Dear Christine, I live in Chicago and I am planning my best friend's baby shower in the Boston area. She lives in Newburyport. Any suggestions for places in Boston or Newburyport?
Thanks for writing in -- this is a great question! I don't know what your budget is, but first let me start with some general recommendations regarding venue that will impact budget.
General Baby Shower Venue Options
At-home baby shower. Obviously, you are coming from out of town so hosting the shower at your home is not an option. But if you are looking to save on the expense and potential logistical restrictions of booking a facility, consider a shower at someone's home. Perhaps your best friend has a local friend or family member who would be willing to co-host? Or you could even opt to host it at your best friend's house if she was amenable. I hosted a baby shower for one of my dear girlfriends -- she actually asked that it be at her home given that she has plenty of space, was very pregnant, and it was easiest for her so she didn't have to schlep anywhere or transport gifts from another venue to home. I took care of all of the details (invitations, food, decorations, favors, etc.) so that even though the event was in her home, she didn't have to lift a finger and it still felt special to her.
At-church baby shower. If your friend belongs to a church, another option might be hosting the shower there. It would be a modest yet out-of-home location for a shower and also probably less expensive than a formal venue. I have friends who have hosted wedding shower type events at their churches, and when me future mother-in-law coordinated a party for my future husband back when he graduated from college, she did it at a church function room and it was really lovely.
Restaurant baby shower. A restaurant shower probably will be your most expensive of options, given that you will have to rely on them entirely for the catering. That said, given that you are coming out of town, it might be nice to leave that major part of the organization -- not to mention the cleanup -- to the professionals. If you book a restaurant, see if there is a small private room or patio or area of the restaurant you can sequester to make things more cozy.
Hotel/Inn baby shower. If you are going to outsource the venue on the shower, I would recommend exploring a bed and breakfast or inn. My baby shower was held at a bed and breakfast and it was beautiful, chic, and cozy and my shower organizers were able to bring all the food in on their own so they didn't need to use an in-house caterer.
Specific Baby Shower Venue Options
Now, on to the specifics. Newburyport is about 45 minutes to an hour north of the city depending on point of origin/destination in Boston. And depending on how pregnant your friend is at the time of the shower, and where the majority of the guests are coming from, it might make the most sense to plan around Newburyport. Personally, given that your best friend is local to Newburyport, I think you'd do beautifully planning a baby shower in the Newburyport area because you've got the beautiful beaches right there, a lively downtown community, and you probably wouldn't need to fight with parking the way you might in Boston.
I took a look at the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce dining page and hands down, my first pick simply from online browsing would be to investigate Seaglass Restaurant and Lounge (Salisbury Beach...just minutes from Newburyport). The location looks beautiful, the menu looks yummy, and they appear to be experienced in hosting functions small and large. From that list, depending on your friend's taste, Agavé, Capri, and Plum Island Grille also might be potential restaurant options. (Agavé got several recommendations when I asked on on Twitter about favorite Newburyport restaurants.)
For inns and hotels in the Newburyport area, check out the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce lodging page. There are a host of really cute looking options, ranging from basic inns to an inn with spa services if you want to make the shower really fancy. Also, when I queried about inns and restaurants in Newburyport on Twitter, @emilymnichols recommended the Garrison Inn.
I recommend starting with Newburyport options. If you open the search to include Boston, there are countless restaurants and hotels, the scope of which warrants a separate post (which I'm happy to explore if you are interested). However, I will say that my baby shower was held at the Taylor House Bed & Breakfast in Jamaica Plain (one of Boston's neighborhoods) and it was utterly lovely. The Taylor House is where Jon and I spent the night of our wedding before heading up to Montreal so it was really special to have the baby shower there. My sister said the booking fee was extremely reasonable.
I hope this information is helpful. Enjoy planning the baby shower Victoria!
Image credit: Seaglass Restaurant & Lounge
Have a question for Christine? Drop her a line! And of course feel free to comment in if you have recommendations beyond those made above.