Being a maid of honor or bridesmaid means you do more than help the bride shop for her gown and purchase a bridesmaid dress and shoes. It also means you have an opportunity to host or co-host a bridal shower or bachelorette party that can be both fun and helpful.

Bridal showers are called showers because the bride is supposed to be “showered” with love, attention, and, of course, gifts that help her get started in her new life. The custom originated in the 1890s and was originally intended to ensure that the couple received gifts and monetary support intended to ensure that the wedding takes place and that the couple can start their life after the ceremony has taken place.

Decades ago, most couples did not live together before marriage, so it was common for gifts to include all of the things that would be needed to set up housekeeping- things like housewares, bath towels, bed linens, and table settings. More modern brides and grooms have often been living together or living on their own for a time, allowing them to accumulate many items that would typically be given as shower or wedding gifts.

So if you’re looking to throw an exciting bridal shower that has a contemporary theme couples might appreciate, look no further.

Pack the Pantry. Having a well-stocked pantry is like having money in the bank. With common and essential ingredients on hand, your friend and her intended spouse will be more likely to cook in their homes and enjoy their kitchen together. If you know the bride and groom are foodies or enjoy cooking, you may want to throw a shower that focuses on gather the essentials of meal preparation.

Basics like kosher and sea salt, peppercorn grinder, olive oil, and an array of vinegar including balsamic, red wine, rice, and apple cider would be considered necessary. Flour, cream of tartar, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda, granulated, brown, and confectioners sugar would be some dry items needed as well. Don’t forget rices, grains, canned goods, and those all-important and ever-expensive dried herbs spices! Add a few food-themed bridal shower games, and your bride is sure to love the thoughtfulness and creativity of your pantry party!

Gather the Recipes. A gather the recipe party is similar to a pantry party, but instead of random items that are meant to stock the pantry, the guests provide one or two of their favorite recipes on stationery or decorative index cards. As part of the “gift,” each of the guests has purchased and packaged all of the ingredients needed to make the recipes, from the salt to the pasta to the protein required for the recipe.

Similar to Home Fresh or Blue Apron meal kit delivery programs, this idea is sure to be a winner for busy brides during the wedding planning process and in the early weeks of marriage as the couple settles into their new routine. Since the recipes are gathered by people who know and love the couple, they are sure to be tried and true and focus on things the bride and groom will enjoy eating.

Stock the Bar. Perhaps your bride and groom are aficionados of alcoholic beverages and enjoy throwing parties in their home or apartment. You may choose to help your couple stock their bar by having shower guests purchase craft beers, wines, garnishes, and some of the essentials of a working bar like bottles of gin, tequila, vodka, bourbon, scotch, and rum. Perhaps mixers like soda, ginger ale, cranberry juice, orange juice, and tomato juice could also be included.

Don’t forget that there are many other items needed for a bar. Wine glasses, martini glasses, shot glasses, jiggers, and rocks glasses are important, along with a martini shaker and strainer, toothpicks, and napkins. Maybe your friends’ at-home bar needs some decor like bar trays, bar tray tables, or a shelf bar tool set. Stocking the bride’s at-home bar is sure to be a hit for the couple who loves entertaining.

Bring on the Books. Maybe the bride and groom aren’t much for partying, but enjoy quiet evenings at home. For the bibliophiles in your life, a book bash might be something they’d enjoy. From American classics that everyone should read to the many self-help books available for men, women, and young couples, the possibilities are endless. Maybe you want each guest to choose their favorite text and inscribe it for the couple, or maybe you choose to provide each guest with a topic and let them shop for a book that fits, providing the bride and groom with pleasant reading can make for an interesting shower.

No matter what you choose to do, remember that the most important things for planning a shower are food and fun. What are some games, activities, food options, or themes you’ve seen for bridal showers? Feel free to share here.