Enliven Her Bridal Shower by Choosing Modern Themes

Times Staff Writer

A bridal shower that's a show-stopper. That's what you want.

And that's what you'll probably get if you peg it to a contemporary theme--one that speaks to the diversity of interests of today's women.

To start with, you'll get a bunch of ideas for themes from "Bridal Showers: 50 Great Ideas for a Perfect Shower" by Sharon E. Dlugosch and Florence E. Nelson (Perigree Books: $6.95). The ones that stopped the show for us were the Bio-Rhythm Shower, No Sweat Shower and the Second-Time Around Shower.

No Gifts, Just Wishes

For the increasing number of women who have gone through it all before, have everything to begin a household and need only a morale boost from pals, the Second Time Around Shower is all heart. No gifts, just warm wishes. The party givers are the bride and bridegroom themselves, the place a banquet hall or hotel where they meet, greet and treat their friends. The authors suggest champagne and hors d'oeuvres, with a Cupid ice sculpture presiding. Music in the background? Harp, of course.

The bio-rhythm theme requires a home computer and bio-rhythm program (or, for that matter, a computer diet program if it's a calorie-counting party) in order to evaluate each guest's chart. It could be fun while munching on lunch, desserts, diet food or whatever the hostess deems fit for the occasion.

And to show how anxiety-free showers are becoming these days, the authors suggest an impromptu No Sweat Shower, which exercise classmates can spring upon an unsuspecting bride. "When the class session or game is over "blindfold and lead her to the party area . . . bring out the crepe paper, streamers, balloons, bells . . . take two or three minutes to decorate a sitting space where she'll open gifts . . . While some of the guests are doing the decorating the others are setting out refreshments." Get the idea?

"These parties are intimate, small occasions and are rarely catered," said Charles Compton, designer for Parties Plus in Los Angeles.

Trouble-Free Affairs

However, Compton did offer a few ideas for an expressive but trouble-free affair: "One way is to plan a pot luck buffet with everyone pitching in with the work and expense, but with a slight twist: Have all guests bring one of their favorite dishes to add to the buffet, and the recipe for the bride's file."

If, however, you are doing an afternoon tea, stress desserts, Compton said. "Ask everyone to bring a dessert along with a recipe."

A Sandwich Torte

If you plan brunch, try a sandwich torte (the Italian term for a multi-layered round or rectangular loaf is torta rustica) , using spinach or other cooked vegetables, omelet, smoked sliced chicken or smoked salmon with cream cheese in layers between tortillas, pita bread or horizontal bread slices.

For a dessert party, try small cookies and cakes--custard tarts, seed cookies, chocolate mint cookies, or sugar cookies cut into shapes reflecting the shower theme and painted with vegetable dyes. Many gourmet bakeries will do cookies and tea sandwiches to order, as well. And don't discount take-out foods that can pull together ethnic themes easily, efficiently and inexpensively. Chinese take-outs, Japanese sushi places, Italian and French and Middle Eastern delis are ideal sources for easy-going shower meals with ethnic themes.

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