Bridal showers can be lots of fun to plan. Some are very fancy and traditional, but many surround wedding shower themes aimed at setting up the soon-to-be-married couple with things that they’re going to need in their household.

Now that many couples are playing house long before they actually tie the knot, gift registries have expanded to cover far more aspects of the couple’s life than ever before. Twenty years ago, only department stores and specialty boutiques offered wedding gift registries. Now you can register for home improvement projects, patio furniture, camping gear

, and so much more. If it’s on Amazon, you can register for it!

If you believe you’ve already got everything you need in your home, but a friend wants to throw a themed shower for you, consider what you have that could use an upgrade. If you bought all of your kitchen gear at Target, maybe you should register at Williams Sonoma. Do you have any zillion thread count sheets to put on the bed when you return from your honeymoon? Think about what you and your fiancé would love to have, but never wanted to spend the money on. You’re not being greedy! Your friends want to help you celebrate your marriage, and they want to give you gifts that you’ll appreciate and use. Wedding shower themes make it even easier for guests to give you something that you really want.

Traditionally, bridal showers were for ladies only. But co-ed, or “Jack & Jill,” showers have become very popular. Just remember that a shower that includes the groom doesn’t have to replace the traditional bridal shower. Many brides have multiple showers – just don’t invite anybody to more than one (that’s considered a gift grab).

Showers for the bride and groom tend to have more modern themes – and that’s a good thing. The groom’s single buddies aren’t going to be excited about buying you sheets and monogrammed pillowcases. But if the shower has a theme that his friends can get invested in, they’ll make the party memorable and fun.

7 guaranteed winner co-ed wedding shower themes

  • A Backyard Shower suggests that guests help the couple set up their patio and yard for maximum home entertainment. Gifts to register for include high-quality acrylic dishes, serving dishes, platters, beverage ware and pitchers, service trays for carrying supplies to the outside table, lighting elements, picnic-style linens, yard art, grilling accessories, hammocks, and anything else that would the backyard the couple’s personal oasis. If there is a pool or hot tub, high quality towels, toys, and accessories make excellent gifts. Throw the party in somebody’s backyard, and have some easy games available for guests, like bocce, corn hole, or volleyball. Depending on the maturity level of the guests, a flip-cup table might be appropriate later on.
  • The Stock-the-Bar Shower hostess assigns a different kind of liquor to each guest invited. Guests are asked to bring their assigned bottle of booze, and to accessorize it with fixings for a specific drinks, or something else that’s standard on a bar. For example, a guest bringing rum might also include pineapple juice, a can of Coco Lopez, a pack of fancy straws and drink umbrellas, along with a recipe for making Pina Coladas.
  • A Ready-to-Entertain Shower focuses more on the barware than the actual liquor, although lots of guests may include a bottle with their gift. Gifts to register for include all kinds of glasses, bar sets, ice buckets and tongs, appetizer plates, cocktail recipe books, serving trays, and anything else that will help the newly-married couple entertain. Accessorize gifts with cocktail napkins, and jars of fancy olives and martini onions. Entertainment at the shower might include a demonstration of how to make a few specialty drinks by a professional mixologist.
  • The Build-a-Wine-Cellar Shower hostess assigns different varietals of wine to each guest, and they are expected to bring a bottle of their favorite brand of that kind of wine. Couples should register for wine glasses, cheese boards, cheese knives, fancy openers and corks, glass tags, and other oenophile paraphernalia. If the bride and groom don’t have a wine cooler or rack, the hosts may gift something appropriate, or coordinate with a few other guests to purchase something more expensive. This party should be held in the late afternoon or early evening, and generally be billed as a wine and cheese event.

  • The Great Outdoors Shower is for the couple who takes every opportunity to camp, hike, climb and have adventures outside together. It’s important for the couple to register for appropriate items for this shower because their level of experience will dictate what they already have, what they need, and what they want to upgrade. The host will put the registry info in the invitations so your diva friends aren’t totally lost when shopping. REI offers a wedding registry, but lots of less expensive gear is available on Amazon and other registries, too. Games played at this shower might include trivia about the couple’s adventures together – either challenging their memories, or the memories of their guests.
  • A Kitchen Shower was traditionally for the bride, but now couples frequently split the cooking responsibilities. A lot of grooms like to be the chef of the house. Consider registering for the fancier kitchen gadgets and appliances that you couldn’t afford when you first equipped your home. Guests may also purchase any of the basic houseware items (dishes, glasses, silver, etc.) that appear on the registry.
  • An Around-the-Clock Shower is one of my all-time favorite shower themes. The hostess assigns a time of day to each guest on their invitation, and the guest brings a gift appropriate for use at that time of day. It gets pretty creative – and it’s always interesting to see what your friends think you should be doing or using at 9 pm and 3 am. Whether times are assigned in hourly increments or shorter will be determined by the size of the guest list.

An important note about theme showers

It’s important for all invited guests to follow protocol and send a gift ahead of time to the hostess if they can’t attend, especially when there’s a shower theme that involves some assignment of the gifts.

When opening “around the clock” for example, the hostess can say “3 pm – oh wait, that’s Aunt Gertrude” and hand the gift to the couple to open. Rather than having to skip from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm because Aunt Gertrude couldn’t be bothered. The hostess should leave herself (and her mom or bestie if that works) out of the assignments and plan to fill timeslots of people who decline the invitation or fail to RSVP at all. Same goes for wine varietals or liquor bottle assignments.

Finally, in the case of alcohol-themed events, the wine or liquor that is gifted at the shower shouldn’t be opened and served to guests at the shower under any circumstances. Be sure you have plenty of beverages to serve the guests, and place all the bottles in a secure location after the gifts have been opened.

Until next time, good luck and happy wedding planning!