The forecast calls for showers — for brides-to-be and their friends

Your best friend is getting married and you want to throw her a shower, but the thought of sitting around the living room playing silly games gives you the jitters. So, how do you host a memorable shower and have fun yourself?

It's easy, say the authors of "Wedding Showers: Ideas & Recipes for the Perfect Party" (Chronicle Books, $14.95). Michele Adams and Gia Russo, former stylists for "Martha Stewart Living" have created a how-to book offering menus, decorating ideas, creative projects and activities that are fun and simple to do.

"Trends have changed over the years," says Adams, who worked for Stewart in New York for three years. "The focus used to be on silly games. That's everybody's least favorite part."

Today's brides-to-be enjoy more personalized parties, according to Adams. She and Russo came up with practical and creative ways to host a shower that is much more relaxed and much more fun for everyone, including the hosts.

The key to throwing a great wedding shower is simple, says Adams.

"We have found that the most successful showers have a theme that reflects the spirit of the bride or the couple," she says. "Themes set the mood, determine the guest list, influence the menu and suggest gifts. It's a great way to get organized."

The parties in "Wedding Showers" center around four themes: an afternoon of tea and desserts, an evening of tropical cocktails, a boisterous beach barbecue and a luxurious day of pampering with a spa party. Each chapter begins with specific advice on putting together the party. The authors guide you step by step through the planning process from invitations to favors to food and gifts.

"In addition to socializing and eating, the primary activity of the shower is the opening of the gifts," say the authors. "It's a chance for the gift-givers to make their special contribution to the couple's life, and the rare opportunity to see their gift opened with ceremony. It's also a chance for the bride to thank each person individually."

Hosting a wedding shower will make even the most organized person anxious, but you can alleviate some of the stress, agree the authors, by starting early with a good plan. Remember, you're supposed to have fun, too. Then, you know your guests and the guest of honor will have a great time.

Here are some tips for getting organized, no matter what the theme of your shower is.

*Six or more weeks ahead:

Speak with the bride about basic decisions of date, location, time of day, guest list, theme and style of shower.

Make master "to do" planning list.

*Four to six weeks ahead:

Gather address list of guests.

Shop for or make invitations and shower gift.

Choose menu.

Place order for any rental equipment.

*Three to four weeks ahead:

Shop for decorations and any special serving pieces or supplies.

Send out invitations.

Work on special decorations like tablecloths and favors.

*Two to three weeks ahead:

Gather and clean serving pieces, table linens and tableware.

Make shopping lists for recipe ingredients.

Place flower order.

*One to two weeks ahead:

Wrap shower gift.

Begin cleaning house and/or yard.

*Five to seven days ahead:

Shop for recipe ingredients.

Begin setting up party.

Confirm order and/or delivery time for rentals and flowers.

Finish any last-minute decorations.

Finish cleaning party locations.

Confirm RSVPs.