There was a time when bridal showers were conservative affairs and the bride was given useful gifts that she would employ everyday as a housewife. The shower was usually thrown by her mother or her friends and the gifts were not extravagant and often had nothing to do with a registry. These intimate affairs celebrated the bride and were a chance for her friends to make her feel special.
As far back as the 1800s ladies’ magazines gave suggestions for different types of gifts to bring to a bridal shower. In the example below from 1883 a selection of handmade gifts are shown, including a pompadour bag, baskets, and pillows.
The main objective at bridal showers in the Old Days was to spend time with the bride-to-be. Expensive gifts were not usually on the menu, though tea usually was. It didn’t occur to most women to ask for expensive gifts back then.
In the 1920s wedding registries were invented, and became popular among certain groups. However, couples people never registered at all. Instead they often trusted that their female friends and family would know exactly what to get them for their new home.
Commons gifts of the mid-century era included picture frames, kitchen canisters, pieces of Pyrex glassware, hand mixers, toasters, rollings pins, dish towels, and cake pans.
Wedding gifts were still given at the ceremony by some, but at least some of the equipment that the new wife would use everyday often came from her friends at the bridal shower. There were many aspects about running the household and cooking that most husbands never learned and so gifts given to the bride (instead of bride and groom like at the wedding) were not considered rude at all.
Bridal shower activities were also much more quaint back then. There were no crude jokes, but there were some bridal party games like Bridal Bingo shown below. Looks like fun!
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Have a look at what a modest bridal shower might have looked like back in 1946 in the video below.