The Wrap UpStep #8 of the 8-Step Planning Guide
Wow, you made it to this point! The party is planned, everything has been purchased, the food has been made, the decorations set up and it is probably time to look at the baby shower itself, right? Wrong. At this point, I am going to skip ahead because the party itself really does need its own Good Hostess's Guide to Surviving a Baby Shower. Let’s look at the end of the party and what you need to do for the party to go off without a hitch.
At this point, if you were actually reading this during the party, your guests should be slowly trickling out the door. Sometimes you get a mass exodus and other times you get a steady flow of traffic heading towards your door. Sometimes it is more wonderful to see the guests leaving than it was to see them come, but when they leave it can become a very hectic period for you. You will need to get up each time, say thanks for coming, hand out gift bags, coats and whatever else, all without getting in the way. Chances are you will have to keep returning to that area to bid guests farewell several times in a ten minute span while other guests will still require attention in the main shower area.
Here are some helpful tips:
First thing that I always suggest is to have a table set up with the gift bags, and prizes located near the entrance area. Try not to be right in the front hallway unless you have a foyer but have it where the guests will pass when they leave. Have an easily read name of each guest on each individual gift bag and remind them near the end of the party not to forget their gifts and to also collect the prizes that are located right beside the gifts. Having a clipboard listing who won what prize will help with the confusion of collecting prizes as well. You may also consider having a couple extra favors just in case unexpected guests arrive.
Since everyone is collecting their own gift bags and prizes, you can spend the time thanking guests and also distributing coats. Another helpful tip is to keep the coats where they are accessible for the guests to retrieve themselves. Empty out a front closet for the party and have the guests hang their coats in there or if you opt to place them in a separate room, try to keep it close to the exit and on the same floor as the party so you are not climbing up and down the stairs repeatedly.
Generally, when you host a baby shower, or any party, you will have a few guests that refuse to leave. They chat with the expectant mom and each other while their behinds stay firmly planted in the chairs. There is a grace period of time, about 30 minutes after the party has ended, before you can start sending out hints that it’s about time that your guests should be leaving. The best way to avoid guests who stay past the appointed hour is to set up a few things before the shower starts. Things like scheduling the time when the expectant mom will be picked up, or your spouse and kids arriving home. Usually once mom leaves, everyone else will leave as well, and most guests will naturally depart when normal life comes back into the picture. If the expectant mom isn’t expected to leave until much later, start getting busy. Turn off the music, wrap up the food, and start cleaning. Most guests will take that as a cue to leave. Don’t sit down and relax because that will open up time for conversation (unless that is indeed what you want). Lastly, get the expectant mom to bail you out, especially if you are the one who has to drive her home. No one will have hurt feelings if she mentions that she’s getting really tired and would love to go home to rest. Since you are driving her, you have no choice but to comply with her wishes and drive her home.
That brings us to getting the expectant mom and how to get all her plunder home. Some items may be fairly large and if you don’t mind keeping some of it at your house to be picked up at her discretion there isn’t too much of a problem. Most times though, you will have to figure out how to get the items from point A, your house, to point B, the nursery. If she can do it herself, no problem, but if her vehicle is too small or she doesn’t have a vehicle, it is time to lend a hand, a car or to volunteer someone to help. You will almost certainly need someone to carry the heavy objects, and spouses are great for that duty.
When it comes to cleaning up, it is best if you tidy up as the party goes along. Wrapping paper is picked up as presents are unwrapped, food is tucked away as all the guests are relaxing and talking, and dishes are placed in the dishwasher or thrown out if they are paper or plastic. Doing small cleanups will cut back on the time that you have to spend cleaning up after the party. If the party is really big and the mess is even bigger, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Lastly, when you are cleaning up, more times than not you will find a lost item or two. Place the items on a table near the door or somewhere else where they will be remembered by you. Most people will call when they find that things are missing, but if they don’t, send out a group email listing the item that was left. If no one responds to the email, the item wasn’t that important and you are free to dispose of them as you want after about a month or two. I would give it at least a month solely for the reason that people could be away, and not everyone checks their email on a regular basis.
Now that the party is done, and the thank you notes and gifts are firmly in the expectant mother’s hands, it’s time for you to relax and maybe pamper yourself with a spa day.