The secret to hosting a great bridal shower is all in the details. Choose a bridal shower theme that reflects the guest of honor's personality and the possibilities are endless. Let these popular party ideas inspire your own event.
Traditional Bridal Shower Theme
Most typically, a bridal shower is an opportunity for a bride and her friends to celebrate, play games, and watch the bride open her presents.
Invitations: Choose an invitation with a drawing of a bride, a wedding cake, or other wedding themes. Here, some top picks for bridal shower invitations.
Decorations: Wedding bells, a guest-of-honor chair for the bride, bows, hearts, white tulle, ribbons, and flowers.
Activities: Bridal shower games, naturally.
Food: Get the girls together for a light afternoon luncheon, or serve high tea. Think pretty hors d'oeuvres, small sandwiches, pasta salads, and pastries. Consider serving a champagne punch, wine, or a fun non-alcoholic drink.
Gifts: Traditional gifts include items to set up the household, especially items from the bride's wedding registry.
Spa Bridal Shower Theme
Invitations: Choose a spa-themed invitation or a traditional one that reflects your color scheme.
Decorations: Consider having your shower right at a spa or salon. If that's not possible, decorate your house to look as much like a spa as possible. Put out stacks of clean fluffy white towels, and all the products you are going to need. Turn on some relaxing music. Forgo fussy flower arrangements; instead use big glass bowls with a few flowers floating in them, and river rocks on the bottom.
Activities: At the salon, let each guest get a manicure and/or a pedicure before it is time to open presents. At home, purchase a dozen different colors of nail polish, some interesting face masks, a relaxing foot soak, lotions, and other beauty products. Tell guests to dress in comfortable clothes or pajamas, and put lots of pillows around for lounging.
Food: Serve light bites that are easy to nibble while your other hand has wet fingernails. Forgo heavier fried options in favor of low-cal, fresh goodies.
Gifts: Invite guests to bring something to help the bride and/or groom relax. You also might consider each putting in money to send the couple to have massages or a day at the spa together.
What girl doesn't love chocolate? If the bride or groom is a chocoholic, indulge them and your guests with a chocolate-themed bridal shower.
Invitations: Look for a chocolate-themed invitation or a simple chocolate brown invitation.
Activities: A chocolate tasting is ideal -- get an assortment of chocolates, arrange them prettily on plates, and instruct guests to taste them from mildest to strongest and darkest. Make worksheets with the names of each chocolate they'll be trying, and room for them to make notes about what they did or didn't like about it.
Food: Create a menu that uses chocolate in different courses -- such as chicken mole, or salad with cocoa nibs in it. Or, simply have a potluck chocolate dessert party.
Gifts: Ask guests to give gifts of tools for baking or candy making. Or you can all pitch in to give a subscription to a chocolate of the month club.
Music Bridal Shower Theme
You know the type -- the kind who will beg you to not throw her a bridal shower. She thinks they're stuffy and boring, and quite frankly, just not cool enough. So throw her a party that really reflects who she is.
Invitations: For a casual and hip occasion like this, you might consider using an internet invitation like Evite or Paperless Post. If you'd rather go the paper route, look for an invitation that appeals to the bride's musical tastes: an invite with a quirky design and "hand-drawn" font feels right for an alternative rock theme, for example.
Activities: Karaoke is just the right mix of cheesy fun that is a perfect bridal shower idea. You can rent a karaoke machine, but it can be even more fun to rent a private room at a karaoke bar. If you want to play games, ask each guest before the party for the name of the first album they ever purchased. Then ask guests to try to match their fellow guests with the albums. The person who gets the most right should win a prize. Another game to play would be to try to get the bride to name the groom's top ten favorite bands or guilty pleasure songs.
Gifts: Music lovers typically like to party, so ask guests to choose gifts that are appropriate for entertaining. Barware, cool serving dishes, and tidbit plates are smart choices.
Kitchen Bridal Shower Theme
Invitations: You can easily find kitchen themed bridal shower invitations online or design your own. Consider using fun wording like "We're Cooking Up a Shower for Katie!"
Decorations: You can create centerpieces that incorporate favorite kitchen utensils or simple inexpensive items like wooden spoons and rubber spatulas. If you've bought new ones just for the centerpieces, give them to the bride as a bonus gift at the end of the bridal shower. You could also make centerpieces out of fresh herbs or fruit.
Activities: Making a dish together is a fun activity for all generations. This could be as simple as decorating cupcakes or be a little more advanced like learning how to make sushi. You could also take a cooking class together, or hire a personal chef to come to your home and cook for the party.
Food: If you don't make a meal together, try to highlight the food by making all foods that tie into the bride's ethnic background, or making all of the bride's favorite foods. Another idea would be to make only dishes that are simple for a beginning cook to prepare, then giving the recipes to the bride and/or groom to start a recipe collection.
Gifts: Ask guests to help the couple stock their kitchen. Utensils, appliances, and baking supplies are all good options. Another idea is to ask guests to bring simple recipes and the pantry ingredients to make them. You can include recipe cards with each invitation so that the bride has a uniform set.
Lingerie Bridal Shower Ideas
This classic theme can either be elegant or racy -- it's up to you! Do keep the bride's comfort level in mind when planning this type of party.
Activity: For an elegant party, you could host a wine tasting, or play traditional bridal shower games. A racy bridal shower can focus on bridal shower games for the younger crowd or can be almost like a bachelorette party. A great game to play is "What's in the Bag", a variation on "Hot Potato". Put a sexy item into a paper bag, and set a timer for 1 minute. Pass the bag from guest to guest; when the timer goes off, the person left holding the bag has to wear it!
Invitations: For racier showers, consider invites with bright colors or bold patterns. A more elegant lingerie shower could feature a lace motif done in soft hues.
Decorations: Decorate with lace and ribbons – lace tablecloths, lace and ribbons around vases of flowers, and a big ribbon on the back of the bride's chair. Or, ask guests to arrive early and bring a couple of favorite bras; when they get there, use small ribbons to tie them together and string them up like garlands. Provide feather boas for each guest to wear during the party.
Food: Hold this party late in the day so that you can serve sexy cocktails and elegant hors d'oeuvres. Or serve foods reputed to have an aphrodisiac effect, such as oysters, asparagus, almonds, or chocolate covered strawberries and bananas.
Gifts: Unlike traditional bridal showers that are focused on setting up the home, the whole point of this shower is to stock the bride's lingerie drawer. Be sure to include her measurements on the invitation so guests know what to buy. The invitation wording can give clues to the bride's style. For example, you could say "bring something frilly, or bring something sweet, but make sure it's sexy, let's knock the groom off his feet!", or you could write "An elegant bride is always stylishly dressed, even after she's laid her head down to rest. It's time for us to shower the bride, Claire, and give her beautiful lingerie to wear."