A theme shower is especially suitable for brides who have already accumulated many of the housewares that tend to be given as gifts at traditional showers. Themes are also good for less traditional co-ed gatherings. The following ideas are especially festive when the theme is carried out in all aspects of the event, including invitations, menu, decorations, favors, and the gifts the guests bring.
Arrange an assortment of tea sandwiches and sweets on cake stands and pretty platters, and serve with pots of different kinds of tea. For place cards at the table, remove the tags from tea bags, replace them with small handwritten name tags, and put a tea bag in an empty cup at each guest's place. Ask each guest to bring a vintage tea cup and saucer.
Assign each guest a holiday, and the resulting gifts will become family heirlooms for the couple: a platter for the Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ornaments or Hanukkah decorations, Champagne glasses for New Year's Eve, a picnic basket for the Fourth of July.
The bride and her bridesmaids escape to a day spa and indulge in facials, manicures, and massages. This is a wonderful way to pamper the bride as her wedding approaches (but don't schedule it the week before, as facials can cause unexpected reactions). Create invitations out of cards attached to linen hand towels or bottles of bath oil.
Each guest brings a beautifully bound book, engraved bookplates, or a gift certificate to a bookstore. Send out bookmarks as invitations, and give blank bookplates out to guests as favors.
Add luxury to the couple's private realm with gifts such as monogrammed pillowcases, fluffy down pillows, and the finest cotton or linen sheets. Or expand the theme to encompass both bed and bath, and include gifts like his-and-her bathrobes, fine soaps, and towels. Since taste in these items is individual, encourage the couple to register at a department store beforehand.
The shower itself can be the gift: In this case, the bride and her bridesmaids can spend a weekend together in a beach house, a downtown hotel, or a cabin by a lake.
For a fitness-oriented couple, guests can bring climbing gear, ski equipment, tennis racquets, golf clubs, or whatever suits the couple's interests. Include guests in the action by making the shower itself be eight holes of golf, a day at a local ski area, or a rousing game of beach volleyball.
Have every guest bring a bottle or two of wine to help build the couple's wine cellar. Assign each guest a different grape or region to ensure variety. You can even turn the shower into a wine tasting; consider hiring an expert to conduct it.
This is an excellent theme for avid travelers or any couple embarking on an exotic honeymoon. Gifts can include luggage, camera equipment, certificates for language lessons, guidebooks, and journals. Design the menu according to their next destination -- tapas for Spain, jerk chicken for Jamaica, a plate of fine cheeses for France.
For couples who have a house, organize a garden-themed shower. The couple may be able to register at a garden center, and guests can bring books, tools, seeds, flowerpots, plants, and journals. Send out hand-decorated seed packets as invitations, or give them out as favors.