Tips for having your baby shower on Martha’s Vineyard


Whether you believe in baby showers before the baby arrives or a “Sip & See” tea party afterward, showers are a necessity these days to help new parents get started with all the things needed to bring home baby. Long before I had my own children, I’d attend showers and “Ooh” and “Aah” over all the adorable clothes, bedding, stuffed animals, while being clueless about the gadgets and things I’d never seen before. So if there’s a shower in your future, here’s the rundown on what one needs to plan and host the party, and where guests can go to pick up those special items for the baby or the lucky parents.

As with all parties, the theme, feel, and focus is as varied in style as the moms-to-be. From cozy potlucks held in someone’s house, to places like Farm Neck Golf Course or the Beach Plum Inn who can provide the setting and food, the sky’s the limit.

To assure the celebration is a success, proper planning is the key, especially during the Vineyard’s busier seasons. The party planning should start with the generous host (usually a family member or close friend) obtaining tidbits of information from the mom-to-be, like where she has a gift registry.

Following the trend of parents knowing the baby’s gender ahead of time, showers these days are usually not surprises. If there’s a theme or color (i.e. baby’s room decor) that is chosen, it can be incorporated starting with the style of invitations and extend throughout all the details. A friend told me of a backyard shower where a clothesline was set up and all the guests were asked to decorate bibs and onesies with fabric paint, and the cake was also made to look like a bib.

You’re invited

Three weeks notice for mailed invitations is average, according to Martha Stewart’s website. Island resources for customized printing is available at daRosa’s or Tisbury Printer, or invitations can be bought in packages from retailers such as Rosebuds and Mardell’s, which is where you’d also find balloons, streamers, some favors, and more. Gift wrapping, bags, and greeting cards are also plentiful from Granite, Bunch of Grapes, Secret Garden, and from many of the gift stores mentioned within this article.

The menu

Next comes food, cakes, and flowers. Cakes by Liz owner, Liz Kane, has done many a baby shower cake and cookies that have been used as favors. She helps clients with the wording on the cakes, noting that funnier sentiments have included, “Happy Labor Day,” though “Best Wishes” is the norm. The Scottish Bakehouse is a good source for allergen-free baked goods, gluten-free cakes for example. M.V. Florist in Vineyard Haven is a great year-round source for bouquets and arrangements, whose flowers are also Fair Trade Certified. The owner, Ellen O’Brien, is “Glad to work to any budget” and will deliver, too. Down-Island Cronig’s is reliable for a nice selection of fresh flowers, also.

If hosts want to do their own food, but keep their prep to a minimal, Stop & Shop deli platters, salads, and cakes can be pre-ordered, while Cash & Carry in Vineyard Haven is my favorite last minute source for frozen finger foods and appetizers, quiches, desserts and fruits, a fresh mesclun salad mix, and tons of plastic/paper goods in many colors. Don’t forget bags of ice or their K-cup coffee/tea selection. Jon Averill can also order items he doesn’t always stock, but would need a few days notice.

His and hers

Though most baby showers are still women-only, a Jack & Jill trend celebrating the happy expecting couple has emerged, according to many businesses I spoke to. Champagne toasts and the like are more common for these parties, so if stemware is needed, Tilton or Big Sky party rentals are at your service.

Local registries

Kiddo’s, now in Oak Bluffs, and Rainy Day are the premier baby registry spots on-Island. Danielle Bailey at Kiddos is wonderfully organized with a getting-started packet for parents and will put a copy of your registry on her website to take phone orders from off-Island shower guests. Swaddle cloths made by Aden & Anais are flying off her shelves, and Taggie blankets are always popular. They have a nice assortment of diaper bags or “clutch style” changing pads that are also “Dad friendly,” according to resident Andrea Olsen, who continued with, “My husband also appreciated the nautical baby items from various places on-Island.”

Heather Kochin, owner of Rainy Day, also has a registry designed by category with brands listed as examples. She sells a lot of gifts for moms, star-shaped paper lantern lights in light blue or pink with clouds for baby’s room, has a good selection of baby clothing and gifts, and currently has a sweet display of Jelly Cat stuffed animals that most children could not resist.

No thanks necessary

Worth of mention is guest entertainment at showers. I’ve personally been to ones that have included tea leaf readings at tea party themed showers, or crafts such as scrapbooking a few alphabet pages for baby’s first ABC book, with the host supplying the markers, stickers, and such with a photo album ready to insert the pages. Baby Bingo and index cards ready for “3 tips for new parents” can also pass the time while waiting for present opening to begin.

Last weekend I attended an evening shower for a friend hosted by Jane Chandler at her home in Edgartown, which was adorned with flickering candles and fresh flowers. Mother-to-be Megan McDonald loved the new clothes, saying her April baby is bound to be “the best-dressed little man,” and unique gifts found locally, such as a Susan Branch designed ABC rug from The Beach House.

Gifts ranged from the basics of diapers, soaps, and wash cloths, (which can be found quickly at Leslie’s or Stop & Shop) to creative “promise gifts” of babysitting, meals, custom quilts, and so on. Megan’s shower ended with a gift that captured the attention of every mom in the room: Jane announced that the recorded notes another person jotted down during gift opening “would now be ripped up! We love you and want your final weeks of pregnancy to be relaxing. No thank-you cards are necessary!”

Anne Caldwell lives in Vineyard Haven with her husband Glen and two preschool aged daughters, Sammy and Julia. Her professional backgrounds include art, technology, and education. Anne is looking forward to meeting her best friend’s first baby who is due any day now.