A New Kind of Shower is a Gift for All
By: Mary Fran Bontempo
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This past weekend, I attended my second wedding shower in two weeks.

The receipt of a shower invitation usually inspires dread. Typically, women are herded into a too-small room and forced to sit in chairs making small talk for hours while the bride, perched on a carefully positioned throne for all to see, opens gift after gift, announcing the item to a requisite chorus of “ooohhhs” and “aaahhhs”.

The presence of wine or spiked punch makes these gatherings slightly more bearable, as does the food that I don’t have to cook (always an enticement to any occasion).

But for me, showers are more an occasion to forget people’s names, desperately try to fill in awkward pauses in conversations and try to gauge when it would be the proper time to get up and go to the bathroom. Showers are fun for the bride, who is getting all new stuff, but too often, the rest of us are gritting our teeth and waiting for the chance to bolt.

Thankfully, though, the trend to corral gift-givers into a room and hold us hostage for four hours seems to be on the wane and my two recent shower experiences were, dare I say it, enjoyable.

First off, in a nod to the obvious, neither shower was a “surprise.” Let’s face it, ladies, no shower is truly a surprise. The bride knows her family and friends are going to throw her a party and give her all sorts of new stuff, so can we dispense with the illusion, already? These celebrants did and the brides were present from the get-go to greet guests and enjoy the occasion, eliminating the maddening exercise of squeezing attendees into a corner of a room to shout at the bride when she makes her appearance.

Next, both showers were of the recently coined “display” variety, meaning the gifts were brought unwrapped, thus sparing additional expense and more than a few trees, and then displayed on tables for all to peruse at their leisure. Guests were free to wander about, as opposed to being chained to a seat for eons, and admire the presents.

The additional freedom also allowed for free-reigning conversation. Translation: it was easy to engage, and more important, to disengage from talk that had passed through the “Oh it’s so good to see you! How is everyone?” phase and on to Now what do I say?

Food was casually served buffet style, again encouraging easy conversational and dining pairings. And yes, there was still wine and “enhanced” punch.

In fact, the only down side of the whole experience was that I was once again reminded that I hate all of my stuff. Walking around and viewing brand new everything for the bride’s future home inspired a serious case of houseware-envy, a sentiment echoed by numerous other guests. “Geez, I just want to go home and throw everything out,” one party-goer groused. I heartily concurred.

I’m not sure how bridal showers morphed into their current format, but kudos to the younger generation for electing to free themselves, and us, from the excruciating previous incarnation. I don’t know what else could be done to streamline the shower, aside from making the whole enterprise an electronic transaction, along the lines of click here and the bride will get this from you. No need to show up anywhere.

Honestly, though, I hope that doesn’t happen. I don’t make spiked punch at home. I think I’d miss it.

What are your favorite “shower” memories? Click comments below and share!