As the vaccine rollout continues across the country, there’s a glimmer of hope for social gatherings (birthday dinners! baby showers!) this summer. And while we’re nowhere near going back to punch bowls and communal platters of crudités and dip (hello, double-dipping!), we can begin to approach socializing from a COVID-conscious perspective. After more than a year of isolation, it feels like a privilege and a blessing to be able to celebrate again, especially the emergence of new life. If you or someone you know got particularly busy during the quarantine, and are now expecting a little one, here are some ideas for baby showers to welcome in the new baby while keeping everyone safe!
And before you send out those invites, take a peek at our recommendations for how to safely gather a group these days. Because even if you’re vaccinated, there are still plenty of precautions to keep in mind.
Note: There are certain foods that pregnant people should avoid or eat only in moderation. Please check with your doctor if you have any concerns about what to eat.
Cheers to That!
To start off, you’re going to need something to toast with! In solidarity with the expecting mothers out there, here are some of my favorite nonalcoholic drinks and “mocktails,” if you will, that look as good as they taste. To make the setup extra COVID-conscientious, pre-pour the drinks or set up a drink station so everyone can serve themselves.
This homemade soda starts with a homemade orange syrup infused with mint and fresh ginger. The syrup is also easy to make ahead and set up as a DIY soda bar. Cute!
The stunning pink hue of this drink will set the mood for any celebration, and the best part? It’s totally natural. Better yet—this watermelon agua fresca is balanced, hydrating, and incredibly simple. Tip: Let people add their own bitters (technically they’re alcoholic!) so any expectant moms in the crowd can omit.
Arnold Palmers are a summer staple, but swapping in matcha for the traditional black tea makes the drink feel festive and new. Be sure to follow authors Andrew Chau and Bin Chen’s tips on “hitting the ice” to master the color-blocked layers.
Whether you're eating cured meats and soft cheeses or not, charcuterie and cheese boards are everywhere these days, and for good reason. They’re easy to assemble, require zero actual cooking, and are extremely aesthetically pleasing. If you’re going for Instagrammable moments at your baby shower, and hosting a relatively small group, consider making your party guests their own individual boards—COVID-safe and extremely photogenic.
Though it's not a traditional charcuterie board, any bread and cheese platter instantly transports me to an Italian villa in the summertime. What more could you want?
Turkey and Brie have never looked this good. This “deconstructed” sandwich board is made from super accessible ingredients, but looks way more impressive than the sum of its parts.
A Toast to Toast
Rather than large-format salads or plated dishes, I predict parties will move more toward hors d'oeuvres and individual bites for the foreseeable future. I love toasts because they’re self-contained, pre-portioned foods, making the job of keeping everyone safe just that much easier. Here are some of my favorite bites.
Light, zesty, creamy perfection. These crostini are inexpensive yet sophisticated, and the perfect concise bites.
Another modern take on a classic canapé, these smoked-salmon-topped toasts are easy to assemble. Whether your baby shower is a brunch, lunch, or dinner, these toasts would be great for a party anytime of day. If you're skipping the smoked salmon while pregnant, consider carrot lox.
Another approach to the category of “one-bite wonders,” but think dessert. Not only are mini desserts adorable, they make serving so much easier (and safer!) than cake or pie. Here are a few of my favorite mini desserts that range in difficulty level from super simple to pastry pro.
These mini brownie “layer cakes” are actually just brownies sandwiched with whipped cream and store-bought berry jam. If you want to make them even easier, forgo the homemade brownies for some from your favorite bakery (or those mini brownies from the grocery store—no one will know!)
Investing in a mini Bundt pan will yield easy, impressive desserts every time. These simple chocolate cakes from dessert expert Dorie Greenspan are no exception.
Not a chocolate person? I love these tropical cheesecakes full of zesty lime and coconut that get baked in muffin tins. My favorite part is the saltine crust—I highly recommend using this crust for any and every cheesecake you make. They’re the perfect salty-sweet treat.
Want to impress your guests? Choux pastry is so much easier to make that it looks, especially when Resident dessert expert Erin McDowell is teaching you how to make it. Fill them with cream and dip in a vibrant berry glaze and the baby shower will feel like a French patisserie in no time.
If feeding everyone doesn’t fit in your budget or level of comfort (totally valid!), keep the masks on for the party, and instead opt for sending your guests home with a homemade edible gift. From granola to a creative way to use that sourdough discard you cultivated during the quarantine, here are a few of my favorites.
You can’t go wrong with granola, and this is one of my absolute favorite recipes. It’s a perfect blueprint that allows for endless riffing—use any nuts, seeds, spices, or other mix-ins that you like—and you’ll still end up with delicious granola every time.
This “grown-up” take on cereal party mix has more umami, more zest, and more kick. It’s so crunchy and buttery, it’s hard to stop after a handful, so warn your guests they may finish theirs before they even get home.
Did you spend your time in quarantine baking up a sourdough storm? Put that discard to good use and bake up a big batch of these peppery herb crackers. Bag some up in cellophane or mason jars and tie with twine for a surprisingly upscale party favor.
While they might not look the most sophisticated, these sweet-and-salty cookies are guaranteed to satisfy any cravings, pregnant or not. Send your guests home with these and you’ll achieve Best Host Ever status in no time.
For a classic, rustic favor, send off your guests with a jar of homemade jam. It’s sweet, thoughtful, and can be made well in advance. This strawberry jam is an old standby for me; sweet, tart, and full of love.