She aced the word scramble, took first prize for memorizing the most baby-related items on a tray and likely would have won the "guess how big Britney's belly is" contest had she been allowed to play. But there was one shower game Britney Spears
didn't even try to win: not saying the word "baby." Guests were disqualified the moment they uttered the B-word, and "before anybody even caught her," says Alyson Fox, whose company, Levine Fox Events, planned Spears's Moroccan-themed Aug. 6 shower, "Britney must have said 'baby' 50 times."
With just weeks to go before her due date, who could blame Spears, 23, for thinking of nothing else? "She just can't wait," says Fox, who with partner and mom Diane Levine planned the singer's September 2004 wedding to Kevin Federline
. "Her hand is always on her belly. She's ready to take on motherhood."
But not before a little celebrating with 19 special guests. "I wanted it to be really intimate," says Spears, "with just my closest girlfriends and family members." Britney's cousin Laura Lynne Covington passed around a journal for everyone to inscribe personal messages. Mom Lynne Spears "talked about when she was pregnant with Britney and how she felt such emotion, and Kevin's mom, Julie, was saying that they're so happy Britney's a part of their family," says Fox. "Everyone's eyes were just welling up with tears."
From the emotional toasts to the hundred-plus candles, the night was "everything I envisioned," says Spears. Before entering the bamboo tent set up in front of the singer's Malibu home, guests dropped off their shoes to walk barefoot through thousands of rose petals. With her stepkids Kori, 3, and Kaleb, 1, nearby most of the evening, Spears held court over a dinner of North African dishes like Moroccan brisket and salad Tangiers. The meal was topped with a cake in the shape of a Moroccan pot with a baby peeking out, designed by Cake Divas. Then came the presents: a white wrought-iron bassinet from her mom, a car seat, a stroller, an infant bathtub, lots of stuffed animals and tiny togs that were all conveniently gender-neutral. "Everyone really outdid themselves," says Spears. "Even the packaging on some of the gifts was heartfelt."
, 27, who made himself scarce during the event, showed up later to plant a kiss on his wife and carry the gifts into the house. After the guests went home, Britney—who's got two other delivery dates coming up: a new fragrance, Fantasy, on Sept. 15 and a DVD version of her UPN show Britney & Kevin: Chaotic and More
, on Sept. 27—settled in with her husband for the night, still glowing from the festivities. "I truly couldn't have been happier," says Spears, "to share this day with people who are so close to my heart."
Jennifer Wulff. Julie Jordan in L.A.
- Julie Jordan.