Brides with large guest lists can get a lot of presents, and if a fuss is made over each one, the unwrapping session can literally last for hours! Here's how to make the process more enjoyable for the bride—and keep the guests from slipping into boredom comas:
1. According to tradition, all the bows and ribbons from the gifts should be collected by the shower hostesses and used to create a faux bridal bouquet for use at the rehearsal. Make sure your volunteers are stocked with a sturdy paper plate as the base for the bouquet and plenty of tape with which to attach the bows and ribbon.
2. Here’s a fun twist on the old bow-quet: Before the party, purchase a selection of bows and ribbons and attach them to a bra-and-panty set (plus a set of boxers for the groom). Stash this masterpiece aside during the party, then pull them out at the end of the opening ceremony with a big “ta-da!”
3. As the bride is opening gifts, someone writes down everything she says. All those "oooohs," "aahhhhs," and "Yes! This is perfect!" statements are then read back to the bride and her crowd as what she'll say on her wedding night. It’s one of the oldest shower "tricks" in the book, and one that the bride expects, so add a little twist to make it fresh. Rather than having the quotes be what the bride will say on the wedding night, make it what the groom will say, which makes it very interesting when the phrase "Oooo, a matching set!" is called out.
If the recorder isn’t getting any "good" quotes from the bride, get her talking. Wise shower hostesses know just the right questions to ask to guide the bride’s comments. At a recent shower, one bridesmaid asked, “Are you having trouble getting the gift out of the box, Sheryl?” And Sheryl innocently delivered a gem for the list: “Let me just twist this and it will slide right out!”
4. If the guest list is large and you expect that it will take a looooong time for the bride to get through the gifts, then do everyone a favor and split up the gift-opening sessions! The bride opens a dozen or so right after the meal, then everyone has cake. Then she opens a dozen more, and then you play a game. And so on. Breaking it up is a welcome relief for everyone, as guests don’t have to dissolve into their seats for hours, and the bride gets a break from all that gift opening, which is tough on the arms after a while.
5. Or you can incorporate a fun shower game into the opening of the gifts. Grab a kitchen timer and set it for 10 minutes when the bride starts opening her gifts. When the timer dings, the guest whose gift the bride is holding gets a prize of her own!
6. Gifts with a certain colored or irridescent bow attached to them win a small prize for the giver. You write down four or five colors on little slips of paper (white, pink, striped, etc.) and the bride pulls one slip from your hand or from a bowl to reveal the winning bow color. Add in a prize for the most attractively wrapped present (whether or not you want to alert guests ahead of time about this contest is up to you!).
8. Throw in a gag gift every now and then. Smart hostesses can tell when the guests are drifting off into those boredom comas, so make those small gag gifts easily identifiable. Wrap them in bright purple paper, for instance. When the guests see that purple gift coming from the endless presents table, they’ll perk up, knowing something fun is about to happen. Ham it up while you’re handing it over, too. It’s all in good fun.
9. Let kids participate in the opening process. The flower girl can take off the bows, for instance, and hand them to the crafty hostess making the faux bouquet. Afterwards, give each child a nice present of her own for being so helpful.
10. One trend that’s becoming very popular is the display shower—the gifts are brought unwrapped and displayed on a gift table with the card taped to the box. The bride then walks down the line, says what the gift is and praises the giver. Without the time suck of a long gift-opening process, it speeds things along. Plus, there's no waste from wrapping paper and bows—great for eco-minded brides!
Sharon Naylor is the best-selling author of over 35 wedding books, including The Ultimate Bridal Shower Idea Book, The Bridesmaid Handbook and the new Bridesmaid on a Budget. Visit sharonnaylor.net for more bridesmaid tips and advice.