It was no surprise to me that my friend Christina, a gynecologic oncologist, waited until she was nearly 20 weeks pregnant to tell me she was pregnant.
But I let the excitement get to me–even in a socially distant, pandemic world, I let myself hope for the best and planned (along with other hostesses) a fairly traditional baby shower.
Then, as COVID cases in Georgia began rapidly rising, we had to make a quick decision in consultation with our favorite medical mama.
Ultimately, we knew that, while legal, hosting a traditional, indoor baby shower was not a good option.
Just a-week-and-a-half before the shower date, we pivoted.
We dropped the venue (sorry venue) and catered food (sorry caterer) and instead re-planned the whole shower to make sure Christina felt all the love while everyone remained safely socially distanced.
And if I may be so humble as to admit it, I will say that this drive-by baby shower was one of the best showers I’ve hosted! It allowed us to follow all social distancing guidelines will still allowing the new mama to see her friends and family before baby arrives!
It was calm, relaxed, and so much fun–honestly, not words that usually come to mind when I think about baby showers.
I took plenty of notes, and now, here are all my tips and ideas for how to host an amazing drive by baby shower!
Why Throw a Drive By Baby Shower?
Throwing a drive by baby shower is honestly the responsible thing to do in many areas of the United States at the time of the publication of this article.
You can check on the rates of COVID-19 in your particular geographical area to help inform your decision, but if you live in a COVID-saturated area like I do, hosting a shower outside, where people can safely stay away from one another, makes sense. Despite “dog days of summer” style heat.
Plus, keeping the new mom and baby safe before birth during a pandemic is on everyone’s mind. Why not ease worries and fears about her health and safety and go ahead and take fewer risks?
And if you’re interested in reading more about health and safety of mom and baby during a pandemic, check out our article on pandemics and pregnancy, which features an interview with Dr. Chavi Eve Karkowsky, a high-risk pregnancy doctor on the front lines of COVID-19 in New York.
Tips for Making a Drive By Baby Shower Special
When you host a drive by baby shower, things are a little different straight out of the gate. But, not everything has to be! We’re all used to ordering party supplies, invitations, and cupcakes or a special cake–and all of these things can still exist!
The main difference with throwing a drive by baby shower is that you have to take a few extra things into consideration. Here are my top considerations:
(1) Roadside setup
You’ll need some grassy space where you can safely set up the shower. If you’re able to rent tents or know anyone who owns them, I recommend setting those up, as well.
Plus, they provided us a shady place where the mama and her hosts could rest.
We decorated our tents to make them cuter, but admittedly, the setup itself would’ve looked nicer sans tents. But the shower would’ve been way less fun if we were all soaked in our own sweat.
(2) The perfect location
Depending on where you live, this may be the trickiest part of all. You’ll want to make sure the road you choose isn’t super busy or one where a lot of kids play.
It’s important for people driving by to be able to stop and say hi, grab favors, maybe pass gifts out the window. Busy streets simply aren’t optimal.
(3) A good window of time that’s courteous to mama, hosts, and neighbors
Check with the neighbors in your area to make sure they are comfortable with a long, slow line of cars around their home. This is especially important if you’re doing the baby shower as a parade, or if you have a really large guest list.
That said, you can also do drop-in to avoid the long line of cars. Don’t forget to encourage guests to drop in during a set window of time so mama can see all her friends and family members from a safe distance.
We were expecting about 30 people, but many of those people were members of the same family who came in the same car.
So we set an hour-long window to decrease our time in the heat, and that was a perfect amount of time to let cars slowly trickle by. We never had a line of more than 2.
(4) Photo Props
There are a few things you’ll want to get good photos with!
First, masks! Don’t even pretend to be surprised that you can now get custom baby shower face masks to make photos super cute!
Also, find out how close mama plans to get to her drive-by guests. Will photos be taken from a distance, or will she likely put her face near theirs?
This is a personal safety choice, but if they’ll be near each other, then a cute photo frame prop is an extra fun touch!
(5) Beautiful decorations
Since this is not your typical shower, you’ll want to spend extra time and care on the decor so mama feels extra special even though she can’t have a traditional shower.
A cake and floral arrangements are a great touch, but an extra special touch for these strange times are yard decorations.
I can almost guarantee someone in your community is making these now, and we rented from one of those people. Support local where possible, right?
But if you don’t know anyone doing this, you can find tons of such art on Etsy.
(6) Fans in the heat/heaters in the cold
Remember, a pregnant mama is hanging outside for a potentially long period of time. Do all you can to keep her (and YOU!) comfortable!
This relates to the weather, as well. Cold lemonade or a mimosa for the guests is perfect for summer; while cider or hot cocoa would be more relevant for winter.
We did a pretty pink punch that we dispensed with clean hands into plastic cups to hand out. Guests loved the added touch, and it gave another functional element to our decorations.
(8) Goodie bags
Goodie bags are normally considered par for the course for kids’ birthday parties, but since your guests won’t be lingering over a buffet of any kind, it’s fun to pack up some memorable goodies for them to take home.
(9) Signs for mama
This is the one thing we didn’t think to do that I wish we had considered! Since guests will be driving by and not staying to visit, have them make signs for the mama you’re honoring with the shower.
We had one family show up with signs, and it was such a cute, sweet gesture that meant so much to Christina. I only wish we’d thought to ask more people to do the same!
If you really want to go all out, ask people to decorate their cars, or to play music as they roll down their windows that makes them think specifically of the mama!
How to Host a Drive-Through Baby Shower: Logistics
One of the keys to hosting a drive-by baby shower is being super prepared on the logistical end. Consider the following questions as you plan the shower:
- How will you explain the process on an invitation?
- How will you collect gifts?
- What about serving food and drinks?
- Can you safely give out party favors?
There are two things that I think are key to planning these details successfully:
- Make sure you’re on the same page as the mama and other hosts about what feels safe and what doesn’t
- Assign people tasks based on their comfort levels
Here’s an example of what I mean about assigning tasks based on comfort level:
I’m considered “high risk” for COVID because I have an immunodeficiency that makes me more likely to develop COVID Pneumonia if I contract the virus.
None of our other hostesses had such concerns, though they are all also distancing, wearing masks, and being cautious.
As such, everybody had a mask on hand, but whether they wore them usually depended on their proximity to others.
Because I didn’t want to get too close to people, I decided I’d be the resident photographer.
Thanks to my iPhone’s portrait mode settings, I took some amazing photos of the shower, and of the sweet mama greeting people as they drove by.
Other people who are lower risk took on tasks like collecting gifts from cars.
Although I know the risk here is realistically very low, as more and more research suggests that it’s unlikely (but possible) that the virus is transmitted in large doses through fomites, it still seemed like a better idea not to make myself a gift collector.
Once you know how all the people in your party feel about their own risk factors, you can assign roles as a team and make sure everyone is comfortable.
Ah, one of the few parts of a pandemic baby shower that feels relatively normal–sending invitations.
And here’s the super cool thing. Creators have adapted–no surprise there–and Etsy is full of adorable drive-by baby shower invitations!
What to include on the invitation:
- Name of honoree
- Registry Information
Basically, you’ll include the usual things.
But there are a few things you’ll want to note that you may not include in a traditional baby shower invitation:
- What should people do with gifts? To minimize contact, you can request that people send gifts directly to the mama you’re celebrating. Admittedly, if everyone is comfortable, it’s fun grabbing them out the window and watching her gift pile grow!
- Is this a parade or a drop-in? We did drop-in because it allowed our mama to actually talk to each of her guests just like she could’ve at a normal shower. But if you want to get it over with quickly so she spends less time outside, a parade is a good idea. Here’s the big difference in terms of the invitation: a parade needs a set start time, while drop-in needs a window of time.
- Any precautions you want guests to take. Are masks mandatory before they roll down windows? Make a note asking that they have masks on hand for photos to protect the mama. This is a personal decision to be made between the honoree and hosts.
While we asked people to mail their gifts to our honoree (mostly because she doesn’t live in the same state where the party was hosted), plenty of people still brought gifts with them.
And honestly, it was fun that they did. Seeing a gift stack develop made things feel a little more “normal” for our mama.
Make sure you appoint a person to be responsible for collecting gifts, and decide where they’re going to go.
If you don’t ask people to send gifts straight to the mama, you probably want to have a separate table setup strictly for gifts. (And you definitely want this table to be covered by a tent in case of rain.)
Food, Drinks, & Party Favors
We had a beautiful cake on display that worked as a decoration, but it was only large enough for our honoree and the hostesses. We saw no reason to waste a bunch of cake when people couldn’t get out and eat it.
We did make party favor bags with cookies, though, and we passed those out to each car.
Food options you could consider for a drive-through baby shower include:
- Cookies in treat bags
- Themed cupcakes packaged individually
- To-go lunch boxes with tea sandwiches, chips, and a cookie
As we already discussed for drinks, consider options based on your theme or color scheme, and the weather.
Again, this is a place where you need to determine logistics. Who gives out the food, drink, or party favor items to each car?
If you’re doing a parade, you’re likely skipping this step, but for drop-in, it’s easiest if people know their roles.
Before planning out photography, chat with all hosts and the honoree to decide what everyone is comfortable with.
Our mama wanted pictures with her guests, so she walked near their cars and I snapped as many shots as possible.
I only wish we’d thought of having photo props!
Make sure you know what the mama you’re honoring wants, and if she wants to get close, be sure guests are comfortable.
Simply ask, “We’d love to let her lean in and snag a picture with you. Is that okay?” Or something like that.
Make sure whomever you assign to take photos knows how to take a decent photo, has a good camera, and is willing to tell people if a shot was bad and they need to get another one.
Is Mom Feeling Sad About Missing a Traditional Baby Shower?
We were super lucky that our beloved mama was not sad at all. She helped us make the decision to transition to a drive-through baby shower, and we did all we could to make sure it was still super special for her.
To keep mom from feeling sad, make this as close to the real thing as possible. Don’t skimp on decorations just because you aren’t in a pretty room. Come up with unique ways to decorate.
We used tulle to decorate the tents and hung a wreath that was initially planned for the entrance to the traditional shower.
The most personal touch, though, which was Christina’s favorite, was a ribbon backdrop that one of our hostesses had made. Jessica and her mom had been collecting ribbon for weeks to make a photo backdrop for the shower.
When we transitioned to a drive-by shower, we hung it from the tent and put tulle on each side to help it stand out.
These personal touches made all the difference, and our beloved mama couldn’t have been happier.
Have you thrown a drive-by baby shower? Tell us about it in the comments!
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Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.