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What's a Sip-and-See? Is it a real thing? How does it work?

Hosting the Perfect Post-Birth Party

By Amalah

Hey there,

Many moons and babies ago, I asked you advice about throwing a wine tasting shower for my sister’s wedding. Well, said sister now has a toddler, and another on the way (side note, we both had our first babies 2 months apart.)

So, my sister is expecting baby #2 in 2 months. She is having a girl, and her first was a girl. We both decided a second baby shower wasn’t really necessary, BUT…

After having my own son, I realize a shower is more about just receiving gifts. I want to acknowledge this baby’s birth just as the first baby’s.

Question: Are “Sip and Sees” an actual thing? People come, see the baby, and drink stuff? Mimosas? Coffee? Tea? Rum and Coke at 10 am? Can I have an actual piggy bank where “donations to baby’s first bank account are fine, but if you can’t… cool?” I’d just set it up and people can put money in it if they want.

Whatcha think? Acceptable? Another excuse to drink stuff? Both?

Sincerely,
Having perpetual trouble with shower planning

Sip and See

Post-birth meet-the-baby parties are ABSOLUTELY a thing, especially for second (or third, fourth, etc.) babies. Or whenever a mom-to-be decides she’d rather avoid a traditional baby shower with tons of gifts. (These sort of events can also be self-hosted without breaking any etiquette rules, so they’re also great options for women who don’t have a friend or relative who’s willing/able to host on their behalf, or who have friends they don’t feel comfortable inviting to something gift-centric.) A post-birth party can also save the new parents from having to deal with a ton of separate postpartum visitors, and instead do a one-and-done across-the-board invite of friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

So as you can tell, I’m a big fan of the post-birth party, provided as much planning and hosting pressure is taken on the new mom as possible. (Has anyone here watched the [incredibly excellent] Amazon series Catastrophe? There was an entire episode based around a Sip-and-See party, hosted by the new parents. Towards the end, the poor mom breaks down in tears, not because of any of the million things that have gone horribly wrong, but because “Everyone’s still HERE. Why won’t they LEAVE?” And man, did I completely feel her in that moment.) So with that goal in mind, I’d recommend:

  • You opt for a casual Open House format so guests can be greeted individually or in small groups, with no pressure for anyone to stay the entire time.
  • If you have the party at your sister’s house, get her the gift of a housecleaning service to get her house ready for company.
  • If you have the party at your house, make sure she’ll have everything she needs for the baby and supervision/entertainment for her toddler (and yours, obviously!).
  • Food should be catered, potluck or otherwise super-low effort.
  • Have hand sanitizer or wipes readily available for guests before they hold or touch the baby.
  • Have a set end time and stick to it, or at least check in with your sister to gauge whether she’d like you to start signaling that the party is wrapping up or not (i.e. start cleaning up and putting alcohol away).

Gifts?

I would advise against having a piggy bank or visible donation area, since I think that would likely take some guests by surprise.  (And as a person who never, ever carries cash around that would make me feel pretty bad/dumb/unprepared, and those are definitely not the feelings you want any guests to potentially feel.) Any sort of gift/favor expectation (or lack thereof) should probably be made super clear on the invitation. “No gifts please,” or perhaps request that guests bring a freezer-friendly dish for the new parents, or contribute a bottle to the “YAY <MY SISTER> CAN DRINK AGAIN” alcohol stash. Or just don’t mention anything and let people bring or not-bring whatever they want.

Because honestly, no matter what you say or don’t say on the invite, some guests WILL show up with baby gifts. That’s pretty much a guarantee, because people love buying baby things. But to avoid embarrassing any non-gift-givers (and avoid turning your non-shower into something that hella looks like a shower), these gifts should be treated much like any gift that shows up at any party where the invite specified “No Gifts Please.” Thank the giver in person, then take the gift elsewhere and out of sight of guests. Open gifts later in private and then send a thank-you note. It’s also likely that some people will bring something for the new big sister — and that’s entirely up to you and your sister on how to handle those; either let her open and play with them or likewise save them for later so she doesn’t start expecting/demanding toys from everybody who shows up.

Party Set-up

Other than those super-general suggestions, though, you can honestly do whatever the hell you want. A brunch-style spread with some mimosas, a backyard beer-and-BBQ get-together, a wine-and-cheese party where everybody brings a bottle of their favorite wine, whatever! What kind of party do you and your sister enjoy throwing for any other reason? A new baby is a TERRIFIC reason to throw a party, and I bet plenty of guests will be overjoyed to come and celebrate the new baby girl’s birth no matter what you call it or what kind of booze you serve. (Especially in a non-traditional baby-shower setting where the hostess isn’t going to spread baby food on diapers and make you smell it. Please let us end that shower game in our lifetime, ladies. I beg of you.)

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Comments

  • Roselyne

    Oooh, I didn’t realize that this was a ‘Thing’!

    When we had our first, I (very very strongly) preferred not to be at the center of attention at a baby shower, and my MIL really really wanted her friends/community to celebrate with us (and we now live in that community, so we’re really thankful for the inclusion) so when our girl was about 6 weeks old, she threw a tea party.

    It seemed simple – tea, pitchers of lemonade, a few plates of cookies/scones/brownies/fruit salad, minimal decorations. Tea party was like 2-4, so not particularly overwhelming. And we got a lot of baby clothes and the like, but we ALSO got a huge quantity of children’s books, which are SO appreciated – I have a kid who loves reading, so it’s a blessing even now that she’s 2!

    Depending on how they’re stocked with kid’s books, a book-themed tea party might be relatively easy to put together. And not stock the house full of 2x as many baby clothes as needed, while also letting people show up with a 5$ gift if that’s their budget (kid’s books can be cheap!), or go all-out with stacks if that’s how they’re inclined.

  • Duh! This is an awesome idea! I’ve been thinking about showers as my friend group is getting ready for our second round.. this is a great plan. Thanks! You could also hire a babysitter or coordinate someone to take the older kids outside / in another room.

  • Ashley G

    Is there a time frame for when this is appropriate? My second will be born in February and I really don’t want to expose him/her to all the nasty cold and flu germs. My first was hospitalized with RSV when he was 5 weeks, so we’re pretty paranoid parents…

    • Jessica V.

      I’d suggest waiting until the baby is at LEAST 8 weeks/whenever they get their first vaccinations and reminding people to please stay home if they aren’t feeling well.