Backyard garden party baby shower

30 June 2021

Earlier this year (probably a few weeks after we realized we were having babies two weeks apart!) I floated the idea of hosting a joint garden party to Nancy. I wasn’t picturing a baby shower per se – certainly not in the traditional sense of a guest of honor, gifts, and games – but the opportunity just seemed ripe to celebrate spring, new babies, access to vaccines, and a new season of life with COVID on the wane here! Nancy was game, and we quickly roped in our friend Sam, too. She completed the pregnant hostess triumvirate: three summer babies in six weeks!

After much back-and-forth on dates, we eventually settled on a Wednesday in early June. We were aiming for a weekend night, but I’m actually happy we landed midweek – I think we got a lot more “yes” RSVPs that way, and it was something special to look forward to! Nancy agreed to host us in her backyard, and I happily took the lead on all things planning: after a year and a half with no group celebrations, I was thrilled to have an excuse to put together an inspiration board and pull together details.

Of course, John’s injury threatened to throw a wrench in the plans, but thanks to keeping things as simple as possible and lots of help from my parents on the home front, we pulled it off! We ended up having the sweetest evening, and I’d love to share a few photos and details, if you’d like to see.

After choosing a date, our first order of business was putting together a guest list. This was one of my very favorite parts of the whole celebration: with three hostesses, we invited three interlocking friend groups whose edges were blurred in the most delightful way. Even though I didn’t know all of the guests well before the party, I knew they’d all be lovely people if they were friends of my friends! It was neat to see gals who had never met mixing, mingling, and getting along famously.

We used Paperless Post for an evite (asking friends to wear their favorite floral dress or garden party attire!), and I kept track of details and to dos in a Google Doc so we could all access it easily. The evening itself was very simple: we gathered at 6:30pm, had a 45-minute or so “cocktail hour” of chatting with drinks and a charcuterie platter, and then sat down to dinner. We didn’t get up again until 9:45, when I looked at my phone and realized we should probably start packing it in! I had originally considered incorporating an activity, like planting pots to take home, but should have known simple conversation with friends who hadn’t gotten together in so long would be more than enough to fill our time.

To seat everyone, I used a folding table of mine and borrowed two from a friend. We did rent 16 chairs from a local company, which was totally worth it at $45. The tables were covered with these block print linens – I already had one, and purchased a second (which I plan to gift to a friend on some future occasion!). Since it was a garden party, I splurged and ordered two centerpieces from Wylde, then sprinkled in potted plants from our favorite nursery (they all got planted in our yard post-party!), lots of tea lights and candles, and a few piles of limes and clementines. My friend Katie (who just opened the SWEETEST citrus-themed Etsy shop!) contributed the orange garlands and place cards.

You may even be able to spot a brand-new product (THAT I LOVE) from Cultivate launching this fall – I got permission to test it out with this crew, and it was a big hit! EEP!

For the place settings, I went with plastic plates in aqua and green, pale pink plastic bowls, pastel flatware (also in green and blue), and patterned paper napkins. At $.50 each, the plates and bowls were almost cheaper than a paper or flimsier plastic version, and now our family has an outdoor dining set to enjoy! We avoided the need for cups by serving sparkling canned drinks like LaCroix.

Food-wise, we also kept things simple by ordering three family meals from Cava, a Mediterranean chain. Guests were able to mix their own greens or grains bowls, adding in things like hummus, tzatziki, cabbage slaw, tomatoes and cucumbers, and pickled red onion. On the side, we had plenty of pita (actually, a laughably large amount) and fresh fruit. We re-plated everything into our collection of serving bowls and stands, and it looked cute grouped together on the table! And tasted delicious, too.

For dessert, we passed around Tillamook ice cream sandwiches (YUM!) and also cut into a small cake and sang to Sam – it was her birthday the day before!

Though we kept things as simple as we could, the logistics still felt like a lot at times. There’s one thing I’m really grateful I did, though: I used vacation time to end work a few hours early on the day of the party. Instead of frantically running out the door, I was able to get to Nancy’s in plenty of time and enjoy a leisurely set up before our guests arrived. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve realized the beauty of prioritizing this buffer time, even if I would have previously resisted using vacation time for it!

All in all, it was the sweetest evening. “My” guests included five of my dear girlfriends, some of whom knew each other and some who did not, but all who got along famously. What a treat to enjoy their company all together on a beautiful evening on the cusp of welcoming this new baby into our lives! I’m so glad we prioritized it and grateful we could pull it off.

I’d love to hear: have you had any memorable celebrations since the pandemic eased? Or the fun experience of hosting with friends, resulting in a mixed group of guests?

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June 30, 2021 8:42 am

What a beautiful, beautiful evening for three of the loveliest and most special friends!! I haaaate that I ended up having to miss it but am SO glad it came together so wonderfully! I love all of the citrus details, the floral attire, the Cava (you know it!), the meaningful touches, bringing in those gorgeous Wylde arrangements, and the block print tablecloth. It sounds like such a magical and celebratory evening for you, Sam, and Nancy – and all of these amazing ladies! I hope you three felt so loved!! xoxox

June 30, 2021 4:24 pm

How special and lovely!

Abigail Gray
June 30, 2021 8:22 pm

I love seeing a glimpse of this party and into your party planning process! I am looking forward to the experience of hosting all my favorite people at my wedding and this reminded me of that! :)

July 1, 2021 7:34 am

This was so lovely to read! I host a Galentine’s Day brunch every year, and while we normally do it at a restaurant, this is giving me some major inspiration to do it at home!

July 1, 2021 8:47 am

This looks like such a special evening! Cava sounds like the perfect meal for the occasion, too! Last month we hosted our first game night since pre-pandemic, mixing friends for the joy of gathering. It was the best night! :)

July 1, 2021 10:16 am

What a beautiful evening! Every detail looks perfect. I especially love your blue dress — where is it from?

July 5, 2021 10:45 am

What a beautiful table, and special celebration for these three babies!
So excited for you all x

July 7, 2021 2:46 pm

Truly one of the highlights of the summer! So grateful that y’all took on the challenge and so generously put together such a sweet, beautiful celebration!!