit a buzzer and claim their right to ask a question with the word or phrase as an answer. If the word or phrase is the correct answer, points are awarded.
In Je-Parody, game play is nearly the same, but instead of boring questions like “What is a brand of diaper rash cream?” (Answer: Desitin) witty or entertaining questions like “What is definitely not toothpaste?” are awarded.
- Once the word or phrase is revealed, the first 3-5 (choose a number) contestants to raise their hand get to ask a question.
- The judge (could be the hostess, mom-to-me, or rotate the previous question winner) chooses whichever question is their favorite.
- Either give a small prize for each win or award points towards a larger prize.
- The winner chooses the next category to reveal a word or phrase from.
When we played this, we got some hilarious questions!
Relay of Life
Relays are a great way to get up and moving. I took several variations and stuck them all together with this relay. Here’s what we did:
- Divide the group into two teams and had them remove their shoes
- Each person starts by stuffing a balloon under their shirt (unless they are actually pregnant), then laces on a pair of shoes with out the aid of a chair. We put shoelaces on flip-flops that had been sanitized so to fit all feet and not be as gross as sharing closed toed shoes. If the balloon pops at any point, you have to blow up a new one.
- Place a small ball (golf ball, ping-pong ball, ball pit ball…) between their knees and walk to a bucket. If it falls out, just put it back in.
- Drop the ball into the bucket with their knees.
- Take off their shoes.
- Walk across a trail of blocks, Legos, or other toys back to the start where they hand off their shoes and balloon to the next teammate.
- First team that has all team members complete the tasks, wins!
If you want to simplify, just time people lacing up shoes on the ground with a ginormous belly in their way, then have them stand up. That was my favorite part.
Baby Food Identification
This one is sure to raise some eyebrows. Either remove labels from store-bought baby food jars (single ingredient is preferred over veggie blends), or put your own puree in used jars. Label each jar with a number and set out with small spoons for serving and score cards with the blank numbered list to fill in.
- Each person may dish some baby food of each type onto their plate to smell, touch, and taste.
- The person who correctly identified the most foods wins.
Bonus, babies at the party actually have something to snack on. Mine loved it!
If you were wondering what mine were: 1= plain yogurt, 2= apple sauce, 3= green beans, 4= carrots, 5= pears, 6= mashed potatoes, 7= rice bay cereal
This isn’t your normal bingo. You pick up your score card and play it the entire time.
- To mark off a square you must hear the mom-to-be say the word
- Do not let the mom-to-be see the score cards or ask for her to say a word
- If you blatantly lead the mom-to-be on for a word, you are lame
- When you get 5 marked off in a line yell “Bingo!” to win
- After winning you can continue playing for fun
Click here to download 30 score cards with baby shower words or easily customize it to your own words.
Click here for a less ink friendly, but fancier one (you will have to supply your own words).
Also a paper game that the guests can pick up as they come in and start playing immediately. Another option is to divide the guests into a few teams and give them 5 min. to fill it out together.
- In each square, write one word or short phrase that starts with the column’s letter and fits the row’s category (example: “Something at THIS baby shower” that starts with “G” could be “guests”, “girls”, “good food”, or “giggles”)
- You cannot use the same word for multiple categories (“Diapers” cannot be both “Something Babies Wear” and “Diaper bag Item” and “Good” cannot be reused for “Good food” at the party and “Good night’s rest” as a reason to hire a babysitter)
- After the allotted time, go around the room stating what each person put for each square. If there are two (or more) people using the same word or phrase, both cross it out.
- If an answer isn’t very satisfactory, any player can say “Vote” and people must do a thumbs up or down as to whether they’ll accept the answer. The majority wins. (is a “Diaper Rash” really “something babies wear”? Is “Lilac colored dresses” too much of a stretch to get their “L”?)
- Whoever has the most uncrossed off squares wins.
Click here to download the score cards.
Gestational Period Guessing
Ever wonder where humans fit in when it comes to gestational periods (how long pregnancies last)? Here’s yet another paper game that guests can work on individually.
- Write your guessed gestational period in the blank for each animal. Animals are listed from fewest days to most days.
- You can use a calculator, but internet searches are not.
- Whoever’s total days added together is closest to correct, wins.
Click here to download the score cards. There are two tabs, one with the answers, one with the blank cards.
Make sure that you don’t blow your budget on prizes! I got 40 prizes for my most recent party for $5.02, or $1.18, depending on how you count it using this method. Prizes included: Gel Pens, Glitter Glue, and Incentive Sticker Sheets.
This is something that I hope no one asks me to do. The only decorations I put effort into are these super cute ones. I am not one to put money into trying to impress people.
My idea of great decorations here is to hit the thrift store, buy all of the non-stained/ non-ripped clothes of the appropriate gender sized newborn to 3T, and string them up like drying laundry across the walls. My local thrift store often has $1 for any clothes you can fit into a grocery sack, so this would be extremely cheap for something that doesn’t get thrown away after the party.