There are so many things to love about being pregnant. For many moms-to-be, a major pregnancy perk is celebrating with family and friends at their baby shower. But with the COVID-19 crisis looming over us, many expectant women and their baby shower hosts are finding themselves obligated to cancel their events to honor social distancing practices.
“Although it’s extremely disappointing to cancel an event like a baby shower, which marks such a huge milestone in your life, keeping yourself and your guests healthy and safe has to be the number one concern on everyone’s mind,” says Lindsey Mensch, owner of Lili Marie Parties, a Chicago-based event planning service. “Baby showers are designed to bring people together in an intimate setting to share hugs and sit closely as we catch up on each other’s lives. Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing right now. As disappointing as this is, canceling a shower will result in keeping your baby safe.”
Have to cancel your baby shower and not sure how to proceed? Read on for tops on how to inform guests of the change, how to get as much of your money back as possible and how to still celebrate the exciting arrival of your little one—just from a safe distance.
Alerting Guests of Changes
Once you’ve made the decision to not move forward with your baby shower as originally planned, it’s important to let your guests know immediately. “The best practice for alerting guests of any cancellation or postponement would be for the host to reach out via email or phone once a decision has been made,” says Katherine Kommer, owner and lead planner at Baby Showers Inc, a boutique event planning company in New York City. “If guests were initially sent a digital invitation—such as Evite, Paperless Post or GreenVelope—the host should send a message to inform through the same platform.”
While an email is often the best way to get the message out quickly, you can then follow up with a phone call to add a more personal touch. “A phone call will also give you a chance to catch up with each guest,” Mensch says. “Even though it’s not quite the same as seeing each other in person, it will still allow you to have some of the closeness with your friends and family you would have gotten at your shower.”
Aside from the disappointment of not being able to celebrate with your loved ones, another major consequence of canceling or postponing a baby shower is the potential financial loss.
Kommer suggests reaching out to your vendors as soon as possible to discuss options and solutions. If you’ve already signed contracts with certain vendors, such as the venue, catering, photographer or florist, reread your contract before calling to familiarize yourself with any cancellation clauses. “Keep in mind that not all vendors will be as flexible as others in terms of cancelling or returning prepaid deposits,” she says. “However, some may be understanding, given the circumstances, and willing to negotiate partial refunds.”
Keep in mind that these vendors are in the same position as you. “They’re facing an unprecedented situation, one they have never encountered before,” Mensch says. “Most vendors are figuring things out day by day and trying to find a solution that is best for their clients while keeping their business and employees in mind.” With events being canceled, they will have no income coming in for the foreseeable future and may not have the cash on hand to offer a refund.
If your vendor can’t refund your deposit, ask for it to be applied toward a future event—either a postponed baby shower, if your timeline allows, or even an amazing first birthday party for baby. Once baby is born you can reach out to the vendors to get the date on the calendar, since with so many events being rescheduled, dates will be filling up quickly. Scheduling a party a year out will give you better odds that your vendors will be available.
Of course, putting together a baby shower doesn’t just involve paying vendors—you’ve likely purchased decorations, prizes for games and party favors. See what items you can return, understanding that there will be things you can’t, especially if you bought custom items from retailers like Etsy. “The party favors may say ‘Baby Shower’ or have the date of the shower. Contact the Etsy seller and let them know you have to cancel your shower and ask how much it will cost for them to print you new tags or labels to replace the current ones,” Mensch says. “A candle with a custom baby shower sticker can easily be turned into a party favor for a first birthday or a Sip & See by simply replacing the label.”
Alternative Baby Shower Ideas
Even though you won’t be able to party together in person, luckily there are alternative ways to celebrate mom-to-be and baby! These not only allow you to touch base with loved ones during an especially difficult time, but they also help keep a primary goal of a baby shower alive—that is, showering the mom-to-be with gifts! While COVID-19 might have most of us holed up at home, baby is still coming, coronavirus or no, and parents-to-be still need essential supplies.
“Luckily, we live in a world where shipping gifts is something we do even when not practicing social distancing,” Mensch says. “Rerouting gifts will be fairly easy to rectify. The option to email gift cards from the stores you are registered at is also an easy option. If guests have already purchased your gift, they can mail it to your home or leave it on your doorstep.”
Throw a virtual baby shower
“A virtual baby shower is a wonderful option to allow guests to celebrate from a distance,” Kommer says, and there are plenty of online video chat platforms out there that you can use for the job. She recommends WebBabyShower as an excellent online service that offers step-by-step instructions for organizing a virtual baby shower. It even allows you to customize your site, invitations, guestbook and include links to your baby registry, games and more.
Be sure to schedule the virtual event at a time that works for everyone and on a video chat platform that even your less tech-savvy guests can manage, Kommer advises. Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts or Facebook Live are all good live video options. Right before your virtual shower, test your internet connection and send out a reminder alert to guests who plan to join.
The event itself can more or less mirror what a baby shower would normally consist of. You can encourage guests to dress up in festive outfits, plan to play a few baby shower games that others can participate in from their own homes (quizzes and fill-in-the-blank games work nicely for that) and even prompt people to raise a drink of their choosing to the mom-to-be. “Try to still make it a special day,” Mensch says.
Food is often the centerpiece of any party, and it will be notably missing from a virtual baby shower. But don’t let that faze you. After the event, Mensch suggests the mom-to-be sit down at home for a nice brunch in honor of the occasion. “You can FaceTime or Skype in one or two of your closest people to join you,” she says. “Ask them in advance to also have lunch or brunch ready so you can virtually share the meal together.”
Host a ‘Sip & See’
If going virtual isn’t your thing, another option is to schedule a Sip & See for a later date after baby is born, by which time COVID-19 will have hopefully died down and social distancing guidelines will have eased up.
Not familiar with what a Sip & See is? Just as it sounds, it’s usually an intimate gathering at the new mom’s home where guests come to sip light refreshments and see the newborn. “We reached out to our clients and polled expectant women regarding their preference on this decision, and the vast majority said they would prefer to celebrate in-person with loved ones versus a virtual event,” Kommer says. “In this case, the host can begin some preliminary planning, but wait until after the baby is born to set a date.” Perhaps some of the vendors you were originally going to hire for your shower can be rescheduled, if their availability allows for it.
Enjoy a ‘Shower-by-Mail’
Many people cherish seeing the mom-to-be open her baby shower gifts, which becomes much harder when everyone isn’t bringing gifts to an in-person event. One way around that? A “shower-by-mail,” as Kommer calls it. “If the decision has been made to cancel or postpone the event, the host or mom-to-be can send out a message to guests requesting that they send their gifts,” Kommer says. “As gifts are received, the mom-to-be can reach out to the friend and family member via a video chat to open the gift!”
Throughout the process of canceling or postponing your baby shower, it’s perfectly normal to feel frustrated and sad. “Take a deep breath and try to keep things in perspective,” Mensch says. “Although you feel very disappointed and stressed, the end result of canceling your shower is keeping yourself, friends, family and most of all your baby healthy. Keep reminding yourself that we’re all on the same team and all trying to get through this together.” This difficult period will eventually come to an end, and when it does, people will be looking to celebrate—and what better occasion than the arrival of a new baby? As Mensch says, “whatever kind of party you choose to throw will be filled with more love and joy than you can even imagine.”
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