Thursday, February 4, 2010
Etiquette challenge: The untamed shower
This past weekend, my first impulse was to email you after a dreadful, DREADFUL baby shower I hosted. It was in honor of my cousin; I suppose you could call her my family's Lydia Bennet. She is expecting her second child soon, yet is only 20. My extended family was worn out from helping the fEtirst time around, and as no one had offered a shower, I said that I would host one for the family. I should mention my family is very, very conservative Catholic, but this cousin has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. My aunt had sold or donated most of the baby things from the first time, expecting that experience not to be repeated until there were two rings on her daughter's left hand. Immediately after I offered, my cousin asked if she could invite three friends. Of course, I answered, three friends are fine.
Saturday approached, and everything was ready. I was taken aback when her first guest arrived and immediately helped herself to cake, but that was only the start. Another guest brought her husband. Six more friends arrived. Another brought her baby, and resolutely sat on the couch while her baby screamed the entire time. They sprawled over my furniture, texting away, and glared at my husband when he passed through. The invitations to the shower said from 1-3, and her friends stayed till 3:30 (to be fair, only a few received invitations).
What should I have done?!!?
I suspect each reader will have a different method here and I welcome their perspectives. Honestly, with a list such as this, best to pick your battles, you are not going to correct it all in two hours, the best you can hope for is to salvage enough to have decent photos, possibly.
Frankly, I might have given up, grabbed the champagne and headed for the kitchen stool. But you, Amy, you are a fighter.
One thinks immediately of a sitcom when reading this, do they not? Some sort of Married with Children brand of social disaster? You could act in kind, snatching cake from mouths and hands, gently replacing it, plastering it back together with a spatula while holding a screaming baby and noting, to the husband in attendance, "It's a bridal shower! If you want to stay, you must wear a dress!" Oh. No? Okay. Okay.
So, Amy. Surely, you did the best you could. In the end it is really about celebrating the impending child and you are right to swallow some of these slights for a family member. But you are within your rights to ask someone to step away from the cake, to announce the phones will be put away immediately as we are all here to celebrate Jenny's baby, to nod to the husband and say "there will be shower games, let me find your Cheetah ears, I hope you will play too!" to see if he doesn't run out to do an errand, and to mention gently to your cousin afterwards that you were not expecting quite so many guests and you would have appreciated an accounting to make it that much better an event for she and her friends.
And then, you know, see the bottom of a wine bottle once they leave...
Be well, our lovely Amy, always glad to hear from you.
Photo credit: marthastewart.com