bridal shower favors
Cary Diaz Photography

There’s a wedding tradition that you may be dreading: the bridal shower. While a beautiful gesture from your loved ones, bridal showers can often be filled with outdated traditions, awkward mingling—and extended gift opening that your guests have to grin and bear. While we won’t tell you to skip the shower altogether (your friends and family really do want to celebrate you, even if it is uncomfortable for you to be in the spotlight!) there are ways to modernize a shower and make it fun for everyone—be they guest, host, or the bride!

Take these six alternatives to bridal shower traditions as an example:

The Tradition: Tea sandwiches, brunch fare, and mimosas

The Solution: Have a tasting or throw a nighttime affair

Most bridal showers are either brunch-time parties, afternoon teas, or midday party with mini bites. Switch things up by having a little more fun and creativity with the food. Instead of mimosas and quiche, throw a dessert shower with a cupcake and wine pairings. Or, consider a bridal shower dinner at the bride’s favorite restaurant instead, if it’s within your budget. Still want to keep it during the day? Instead of hosting a brunch or having mini appetizers passed around, offer a private cooking class to your guests. Hire a private chef to come to the party and teach everyone how to make a meal perfect for a newlywed date. This will keep guests entertained—and well fed!

The Tradition: Your partner arrives at the end with flowers

The Solution: Ask for a co-ed shower

The last few minutes of the shower, when the future spouse of the guest of honor arrives with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, is sweet—but also an awkward moment as everyone ooh’s and ahh’s over the happy couple, then rushes out the door to leave. Instead of forcing your beloved to jam small talk into the five minutes he’s there, consider a co-ed wedding shower for the both of you (after all, that registry is for two). Invite both sets of friends and consider activities everyone will enjoy—from a beer tasting to an in-person newlywed game.

bridal shower opening presents
Christina Watkins Photography

The Tradition: Playing typical bridal shower games

The Solution: Plan a group activity—that’s not wedding related—instead

To help get the mingling going, many showers include a fun game or two—be it “How well do you know the bride” or “Guess the facts” about the couple. But we’ve all played these games a time or two too many. Instead, consider basing your bridal shower completely around a group activity: Book a sip and paint class and make fun art everyone can take home; having a bowling party shower and name teams after milestones in the couple’s lives; or go to a vineyard for a tasting. Anything that works for a girls day out will work equally as well as entertainment for your shower guests.

The Tradition: Opening gifts in front of everyone

The Solution: Skip this part altogether!

Your grandma and mother want to see the china pattern you picked out—but let’s face it, watching someone unwrap gifts for 45 minutes can be exhausting. Even with the most efficient bridesmaids helping to speed the process along, this is often the part shower guests dread the most. And the bride, having to show enthusiasm for each item, can feel pretty awkward, too. Instead, ask guests to send gifts directly to the address where you registered and have just a small group of people (read: grandma and mom) come over to help you go through your gifts. You can put that request right on the invitation. If your host insists presents come directly to the shower, consider asking that they come unwrapped. We’ve heard of a bride or two who create display tables of these unwrapped gifts so guests can see what they got—without having to sit through the opening of them.

bridal shower group of women
Michelle Able Photography

The Tradition: Making a ribbon bouquet

The Solution: Ask for meaningful contributions to your rehearsal décor

Along with opening presents comes the ribbon bouquet—a bridesmaid’s craft project that you’ll use at your ceremony rehearsal. Not only is this a lot of pressure for your ‘maid, there’s a good chance you’ll lose it before the big weekend anyway. Consider, instead, having guests each contribute something special for rehearsal décor. If you go the bouquet route, ask them each to bring a flower brooch to make a long-lasting bouquet you can hold onto forever. Or, ask each to write a “best wishes” not on the back of a photo of you or cut out hearts that you can display at rehearsal dinner.

The Tradition: The newlywed game

The Solution: Celebrate your friendships instead

Of the most popular games at showers, one that appears again and again is the newlywed game, where a bridesmaid has interviewed your fiancé behind the scenes and you’re in the hot seat to match his answers. It’s fun, and usually gets everyone laughing, but if this makes you uncomfortable consider a way to celebrate and honor the folks how came out to shower you instead. Ask everyone to bring a favorite photo of themselves with you and write a favorite memory on the back. Then, put it in a scrapbook for you to treasure in your new married life. No public embarrassment required!