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In 2014, I sat in front of my computer, in my tiny one-bedroom apartment in Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed my very own virtual baby shower, thrown by my mother who lived in Anchorage, Alaska. Since she couldn’t be there for the “real life thing” hosted by a dear friend who was more than happy to celebrate my fetus with a selection of bacon-centric treats, my mom had taken it upon herself to organize an online alternative. Armed with more than a few cocktails, a cake, her dearest friends, and Skype, I watched as my mom divied up slices of a replica of the same cake she’d sent me a day prior, laughed as her and her friends shared horror stories from their own “guess-what-melted-chocolate-candy-bar-is-in-the-diaper” baby showers, and opened up the presents my “guests” had mailed to my home.

In short, my virtual baby shower was perfect. 

Now that the country is continuing to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, what I considered to be a unique baby shower idea has become quite common. In an effort to mitigate the spread or avoid a second wave of the virus that’s as rough as the first has been, moms-to-be and the people who love them are planning virtual baby showers in lieu of large IRL gatherings. And while this pivot can be disappointing for those who were looking forward to a more traditional pre-baby party, as someone who had a virtual baby shower long before it became part of our “new normal,” I can say that there are more than a few ways to make this cyber substitute just as memorable, enjoyable, and worthwhile.

Remember: This is not the “end all, be all” if you don’t want it to be. 

If you’re facing the realization that an in-person baby shower just isn’t safe for you, as a pregnant person with a compromised immune system (thanks, fetus!) or underlying health issues, any future grandparents, family, and friends and you’re bummed about it, know that this doesn’t have to be your only shot at a baby shower. You are free to use a virtual baby shower as a placeholder of sorts; a stop gap that can help you celebrate this monumental moment in your life in real time without replacing a more personal celebration that can be facilitated in the future. 

Just think of it this way: you can throw a virtual baby shower that allows for the giving of all the baby gifts (because that’s really what this is all about, right? Get those diaper genies and breast pumps, girl!) and still enjoy a more personal party when it’s safe to do so. 

Plan a “trial run” if you’re, ahem, “technology challenged”.

Pivoting your entire life to a largely online version is, for those of us who don’t spend far too much time on Twitter or Instagram, a lot. So for those who aren’t actively “online,” and for the grandparents and future grandparents, older aunts and uncles and others who have just done the most in the form of self-care to distance themselves from social media, a trial run on whatever platform you choose will be undeniably beneficial. 

Whether it’s Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime, get those who don’t typically use these services together and have a “mock virtual baby shower.” This way, you can work out any kinks, allow those who are just learning these platforms the chance to explore without feelings nervous about “ruining the moment,” and get that one uncle to remember they have to unmute if they want anyone to actually hear them talk. (Or don’t, because sometimes uncles are just doing the most.) 

Yes, you can still have a theme. 

You don’t have to forego a theme just because people aren’t there to appreciate it in person. From customizable Zoom backgrounds and digital invite headers, to specific games and theme-focused, highly decorated thank you cards, you can still center your baby shower around, say, a stork or mustaches or mocktails or a season or whatever non-gender stereotypical specific thing makes you the most happy.

Anyone can host the baby shower! 

This is also true under “normal” circumstances, but it feels especially crucial right now. If the idea of a virtual baby shower is a little “much,” feel free to hand it off to a loving and supportive parent, family member, or friend. On the other hand, if you’d like to feel in control of at least one aspect of your pregnancy (and especially when so much feels out of your control) hop in the proverbial driver’s seat and do you. There’s no “one way” to have a baby shower. What matters most is that you feel the support, love, and encouragement you need and deserve as you enter this next phase of your life. 

Online games are more fun than you think.

If you still want to partake in baby shower games but the idea of sitting around and watching each other eat non-descript baby food gives you hives, try your hand at one of the many online baby shower game options available to you and your guests. And again, if you just want to side-step that game thing entirely, go ahead! You make the rules! Literally every part of this is your decision! 

Remember to record the event. 

For better or worse, we’re living in a time that will hopefully never be repeated, so the decision to have a baby at this time (and, let’s face it, at any time) is truly something to be thoroughly documented. So even if this wasn’t your first choice for a baby shower, record the event and have something tangible that you and your friends, family members, and future child (or children!) can look back on. If nothing else, a recording of your virtual baby shower will remind you that even if you were down and out about impending parenthood’s inability to live up to your expectations or what you had previously envisioned, you were able to adapt, overcome, and make the best of an arguably less-than-ideal situation. 

And trust me: that is going to come in real handy when you’re a mom.

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