A Rustic Winter Baby Shower

Last month, I hosted a winter baby shower for one of my favorite people in the whole world--my best friend Mónica. Would you like to see pictures?

Moe (as I've always called her) and I have been friends for about 15 years, meeting during my freshman year of college. She was the office manager at the political office where I worked as an intern; a job which technically made her my boss, though--as the only two women in a political office filled with men--we were really more like comrades bonding in the trenches.

We've been through a lot over the years, and so I was honored to finally have the chance to celebrate my beautiful friend as she enters this new stage of her life.  With a late-February due-date (Leap Day, to be exact!) we decided mid-January would be perfect for the shower. Naturally, a winter theme was in order.

Neither Moe nor I have ever been the overly cutesy type, so I wanted a theme that felt a bit more elegant and relaxed. Nothing overly frilly or cheesy and DEFINITELY no blue. I decided on something rustic and cozy with rustic green and white florals, burlap, plaid, and other wintry elements.

And a touch of whimsy, of course!

Mónica is an artist and photographer, so I was thrilled to find the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ, for the venue.

This gorgeous space is a beautiful mix of modern and classic, with exhibits that range from classical portraits (Abraham Lincoln overlooked the dining room) to quirky and playful (among other things, the museum boasts a huge train collection, a dinosaur room, and a semi-creepy interactive automaton exhibit).

I played up the wintry whimsical angle by designating each table with a woodland animal theme. There were five tables, so I chose a fox, squirrel, owl, raccoon, and sloth.

OK...so a sloth isn't technically a "woodland animal," but they do live in trees, and they're adorable, and my friends and I all love them.

Each table got a stuffed animal as part of the centerpiece. I also added a children's book that featured the respective animal.

(As a special touch, I added piles of whole nuts and a nutcracker to the squirrel table--the guests sitting at that table seemed to really enjoy them!)

The children's books doubled as guestbooks, and I placed markers on the table so that each guest could leave a little message inside the book for the mama-to-be.

(Yes, that What Does The Fox Say book is based on the crazy YouTube song!)

I kept the rest of the table decor simple, using white linen tablecloths topped with burlap runners that I cut myself from a long bolt of burlap I bought online.

I also bought gray gingham cotton napkins, which added to the cozy and rustic winter feel.

As an added touch, Mónica's aunt, Kay, made an absolutely gorgeous diaper cake decorated with burlap ribbon and flowers.

I ordered loose flowers from Fresh Direct (my grocery store) and arranged them in vases I made out of mason jars wrapped with green burlap ribbon and twine.

I went with a mix of magnolia leaves, white hydrangeas, fluffy green trick dianthus, gypsophila (baby's breath), Bells of Ireland, and a few evergreen stems. Since it was just after Christmas, I had some mini evergreen trees that I placed on the gift table, too.

To make the DIY escort cards, I printed out the names on card stock that we cut and glued onto a little stand created from paper straws.

(Eugene is actually the one who did all the cutting and hot glue-ing on these, so thank you to my amazing husband!) Note that if I were to make them again, I'd make the stands wider with at least 2 or 3 straw halves on each side to keep them from knocking over.

I also designed the menus myself, then printed them out on cardstock, two to a page. Eugene used an exact-o knife and ruler to cut them out.

The Morris Museum recommended Encore Catering as their preferred vendor to handle the food, and after checking out their site, I decided to hire them. I'm so happy that I did!

They were absolutely wonderful to work with, and together we created a menu of cozy winter dishes like warm mushroom salad, braised chicken, roasted tomato pasta, and grilled coffee-rubbed flank steak.

There were also several vegetable sides like Brussels sprouts with pomegranate, roasted root vegetables with winter herbs, and crispy flatbreads and other artisan breads to start.

Instead of a big cake, we did a dessert buffet featuring a selection of carrot cake cupcakes, mini assorted mousse cups, chocolate chip bread pudding, and gluten-free cheesecake pyramids.

To drink, guests enjoyed a selection of red and white wine, prosecco and soft drinks. I also created a signature cocktail for the party. The Apple Cider Mojito (or "Moe-jito") is made with spiced apple cider, rum, fresh mint and limes.

Garnished with a cinnamon stick and a cute paper birch tree straw, it was the perfect wintry drink with which to welcome the party guests. (Click for the recipe.)

I also made several batches of homemade Winter Berry Granola with oats, winter spices, chocolate chips, toasted nuts, and dried red berries.

I packaged these in cellophane cones and decorated them with kraft paper sticker labels I designed and printed at home.

We skipped the usual wacky baby shower games, and instead went with a couple relaxed games that gave folks something to do without making anyone feel uncomfortable.

A baby gift bingo is always a nice choice that helps the gift opening part go by quickly.

I used a bingo card generator that I found online (just Google it--there are tons) to create the bingo cards, filling the squares with options from her registry, as well as some generic items "something green" or "something soft."

I bought bags of M&Ms and used them as the markers. Any small candy works well for this--plus guests can snack on them when they're done!

I also created an Instagram Scavenger Hunt that listed ideas for photos like a selfie with one of the paintings, specific exhibits in the museum, food items, etc. I had everyone use a hashtag to designate the photos and randomly handed out prizes throughout the party.

I was really happy with the way it all turned out--as was the mama-to-be! It started snowing for the first time this winter during the party, and when we stepped out it had turned into an actual gorgeous woodland winter wonderland!

Resources and Vendors

NJ Baby Shower Venue: The Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ
Catering: Encore Caterering
Flowers: DIY with flowers from Fresh Direct

Table Linens: Round White 108" Tablecloths and Ivory 90 x 156" Tablecloths
Plaid Napkins: Cotton Craft Gingham Napkin Sets of 20
Burlap Runners: 108" Burlap Table Runners (Pack of 6)

Paper Straws (for cocktails and escort cards): Birch Tree Style Paper Straws

Burlap Ribbon for Centerpieces: 4" Green Burlap Ribbon
Mason Jars: Wide Mouth Quart Mason Jars (set of 12)

Twine: Sisal Twine 

Stuffed Animals for Centerpieces

Animal-themed Children's Books for Centerpieces

Signature Cocktail Recipe: Apple Cider Mojitos
Party Favor Recipe: Homemade Winter Berry Granola Cones

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