Baby showers are not a thing in France, though like everything American, I did discover they are becoming a little bit trendy among trendier crowds than mine. Who knows if they will soon be ubiquitous like wedding photo booths, or if they’ll go the way of Halloween.
In fact the French are mostly superstitious that it’s a bad idea to give a gift before the baby arrives, though lots of people don’t really believe that. It’s a common enough attitude though that I wasn’t counting on having a baby shower. But my friend Maggie almost immediately raised the question when she learned I was having a baby, and so we set out to make it happen.
The guest list was a mix of people who already knew what baby showers were (=Americans or people familiar with American culture) and people who had no clue but thought it sounded fun (the other French people).
I hesitated on whether to say no gifts or not, because I was inviting people to whom I hadn’t given anything when their babies were born—either because I didn’t know them very well yet or because I was just that dumb person who doesn’t get that it’s really nice to give a gift when a baby is born. (Kind of like how I didn’t realize till my own wedding that you can give a wedding gift even if you can’t make it to the wedding.)
In the end we left the question of gifts wide open and I let Maggie field questions about gifts, since both our e-mail addresses were on the invite. I did order real invitations which was fun and festive, including little “You’re invited!” stickers (in English) for the envelopes.
The shower was pretty low-key as far as showers go because there were no expectations since most people didn’t know what it was. We planned four activities:
- Decorate cupcakes
- Couple and baby trivia quiz
- Match the baby photo to the guest (I got them ALL RIGHT)
- Measure the belly
We had the shower at 2 pm at my place, which meant no one was hungry and the cupcakes were plenty as far as food went. We made a last-minute punch with vanilla ice cream which some of the French guests found very strange, but I had other Americans present to explain the concept of an ice cream float.
We decorated a little bit, putting down paper table cloths and blue table runners, buying pretty paper plates, but didn’t go all out by any means, and it was a uni-generational and small party so nothing needed to be very formal. Almost everyone did bring a gift and some of them were handmade which was really touching. I didn’t buy a special dress or anything though I did wear lipstick. We made little favors of candy bags for the guests and gave out condoms as prizes. I actually didn’t take any pictures except of the cupcakes!
So you’ll just have to believe me that the rest of it was fun and cute. I’m really glad we did it—everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was nice to see everyone again, especially some people I don’t see very often, before baby arrives in about a month (theoretically).