This past weekend was a fun and busy one for me, as my dad and mother-in-law hosted my baby shower at my dad’s house in CT. I had been looking forward to this day for months, not only because it was an opportunity to see my family and friends and celebrate the new little life that’s about to enter the world, but also because it was a chance to throw a party using as many sustainable and eco-friendly elements as possible. I always feel a little bit sad when I see massive quantities of paper goods thrown away after an event, or arrive at a party to find the tables lined with bowls brimming with overly processed snacks. I don’t mean to judge—those items are readily available and inexpensive—but with a little bit of research it is possible to host an event that not only looks good, but is better for the planet. That’s what I wanted my baby shower to be. And that’s what I want for your events too, so I am happy to share all of the resources we used to create our sustainable shower.
My mother-in-law enlisted my super creative best friend, Christie Cambio, to help with the decorations and the general theme of the shower and, as usual, she gave it 110 percent. We decided that the theme would be strawberries, in keeping with my love of food, and Christie came across these vintage-inspired invitations on Etsy. They were designed by Loralee Lewis and perfectly captured the look and feel of the event.
Loralee also created an insert with a poem Christie had found asking all of my guests to bring a book for my baby. I loved to read as a child and am hoping my son will too!
Christie decided that all of the centerpieces and decorations should be items that I can use for the baby once he is born. So the tables were lined with the most beautiful wooden toys, puzzles and board books. And since play is one of the most important parts of child development, my guests were encouraged to channel their inner pre-schooler and play with the centerpieces. For every game they played, they were entered to win a prize—strawberry scented candles and soaps.
These onesies, made from fair trade organic cotton, did double duty as a hanging banner. I can’t wait for my little boy to wear them!
And then there was the food. Of course, I couldn’t relinquish complete control over this aspect of the event so I decided that I would make some of the side dishes—my sister-in-law Lauren helped me with this—and then I would order the rest of the food from La Cuisine, my favorite cafe in North Branford, CT. Not only do they actually know what quinoa is—which isn’t easy to find in that area—but they source local, all-natural ingredients whenever possible. The bruschetta I ordered was made with local tomatoes from La Bella Farm, which is right next door to the restaurant. The balsamic glazed chicken came from a cooperative farm in Pennsylvania and was some of the juiciest grilled chicken I’ve ever had. My guests raved about how good it was—and went back up for seconds and thirds. A special thank you to Brendan Bloom for helping me choose items from La Cuisine’s menu that complimented my menu.
And speaking of that menu, in addition to the chicken provencal, we also served some of my favorite blog posts: barley salad with parsley, walnuts and ricotta salata; rotini with spinach, ricotta and golden raisins; and berry salad with walnuts and poppy seed dressing. (For those who asked, the dressing is Olde Cape Cod All Natural Sweet and Sour Poppy Seed). A chalkboard not only added to the tablescape, but let guests know what they would be dining on.
As for the tablescape, Christie really outdid herself in this aspect. She found this beautiful burlap overlay on Etsy from Sweet Tea and Linen. (Smaller ones also adorned the tables where guests sat).
Summer fruit and flowers added a rustic, farmers market feel.
When it came time to choose the flatware, plates, and drinkware, I knew that I didn’t want to use traditional paper goods, but real dishes and flatware also seemed kind of annoying. Plus since the shower was in our backyard by the pool, this also seemed a bit dangerous. I thought about using the Bambu line of veneerware, but it’s pricey. Thankfully, while doing some research online I happened upon a site called Susty Party which only sells party goods made from sustainable materials. And they look really nice too!
I ordered the utensils, made from FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) birch wood, from WebstaurantStore.com. The utensils are biodegrable and compostable. They’re inexpensive and look fabulous to boot!
Given that the shower was in the afternoon and the temperature continued to climb, we kept the drinks simple, yet refreshing. Strawberry Basil Lemonade was a huge hit and we had plenty of ice water on tap. While I omitted the vodka from the punch, there was sauvignon blanc on hand for those guests who wanted something a little stronger. Hall Winery, in Napa, CA, generously provided us with a case of wine for the party. I love Hall not only because their wines are delicious (I did allow myself a sip) but they’re the first California winery to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold Certification. The winery uses solar energy to power their St. Helena vineyard, as well as radiant flooring and local and recycled materials.
And finally, for dessert we served iced coffee (because who really wants to drink hot coffee in 90 degree weather?) and strawberry shortcake from Sugar Bakery & Sweet Shop in East Haven, CT. I’m not normally a huge cake fan, but my cousins Patti and Heather get all of their cakes there, so when they offered to order the cake, I gladly accepted. And I’m happy I did because this cake was absolutely out of this world. So moist and the frosting was made with real whipped cream. I have been eating the leftovers for breakfast!
When my guests departed, I knew I wanted them to take something home with them that they could enjoy after the shower. And since one of my favorite jams happens to be the strawberry variety from Santa Cruz Organic, I knew that would be a perfect parting gift. And to my surprise, Santa Cruz offered to donate the jams. Thank you to Jen Marshall and Santa Cruz Organic for your generosity! They were a huge hit. Christie made the favor tags and then tied them on with twine.
All in all, it was a fabulous party and I am incredibly grateful to my dad and my mother-in-law, Eileen, for hosting such a beautiful event. And of course, a special thank you goes out to “my Gayle” Christie, who I could not imagine my life without. Words could never express my gratitude, but I think she knows. And if we lived in the same state, we’d so be in business together!
I’d also like to thank all of my guests for attending—and staying the whole time despite the heat! Our baby is incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful people in his life. And so are Johnny and I.