A Simple, Frugal, and Fun Wedding Shower Idea

posted by Andrea | 06/6/2019

WAAAAAAAY back when Dave and I were engaged, we were thrown a very frugal, very simple, but very fun AND practical wedding shower by my parent’s church. 

Back then, my parent’s church threw a “one-hour shower” for engaged couples, shortly before they were married. They encouraged everyone from the church to attend, BUT they did not list the registry and instead, told people to bring a gift that was valued at $5 or less. 

At the time, I remember thinking, “O great, now I’m going to get a huge number of random things I don’t necessarily want or need.”

I asked the people in charge if I could put my own spin on the shower — when they agreed, I explained that I’d prefer a PANTRY SHOWER versus an “anything under $5 shower”. 

So instead of giving ANYTHING under $5, they would give various non-perishable pantry staples under $5, along with a recipe that went with those ingredients. 

NOTE: The church liked this idea so much, they continued to do it for many future one-hour-showers! 

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At the time, Dave and I had just purchased our first house and we were in the process of quickly painting and moving furniture in before our wedding just a few weeks later.

A Pantry Shower was a fantastic way to quickly fill up our pantry and kitchen cabinets with a huge variety of foods, and especially helpful for us as I had just graduated college and we were on a really tight budget. 

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How A Pantry Shower Works: 

Everyone attending the shower brings at least one recipe card with a written (or typed) recipe and clear instructions for a dish they personally love to make and eat. 

They also include several of the non-perishable ingredients for that recipe along with the recipe card. 

Make sure to include your name and contact information on the recipe, in case the recipient has questions. 

THAT’S IT! 

So simple! 

There’s no need to check with a registry, no need to spend $50 or more on a gift, no need to wrap and deliver a huge gift, etc. 

For the bride and groom, there’s no need to do any returns, no need for a truck to take all their gifts home, and no need to hang onto gifts they don’t really want or love out of guilt or sentimentality (they can give any food they won’t use to a food pantry). 

On the flip side, the new couple (or new homeowner) now has a fabulous start on stocking their pantry and they have countless tried-and-true recipes from their favorite relatives and dearest friends. 

A Few Pantry Shower Gift Ideas: 

While it’s not necessary, I personally love giving a “themed” food gift, along with 1 or 2 recipes related to that theme.

Here are a few relatively straight-forward ideas…

Baking Basket = flours, sugars, baking powder/soda, oil, shortening, salt, cocoa, chocolates, boxed brownie or cake mix 

Sweet Basket = variety of sweet sauces, syrups, jams, honey, molasses, etc.

Savory Basket = variety of olive oils, vinegars, spices, seasonings, bread crumbs, marinades, etc.

Salty Basket = chips, pretzels, crackers, popcorn, peanuts, etc.

Salad Basket = bacon bits, croutons, salad dressings, slivered almonds, Craisins, and other non-refrigerated salad toppings

Spices & Seasonings Basket = any number of herbs, spices, seasonings, extracts, vinegars, etc.

Condiment Basket = ketchup, mustards (all different types), pickles, relishes, mayo, olives, BBQ sauce, pizza sauce, etc. 

Picnic Basket = non-refrigerated meats, cheeses, crackers, wine, etc.

Snack Basket = nuts, dried fruits, snack bars, trail mix, beef jerky, chocolate covered raisins, packaged cookies

Breakfast Basket = cereal, granola, PopTarts, muffin mix, pancake mix, syrup, etc.

Canned Goods Basket = canned soup, meats, fruits, veggies, beans, broth, etc. 

Pizza Basket = pizza dough mix, sauce, pepperoni, spices 

Pasta Basket = pasta noodles, marinara sauce, pesto sauce (non refrigerated), spices, and parmesan cheese

Candy Basket = gum, mints, movie theater candy, bulk candy, or any other sweets you know the couple likes

Cookie Decorating Basket = sugar cookie dough mix, frosting, piping bags and tips, sprinkles, candies, etc. etc.

Paper Products Basket (1) = disposable napkins, plates, cups, cutlery, paper towel, toilet paper, etc. 

Paper Products Basket (2) = snack/sandwich bags, freezer bags, plastic wrap, wax paper, aluminum foil, parchment paper, kitchen twine

Cleaning Basket = dish soap, scrubber sponges, disinfecting wipes, counter spray, hand soap, rubber gloves etc. (I’ve done this one a few times and put everything in a laundry basket.)

FUN FACT: I actually got one of my Pantry Shower gifts in a picnic basket, and we still use that basket in our home today for various decorative storage needs (most recently as a little diaper changing station)! 

The beauty of a Pantry Shower is that it can be as simple and frugal as necessary… but easily adaptable for bigger budgets as well. 

For example, you could ask everyone to ALSO include a gift card to a local grocery store, take-out establishment, or restaurant. You could also ask everyone to include some sort of kitchen tool (preferably from the registry) that goes with the recipe and pantry items (cookie sheets, pizza pan, candy jar, measuring cups, spice rack, popcorn bucket, skillet, cookie scoop, etc. etc.)

I’ve even been to a Pantry Shower that the host mailed out matching recipe cards and “assigned” each guest to a specific type of basket so the bride-to-be didn’t get doubled up on.

She got a HUGE assortment of pantry staples, a pile of delicious recipes, and a bunch of awesome gift cards.

She was absolutely THRILLED! 

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I personally enjoy Pantry Showers so much more than traditional, buy-a-gift-off-the registry showers because they feel more personal, yet they are SO practical and useful for the recipient. 

Of course, Pantry Showers work best for those without food allergies or sensitivities — and they are ideally given fairly close to the wedding date so someone doesn’t have to store massive amounts of food and paper products for a full year before the wedding! 

Dave and I were so thankful to have such a nice pantry stockpile right before our wedding — it was one of my most favorite (yet very simple) showers, and I have since recommended this type of shower to so many people. I’m honestly not sure why I haven’t shared it on the blog yet! 

If you’re looking for fun, frugal, practical, easy-to-put-together shower ideas for almost any new couple (or new homeowner) THIS is it! 

As long as they eat food, you really can’t go wrong with this concept! 

Have you ever been to a Pantry Shower? 

What are your favorite types of pantry gifts?

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Filed under: LifeMisc.Frugal Living

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18 comments

  1. Melissa

    06/08/2019

    In Texas we do what’s called “A Poundin'” It’s not necessarily a shower but often done right after a couple is married (we got married in a different state but were living here in TX and so our church did this for us while we were out of town for our wedding) but it’s basically when a newly married couple’s pantry is filled by a church or group of friends or whatever. The name is supposed to have come from when people would originally bring a pound of flour, a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, etc.

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    Andrea Reply:

    sounds fun! and I like the name 🙂

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  2. Kristi

    06/07/2019

    Two ideas that I haven’t seen here yet came from other people’s showers that I’ve been to that were really fun.

    One was called an “Around the Clock” shower. Guests were assigned different times of the day/night and asked to bring a gift that corresponded to that time of day. So for instance, at 5pm many folks might be eating/cooking dinner so you might get them a piece of cookware or dishes, at 10pm you’d be going to bed so you might get them sheets or even lingerie. It was a fun way for the hostess to get a variety of gifts.

    The other was for a baby shower. They asked each guest to bring a square (or a few squares) of fabric of a certain size. The hostess then had someone who was going to use all of the fabric squares to make a quilt for the baby. I thought this would be extra special if you had a lot of relatives at the shower as you could bring pieces of their family history to be sewn into the quilt (ie, grandpa’s shirt, grandma’s apron, etc)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Fun! I love the quilt idea too — I’m a sucker for quilts!

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  3. Debbie

    06/07/2019

    What a great idea! There’s usually multiple wedding showers given for the couple and this pantry shower would be so helpful. One shower can be using the whatever registry list since I’m sure there are also many household items they’ll need for the kitchen, bath, etc. A pantry shower would go well with it and very practical too.

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  4. Jane

    06/07/2019

    After recieving countless advice on frugal living, marriage, kids, most important cleaning tips i can vouch for myself to be invited over at your place since i know how i should behave..lol..i promise to clean up..lol
    Thank you Andrea. I’m still learning a lot from you.

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  5. Jennifer

    06/06/2019

    I love the themed baskets! I love giving and getting gifts like that, but I’ve never been to a pantry shower. We would have liked something like that. I would prefer to choose the type of basket I gift someone rather than to be assigned.

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    Andrea Reply:

    They are so fun to attend — I’ve loved every one I’ve been to!

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  6. Mary

    06/06/2019

    Where I grew up church showers were open house, many in the congregation who didn’t know you well might put $5 into a kitty at one of the stores in town. The day before the shower, the shop owner picked a gift and delivered it to the church. I’m still using that ironing board from 49 years ago.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, that’s how our shower was too — more like an open house. We didn’t play games or open gifts in front of people.

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  7. JJ

    06/06/2019

    At my shower my aunts had people bring their favorite recipe. I loved it! In a similar idea(not wedding related), I’ve been to or heard of several baby showers where they requested a book instead of a card. It builds a nice little library for the baby.

    An idea for people who do have food allergies is to use something like sign up genius where you can list specific information and requests, including all of the food items(brand, store you can find them at, etc.). It would allow for people to look for sales or save(since it can be pricier) and get something here and there. I know with having 3 kids with food allergies, I appreciate any efforts people take.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I’ve been to baby showers that request a board book — cute idea! And yes, I LOVE SignupGenius or BringThemAMeal — both very helpful for bringing meals to others!

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  8. Swanee

    06/06/2019

    We’ve been married for 43 years and I had a pantry shower! So much fun. It was several years before I had to buy salt. 🙂 I like the idea of the recipe and include the ingredients .

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well good thing salt doesn’t go bad 🙂

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  9. Kellie

    06/06/2019

    THIS. IS. GENIUS!!! I cannot believe I’ve never heard of this!

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    Andrea Reply:

    it is a really fun idea! so simple, but still useful and fun!

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  10. Sherry

    06/06/2019

    I’ve been married for 29 years and I had a pantry shower beforehand. We didn’t have the $5 limit, just the usual amount that my family would spend for a shower gift back then (probably around $30). But I got a spice rack filled with spices, a laundry basket filled with laundry supplies, and lots of other themed baskets with pantry staples. It was great!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, I’ve been to several with no spending limit — the $5 was just for our church shower… but it shows that you CAN actually buy a nice gift for $5 (and the recipes included are free!)

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