All that is needed is to indicate on the invitation that the guests are requested to bring practical items like baby wipes or diapers that are minimally wrapped for the baby shower. As they arrive, the gifts are simply piled into a large, prettily decorated basket, or on a beautifully decorated table for the parents-to-be to see as they arrive.
But, to impress your guests at the dinner, keep the menu very simple. Simple food tastes better when seasonal food is chosen – the food tastes best when it's at its peak. Plus, you will be better able to enjoy your own party when you're not slaving away in the kitchen.
For example, you can start with a beautiful yet simple antipasti platter. A selection of cheese, deli meats, pickles, and vegetables make up a great starter. A perfectly ripened crumbly wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano can be broken up into chunks and served with a dip of balsamic vinegar and fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Served with a few paper thin slices of Parma ham and dried salami, dried Kalamata olives marinated in fresh rosemary, chopped garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil, and char-broiled sweet red and green peppers simply dressed in a mix of lemon juice, lemon basil, and a generous shower of fresh-ground black pepper. All of this can be prepared in advance and simply set into the serving platter before dinner starts.
Choose a main meal that can be prepared ahead and simply heated when your guests arrive. A casserole like a vegetable or seafood lasagna, or a vaguely comforting yet unfamiliar dish like the Belgian Carbonnade a la Flamade blends common ingredients like beef, onions, and beer in an impressive dish that can be paired with simple buttered noodles tossed in parsley or simple smashed garlic potatoes.
If you can cook something the day of the baby shower dinner party, then choose something simple like a roast chicken or loin of pork, or a whole baked fish. Up the wow factor by choosing an unusual side like a ragout of baby vegetables or by serving a blast from the past with traditional fiddle head ferns quickly sauteed in butter and minced garlic.
Now that you've built up the wow factor, knock your guests off their feet with the dessert. Throw them a twist by serving carpaccio for dessert using whisper-slices of three kinds of melon dressed with a mixture orange blossom honey, sour orange juice, and tarragon. An impressive yet rustic pastry is the free-form tart made with fruits in season – apples, pears, berries or stone fruit – and served with a tiny scoop of premium vanilla or caramel ice cream.
Why do all the work when the guests can take part, too? Serve up
little pots of gourmet French chocolate fondue with the prerequisite
strawberries, pound cake, and orange segments. If you've got the
stove top cookers for it, try out a traditional yet unusual version
using bubbling hot caramel for dipping well-chilled chunks of banana,
pineapples, kiwis, whole strawberries, and starfruit slices and
then dipping them in a bowl filled with water and ice to make the
caramel crisp. Imagine an explosion of taste, temperature and texture
all at the same time!