By Vanessa Greaves
April 01, 2016

Shower the people you love with love.

Engagements, marriages, births — life's new beginnings and major milestones call for extra-special celebrations, and a shower brunch is the perfect solution. With a late morning to early afternoon time frame, it's flexible enough to suit your guests' varied schedules; and the shower aspect lends itself to a pretty-as-a-picture party vibe.

Need a little help planning a bridal or baby shower? We have easy ideas for food, drink, and festive touches to make your gathering truly memorable.

Pretty Party Food for a Festive Shower Brunch

The theme here is easy but elegant bites you can make ahead of time. As finger foods, they work well for mix-and-mingle noshing that doesn't require sitting down with a knife and fork. Since you're the best judge of what your crowd likes to eat, use these recipe suggestions as a starting point. Browse our complete collection of appetizer recipes for more ideas.

Savory Bites

These tasty puff pastry appetizers might look fancy but they come together easily in just minutes. To scale up the recipe for more servings, click on "servings" and adjust the number.

Mini Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tarts
Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

Use a pastry bag with a star tip to press swirls of smoked salmon mousse and herbed cheese onto cucumber rounds. Make-ahead tip: Keep sliced cucumbers fresh for a day or two by storing in zip-top bags with a damp paper towel.

Salmon and Cheese Cucumber Bites
Photo by Meredith

Adapt this gluten-free mini quiche with ingredients to suit your guests. Make-ahead tip: Bake, cool, and freeze several batches, then reheat on a lined baking sheet in a 400º F oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch the video to see how to make them.

Not your ordinary chicken-based appetizers. These baked bundles are a passage to India spiced with coriander, turmeric, cumin, and coconut milk. Don't skip the lemongrass!

Chicken Curry Puffs
Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

True confession: One of our favorite things about shrimp cocktail is the sauce, and this one is a 5-star winner. You can poach the shrimp and whip up the sauce the day before, and set it out on ice come party day.

Amp up the flavor by marinating the mini mozzarella balls in olive oil and Italian herbs for a day or two before assembling. Try a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to finish it off before serving.

Sweet Treats

Individual bowls of fresh fruit layered with cake and whipped cream or yogurt make a colorful display that's easy to serve to a crowd. Love this idea? Check out more parfait recipes.

Lemon-Blueberry Dessert
Photo by Kim's Cooking Now!

Sweetheart Cupcakes for the Big Reveal

Borrow this Valentine's Day cupcake trick to create a fun way to let baby shower guests in on the big secret. Fill the middle of white cupcakes with pink- or blue-tinted cake batter and top with white frosting. When it comes time for dessert, have everyone take a bite simultaneously. Surprise! Watch the video to see how to make make the cupcakes.

This classic fruit-and-chocolate combo is always a hit. Here are all the tips you need to make chocolate-covered strawberries, from melting the chocolate to dipping the fruit.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Photo by CClove's2bake

More: Browse through our mouthwatering collection of dessert recipes for special occasions.

Festive Drinks

Because toasting and talking is thirsty business. In addition to adult beverages, your drinks choices should also include juice, flavored water, coffee, and tea.

Champagne Cocktail/Mimosa Bar

This DIY approach to beverages breaks the ice and gets everyone involved as they craft their own cocktails. As an even easier alternative, you can make a big bowl of party punch with a gorgeous fruit-and-flower ice ring or rosebud ice cubes.

Mimosa Bar
Photo by Meredith

You'll Need

  • Fruit juices. Orange, grapefruit, lemonade, nectars, etc.
  • Sparkling wine. Since you're mixing them with juice it's perfectly fine to go with inexpensive sparkling wines such as Spanish cava and Italian prosecco instead of spendy Champagne.
  • Sparkling cider or Limonata. For mixing non-alcohol mocktails.
  • Bitters (for Champagne cocktails). Angostura is easily available, or use other bitters you may like.
  • Garnishes. Berries, citrus peel, edible blossoms, mint, thyme, and rosemary.
  • Sugar cubes for Champagne cocktails.
  • Printed instructions for making a classic mimosa and Champagne cocktail.

Bar Set-Up

Pour fruit juices into glass bottles and put them in the fridge to chill with the sparkling wine. Just before party time, set the cold juices and bubbles into ice buckets. Set out glasses, ice, the rest of the drinks ingredients and the mixing instructions, and let your guests help themselves.

More: Learn how to dress up your drinks with cocktail garnishes.

Decoration Ideas

Party Decoration Balloons
Photo by Meredith

Shower brunches are special occasions, so play up the celebration decor.

  • If you know the color scheme chosen by the spouse- or parent-to-be, express it with balloons, streamers, banners, plates, napkins, etc. Raid a party store for color-coordinated paper lanterns, straws, and other extras. If the honorees don't have a particular color scheme, you can't go wrong with lots of white combined with one or two compatible colors.
  • Use trays and cake stands to display party food at different heights.
  • Dress up serving plates with edible blossoms and fresh herbs.
  • Choose a visual focal point for your food buffet. It could be a centerpiece cake or a flower arrangement that pulls all of the decoration details together.
  • If you have the time and budget, coordinate the invitations, thank-you notes, and party favors around the same visual theme.
  • Create a fun hashtag you and your friends can use for all those party photos you'll be sharing on Instagram. Keep it easy to remember, and display it prominently.

Shower Favors

Take-home gifts are a great way to thank guests with thoughtful keepsakes that extend the pleasures of the day.

  • Bridal shower guests just pampered the bride-to-be, so return the favor with an indulgent spa treat. Homemade sugar scrub is easy to do; this lemony Moisturizing Hand Scrub makes a great gift. Scented candles and soaps are also useful, thoughtful gifts that can be scaled up to make for a group.
  • Baby shower guests can go home with pink or blue nail polish embellished with ribbons and tags. Or how about cowboy or cowboy cookie mix in a jar? Include a recipe card, and they'll think delicious thoughts of you when they bake them up.

FAQ: Save-the-Date, Invitations, and Thank Yous

Q: How far ahead of time should save-the-date cards go out?
A: 4 to 6 weeks should be enough time for your peeps to get the brunch on their calendars and shop for shower gifts. Be sure to include key info like time, location, gift registry, and any other details guests should know about ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.

Q: When should I follow up with invitations?
A: Send the invites 2 to 3 weeks before the event, and follow up with anyone who doesn't respond within the RSVP time-frame. After all, you need to know how many people to plan for.

Q: I'm throwing a shower for a friend. How do I know whom to invite?
A: Just ask your friend who should be there. But if it's a surprise shower, you'll have to do a little more sleuthing with close friends and family of the honoree(s).

Q: Are handwritten thank-you cards really necessary? Aren't take-home party favors enough?
A: Handwritten thank-yous are always the right thing to do. If you're throwing a shower for a friend, consider giving them a pack of thank-you cards and stamps to make it easier to get the notes written and mailed.