Baby Shower Etiquette FAQ

Who should host the baby shower?

Once upon a time, only non-relatives were to host a baby shower. If an immediate family member hosted a baby shower it was frowned upon as asking for handouts in the form of gifts.

Today, with families and friends spread across countries, anyone who takes the initiative to plan the shower can host the baby shower. Relatives, a close friend, co-workers, or acquaintances of the mom-to-be can step in and act as host. As long as the expectant parents themselves do not have to host their shower, the role is open! Anyone is welcome to show their love and excitement for the new baby by hosting a baby shower.

It is also acceptable for multiple people to co-host a baby shower. It can help offset the costs. It can also be fun for a group of close friends or family members to share the responsibility and excitement of planning a baby shower for someone they all care about and love.

Who should be invited?

It is always a good idea to sit down and create a guest list with the mom-to-be. You want to make sure you are inviting everyone she would like to include in the celebration of the new baby. Typically, friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors of the expectant parents are invited to a baby shower.

A baby shower has anywhere from 5 to 25 guests, depending on the size of the location and the comfort level of the expectant mom. If the baby shower is meant to be a surprise for the mom-to-be, you may want to conspire with the other parent to make sure the guest list is complete.

If you want to throw a co-ed baby shower, talk with the expectant parents. If they would like their male friends and family to be included, plan a baby shower with both men and women in mind.

Should I invite a friend or family member who has had a miscarriage recently? What about friends who are having difficulty getting pregnant or having a hard time coping with infertility?

If a friend or family member has had a miscarriage in the recent past, is dealing with fertility challenges or infertility, the decision to invite or not invite is a tough one. It is always best to extend the invitation and let your friend/family member decide for herself. She may not be ready to attend a baby shower. She loves you and is happy for you, but it may be too painful and you must reassure her that it is OK to decline the invitation if she is not ready. If you don't invite her, she may be hurt for not being given the option.

When is the best time to throw the baby shower?

Baby showers are typically given 1 to 2 months before the baby's due date. This gives the expectant mom enough time to wash all the baby clothes and recieiving blankets she received as baby shower gifts, shop for items she didn't receive, and organize the baby nursery. You don't want to throw a shower too close to the due date or you run the risk of early labor and the guest of honor not attending. A baby shower is a nice diversion from the uncomfortable phase of pregnancy. They help keep the expectant mom excited through all the swollen ankles and waddling. Most guests really want to see the large, round belly the mom-to-be is sporting as well, so you want to deliver.

As a courtesy, you should sit down with the mom-to-be and find a time in her schedule for the baby shower. If you are planning a surprise shower, you may want to talk with the other parent to make sure the mom-to-be can attend, rather than leave it to chance.

When should I mail the invitations?

You should aim to mail the baby shower invitations at least 3 weeks before the baby shower. This will ensure the invitations have enough time to make it to their destination. It also ensures your guests are informed far enough in advance that they won't already have plans on that day.

You can invite guests via email or a phone call, but a written invitation is still the preferred method. Written invitations allow you to set the tone for the baby shower, indicating a baby shower theme, if chosen. Written invitations also provide a concrete, visual reminder of the day. Make sure you include all the information a guest may need:

  • hostess name
  • time

  • date
  • location including the address and map
  • phone number of the hostess
  • a theme if chosen
  • baby registry information
  • any special item you may want the guests to bring for the mom-to-be.
What should I plan for the baby shower?

The typical baby shower starts with a meet and greet. Guests find a place to sit and play 2-3 games, food is served during and after the gift opening, thank-you's from the mom-to-be and hostess, and departure. As with any party, how you organize the baby shower is a personal preference. You can choose a shower theme to help organize the party and inspire the guests. You do not have to choose a theme if the mom-to-be isn't into the typical cutesy baby shower fare. The same goes for baby shower games. Games can be a fun ice-breaker if the guests don't know each other, but they are not a baby shower necessity. Food, drink, and conversation are the main ingredients of a baby shower – everything else is extraneous.

What type of food or drink should I serve?

The baby shower food does not have to be a full meal. Finger foods such as tea sandwiches, vegetable platters, antipasto, muffins, sweet breads, and pastries are all acceptable. A buffet style setting is ideal. The guests can fill their plates and continue mingling with the other guests or find a seat to eat and chat. If it is a smaller shower, you can place food trays around the room so that it encourages guests to get up and walk around. The baby shower drinks should include a range of caffeinated and decaffeinated beverages, ranging from juice, soda pop, coffee, tea, and water. Punch of any kind is a staple favorite baby shower drink.

Where should I have the baby shower?

There are many locations you can host a baby shower. Typically, a baby shower is held in the hostess' home. If the guest list exceeds the capacity of the hostess' home, you can reserve a room in a local restaurant or hall, a church, a community center, or head to the park. Ultimately, where you decide to host the baby shower depends on your budget and the atmosphere you want to create for the baby shower.

How long is a baby shower?

A baby shower typically lasts for about 2-3 hours. The length of a shower really depends on the number of shower games you have arranged to play, the number of gifts to open, and how long it has been since some of the guests have last seen each other. It may run a little longer than expected. Most showers typically disband when the mom-to-be has had enough excitement and is ready to go home.

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