The hardest part of 2020 has been coming up on monumental events and trying to figure out how to continue to highlight and make them special, while also being safe and honoring the space that we are in.
With COVID-19 numbers increasing, gathering to celebrate special moments like landmark birthdays, weddings and engagements, or a new baby coming to town can be complicated.
When I found out I was pregnant in Spring, we were in our first round of COVID restrictions. I was slow to get excited and didn't really even want to have a baby shower because I had just had a baby the year before, and upon finding out we were having a girl, felt it wasn't really necessary.
Fast forward to late summer, early fall, taking the time to celebrate this blessing was becoming even more important as so many of our other special events and celebrations were being stripped away. In partnership with my sister, we planned a fun little pandemic safe in-person function, only to send out invites and have our entire plan fall apart just one week before. We had a couple of options, move forward with a dreaded Zoom baby shower, or cancel it altogether?
My sister, Melinda, and I got on a call with my dear friend Molly and came up with a plan and in 3 days, we put together what became one of the most intentional and special moments of 2020 for me.
If you are like me, there is no doubt that you have logged plenty of hours on Zoom and much of those have been by way of meetings, so thinking about having a baby shower and what that could look like both excited and frustrated me. I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to connect, that people would get bored, and that it wouldn't have the same appeal that a traditional shower does, but what I learned that afternoon is that it's not supposed to and can still be just as special and impactful with a plan.
It's important in times like this that we celebrate, and we take the time to make monumental moments like this special, even if how we go about it has to be adjusted. I know had I not done this, I would have lived to regret it because every baby, no matter when they come or the gender deserves to be celebrated as the gift they are and so I am so thankful that we did just that.
If you find yourself in a similar situation over the coming months, here are a few tips and tricks for planning an intimate and impactful Zoom baby shower.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR PLANNING A IMPACTFUL & INTIMATE ZOOM BABY SHOWER
Create an intentional guest list: Think through you guest list and take advantage of the virtual possibilities. For me this meant that many of the people who couldn't attend my first two showers got a chance to be a part of this one. I was able to bring people from all walks of my life, different countries, industries together in one place, to connect and celebrate this very special occasion with me. I invited close to 70 people and about 50% of those people showed up. Plan for attrition and invite anyone who is special and matters to you - thats the beauty of a virtual event, capacity is the least of your worries.
If time permits, send a package ahead of time with instructions to prepare for the occasion. If there is enough notice, email or mail out all instructions to plan for your special event, wardrobe requests, games instructions, special menus or a fun trinket to get your guest excited.
Pick a host(s). Have a person(s) who can read the room, keep the mood up and serve as the host of the event so that you are able to enjoy and respond to comments and be fully present in what is taking place. That person will have your back, anticipate the lulls and help to redirect, if necessary.
Have an opening mixer for your guest. Give your guest a way to connect with you as the common link. My Zoom baby shower started with a baby picture of me. Many people hadn't seen childhood photos of me so it became a fun conversation starter as they were entering the Zoom. From there, a fun multi choice quiz regarding facts about me started to circulate and it was fun as the guest of honor watching my friends and family try to guess the correct answers and being the one to share which were right and wrong. I think everyone learned something new about me that day. We also took time to do introductions, which was a really fun way to see who was in the room.
Decorate a small place in your house to host and get into the spirit. Just because its not an in-person event, doesnt mean you shouldn't put a little extra effort in. We decorated a small area in the home to make it feel festive for the shower. We also had a small cake made and got dressed up. It was nice to arrive to the online event and to get as close to a real celebration as we could. Creating a celebratory corner of the house helps to bring in the festive spirit.
Pick one fun game. Baby showers are notorious for games, but finding one that will successfully work on an online platform can be challenging. Molly suggested we do a scavenger hunt and it was a major hit. We broke the guests into groups and they worked together to find random and unique items in their household for a common list. The group that came back first with all items collected won. It was super fun to watch the groups strategize and to see the laughter and joy, AND compeititive spirits that came from that activity. Baby shower games are often a highlight, you can still have them on a online platform and deliver digital gifts like gift cards and certificates or custom items that can be sent in the mail to the winners.
Give guests a way to create a memory for the baby. At in person baby showers there are photos, and cards and gifts and things that can be collected at the end, but it might be challenging to think about how to make your shower unique and to create a memory that can be saved for baby. Create space and time and think about what would stand out as special and unique for you and baby for years to come. We decided to make a baby shower memory book and encouraged all guest to write a letter, special blessing, scripture, word for baby and to send a headshot that can be turned into something tangible. We sat aside 10 minutes during the shower for this to happen and had guests email those items over. At the end of the shower we had 43 and that will make for a really beautiful and stunning book and memory for baby to look back on and appreciate.
Have a plan for gifts. Whether its a registry, or a monetary gift, have a plan for how guests can support and be a blessing to you. In leui of gifts, my family chose to start a Go Fund Me where guest could make a donation to support an important non-profit that we love in the country of Haiti. If guests still wanted to do something personal, we asked them to make a contribution toward the new baby's education fund. Be creative and make it work for you.
Open the floor (allow people to share their thoughts, well wishes and blessing). Give people a chance to shower you with love, positive words, hope and encouragement. In times like these, it is that verbal love and appreciation that keeps us going and strengthens us when times get tough. This also gives your guest a chance to see your impact on the lives of others and get to know you better in all the ways you wear your special hats.
Have a strong close. Give your guest a unique way to end the call, whether that's offering some sort of call to action, a beautiful poem or a prayer time (which is what we did) where guest are able to feel the event come to the end without an abrupt ending - think about how you want your guests to feel when its over and create a close out that meets that need.
I have been blessed to have a massive baby shower (for Wisdom), a sprinkle (for Courage) and this Zoom baby shower for New New, and I loved each of them so much for so many different reasons, but this one meant so much because it really required the heart and commitment of so many to make it happen.
It's easy to show up to an "in person" event, but much harder to follow up on a virtual one, so it meant so much that so many of my friends and family from around the world stop their lives to make sure I felt special, cared for and valued.
I also loved how intimate it was even in spite of our inability to be together. It felt sacred, celebratory and special. I also loved that I didn't have to consider budget or food, things that would likely cut the list down and with intentional activites it can be as long or as short as you need it to be as long as everyting you do makes sense.
It was just the boost I needed to grab hold of the big shift coming into our lives and the encouragment I needed to finish this pregnancy out strong.
Have you had to pivot during this time of pandemic? Have you had any landmark events, birthdays that you had to celebrate differently from before? What did you do?
Did you find this blog post helpful? If so, let me know in the comments and most importantly, never let what's happening in the world, rob you of the precious moments that are happening in YOUR world. Big or small, everything is worth celebrating, so do just that.
With strength, courage and wisdom,