When it comes to baby shower etiquette, there are very few hard-and-fast rules (besides the ones that govern good manners — like being gracious when you're opening gifts, no matter how impractical they are!). Still, baby showers are such a tradition — that's how new parents can make a dent in the slew of stuff they'll need when the baby arrives, after all — that there are some guidelines to make it easier for the guest of honor (you) and the hosts to plan a memorable occasion. Here are some tips to get the party started.
Who throws a baby shower?
Not you! The point of a baby shower is for your community of pals, relatives and coworkers to "shower" you with gifts. So, etiquette dictates that the parents-to-be can't throw their own party since doing so could be perceived as asking for gifts, which is frowned upon by the manners police.
If you're worried that no one will offer to throw a baby shower for you (highly unlikely), talk to your best friend or a close female relative and ask her to take the reins.
Is it okay to have more than one baby shower?
Definitely! Friends, coworkers and family are as excited about your new baby as you are, and chances are they want to shower you with gifts (who'd pass up the chance to shop for those itty-bitty outfits and socks?). Since it's up to others to throw the shower, you can have as many or as few as you like. Plus, since your inner (and outer) circle might be scattered all over the place, having multiple showers in different areas might be more convenient for some of your guests.
What's expected of the mom to be at her baby shower?
Your only job at your baby shower is to be a gracious guest of honor and gift recipient. But you may want to give your host a break and pitch in (or at least offer) with the following:
- Baby shower party favors. No, you really don't have to offer these, but giving the guests a few small, inexpensive trinkets is a nice thing to do. Some ideas include tasty treats, like chocolates or bags of pink and blue M&Ms, or pink or blue nail polish.
- Refreshments. You don't want to be hungry at your own party, after all, so ask the hostess how you can help out with the food and drinks. If she is feeling pinched for cash (and who isn't these days?), you can suggest that each guest bring an appetizer or a dish to share.
Is it tacky to register for gifts?
Absolutely not! Creating a baby registry is a great way to identify the items you'll need before your little one arrives, most of your guests will appreciate the guidance. But there's a caveat: Don't be greedy!
- Pick a reasonably priced store. If your guests want to spend more money, they'll take the initiative to upgrade or get more than one item, but you don't want to put guests in the position of spending more than they're comfortable with. And for their convenience, aim for an online venue or major chain store with an online registry, so guests don't have to go out of their way to find a boutique baby shop.
- Request mostly modest gifts. Skip at least some of the big-ticket items. Register for onesies, bibs, socks, blankets and baby-care essentials, but take care of the crib, bedding and other expensive baby gear yourself.
- Notifying the guests. Get your baby registry out of the way before the invitations for the shower are sent out, and ask the person hosting to include a note that tells guests where you're registered.
When should you send baby shower thank-you notes?
It's always a good idea to send thank-you notes in as timely a manner as you can. For baby shower thank-you cards in particular, sooner rather than later is smart — you don't want to have it hanging over your head after your little one arrives.
Should men be invited to baby showers?
This is really a matter of personal preference.
What about baby showers for baby #2 (and #3 and …)
Sprinkles, or baby showers for second- and third-time moms, have become acceptable only recently, so if your friends, family or coworkers want to throw showers for all your beautiful babes, why stop them? Keep in mind that it's particularly helpful to register for gifts for subsequent babies, because depending on when you had the first child, you may not need a load of supplies — only a mountain of diapers! Want to forgo the gifts this time? Just ask the friend throwing the party to indicate on the invitations that you want only the pleasure of their company.
For baby shower games and other ideas, check out what the What to Expect moms and moms-to-be have to say on our party ideas message board.
Here's hoping you have a fun and fruitful baby shower!