Celebrating During a Pandemic: 6 Tips for Throwing a Shower So Everyone’s Comfortable

We’ve all heard it a million times: things are different right now. The way we expected events to go either aren’t happening as planned or are cancelled and it doesn’t look like things will be going back to normal soon enough. It seems that until we get a vaccine, life is going to feel like it’s in limbo.

My poor bride got thrown around trying to plan her wedding – my heart goes out to her. Planning a wedding is quite a task to begin with but throw in a pandemic and its completely nuts! She’s going to be picking up the pieces for months from old deposits to confused guests to half-finished plans. I was desperate to give her a day to forget about the nonsense and enjoy the whole reason for the wedding to begin with: A celebration of her and her life with her fiance!

Planning her shower was also a hot mess, but we pulled through brilliantly (if I do say so myself, thanks team!) so I wanted to share what went right!

1. Keep a Tight Guest List, but be Realistic

Starting out with the obvious here as many states have gathering maximums. That said, inviting extra people as a courtesy didn’t do us any disfavors. Great Aunt Jill who lives a plane ride away won’t be able to come, but she’ll appreciate the invite. Overall we invited just under 50 people and ended up with just under 30 (state max was 50).

2. Ask for Emailed RSVPs, but Don’t Rely on Them

When we sent out the original invites, we knew things could change on a dime. Typically you offer a phone number to contact or an email for an RSVP, but if you have email addresses then you can send out updates much more easily.

THAT SAID

A lot of people are going to wait on their RSVP to see what happens in the world – I was shocked just how few RSVPs I received. There are two things you can do to help with this.

A. In your update email, encourage friends and family to spread the news and your email address for questions. This can get a little iffy if your guest list is super tight and many people weren’t invited, but in my case everyone requested was invited and still kept numbers under 50.

B. Make good use of postcards. Invites and envelopes are tedious and expensive and people will understand a quick postcard update. Bonus if you can personalize it! I did this using Google Sheets and Adobe Illustrator through the use of variables. Check out my tutorial here!

3. Make Expectations Clear

Some people really downplay the pandemic, some people are very cautious. If you’re reading this article my guess is you’re probably the latter, so let your guests know. In your original invite and any updates, let people know how you are planning to handle the shower. For us, we told people that masks are optional, that we’d have hand sanitizer readily available, that we would be disinfecting everything before the shower, and the food would be prepared with copious hand-washing, masks, and gloves. This will help ease a few worried guests’ nerves and maybe convince them to come.

4. Make the Food and Wrap Everything

We always planned to make the food for budget reasons, but I’m so glad we did because food regulations tightened up significantly the week of the shower and most take-outs could no longer provide!

Some of the food took FOREVER but it was well worth it! Here’s what was on our menu:

Easy Options:

  • Pre-wrapped cheese and crackers
  • Snack bags of chips
  • Pre-made fruit cups
  • Anything you find pre-packaged in a BJs or Walmart

Time-Consuming Options:

  • Individually wrapped sandwiches – we made the fillings the day before then filled and wrapped the sandwiches in saran wrap the morning of
  • Fruit cups
  • Vegetable cups with dip at the bottom – I saw this pre-covid and thought it was super cute! more time-consuming, but really pretty.
  • Individual trifles – we made dirt cups which everyone loves and are so easy! You can find the recipe here.
  • Individually packaged cupcakes – this is on the list because we did it, but the containers were terrible and kept popping open (I will not link the containers, they were terrible). If I were to do this again, I might opt for a nice lemon cake and blueberry trifle instead of the cupcakes (though they were delicious!)

To stay in the Easy Options category, BJs and similar grocery stores offer inexpensive sandwich platters even now! I still would opt to take the sandwiches out and wrap them… but that’s what we promised the guests as far as sanitation.

5. Social Distance

Our tables went from 8 per table to 4. Honestly, it left room for prettier place-settings anyway! Some people will choose to move chairs, totally up to them, but offer the option to sit pretty far apart.

6. Plan Socially Distant Games

This part was way more difficult than I thought it would be! My bride was a physically fit, active, competitive one so I had a bunch of great games planned! Like, ring toss (guests v bride), bridal Jenga, and maybe even toilet paper wedding gowns (is that insensitive after resource hoarding??)

All that had to go out the window because no guests should be required to use something that other guests have touched.

Here’s what we came up with:

Kahoot

People are really reserved about this one but they LOVE it. It’s basically a poll-based game. On a projector, you show questions with a timer and A, B, C, D options for answers. People download the app on their phone, enter the game pin, then answer on their phone. Points are added up in real time between each question and it’s a blast! I find that it helped to make a comment about how most school-students should already have this app because it’s technically an educational app helped people feel more comfortable about downloading it.

Bingo

Plain old bingo is great because everyone has their own cards and pieces to place, so no cross-contamination. Plus, everyone knows it!

Any Slideshow Game

We did “Finish the 80’s Song” as per the bride’s interests. Make a slideshow of questions (I like Google Sheets) and project the questions. Each guest has his/her own answer card and pencil. After each question, give everyone a minute to answer, then read the answer and go with the honor system of people checking their own work. Alternatively, if you don’t have a projector, just read the questions out loud.

I wouldn’t do any more than three games, people need time to chat and mingle.

Additional Things to Do

Most of these are pretty hands-off. The markers for signing the pillowcase were iffy, but there’s lots of hand sanitizer around. The pencils here were communal but everyone had the option of going back to their table for their own pencil if they wanted.

Guys, I cannot describe how nervous I was for this shower – that no one would show up, that the venue would suddenly cancel, that people would think I was ridiculous for having it at all! But it went really, really well. Everyone who came had a blast and the bride loved it which is all that really mattered to me!

Are you planning an event coming up? How are you going to handle the elephant in the room?

Warmly,

EGinny

Bridal Squad Headbands – DIY and What Not to Do

Remember that friend, Amanda, that I married in high school? I wrote that ridiculous story here. Well she’s getting married for real! I suppose all good things must come to an end… I think us both being married must annul the first marriage, right?

One of her other bridesmaids planned her bachelorette (I get to plan the bridal shower – just wait and see what I’ve got planned there…) but I wanted to throw in a fun DIY to help.

The bridesmaid planning the bachelorette was all about it: headbands!

Back up.

Amanda is a major 80’s lover so part 1 of the bachelorette night was 80’s night at a local bar, then the other part was hiking a mountain.

Headbands that double as sweatbands, get it?

It’s all the rage to make sure that everyone surrounding the bridal party knows who the bride is and who her tribe is, so we figured Amanda would like it and I’d have a fun way to participate in the planning.

So, without further ado, here is an excellent DIY beginning with a strong word of caution.

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission for anyone who clicks on a link and purchases a product. All product links, affiliate and otherwise, represent my unbiased opinion about the product.

Materials:

  • Headbands – Less than a buck per headband, perfect! Plus I really like these in general. TMI, I sweat a lot when I workout and I love wearing the extra headbands to the gym now.
  • Fabric Paint – You’ll notice that the paint I linked to is a “soft” version which means that the paint doesn’t stick on like hard plastic.
  • Paint brush
  • Scrap paper/newspaper/cardboard
  • Blue take/masking tape
  • Cricut or other vinyl cutter – you could try this DIY by making your own stencil out of card stock. If you do it that way, grab some spray mount like this stuff linked here, and use it to glue the card stock stencil down to the headband before you begin.

STRONG WORD OF CAUTION

While the bridesmaids were very encouraging and said they love the headbands, I regard this project as a fail for myself. See for yourself…

Finished headbands

I was so disappointed when I saw all those blotchy marks! The worst part is that I know I could have prevented it if I’d only tested the paint I’d used on an extra headband before.

This is what I used and I want to make it abundantly clear that I DO NOT DISCOURAGE THE USE OF THE PRODUCT when used correctly.

I’ve used it on cotton shirts and it works like a dream! I think I made three mistakes on this project:

  1. Not testing the paint on the fabric beforehand.
  2. Laying down the paint too thick.
  3. Not letting the paint dry between coats.

I admit it, I was short on time and had to get this done quickly – that’s what my blotchy spots boil down to.

Now that I’ve gotten the how and why of my major mistake out of the way, here’s the diy!

Fabric Spray Paint Headbands

Step 1: Applying the vinyl patterns to the fabric.

Any self-respecting vinyl user will tell you to use transfer tape, but don’t use it here.

…Not that I’m not a self-respecting vinyl cutter… anyways,

Vinyl essentially works by using varying levels of stickiness. The vinyl sticks to the paper backing, but it sticks better to the transfer tape so the paper backing peels off, then it sticks better to the mounting surface so the transfer tape peels off.

That doesn’t work here because vinyl sticks way better to transfer tape than to fabric.

Instead, flip the vinyl over and slowly peel the paper back off, making sure to fold the paper back onto itself as you peel. If you’re slow and careful, you can get the whole vinyl sticker off without losing any of the cut bits, then you can just stick it onto your fabric surface without harming any transfer tape!

Step 2: Weeding

Use a combination of an exacto knife and tweezers to weed out the part of the vinyl you don’t want.

Remember: The part you don’t want is the part you do want! Since you’re essentially making a stencil, peel out the pieces that show where you want the paint to go.

I find that using my exacto blade tip to hold down pieces that I didn’t want coming up is very effective.

If you do accidentally peel up a piece of vinyl that you need, no worries, just stick it back.

Vinyl stuck all over leg

Clever or lazy? I stick the vinyl scraps all over my legs when I work… vinyl sticks well to skin and itself! Then I use duct tape and stick that to the vinyl to get it off my leg. If you’re a non-shaver, I recommend you skip this step, but hey you do you.

Step 3: Prep to Spray Paint

Tape your headband down to a piece of paper to hold it flat and still for the next couple steps, especially if you’re moving pieces around to paint a bunch of different headbands.

Measure around where you need the paint to go and cut a hole out of a piece of cardboard that will allow you to paint what you need, but hide the rest of the fabric.

MISTAKE NOTE: I did this on my nice new dining room table because I figured I could control the paint.

I was wrong.

This can has some serious spray distance and I was washing black off the table for weeks! A) Do this in a place that can get messy and B) cover up any part of the fabric you don’t want painted.

Overspray

You’ve been warned.

Step 4: Spray Paint

THIN layers! Like, a quick breeze of paint then that’s it.

Another helpful tip: Find something to put your cardboard protector on between sprayings. As you paint, it will build up on the cardboard and seep into the hole you made, making a mess on anything you put it on.

Step 5: Wait

See, this is the step I skipped to get those awful paint blotches. Don’t be a me. Don’t be impatient.

The can only says 5 minutes but I’d give it more time.

Step 6: Repeat steps 4 & 5 until you get the desired darkness

That’s it! If you’ve followed my advice on how not to do what I did, you should have some lovely, non-blotchy headbands!

But hey, they did look pretty nice in the hiking photos.

Don’t hesitate to let me know if I wasn’t clear on anything and I’m also always up for comments/suggestions!

Warmly,

EGinny

A Super Successful Bridal Shower Gift that Everyone Can and Should Make!

I spend more time on Pinterest than I do sleeping so I didn’t expect to see anything new at my bridal shower when I was opening my gifts.

I was SO WRONG. I guess Pinterest is pretty big… my future sister-in-law walked in with this amazing thing!!

Ever see one of those before? It’s a wedding countdown! It’s like an advent calendar for Christmas when you’re counting down the days to get your gifts only instead of toys, you’re counting down to the biggest gift of all – marriage.

Awww. So Sappy.

I Snapped opening it every day
I tried to wait until every night except the last night so I could look forward to it all day!

When your wedding’s coming up, you’re all excited and enveloped by the impending magic, yet you still have to go about daily life – commute, work, all that jazz – and be around loads of people who don’t see the days as any more exciting than the last. so it’s nice to have something to come home to that just feeds that excitement a little bit.

So, since I loved my advent so much, I HAD to make one for my friend Emily’s upcoming nuptials!

I tag-teamed with my sister-in-law (a different sister-in-law, I have five!) and off we went to our favorite store: The Dollar Store. Okay I KNOW that sounds a little cheap, but think about it, if you’re going to give someone 10-12 gifts, they can’t all cost and arm and a leg. Plus, Emily’s wedding was extra special because not only was she getting married, but she has a 7 year-old daughter whom we wanted to include.

Our mission: 24 gifts – 12 for the bride, 12 for her daughter/flower girl. AND we wanted each day of gift opening to be related in some way (for example if we gave Emily socks, we wanted to give her daughter socks).

Now, we did our research (Pinsearch?) before we set off and tried to get ideas, but most posts only showed the final gift of wrapped presents and not what was IN all of the presents, so we were kinda on our own.

Our method was to stroll around the dollar store until we found something that one of the girls would like, then try to find something or think of something to go with it. As we went we began to have ideas for things we couldn’t find at the Dollar Store so we got just a couple other things at Marshalls (another FAVORITE of ours!)

So here’s the whole shabang!

Plus I made little notes to go with each in hopes of explaining why we chose some of the gifts we chose.

Since this is an advent calendar, you count down like a rocket launch.

12. Candles – a fragrance we liked for Emily and a cutsy cupcake for her daughter. Dollar Store.
11. Their favorite candies – thankfully she wasn’t on any pre-wedding diet or anything. Besides, with only about a week to go until the wedding she wouldn’t want to do anything to make her dress not fit anyway! Dollar Store.
10. Hairbrushes – you can seriously never have enough. Dollar Store.
9. Panties/socks – we had to get the bride panties, but it felt weird to buy her daughter some too, so we got her socks. Marshalls.
8. Nail polish – something girly that they both love! Dollar Store.
7. Matching spandex – we blew our budget with this gift… but the bride and groom met while training for a marathon and what mom doesn’t want to match her little girl?? We HAD to! Marshalls.
6. Magic expanding facecloths – if you haven’t gotten any of these before, you need to! They’re so much fun, they’re facecloths, but they come vacuumed into a shape (in this case a heart) then they expand in water. The bride also had a theme of Beauty and the Beast for her wedding so the princess washcloths were perfect. Dollar Store.
5. Bath bomb/bubble soap – we knew the bride loves bath bombs, but we didn’t know how her daughter felt about baths… so we got her play bubbles. Dollar Store.
4. Wine glass/snack water bottle – this gift isn’t quite done in the pictures and it’s driving me CRAZY because I know I have a picture of the final but I can’t find it anywhere! I have access to a vinyl cutter so I used that to personalize the sticker with a “Mrs. Greene” sticker, then we found an adorable drink/snack combo water bottle for her daughter. In liu of a picture of the final glass, here’s a snapshot of the design. Dollar Store.

I was pretty proud of it 🙂

3. Flip-flops – the bride was going somewhere South for her Honeymoon and her daughter was getting a beach vacation after the wedding, so these seemed appropriate. Dollar Store.
2. Pregnancy test/Small plant – okay, so this one’s the most risque… but the bride had, on more than one occasion, mentioned a honeymoon baby so we had to! And what do you get for a little girl who shouldn’t know anything about the miracle of birth just yet? A seedling! Dollar Store/Marshalls.
1. Earrings/Candy Necklaces – we knew we wanted to give the bride some jewelry to open the night before our wedding, but there was no way we could swing two pricey pieces. Besides, we’re pretty sure the 7 year-old would much rather candy than some silly old necklace or something. Marshalls/Dollar Store.

The final result!

My sister-in-law and I decided at the beginning that we didn’t want to restrict ourselves to only gifts that we could tack on a board, especially for two giftees, so we decided at the beginning that we were going to use a basket.

QUICK TIP: Make sure to budget in the basket or board to hold everything as well as the wrapping paper and jazz. We got the PERFECT wrapping paper at the dollar store, but the basket wasn’t cheap at Marshalls. It was worth the extra money, though, because we wanted her to be able to use it after.

Also, I definitely suggest writing a “rules” or “how-to” on the gift. Especially in the hullabaloo of getting ready for a wedding, no bride can be expected to sit down and figure out how this whole thing works or remember you verbally telling her. I certainly couldn’t. I re-read the instructions on my count-down a bunch of times before opening my first one so I could ensure I got the whole experience!

I’m already pumped for the next wedding so I can make another one of these!!

Warmly,

EGinny