When I decided to give birth in Paris, I resigned myself to the fact that there would be no baby shower. Baby showers are a North American tradition. In France, gifts are typically given at the time of birth; a baby shower would mean twice the gifts — a costly proposition for your nearest and dearest. (There’s some evidence that French mothers-to-be are adopting this tradition by making it more of a get-together rather than a gift-giving venture, but for now, there isn’t even a French translation for ‘baby shower.’)
My predicament was compounded by the fact that most of my friends live in Canada. At the very least, the event logistics were problematic, if not impossible. But my mother, intrepid as she is, contacted two of my friends and set the wheels in motion to host a virtual baby shower.
Here are five reasons why my virtual baby shower was a big success:
Designate two people as organizers
When organizing a long-distance baby shower, don’t underestimate the benefit of a second set of hands. They can help coordinate people’s schedules, get everybody set up on the hosting platform (Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.), and plan the virtual festivities!
Online registries, gift cards, and group gifts
There are a few options when it comes to showering the mom-to-be with gifts. An online registry is a no-brainer— many expecting parents do this anyway. Gift cards are also a simple solution. My guests opted for a group gift, and my mother (who lives in the same city as me) purchased the item and coordinated payment between all the guests and the vendor.
Host friends from around the world, but give yourself a lot of lead time
Do you have friends living in different countries that wouldn’t be able to attend an IRL shower? Now they can! But between busy weekday schedules and differing time zones, leave most of the organizing (and the actual event) for the weekends. It’ll take longer to get all your ducks in a row, but it’ll be worth it on the big day.
Keep group calls small and spaced out
Since this event is virtual, your shower doesn’t need to happen all at once— imagine the chaos of twenty people trying to get a word in here and there. In order to chat with everyone who made time to celebrate with me, I spaced my calls out over two weeks and broke them into smaller groups according to workplace, friendship circles, neighbourhood, and other communities. The numbers rarely exceeded four people.
Retain the element of surprise
One of the best things about my baby shower was that there was still room for me to be delighted. I was told when I would have a call, but not who I would be talking to. Each new group was a total surprise!
I’ve said this again and again, but I’m truly fortunate to have family and friends who found the loopholes in my overseas existence to help me celebrate my pregnancy. I wouldn’t hesitate to host a virtual baby shower for my friends who are beginning their journey into motherhood as well.