Let's say you've attended or held umpteen bridal showers. And let's say, even though you want to honor the newest happy couple by showering them with good wishes and appropriate gifts, the traditional prenuptial party, with the ho-hum luncheon and gift-opening rites, has begun to pall.
That's how Sharon E. Dlugosch and Florence E. Nelson felt, so they decided to produce a handbook on bridal showers. Their "Bridal Showers: 50 Great Ideas for a Perfect Shower" reflects changing social needs, invites guest participation in the festivities and includes some imaginative ideas for invitations, decoration, food and entertainment. Here are 10 unusual ways to honor the bride and, on some occasions, the bridegroom as well.
1 Shower on a Shoestring. A version of the old-fashioned potluck dinner, this affair asks guests to prepare their favorite recipes. The casserole dish, salad bowl or other receptacle is washed after the repast and presented to the bride-elect as her gift. Guests tuck their favorite recipes into their offerings to give a sampling of what lies ahead.
2 Handy Andy/Hannah Hardware. With the passing of stag parties and "bachelor bashes," here's an alternative that encourages self-help skills. Gifts--such as hammers, saws, drills, ladders or flashlights--
purchased at hardware and building-supply stores are brought to the shower in their original boxes or containers. The suggested cartoon invitation depicts two inept people, struggling to put up pictures. The table might be decorated with a "bouquet" of pipe joints, wrenches and various-size nails, interspersed with flowers. Guests contribute their best handy hint on a 3-by-5 card.
3 Cherished Gift. For close relatives, particularly a maiden aunt or bachelor uncle who wants to ensure that a family's history is passed down, this shower presents photo albums, antiques, monogrammed silver or valued collectibles to the couple. A grandmother's brooch, an ancestor's honorary awards, war medals and newspaper clippings are explained.
4 Calorie Counter. The invitations for this shower might read: "Dieting and Love Are Forever." Though relatives and friends could be included, it's primarily for the calorie-
conscious bridegroom or bride and his or her support group. Hold the affair in a weight-reduction or exercise club. Another possibility is reserving a large table at a health-food restaurant. Dieting slogans, such as "Live on Love, Not on Calories," can be imprinted on refrigerator magnets, aprons and T-shirts.
5 Second Time Around. Either bride or bridegroom--or both--has been married before, and as "second timers" the couple probably have sets of life's necessities, so "No gifts, please" is the order of the day. Yet, you might consider personal gifts, such as magazine subscriptions, theater- or concert-series tickets or perhaps a contribution to a favorite charity. If it's a small wedding, this shower, which may take place either before or after the ceremony, allows the couple to receive the warm wishes of friends and associates. Hold the shower in a fine hotel or country club. Hire a pianist or trio for background music and serve champagne and hors d'oeuvres.
6 Lend a Hand. To give the newlyweds practical assistance their first year, guests present them with "coupons" good for such services as auto repairs, budget or tax planning or yardwork. Alphabetize the names of services to be rendered on file cards. Indicate the best time of year (before April 15 for tax help) and number of times the service will be provided (10 car washes) on the coupon card. Guests fill out additional cards, listing maintenance people they have found reliable. The couple receives a "Help-in-Need" file containing both service contacts and coupons they can redeem for such services as house sitting, swimming pool maintenance, piano tuning and, when the time comes, baby-sitting.
7 Meet the Relatives. To bring together the mothers, fathers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins of two families who might, practically speaking, be strangers, this shower starts by making name tags that explain each guest's relationship to the bride or bridegroom. A buffet, rather than a sit-down repast, encourages mixing. Enlarged baby pictures, scrapbooks, home movies, even awards and trophies familiarize guests with the couple's backgrounds.
8 Tie a Quilt. If the bride belongs to a religious circle, service club or sports group, honor her with a quilt expressing the sentiments of each member. Squares are made by guests at home and partially assembled before the event. The quilt or a wall hanging--also made from individual squares--should have a theme. Suggestions are state flowers, an antique quilt pattern or a love motif.