By Deborah Ziff
I recently co-hosted a “baby sprinkle.” In the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to admit upfront that I’d never heard of a baby sprinkle until a few weeks ago (this despite the fact that the New York Times was on top of it two years ago). So if you’re like me, and you’ve fallen shamefully behind on your baby shower trends — the sprinkle is a smaller, less elaborate version of the baby shower for second, third or fourth (or more) pregnancies.
I wanted to do something to celebrate my friend Katy’s second pregnancy. Katy has 2-year-old twins, Emma and Daniel. Emma was diagnosed a year ago with a chromosomal disorder, autism, brain damage from birth and resulting cerebral palsy. Katy has been very open about Emma’s struggles on her blog and she was featured in a newspaper story. Given the day-to-day stress of raising 2-year-old twins — let alone 2-year-old twins with special needs — I figured Katy hadn’t had much time to celebrate herself or the new baby.
Katy is a boisterous, funny, extroverted British woman who is usually the one planning parties. She threw an elaborate 30th birthday party (it involved a citywide scavenger hunt) for me and another friend and was known to rent bouncy houses for her backyard even before she had children. But hosting a party for “the planner” can sometimes be tricky.
Now for a word about me: I’m not fancy. I held my wedding reception in a lodge in the North Woods of Wisconsin where guests amused themselves during dinner by taking photos with the animal heads mounted to the walls. My husband and I—ages 36 and 33, respectively—were very pleased with ourselves when we recently bought an ACTUAL COUCH after sitting on a futon since college. So the idea of a no-frills baby shower is right up my alley.
As I planned the party, I realized that the expectations of a sprinkle are not as well-defined as that of a shower. Or, as the Times put it, “sprinkles are not without controversy.” (Move over Benghazi!) The Times goes on: “Guests directed to spend money on gifts yet again might feel resentful, and, on the other side, moms-to-be can feel uncomfortable with the expectation that they do so.”
Yikes! Luckily, I had two good friends/co-hosts who helped me navigate my way through the (apparently) pitfall-filled world of baby sprinkles.
So here’s what I learned about how to host a baby sprinkle:
Make it about mama: Since second-time moms already have the basics, make mama be the focus of gifts, instead of baby. In Katy’s case, she had not one, but two, of everything in the whole wide babyverse. Mommy Sanest has already run a thoughtful list of gift ideas for second pregnancies. I got Katy some fragrant, locally-made soaps and perfume, and threw in an eco-friendly wooden rattle for the baby (all from a cool store in Forest Park called Refind Home).
Set the tone early: We chose to do an Evite, rather than a snail mail invite, to keep the expense down and to keep it casual. The invitation asked guests to “join us to celebrate Katy,” rather than welcoming baby. Katy already had a registry with items for the new nursery and practical items like diapers and wipes, so we included that in the invitation.
Keep it casual: Katy’s baby shower for her first pregnancy included lunch at a private club in Madison. We held this party at a friend’s house. One of my co-hosts, Debbie, got a little happy with the Cricut craft cutting machine (I also had never heard of this until the party – remember, I’m not fancy!) so the decorations wound up being really beautiful, but also all homemade.
Keep it small: We ended up having a small intimate gathering of about seven people. It was perfect. We felt totally comfortable talking about the less glamorous side of having a baby. At one point, in the midst of talking about the possibility of, erm, going No. 2 during delivery, someone astutely noted, “So this is the difference between a sprinkle and a shower.”
Skip the games: I’m actually a fan of this rule for regular baby showers, too. (Seriously. No one wants to eat chocolate from a diaper!) For an activity, we bought some wooden blocks for guests to decorate with stickers, paint and paper. The idea is that the new baby will be able to play with them after she’s born.
Stop worrying and have fun: If some of the invited guests decided not to come because they just_couldn’t_take_one_more_shower, so be it. That’s their choice. More cupcakes for the rest of us.
Deborah Ziff is a freelance writer, ex-trombone player, and hedgehog enthusiast in the Chicago area. She’s also mom to a 19-month-old daughter and a labradoodle named Franklin.