Prior to Saturday, I had never hosted a baby shower. Sure, I’d been to a handful of them: dutifully purchased my gifts, arrived early on a Saturday morning, eaten my share of pink cupcakes, and grumbled at the lack of champagne.
Despite my prior experiences—and my lack of experience—when my best friend, Joanna, announced she was pregnant, I sheepishly offered to plan the celebration.
There was a precedent with this shower. Brooke had hosted Joanna’s wedding shower a few years prior, taking over Old Town’s gorgeous Morrison House hotel for a pinkies-out brunch served by butlers in tuxedos. And Joanna’s wedding, in which we ferried to gorgeous Peak’s Island in Maine, was elegant enough to be in a Martha Stewart Living feature.
I couldn’t do this alone. So a team of us—four hosts in total—teamed up, and the emails started flying. First, the location. Host the shower at someone’s home? A park? A party room? In Washington? In Arlington? In Maryland? The options were endless, and I quickly realized that nearly every hotel, restaurant, and open area of space in Washington has a wedding shower package.
After a lot of research (complete with a spreadsheet), we finally decided that neither a tequileria or a wine bar would be really appropriate, and so we would host the shower at Rustico in Ballston. It was central to all the Virginia and Washington attendees and the restaurant has a semi-private room that is a step lower than the main dining area.
The elevation gives just enough privacy to an event, but doesn’t cut you off from the fun the rest of the restaurant is having. Plus, I instantly took a liking to the Rustico team via email. The private dining director was quick to answer any questions and lock down the room and the menu for us, alleviating about half the stress.
Now, the details. The host team had been doing its fair share of pinning for inspiration, and so we were each armed with ideas for a proper brainstorm. The next logical step was a conference call, which I took from crowded Bar Pilar one evening, making me feel even more inappropriate about my role as a baby shower hostess.
The details were easy. Baby’s father works on airplanes, so we landed on a vintage travel theme. Once that was decided, the sky was the limit.
The invitations went out, asking guests to help celebrate the “future world-traveler.” And it grew from there. Instead of a guestbook, we purchased an old globe, where people scrawled notes to the new parents in between continents and oceans. We found “BABY” map-decoupage letters, balloons, and toothpicks with international flags. We filled a vintage suitcase with favors wrapped in maps.
The cherry on the cake was the table settings. Tracy found a gorgeous vintage globe with a brass airplane perched atop. Every place was set with a vintage postcard, where we wrote well-wishes to the baby boy. For the flowers, I ordered five spring bouquets from UrbanStems, which arrived wrapped in burlap the night before. I put the blooms in Mason jars with navy ribbons and vintage passport stickers. The table was stunning, and perfectly appropriate.
At noon, the guests arrived and the presents piled up. After some catching up and chatting, we all sat down to brunch at the two long tables. We had put in our order for the food prior to the event, but by that point I had forgotten what we asked for. So the dishes that arrived were lovely surprises for us all.
First, a salt-roasted beet salad. It was a refreshing start, with baby arugula, walnuts, shallots, an orange vinaigrette, and goat cheese fondue. The dish was loaded with beets, and perfect for sharing at a big table.
Long plates of buttermilk biscuit sliders arrived. Inside the hot biscuits was Italian sausage scramble and melted cheddar cheese. Bite-sized and great for passing the plate along. The setting was gorgeous, the food was great, the company even better. We were doing so well at this hosting thing! Then it was time for games.
Eschewing chocolate-filled diapers, Derek instead opted for a selection of travel-themed party games found on Etsy. The sheets fit in perfectly with the décor, and the games were splendid: Find the spelling of “baby” in different languages, identify the wonders of the world. Bottles of champagne were passed out as prizes.
The food keep coming. Sweet potato skins, filled with scrambled eggs and goat cheese and topped with a bit of smoked bacon, were a nice surprise. We all loved the substantial, carb-filled, eggy goodness—and I had never had a baked potato loaded with eggs (how perfect).
We also enjoyed two types of pizza. First, a country breakfast pizza made with tomato sauce, potatoes, onion, bacon, and mozzarella. It had two big farm eggs on top that we had to break open, of course. The other pizza was a white pizza, made with mozzarella, fresh ricotta, and basil pesto.
At this point, we were all rather full, but the food kept coming. Dishes of breakfast poutine arrived. Joanna’s husband is French Canadian, so we felt it was only appropriate. The French fries were gloriously covered in smoked bacon gravy and cheese curds, with a massive egg on top. Messy but delicious.
The baguette French toast were actually small little rounds of syrup-drenched toast made with warm whiskey apple compote, pecans, with a dollop of cranberry curd on top. Another great bite-sized brunch dish for a party.
For dessert, Rustico’s famous powdered sugar and cinnamon donuts were placed on the table along with cups of chocolate and caramel sauce for dipping. But we all went for the stunning cake, topped with vintage map flowers and made by Tracy the day before.
The Bitches say: A+ of course! A successful baby shower made possible by the gorgeous space, delicious food, and friendly staff at Rustico.
4075 Wilson Blvd,