A collage of polaroid images from COVID baby showers including a Zoom party, moms wearing face masks and individual boxes of food.

A time to gather, celebrate and help parents-to-be stock up on newborn essentials, baby showers feel like rites of passage for many women. But with ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions, plus the approach of cold weather, it may seem impossible to create a plan that brings everyone together, keeps everyone safe and feels special, too.

We chatted with five Canadian moms-to-be about their socially distanced baby showers—and how they made them fun and safe in spite of our “new normal.”

“I was worried a virtual shower would be so awkward. My greatest fear is when the camera is just on you.”

A polaroid photo of a pregnant woman sitting on the floor of her kitchen with her husband, wine and cheese during her virtual baby shower. Image source: Mystique Mattai

The mom-to-be: Mystique Mattai, @chef.souschef
The city: Toronto, ON
The plan: A virtual baby shower

On the food drop: “We delivered [food] boxes before the shower, which was the best part because it allowed us to see our guests and have that time where we were able to have small talk.”

On choosing an activity: “We decided to create individual cheese boards with wine pairings for the shower. We found it really broke the ice with the guests and provided a fun experience and something interactive to do together. My brother-in-law is a sommelier and fromager, so he helped us with all the pairings.”

On taking it online: “I was worried a virtual shower would be so awkward. My greatest fear is when the camera is just on you and everyone is asking to see the bump and how you’re feeling. We decided to do it virtually, but to tie it into an experience, so the attention was kind of taken away from me.”

On hosting in the evening: “We did it on a Friday night so people could enjoy [their wine and cheese] afterward, even if they didn’t stay on the call long.”

“We invited people and told them to come in shifts so there weren’t a lot of people there all at once.”

A polaroid photo of two women in face masks, one holding a newborn baby and one holding a dog, at a socially distanced baby shower. Image source: Tessa Weir

The mom-to-be: Tessa Weir
The city: Edmonton, AB
The plan: A socially distanced baby shower, outdoors and in shifts

On inviting guests in shifts: “The shower was held in my sister’s backyard, which is quite big, and she had seating areas in different corners of the yard. We invited people and told them to come in shifts so there weren’t a lot of people there all at once. There were three shifts of people who dropped in and about 30 people came in total.”

On COVID safety precautions: “When you came in, there was hand sanitizer and masks that you could put on. All the food was individually packaged—there were charcuterie boxes and cupcakes for everyone. It was way easier because there was no cleanup.”

On distancing: “I had it after my daughter was born and she was with me. No one got to hold her, and I didn’t hug anyone. Other than people not being close, it’s how I wanted it to be anyway.”

“Leading up to the Ottawa shower at the end of July, masks were still a contentious subject.”

A polaroid photo of a pregnant woman standing next to a table of gifts at her outdoor baby shower. Image source: Alex McKay

The mom-to-be: Alex McKay, @alexgmckay
The city: Toronto and Ottawa, ON
The plan: Two small baby showers

On the guest list: “I ended up having two baby showers—one in Ottawa at the end of July and one in Toronto in mid-August. I would have likely done the same with or without COVID, but this gave guests the opportunity to celebrate without having to travel outside their region. However, the Ottawa guest list went from 20 to seven because many people were supposed to come from Montreal and that area was experiencing a spike at the time of the event.”

On wearing masks: “Leading up to the Ottawa shower at the end of July, masks were still a contentious subject and were not yet required in stores and public places. People were still debating what they were comfortable with. Not all family members were supportive of mask-wearing. We eventually came to an agreement, but there were certainly conversations and boundaries laid out.”

On the bright side: “Having a smaller group at the Ottawa shower resulted in a really intimate gathering. I felt like I got to safely talk to everyone who came, and we all had the opportunity to speak openly about how we were feeling about the current state of the world. All around, it was reassuring to see that most people had the same comfort level and respected each other’s needs and requests.”

“Everyone stayed home and safe and still had a blast.”

A polaroid photo of a pregnant woman and her partner sitting at their outdoor baby shower holding a diaper cake. Image source: Vanessa Béland

The mom-to-be: Vanessa Béland, @fleurmaison
The city: Montreal, QC
The plan: A virtual baby shower with a few in-person guests

On changing plans: “In the beginning, we planned for a small gathering of our closest family members. We were going to [invite 10 guests] and keep it small and casual. I was worried several times with rules changing frequently with COVID. I didn’t want to plan a big event that would end up being cancelled days prior to the set date. We had to downsize it even more with new restrictions that came our way.”

On taking it online: “Because we were under confinement [a.k.a. lockdown] at the time of our baby shower, it was mostly an online event. We had four members of our family there to set up decorations and organize everything with Zoom and the gifts. Going with the virtual baby shower was definitely the best move. Everyone stayed home and safe and still had a blast.”

On gifting: “We did an online wish list. Gifts were then shipped to an organizer’s home or dropped off if they lived close by. The organizers wrapped the gifts that needed to be wrapped and brought everything to our home on the day of the event.”

“I didn’t want anyone to feel obligated or uncomfortable.”

A polaroid photo of a pregnant woman standing next to a table of food at her outdoor baby shower. Image source: Erica Cupido

The mom-to-be: Erica Cupido, @ericacupido
The city: Toronto, ON
The plan: Three small showers

On making the guest list: “My family decided that we would split our guests into smaller groups, rather than plan for a large group and have to pivot at the last minute. My mother-in-law hosted one shower and my mother hosted two: one for my family and one for friends.”

On extra cost and time: “It meant more spending and coordinating for my mom and mother-in-law. Extra consideration definitely had to go into essentials like food, set-up and seating. Keeping up with the latest advice from the government and health officials also meant that we also had to be willing to change our plans at any moment.”

On pre-event nerves: “I did feel a little nervous because there were moments when it felt like recommendations were changing all the time. I didn’t want anyone attending to feel obligated or uncomfortable. I just wanted everyone to have the chance to relax and catch up. I was very fortunate to have the space available to host multiple events and family members who were willing to make it all possible.”