How to Host a Bridal Shower With the Help of Smart & Final

We did it! Last weekend, we held my daughter’s big day despite not really knowing how to host a bridal shower! We’ve been planning it for months now, and I’ve had these visions in my head of what it would be like. I pictured a beach theme, colored with tones of light, ocean blues and sand-toned beiges. Beautiful sea shells would lay in glittery ‘sand’ around glowing candles, with lanterns hanging in the tree and from the awning. The food table would be covered with more sea shells in between bowls in matching colors and crystal trays and flowy garland would drape around the awning. We’d enjoy the gorgeous weather while sipping white wine sangria, surrounded by the flowers and vegetation we’d spent the last few weeks planting. Sounds nice, right?

With the help of Smart &  Final in Upland (California) who provided complimentary gift cards that covered all the food, plates, utensils and miscellaneous party supplies, we did it!!

how to host a bridal shower

My daughter’s wedding is set for May 30, so the bridal shower was scheduled for April 18. The planning began months prior with a vision: what theme did we want and how did we want to make that happen? We chose a beach theme, utilizing colors similar to the colors my daughter had chosen for the wedding. I bought a notebook, basically a roadmap on how to host a bridal shower, and I created sections for all the categories. (Keep scrolling down to the bottom for pictures of the centerpieces, goody bags and other shower coolness!)

  • Guest List
  • Location & Set-up
  • Tables & Chairs
  • Decorations
  • Menu
  • Games & Goody Bags
  • Serving Ware

In each section, I listed what I’d need to buy or borrow, and where I’d get it from; using initials of the store, I had each area organized, and then using that list, I created another list of all the stores I’d need to visit and what I’d get at each store. The stores on my list were Party City, Spencer’s, Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, Target and Smart & Final in Upland, one of the Extra stores you can shop at weekly and not just for big parties. Each store got a mini-list of things to buy there and I scheduled out what days I would visit which stores, with as many grouped together as possible so I could save time and effort.

The guest list was easy; my daughter provided me names and email addresses and I used Evite. Simple and quick and I could easily stay on top of who replied and send messages if necessary. (And for those who didn’t remember that I needed to know numbers so I could buy appropriate totals of food, goody bags, etc., I could send a nudge note that last week.) The location we chose was obvious, our newly renovated backyard, and we were able to figure out how many tables we’d need to borrow from our very generous neighbors. We also were able to put together a time frame for the last of the landscaping tasks and flower purchases. Decor was a little more complicated. We were going for a semi-formal feel but with a few items to spice it up; after all, it is a wedding shower and we wanted to loosen things up a bit. That’s where Spencer’s came in.

The menu probably took me the longest, as I wanted to be sure I had enough food for everyone without over-purchasing, and I wanted it to be things we could prepare ahead of time so I could enjoy the afternoon with little time spent in the kitchen during the event.

Games were relatively easy. We knew we wanted to have a “awkward silence” game, where we could ring the bell and ask trivia questions in case people were uncomfortable or needed to be loosened up. Any time you mix a large group of people that doesn’t know all each other, you inevitably run into a few moments where it gets quiet. Ringing the bell and asking a question about the bride allowed people to jump in with answers, get to know each other a bit and get to know the bride a bit better. (The person who got the most correct got a prize at the end of the party.)

We also wanted a couple of other games, as well as fun goody bags so no one walked away empty-handed. Servingware was simple; using the menu list, I could count how many bowls and platters we’d need, and the guest list gave me the number of plates, cups, forks, etc., that we would need. Sounds simple, right?

The devil is in the details though. I do a lot of entertaining, so I was feeling good about it all but you still worry that the dip everyone wants will get eaten immediately. (This actually did happen, but not for lack of amount of dip — everyone just loved it that much!) You forget about something last-minute, like the gift table and related decor, or you forget nets for the food table and the flies are having a field day.

how to host a bridal shower

Me, I forgot the netting for the gift table — thank you to our wonderful neighbors for offering theirs for the day! This table was overflowing well onto the floor by the time the shower was going.

Then there’s the budget. You could easily go wild and spend a lot of money, but since everyone I know is in a budget (or should be), it’s still something you want to consider. This meant a lot of price shopping prior to the event. I had a few items I knew I wanted — ‘fake’ candles to add a glimmer to the centerpieces, lanterns for the orange tree, a big lantern to hang from inside the awning and bowls in sea-related shapes, like shells. I wasn’t willing to compromise what I wanted, so I had to shop carefully. Amazon came through, as did Marshall’s and Ross. We even found the perfect sets of colored fake candles at Costco! We have a little room under the stairs — straight out of some kids’ book — where we stowed all our stuff in the interim, even the chocolate I bought for the goody bags.

Food is where I had to be careful. The menu was simple, but if I hadn’t been careful, it could have cost me a lot more. Since the shower was in the afternoon, I didn’t have to do heavy food, but I  still wanted to provide enough for people to munch the whole time and allowed for varied diets. I also wanted to only go to one store, so I was able to buy everything at Smart & Final in one trip. I went for a beachy, fresh, healthy-ish theme with a lot of finger foods that people could customize on their own. It included small flat breads (homemade but out of canned biscuits, recipe below), crostinis, hummus, mozzarella bruschetta, charred corn salad, an extensive veggie tray with Buffalo sour cream dip, a fruit tray with peanut-butter yogurt dip,  bowls of Italian gardiniera, olives, a crackers and chips tray with a few salsas and various cheeses.

For beverages, the list was simple: unsweetened citrus tea, infused water, lemonade and sangria. I did a mix of pre-made items (the artichoke-jalapeno dip from Smart & Final was the dip that was gone very quickly) and hummus, and items I made, like the bruschetta, crostini and other dips. I did purchase three pre-made salsas from Smart & Final, but I spent a very long time in their produce section to fill up the veggie and fruit trays and make a fantastic bruschetta, using a huge block of mozzarella that was on sale for only $7.99. The liquor section was huge and I was very glad I was focused on just making sangria!

So if you had to guess, what do you think all that cost? Take a guess — I’ll tell you later at the end.

I had quite a few requests for the White Wine Sangria recipe, so I’ll share that here! It’s so simple, it’s almost not even a recipe.

White Wine Sangria

  • 1 box of white wine
  • 1 bottle of Blood Orange Cranberry juice
  • Sprite or other clear carbonated soda
  • Sliced apples and oranges (1-2 of each)

Mix 1/3 of a box of Refreshing White Wine with 3/4 of a bottle of Blood Orange Cranberry juice; gently pour in 1/2 of a bottle of Sprite (or a similar soda). Add in a peeled, sliced apple and the slices of two oranges, peel and all. Stir.

That’s it! Use a large beverage decanter, and keep the rest of the supplies at hand because you will need to continue to refill throughout the event, I promise. I bought two boxes of whine, three bottles of juice and two bottles of soda, so I didn’t have to worry about running out. (I had 25 guests, if that helps figure out how much you’d need for a large party.) The wine boxes were less expensive than I’d pay at a local wine store, and definitely cheaper than costs at a typical grocer, and the soda and juice were comparable to what I’d seen over at Target. I continued to refill an ice bucket rather than putting the ice into the decanter where it could melt, and while I won’t go into detail, I will say I had pre-made a lot of ice cubes using a tray I’d purchased at one of the stores on my list. They got so many comments, it really was an ice-breaker. (So punny, right?)

For the easy flat breads, I’m almost embarrassed to share how I made them but here goes. I took eight rolls of the Pillsbury canned biscuits, and one can at a time, flatted out the biscuits on a cutting board. I laid 4-5 of the flatted biscuits on a pre-heated griddle and let them sit for 15-20 seconds before flipping them over. (Flip too soon and the biscuits will stick.) After flipping, use the back side of the griddle and flatten the biscuits down further. Continue to let them heat up, flipping as necessary, until both sides are browned and there is no oozing and they appear fully cooked. (Mine took about 3-3.5 minutes each.) After I removed them from the heat, I brushed them with a melted butter and garlic mixture before they cooled completely. This resulted in a flat, pliable and seasoned flat bread to cover with anything else on the food tables. So good and fast, you could easily make these up any time you have surprise guests over.

bridal shower food

how to host a bridal shower

All of the food I mentioned above, including a few extra boxes of crackers and a huge bag of tortilla chips, to go with the salsas, filled a cart. Good thing we had two carts! The second was used to carry the small-sized crystal-looking plates we chose, with matching 8 oz. glasses, and crystal-clear forks. Napkins, another crystal-clear platter and a few odds and ends, including gelatin shooter containers, completed the list and we were headed to check-out.

smart and final upland

Dawn, the District Cashier, was fun to chat with as we were checking-out our two carts. She had a big smile and was engaging as she packed our bags and re-loaded our carts. (I’d told her I was writing a post on how to host a bridal shower with the help of Smart & Final, and she was so kind!)

smart and final

The grand total of all the food and servingware to feed and serve 25 guests ample food and beverages? $180!  Pretty unbelievable, I think. Everything was high-quality, the servingware was durable and pretty and the food was delicious! The produce section is huge and offers a good selection of organic options without the high price tags and the cheese section was so big, I really had a hard time making my selections. I didn’t buy any meat for the shower, but if you’re looking for it, you will be happy with the choices. Frozen food, ice cream, canned items — whatever you need, Smart & Final – Extra! in Upland has it all! If you thought, like I used to, that Smart and Final was where you went for big boxes of party items or cans of nacho cheese, wrong. Well, it is, you can still get those things, but if you go to an Extra store, you can get everything all at one place.

smart and final

See what I mean about selection?

how to host a bridal shower

Affordable, convenient and easy — put Smart & Final on your next party-planning list and relieve the stress! We’ve got a lot of parties coming up, so I’ll be going back to the Upland Smart & Final Extra! I figure if I can pull off the shower without problems, I can do any kind of party now! You can also find assembled Smart and Final food trays, which are huge timesavers.

And because I’m proud of them, here are a couple of glimpses of the goody bags I put together for all the shower guests. Shells, starfish, sand dollars and fish, all made out of white chocolate and some put on lollipop sticks. Aren’t they cute?

goody bagsAnd here are the centerpieces, made out of glittery tulle, sea shells and blue canning jars with candles.bridal shower centerpiecesAnd most important of all, a smiling bride, holding her ribbon and bow hat, made for her by her cousin.


And no post about a party would be complete with a cupcake photo. Strawberry-lime margarita cupcakes with tequila-infused buttercream.

margarita cupcakes

To up the cute factor just a little more, here’s my princess Yorkie trying to get my attention during the shower. How sad can a Yorkie look when she’s made to stay inside during the festivities? Pretty sad…


As you can see if you spend any time on the blog, we’re huge fans of Smart and Final. (Did you know they are the largest seller of nacho cheese? You can buy a big can of it, and some Smart and Final nacho chips, and you’ll be all ready for National Nachos Day on November 6!)

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