Many brides-to-be have more than one shower before their wedding—and anyone can play hostess. If you're planning on throwing a shower, you might want to ask the bride if anyone else will be hosting another get-together, then talk with the bride (or contact the host directly) to plan varied themes and guest lists—the sister-in-law throws the family shower, the best work bud throws the office shower, and so on—for each one. (A theme can prevent multiple-toaster-syndrome, too.) Here are some theme ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
A Room of One's Own
Choose a room (bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen, for example) and ask your guests to bring corresponding gifts: Think spice rack for the kitchen or an alarm clock for the bedroom. Assigning a different room to each invitee ensures variety.
At one shower we heard about, for example, the hosts put the blueprints for the engaged couple's house on the invitations and colored in a different room for each person. The guests knew which hue to choose because the shade of the room on the invitation matched the color scheme of that room's decorations. Whether or not you confer with your architect, guests can always consult your bridal registry for your appliance, color, and pattern preferences.
So the happy couple's found the quaintest house in town—but it needs, shall we say, a facelift. Then consider a fixer-upper party, where the guests gather at the twosome's new abode to help dust away cobwebs and repair those creaky stairs. Everyone's gift to the couple is time and elbow grease—but other great presents can include discount coupons for handymen, gift certificates to paint stores or hardware stores, and tools such as rakes and hammers.
If matching sets of anything have never been the bride-to-be's style, why start now? If the bride has really eclectic tastes, follow the lead of a shower hostess who compiled a list of all the garage sales in the vicinity of the shower on the party day. The hostess handed this out to guests, who revved their engines and took off on a yard-sale treasure hunt.
At the end of the day, the guests gathered at the hostess' house and provided great stories, along with housewares that fit the bride-to-be's home style
Is the lucky lady a gym rat? Throw a fitness party, and as a great shower gift, extend her membership.
So let's say the bride-to-be already has all the toasters, pans, and bath towels she wants. Then zero in on her hobbies. If she's a music lover, ask that family members and friends add to her CD or original Elvis vinyl collection. Climbing enthusiasts can finally receive all the carabiners they've wished for in all their dream colors—perhaps ones to match all the sweatshirts and sneakers in their closet.
A Wishing Well
Guests drop a small, unwrapped gift into a covered basket as they enter the party. The goal: a collective pool of useful odds and ends for the bride. The possibilities are endless. Shower guests can drop change into the well for the bride's favorite charity or help her save for a big purchase, such as a new video camera or stereo. One host chose wine for the wishing well, so friends could help stock the couple's wine cellar. The wishing well is a fun way to give small gifts—whether the couple needs a vegetable peeler or wants to donate funds for rain-forest preservation.
A Tisket, a Tasket, a Gift Basket
It works like this: Each guest—or team of guests—brings a basket, box, or container filled with imaginative presents based on a particular theme. You might suggest the following:
Bath basket: Guests can fill a cute wastepaper basket with nice soaps, bath salts, loofah sponges, fragrant lotions, and luxurious bath oils.
Game basket: This can feature favorite board games, like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit, with a couple of packs of cards for good measure.
Gardening basket: A flowerpot can hold a few gardening tools, gloves, and bulbs.
Beach baskets: Beach towels, sunscreen, waterproof plastic camera, and a little light reading can fit neatly in a large sand pail.