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June 21, 2016

My nontraditional baby shower

Bucking the norm, I opted for a co-ed, beach house BBQ

Parenting Katie's Baby
katie_Gagnon_014 Kerry English /for PhillyVoice

Katie and her husband enjoyed a beautiful, beachy BBQ thrown by her parents in honor of their Baby Boy.

When my Mom asked what I envisioned for my baby shower, I told her I wanted an unconventional party. Typically, baby showers are just for the expecting mom and attended mostly by women. Tea is served, gifts are opened, and diaper cakes are presented. My aunts had so recently and very generously thrown me a beautiful, traditional bridal shower which I loved, but I wanted something different for my baby shower. I also wanted my husband, as well as the men in my family who are special to me, to be part of the celebration. My favorite place is down the shore, so I asked for to be a casual get together on a summer evening in Longport. With the help of my sisters, my Mom planned an amazing beach house BBQ in celebration of her soon-to-be grandson.

Kerry English /for PhillyVoice

The youngest members of Katie's family brought laughter and joy to the nontraditional baby shower. They are so excited to meet their new cousin this fall!

It was a beautiful June afternoon when the house and yard began to fill with our family and a few friends. I am happiest when surrounded by my family, and the baby shower was no exception. Since we had been living in the Midwest since our engagement, I was extra excited to spend time with family that I haven’t seen as often as I’d like in recent years.

My cousins brought their children, who we adore, and they filled the party with giggles and games. Ryan played lacrosse with the kids and I let them jump on my bed. Their presence brought increased joy to the party, just as I know our son will bring to our lives.

The caterer, Jeannie Saul, served a delicious menu perfect for a warm summer evening: BBQ chicken, green salad, roasted root vegetables, shrimp skewers, blueberry muffins and watermelon. Jeannie is very talented and made the baby shower so easy on my parents as hosts, just as she did for my engagement party. In addition to beer and wine for the guests, we had a mocktail developed to my pregnancy liking: mint lemonade with Pellegrino which the kids also loved. During dinner, my Dad gave one of his great toasts, filling the long dinner table with laughter. I couldn’t stop smiling.

After the sun went down, the men retired to the candlelit yard for cigars and the women moved inside to the living room where we ooo’d and ahhh’d as I opened presents. I found myself sitting next to my Mom, surrounded by aunts and sisters and cousins, melting over the sweet baby clothes and accessories that family and friends so generously gifted. It was nice to complement our unconventional baby shower with this more traditional aspect.

I wasn’t going to set up a registry for our Baby Boy, but at my family’s encouragement, I changed my mind. I used, a website that my cousin Erin recently used for her baby showers. I’ve since heard that it’s not the most user-friendly, but I like it because it allowed us to register for things from lots of different stores: from Pottery Barn Baby to the Villanova University Bookstore.

Courtesy of Villanova University Bookstore/for PhillyVoice

Adorable Villanova Wildcats Crewneck Sweatshirt

My family and I stayed up past midnight, talking and laughing and enjoying the time together. As the party drew to a close, I looked around the room, at my beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brother, parents and husband, and I pictured our son being here with us soon. I am so excited to meet him, and for him to be a part of our awesome family.

Two summers ago, my Mom and Dad held our engagement party at their home down the shore. Last year, they threw us an incredible wedding at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. And this June they hosted a baby shower for the son we are expecting in September. They have always been so generous and supportive of me and Ryan. They are already incredible grandparents because their adoration for our Baby Boy knows no bounds. My husband and I are so grateful to those who joined us for this special day. Our son is so lucky to be born into a family that has already showered him with so much love.

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