Baby Shower Etiquette - Things You Need To Know

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Jennifer was in her fifth month of pregnancy. As it was only two of them at home – Jennifer and her husband – she was longing for that much-needed pampering from her family members and friends. Checking the calendar, she was wondering if somebody would organize a baby shower for her or if she and her husband could do it themselves. A little research on the topic made her realize that there is a lot to know about baby shower etiquette before it is planned.

Yes, baby showers are fun events held to make the moms-to-be happy but just like any other event, there are etiquette to be followed for this too. MomJunction tells you who can hold the baby shower, what the new parents can do during the event, how the gifts can be planned to suit the requirements of the mother, and more.

Why Have A Baby Shower?

Besides telling the world that a baby is coming home, the joy of sharing the joy is one of the most important reasons of having a baby shower. It is a time when friends and family get together, celebrate and wish the mother and the unborn good luck and better health.

Baby showers offer some support to the new parents as the guests bring in several things required for the baby, taking the burden off the parents.

While most women have baby shower for one pregnancy, some have them for subsequent babies as well. The wish list in subsequent pregnancies changes as the family will already have items that can be re-used.

Who Hosts A Baby Shower?

Traditionally, a baby shower is organized by a relative or friend. Previously, sisters and closer relatives were not allowed to host baby showers, as it would look like a party being held to get gifts from the guests. But with changing times, sisters willingly host baby showers and follow quite some etiquette too. The BFFs, closest friends, colleagues, relatives, and others can also organize a baby shower.

More than one person can also hold a baby shower and divide the costs accordingly.

Why Mothers Don’t Host A Baby Shower?

Mothers are not allowed to hold a baby shower, unless it is for a subsequent pregnancy and would like to bear the entire cost of the event by themselves. In the second case, it isn’t as much a baby shower as a get-together among friends and family.

If the first time mother feels that no one is taking up the responsibility to host a baby shower for her, which is a very rare event, or does not have a close relative to take care of the event, she could talk to a close friend and decide the date and venue as per her convenience and the availability of guests.

Parents do host a baby shower if it is a subsequent pregnancy, in which case they do not expect gifts and only want friends and family to come over and bless the mother and baby.

When To Have A Baby Shower?

While opinions may vary and people may want to hold baby showers at different stages (or trimesters) of pregnancy, most women opt to have the shower 30 days before the due date. There are a variety of reasons for the same, some of which are:

1. To avoid the jinx:

Yes, some parents want to take every precaution to make sure that the baby is hale and hearty when he comes into the world. Then, some other parents want to make sure that nothing (including bad vibes) affects their baby. They may be orthodox, but is understandable because it gives them every right to care and love the baby.

2. To make sure the mother and baby are healthy:

Sometimes, parents want to make sure that all is good until the end. So, they wait to have the baby shower just in time to celebrate the newbie’s arrival. This also helps them ensure that the mother and the baby are healthy, and are ready for the d-day.

3. To give the mommy a happy feeling:

Pregnancy isn’t a time when the mothers are at their happiest self. They have to endure a lot to carry the little one around. It is ideal to have baby shower around a time when they are not rushing into labor and when they are still comfortable moving around. The shower comes as a break in the monotony of body aches and fluctuating hormones, giving the mothers an all-me-time, and making them happy.

A few parents have baby showers at a different stage of pregnancy that suits their convenience.

At a convenient time:

Worried about not finding the right time as everyone is busy? Try having it during a holiday season. There could be a holiday season when relatives and friends are available to attend a party. If the baby shower is planned by keeping in mind the availability of the guests, it could turn out to be a great event. This holds good with the venue as well. A place that is easy to reach and honor the event would make for a great party.

Cultural sentiments:

Some have a baby shower after the baby is born as premature celebrations do not go well with parents’ sentiments in certain cultures. Having a celebration with the baby around makes them happy, and why not? It is after all the baby who is being welcomed!

Twin babies:

While it may not be completely true, twin babies can come earlier than scheduled (1). In such cases, relatives and friends would plan a baby shower much earlier than the due date, to avoid the later period when the anxiety levels are high in the mother. Having an early baby shower, like in the second trimester, ensures that the mother gets some extra rest as well.

Baby shower should be held at a time when the mother is most comfortable and can enjoy the pleasantries and be a part of the fun. She should be able to move around without any health concerns and be comfortable with the noise and celebrations.

Who Should Be Invited?

The closest friends and family are number one on the list. Then come the guests who the guest-of-honor (read mum-to-be) thinks should be present at the event. The host, however, should keep in mind the space available to accommodate everyone. For important relatives and friends who cannot attend the event, the host can arrange for online availability through Skype or other video conversation.

The hosts have absolute freedom to decide the theme, invitation cards etc. Of course, it is good to keep in mind the mother’s tastes.

Baby Shower Invitation On Social Media:

Do not be overwhelmed about the arrival of your baby and the party that is coming your way. Making announcements of the party over social media could be a bad idea as it would also send across invites to people who weren’t on the list. And what if they were miffed about not getting a formal invite in the first place? So, be cautious and while you may want the world to know, do not have a crowd for a party, as it wouldn’t make things look good. It would not only overburden your hosts but also tire you out.

When Should The Invites Be Sent?

Ideally, the invites can be sent at least 30 days in advance for friends and relatives to make their preparations. There is no hard-and-fast rule about a date, but the earlier the better. If the guests have a clear idea about when they have to attend the ceremony, they could plan their travel, free time, and gifts accordingly.

Do make sure to check with the mother as to when she would want the invites to be sent and if she would like to add any personal messages, including a gift registration site.

Is It Okay To Have A Wishlist?

It is fine to have a wishlist as it helps your guests know about your needs. But do not make it compulsory for them to register. Allow freedom of choice.

Many sites and catalogs allow you to register online and add a wishlist, which can then be looked up by guests and choose their gifts. The benefit of this is that there wouldn’t be anything that you do not require, and there wouldn’t be a pile of similar gifts.

One thing to keep in mind here is that the list that you put up should contain small items such as socks, bibs, clothes, etc. Do not include expensive gifts such as cribs, strollers, and a huge pack of diapers. You should buy these yourself! Keep in mind to register yourself well before the invites are sent out and let the host(s) know that you have a wishlist ready.

If you do not register yourself for gifts, let your guests choose freely and as per their convenience. Of course, you could get two of the same things, but they could come handy at some point. Not registering also settles well with guests who do not like the idea of having to choose and restrict their freedom.

Understand how your guests are going to be like as they are your nearest and dearest ones. Choose your options accordingly.

What To Expect At A Baby Shower?

If you are a guest: Understand that this is a not a luncheon or a buffet and your food choices are going to be limited. You would not have a lot of variety, except snacks, cake, and maybe champagne.

As the event is a small one and is supposed to be a celebration to welcome the new member into the family, it would be baby oriented. The shower could be theme-based, and you can expect baby themed or mini items and baby decorations everywhere.

If you are a mother or father: As a mother or father, be ready to be flooded with emotions. You would be overwhelmed with greetings, gifts, and good wishes. In addition to these, some guests might decide to tell you their stories of pregnancies while a few others might just cry out of happiness. You could even face questions on yours and your baby’s health and if you are too scared or too overjoyed about the event, and so on. Your friends and family may even jokingly place bets to know whether the baby is a boy or a girl.

Should Mothers Or Parents Give Out Thank You Cards?

As the parents-to-be do hold some responsibility towards the guests, they can send out thank you cards to the guests. The cards could have a variety of themes. Parents could either write them down (handmade cards) or send across printed ones. In this digital era, they can send out fancy digitized cards. These could be a little harder on the pocket than the handmade or printed cards, but they won’t burn a hole!

How Can A Mother Or Parents Contribute To A Baby Shower?

Parents-to-be can do more than just sending thank you cards. The event is for the mother-to-be and she shouldn’t be caught up in the act of serving the guests. But the mother or father can engage the guests instead of looking after the arrangements. However, as a sign of goodwill and appreciation, you can offer to contribute to your baby showers, by:

1. Offering party favors or gifts:

While it is not compulsory, offering small gifts is seen as a token of your appreciation for the guests and the hosts who have taken up the entire responsibility to organize something good for you. You could even have a speech, along with the gifts, to convey your love and thanks to everyone.

2. Providing refreshments:

While the hosts would take care of the refreshments and the menu, you could add your teensy bit and put in something extra on the table. Food is always welcome, and no one would complain if there are extra dishes. You could also get a few drinks (alcoholic, but strictly not for you), and sodas to help people quench their thirst. You could include mocktails if you do not want alcohol at all.

What To Serve At A Baby Shower?

As mentioned above, baby showers aren’t big on food and do not have an elaborate menu. They have a rather small menu, with lots of cake. Besides these, check out the list below.

  1. Food: You can include a lot of finger foods such as corn tortillas, cheesecakes, cupcakes, cooked chicken, small bites of salmon fish, and a salad of fruits and vegetables. You may try cheese crackers and healthy platters (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) as well. Do make sure that whatever you include is safe to be eaten by the mother. Do not include common allergy-inducing foods (like anything with peanuts). Also try and have one or two vegan dishes, for just-in–case scenarios.
  1. Drinks: Having alcohol or not on the menu, should be a mother’s choice, though you can include champagne. Mocktails, mojitos, juices, fruit punches, tea and coffee, et al., are always welcome as even the mommy can have them. You may choose to add a few soups in the menu if you are hosting the event around the winters.

Is Allowing Men A Proper Baby Shower Etiquette?

There are conflicting opinions about inviting men to baby showers, as the events are mostly for women. With all the cajoling and cooing at the event, the men may feel out of place. Men include the dad-to-be as well! Some fathers step in towards the end to thank the guests.

However, with changing times and practices, men are being allowed to the event. The father, of course, and close male friends are now considered a part of the guest list. The men should have an idea about the kind of gifts to carry, and their female counterparts can help them with this. They should also be ready for a no-alcohol event and be considerate towards the slow pace of the events as the mother-to-be cannot really hurry up.

Including men in such events requires some additional considerations. If the party includes games, then there would have to be a list for men too.

Should Dads Have Separate Baby Showers?

You would be surprised to know that fathers too are getting baby showers! Times are changing, and colleagues and friends are now hosting baby showers for dads. Though this may not have all the traditional blessings and unwrapping of gifts, it is an occasion for the dad and his buddies to celebrate the arrival of the new member with drinks, food, and fun.

They could meet up at a house, a bar, or simply a restaurant and celebrate the happiness just like boys do!

Friends do get gifts or might sponsor the event and give the daddy-to-be a nice treat. Some friends even organize a grill and call the mommy-to-be and the female friends, and have a full blown celebration. There could be themed baby showers for fathers , and include games and training sessions on how the father can take care of the baby. It is learning and fun going hand in hand, to move towards something new.

While it is not a rule to have a separate baby shower for fathers, if friends are willing to host one, there is no harm in doing so.

Baby Showers For Second Or Third Baby:

People are increasingly coming to accept subsequent baby showers and are throwing parties for the mothers, but with a little difference in the idea. As most parents are already loaded with almost all the necessary baby items, subsequent baby showers needn’t be as elaborate as the first one. They could be small get-togethers, celebrating the arrival of the new one, as he is the next important member of the family.

The guests could ask the mother the kind of gifts she would need, as this baby shower is not to help lessen the load of buying a lot of things, but just about celebrations and adding to the already existing list.

Some parents and hosts call these showers “baby sprinkles” as they are not like the actual baby showers. These are simpler, smaller versions, which have just about a gathering and the parents have the choice to register or not for gifts.

As parents, you could invite your closest friends and family, in case there is no one volunteering for a baby shower or sprinkle for the subsequent babies. Have a few snacks and drinks in place to celebrate. Your friends might just carry some gifts along, for all you know.

Cost Of Throwing A Baby Shower:

The cost strictly depends on how many people you invite and how lavish you want the event to be. Also, if there is more than one host, then the budget could be larger and split among the hosts.

You could save costs by doing some things by yourself like the decorations, a few food items or drinks, invitation cards, etc. Ideally, a budget between $500 and $1000 should be good. Anything beyond this is expensive.

Surprise Baby Showers:

Surprise baby showers are a great idea unless your guests of honor had something different in mind. A surprise could go awry if it doesn’t sit well with the mother’s plan. She may not be in a position or condition to take parties; she may have prior appointments, especially with the doctors; or she might just not be in the mood. Be very sure before you decide to throw a surprise at your expecting BFF or colleague, as they may just not be up for it.

Checking the schedule and making arrangements for the mothers’ convenience is a good idea.

9 Easy Tips To Organize A Baby Shower:

With the information that we have provided, here is a quick run through on how you can pull off a great mini-event.

  1. Talk to the mother about the date, time, and venue of the event.
  1. Decide a theme, if the mother would like to have one, else choose a baby theme yourself.
  1. Plan out the cost and divide it among the hosts, if there are more than one.
  1. Ask the mother for the guest list. Remember to keep it short as you do not want to tire out the mommy.
  1. See if you like to invite men.
  1. If you are planning a surprise, make sure to get some strong hints and clues from the mother as to the kind of baby shower she would like.
  1. Send out invites in advance so that the guests can prep accordingly.
  1. Ask the mommy if she would like to register for gifts.
  1. Do not forget the RSVP!

Frequently Asked Questions On Baby Showers:

1. Should the baby be there at the ceremony?

This is a tricky question. The baby may or not be present at the event based on the cultural background of the parents, or the time the parents want a baby shower. If the parents want a baby shower after the baby is born, they would have the baby through the event as long as it does not get tired. Else, the baby can watch the recording of the shower, once he is all grown up!

2. How should guests choose gifts?

The guests could choose gifts either from the registered site, where the parents have registered mentioning the things they would appreciate as gifts, or they could simply buy things that would help a mother with a baby’s daily requirements.

3. Should guests bring thank you gifts?

The guests bear the costs of gifts for the mother and the unborn. So, it wouldn’t be nice to ask them to carry along a thank you gift to give other guests. It would not only seem impolite and cheeky but also shows the new parents in poor light.

5. Should friends who have had recent miscarriages or have baby conceiving issues, be invited?

While this is a sensitive issue, make sure of two things. One, ask yourself if the friend is a really close one. If yes, go ahead and invite them, understanding that they would take it well. Two, simply ask the friend if they would like to come over. Communication is the key and be sensitive while you ask.

6. Is baby shower for an adopted baby a good idea?

Why not? Celebrating the arrival of a new member in the family is always a good idea. Just make sure that your hosts are up for it, and if there isn’t anyone to take up the reigns to throw the shower, do it yourself. Do not have a shower, instead just call people over for tea or snacks, and have a mini party, organized all by yourself.

7. Is it okay to bring kids or grown up children to baby showers?

This depends entirely on the mother. Bringing children would depend on the theme of the party, and how you can adjust financially. If the mother is not willing to have too many people, write polite notes on invites calling only girlfriends or co-eds.

While this accounts for a lot of tasks, hosting baby shower is just like anything else. You need to be prepared in advance and make a checklist of a plenty of things! In all the hurry, though, do not forget to mention the RSVP as you are the hosts. And let the mommy not end up taking all the calls giving directions to the venue or explaining the party time and ideas! Brace up and throw an amazing party!

Let us know your idea of baby showers, in the comment section below!

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