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Baby Shower Crafting Hell

A very dear co-worker of mine got pregnant “by surprise.” She was a total trooper with the pregnancy, and after the initial shock, really started to become excited about having a child. So of course, I was thrilled to be asked to attend her shower.

I arrived late to the shower because I had to work (our workplace is staffed 24/7, and weekends are particularly difficult to get time off for). I was happy to see my co-worker, plus several other people that I haven’t talked to in a long time. I greeted the mother, and started conversing with some of these long lost friends. I noticed that several people in attendance at the party were making baby onesies with iron on patches and stamps. I did not jump into this activity because I didn’t know how to do it (I’m not particularly crafty) and I had already worked an 8 hour shift. I figured that I had come late, so I would just sit this activity out and enjoy the company of others, wish the mother well, and present my gift. I also noticed, looking around the room, how frustrated the other women were becoming with this craft, upon realizing it required sewing around all of the ironed edges and other minute details. The project required a lot of focus and energy, and basically took over a lot of the shower.

When I mentioned out loud that I didn’t think I would do a onesie because I’m not crafty, the hostess looked at me and said, “Oh no, you HAVE to do a onesie.” Now mind you, no one is eating, no one is drinking, no one is visiting with the mother or playing games, but everyone is engaged in this craft project. I was then handed a onesie and some fabric, and basically told to get to work by the hostess. The co-hostess then proceeded to critique my work and the fact that I didn’t know how to use the various stamps and iron-on patches, and seemed very annoyed with my slow/inadequate progress and the fact that I didn’t already know how to do all of this. The shower felt more like a onesie sweatshop. In the end, I picked a simple design that I wasn’t terribly proud of and didn’t do a very good job with because I felt rushed. In the end, I could have skipped the whole experience, because the few women who WERE crafty and liked the activity produced 2-3 onesies apiece.

Is this how things are at baby/bridal showers? I don’t think your guests, who have already purchased a present and taken time out of their afternoon should be pressed into also turning out overly complicated crafts. 1012-12

Best line of the post:  “The shower felt more like a onesie sweatshop.”   hahaha

{ 70 comments… add one }
  • June First October 17, 2012, 1:28 pm

    What, is she selling the finished products on her etsy sweatshop?? You’d think she’d want an easier kit to sell on etsy. Or at least the feedback that this is too much work.
    I can picture her, pacing above her workers: “The onesies will continue until morale improves!”

    I love the idea of coloring books and fabric markers. I loved the idea of grandma writing a letter about Family to the baby. I just might store these ideas away for future showers.

    My sisters and I attended a shower where the hostess distributed old copies of parenting magazines, glue sticks, scissors and blank sheets of paper. We split into teams of two or three and had to create a collage of “what the baby will look like”. It was funny and simple. I think our little dude wore a tuxedo.

  • Kitten October 17, 2012, 1:30 pm

    We had a onesie decorating shower for one of my best friends and another of my best friends threw one for me. We had fabric paint and iron-on patches and prints and none of it required sewing. It was all voluntary and both showers were men and women with men getting plenty involved (if not more involved) with the onesie making. None of the onesies I made were perfect and they were plenty loved and the ones made for my son had plenty of flaws but I loved them nonetheless. I’d say about one third of the attendants of my shower made one and about two-thirds at my friend’s shower made one. That shower had competitive onesie making among the men though. There were graphic designers in the group and they went all out on the computer making complicated designs to be printed. It was hilarious.

    That was the only “game” or activity at either shower and it was plenty.

  • doodlemor October 17, 2012, 1:39 pm

    I would have politely, humorously, declined to do this. My artistic skills are nil.

    Perhaps I’m a bit of an old fogey, but I don’t think that an infant should wear something with extra chemicals on it frequently. I’m sure that fabric paints and so forth are safe for adults, but I would be concerned that the additional chemicals might be too much for a baby’s system. I wouldn’t say this out loud at a shower, but if the mother were a relative I would bring this up privately, that perhaps these creations shouldn’t be on the baby 24/7.

  • Shalamar October 17, 2012, 1:42 pm

    LadyLelan said “I have never understood people who think it is normal or fun to pressure others into doing something for the sake of a celebration. Never have, never will.”

    Me neither. That reminds me of when my husband and I attended a family reunion dinner with our daughters, who were very young at the time (5 and 3 years old). We sat down at a banquet table with our girls beside us and waited for the dinner to begin. The hostess of the evening suddenly stood up and announced that we were to do some complicated shuffle to ensure “forced mingling” – I think every other person was supposed to move two seats to the left, or something. There was a lot of groaning and muttered “Are you kidding me”‘s from the crowd, which the hostess blithely took in her stride, trilling “Oh, you can see your immediate family anytime! This is a chance to get to know some other family members better!”

    Now, my husband and I absolutely hate forced mingling, but that wasn’t our main problem with this little scheme. If we did it, not only would my husband and I not be sitting together, we wouldn’t be sitting beside our daughters – which, considering how young they were, was a very bad idea.

    So, we absolutely refused. The other people at our table sympathized and didn’t force the issue, but the hostess was NOT happy. Too bad, says I.

  • barbarian October 17, 2012, 1:51 pm

    Another great reason why I won’t go to baby showers! I always decline and send a gift with my best wishes. My spare time is too limited to be invested in random social occasion smustly attended by people i don’t know. I usually don’t know the other guests and host well enough to go. Mother to be really justs wants the gift anyway.

  • WrenskiBaby October 17, 2012, 2:16 pm

    I had no idea that baby showers had turned into clothing assembly plants. But then, since the last baby shower I went to (where I accidentally stepped on the fingers of a guest baby who was crawling near my chair) I’ve received no more invites.

  • Beth F October 17, 2012, 3:30 pm

    I wonder how many of these onesies were made? How many can a baby wear before outgrowing them?

    Also, I think the OP said, in a follow up post that this was for the hostesses Etsy shop. OP was that correct?

  • Lisastitch October 17, 2012, 3:37 pm

    I think that decorating onesies sounds like a real cute idea, and potentially a lot of fun.

    However, the hostess needs to have REALLY REALLY simple ways of decorating them, and needs to accept that not everyone will want to do one.

    Also, even as a very craft-oriented person, I would want to know that this was the planned activity so that I could start mulling ideas over before the shower. I would hate to be put on the spot to come up with something.

  • Jessie October 17, 2012, 3:39 pm

    This sounds to me like mommy was trying to wheedle free baby clothes out of her guests. By FORCING it on her guests, it ceased to be a “fun party activity” and quickly warped into what I see as a gimme-grab for more baby clothing at the expense of her guests’ (mostly unwilling, I’d wager) time and effort.

    I have NEVER been to a baby shower where there was an activity that turned out to be beneficial to the mother (such as onsie making). The way I’ve always seen it, the GIFTS that the guests bring are what the mother gets, and the other activites are meant to be games for the guests’ entertainment, perhaps with a prize for the winners of each game. I highly doubt there were prizes given for the best onsie at this gimme-pig’s shower.

  • kingsrings October 17, 2012, 4:14 pm

    I am not in the least bit crafty and can’t sew to save my life. I would definitely not like an activity like this, and if someone came around and criticized it and complained that I was doing it wrong or whatever, that would make this shower far from an enjoyable time! I’d find some excuse to have to leave. Activities like this should be optional, and guests should never be made to feel like they have to participate. Showers are supposed to be FUN. Nothing about them should be difficult.

  • Maggie October 17, 2012, 6:47 pm

    I have no problem with craft projects at parties. I’ve heard of birthday parties at pottery studios where each person would make a piece. However, I always thought guests took home their creations as a souvenir.

  • Sugaryfun October 17, 2012, 8:21 pm

    It sounds like a good idea gone wrong. Guests decorating items for the baby might be lots of fun provided it was easy to do and not compulsory. I’d certainly rather do that than most of the silly games people play at these things.

  • Sugaryfun October 17, 2012, 8:23 pm

    Another thing that might be nice is if they were making lots they could do some to donate to a charity like a women’s shelter or local hospital’s premie ward instead of all for the mum to be’s baby.

  • Angel October 17, 2012, 9:23 pm

    The hostess was awful! She turned what could have been a fun activity into a miserable job for all the guests. I went to my SIL’s baby shower this past weekend. It was lovely affair with delicious homemade food for lunch, yummy desserts and white wine. Oh and they had pumpkin spice coffeemate. I LOVE that! We were able to chat and socialize, I brought my camera and got lots of great photos, and because it was a fairly intimate shower the gift opening didn’t take long at all. It was very relaxed and fun. I enjoyed myself a lot! Because it was held at her mom’s house we didn’t feel rushed or anything, it was just a nice time. There were no crafts. There were no games. But that didn’t make it any less of a shower IMO. Less is more. Your guests will be happy as long as there is good company and refreshments. Everything else is just not necessary!

  • Monica October 17, 2012, 10:58 pm

    > Best line of the post: “The shower felt more like a onesie sweatshop.” hahaha

    Agreed! I laughed out loud. What a dreadful idea. This idea would be fun were it relegated to one table for those so inclined.

  • Cupcake October 18, 2012, 3:10 am

    I saw this idea on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy once and I thought it was an awesome idea. It was a fun, relaxed, OPTIONAL activity, they had fabric paints/pens and there were some really cool ideas you couldn’t get from a shop, like one made into a pair of scrubs. Much better than that chocolate game, and so special for the mother to take home personalised baby clothes made by her friends.

    But this version is insane! Forcing people to SEW outfits for the baby and telling them off for doing a bad job? This reminds me of those stories where bridal shower guests have to make invitations and bonbonierre and decorations for the reception hall. Not cool.

  • Ellen October 18, 2012, 9:15 am

    Before you get bent out of shape about the mom forcing the guests to “make” baby clothes – remember, the onesies were purchased already. (And by the way, a newborn can go through multiple changes of clothes every day, depending on how much they spit up and/or how well the diapers fit.)

    While I don’t think this was crass in terms of a gift grab, it was poorly managed as an entertaining activity. Probably the hostess had seen the idea somewhere, was taken with the cuteness of it, and only considered how much she and her craftier friends would enjoy it. There is an art to being a good hostess and giving the guests opportunities to engage and play games, without being overbearing or put out when everyone does not execute your choreography. Graciousness accepts that not everyone likes the same things or can do the same things, and means you take thought to include everyone in a way they will enjoy.

  • Sarah October 18, 2012, 7:47 pm

    I organized an activity like this at a baby shower once, but it was painting onesies with fabric paint, foam brushes, and stencils. I hadn’t really thought about fabric paint being an issue for new babies, but the rest of it went fairly smoothly. I think the key is really not to expect people to do it if they don’t want to. It seemed like for part of the shower we had maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the guests at the table making onesies and the rest socializing, with people finishing their onesies and hanging them up on a little clothesline and others taking their places. Then after about half an hour or so, everybody was finished painting and did other things. And if some people skipped it entirely, nobody really noticed or cared. I think that a craft needs to be something that can be done reasonably quickly (you could probably paint a onesie with a stencil in about 5 minutes, with people less crafty doing it even more quickly and some who really get into such things maybe taking 10-15 minutes to do it), because even if people are interested in it, you don’t really want it to dominate the shower. Ideally you probably don’t want to end up with 5 more crafty people spending over 30 minutes doing something, when there might be other activities/games to get on with, or at least the presents and cake and other things like that.

  • Allie October 19, 2012, 3:59 pm

    Oh boy, I have to say I would be committed to etiquette hell in this case as I would have outright refused to do a onesie and probably presented my gift to the mother-to-be and left rather than be bullied by the host into doing an activity I did not want to do. I always bow out of the dreaded shower games. My favourite is the one where you’re given beads of something to wear and if you cross your legs someone else gets to take them from you. At the end, the one with the most beads gets a gift. I just give mine away at the outset and sit happily cross-legged the rest of the evening. Perhaps I’m a poor sport, but I’m just not into these games. It’s enough to show up with a wrapped gift and dutifully ooh and aah at all the presents. That’s as much as I can muster most days.

  • LawGeek October 27, 2012, 9:49 pm

    I attended a shower last weekend, and the mother-to-be’s one request was that we have a onsie making station. The host spent a lot getting nice cotton onsies for people to decorate, along with expensive fabric markers and stencils.

    The station was set up carefully; there was a sample onsie made purposefully simple so people who were not artistic would feed comfortable making one. The stencils were punched out an arranged, cardboard pinned to the fabric so the markers would not bleed through. We set aside the ’emergency’ markers that she hoped to return, but had brought just in case. Everyone had the station explained to them as an option as they came in. No one was obligated to participate, and since it was set up for two people off to the side, no one even noticed if someone skipped it. (I find it so odd that guests in the above story had to participate, and that they made it such a difficult task)

    While we were watching the mom-to-be open her gifts, one of the guests decided that the onsie station was her kids’ private play area. We came back to find the expensive markers (including the ones we hoped to return) used to color on the table, the stencils, and each other. Several caps were missing, meaning the markers dried out before everyone had the chance to use them. They had even ruined several onsies, which were covered in ugly dark scribbles.

    I felt terrible for the host, who was quite upset. I can’t believe the gall of that mother.

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