During the planning of his sister-in-law's baby shower, Micah Snead's thoughts went to the woman's husband. Was there a way to celebrate his impending parenthood, too?
"The whole process of having a baby is kind of like a loss of self," said Snead, 34. "You're not that important anymore, you've gotten her pregnant, and now nobody's all that interested in you."
Looking to "recapture a bit of the old glory days," Snead, of Bryn Mawr, planned a "brofest" for brother-in-law Drew Dinger. A day of disc golf with the guys at Fairmount Park was topped off with adult beverages and cheesesteaks.
"It was a ton of fun and a nice way to blow off a little steam ahead of time," said Dinger, 36, of Havertown. His daughter Hannah was born two months later.
Also called "dadchelor" parties, diaper showers, or man showers, the guy version of the traditional female-focused baby shower is growing in popularity, albeit fueled more by beer than wine, more by diaper distance throws than the unwrapping of dapper baby clothes. Although coed showers have been around longer, the recent guys-only version focuses solely on the dad-to-be with a healthy dose of competition.
"It's a rite of passage for a guy to become a father," said Craig Dexheimer, who cofounded manshower.net with college roommate Aaron Moniza. The friends from Minneapolis launched their site in June 2013, but their first man shower took place a decade earlier, when Dexheimer's wife was pregnant and he and his buddies were looking for an excuse to get together. They had an Olympic theme with a baby stroller relay, and a baby bottle beverage slam - in which the male guest of honor could actually take part.
In the site's first year, it drew 30 to 50 hits a month, selling party plans for $6.95, which brought in $1,000. In year No. 2, they offered the plans free and hits went up to roughly 3,000 a month. Dexheimer ultimately hopes to partner with product carriers and sell advertising on the website. In the meantime, he has been surprised that 51 percent of the site's clients are women inquiring for their partners.
Ryan Kautzer, a lawyer from Sheboygan, Wis., enjoyed the competitive events at his March 2014 man shower, but he also appreciated the "load of diapers, wipes, and pajamas that the guys brought," he said. "My initial impression was that it sounded like a college fraternity kind of a thing, so I was a little reluctant, but it turned out to be a fun and simple way for the guys to get together and do something pre-baby."
Man showers featuring backyard barbecues and poker nights with tongue-in-cheek themes like "Beer, Dudes, and Diapers" or "Cards and Cold Ones" began appearing on Pinterest in spring 2014, said Erin O'Brien Maslan, a spokeswoman for Pinterest. Since January 2015, the number of theme-related pins has more than doubled, and diapers are often the gift of choice, she said. (In the same period, pins of coed showers increased fourfold.)
Creative cake ideas include the nonedible kind - beer bottles and diapers arranged in tiers - as well as edible cakes incorporating bottles, beer, and baby.
Frank Pantazopoulos, owner of Tiffany's Bakery in Center City, baked his first man shower cake three or four years ago. He sells one or two each month now, most often for showers held at work.
"It's really widely accepted in a corporate setting," Pantazopoulos said. Cakes generally feature baby icons - rattles, blocks, storks - and cost $25 to $100.
Noticing the trend in May, Robin Giunta of Berks County designed two new lines to add to her paper goods business, Paper Clever Party. Along with invitations, she sells banners, table signs, and games. Customers can download the files to print themselves ($13) or Giunta will do the printing: $36 for 15 double-sided invitations with envelopes.
Dadchelor business is brisk - 15 to 18 sales each month, enough demand for her to happily add two more styles to her spring 2016 line.
Other people are less celebratory. Blogger Amanda Brucks' take on what it's like to be the wife of a man shower recipient?
"Both of my pregnancies were a nearly 10-month dadchelor party for my husband," said Brucks, of Little Rock, creator of blog Counterfeit Mom. "There is really no need for a final throwdown. It's not about him anymore. I didn't mind being the designated driver - I still wanted to go places and have fun - but a last hurrah before the baby is born is almost disrespectful."
A last hurrah is basically how Kenny Witt, 32, views the dadchelor party his friends threw before his twins were born in August. Witt and 20 close friends competed in the requisite games: guzzling a beer and then assembling a multipiece baby bottle, seeing how far you could throw a wet diaper (he won), and a 40-yard dash while wearing a Baby Bjorn with a stuffed animal.
And then there was the blindfolded obstacle course with a stroller.