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Facts You Should Know About Baby Shower Etiquette

Whether you're hosting a baby shower for the first time or not, chances are you've got some questions regarding the right baby shower etiquette. You want to create a truly special time for the guest of honor without any unintended faux pas. This guide was specially created to help you do exactly that.

The real basics

  • Take the wishes of the mom-to-be into account at every stage. That includes the games, food, invitation list and all other aspects of the baby shower.
  • You can have baby showers either before or after the baby is born. Generally, they're held 1 or 2 months before due date. But they're also held after baby arrives because of medical or other reasons.
  • These days, it is perfectly ok for a close relative or even the couple themselves to host a shower. Those "rules" about only non-relatives hosting a baby shower are quite dated now.
  • Before deciding on the kind of baby shower you plan to have -- girls-only or coed, theme or no theme and so on -- consult mom-to-be and find out what she prefers.
  • Who can be invited? Generally, anyone the mom-to-be feels she should call. She's the best guide here.
  • Do you always need to send written baby shower invitations? It is usually the better choice. With a written invitation, guests have all details at their fingertips and need not rely on memory. Plus, you can (and usually should) include directions on how to get there.
  • At the same time, it is fine to just inform people on the phone. Do tell them well in advance, though. So they have enough time to buy gifts, arrange for a baby sitter, etc. And leave your contact numbers with them so they can reach you easily if they need any clarifications.
  • Can you hold a surprise shower? Sure. It can be a wonderful feeling for the expectant mother. But do consult someone close to her (mother, sister, etc) to know about her likely preferences in all areas.

The devil is in the details

Here's additional information on baby shower etiquette that'll help you host a truly great party.

  • Send out shower invitations at least 3 to 4 weeks in advance. Send them even earlier for out-of-town guests. Request an RSVP by a date 2 weeks before the baby shower.
  • If you're having a coed shower, you might turn the guys off if you send frilly baby pink invites full of baby talk. Stick to attractive, stylish invitations.
  • If you're planning a formal baby shower, avoid totally goofy games. At coed parties (or even at all-girl events), be wary of playing shower games that focus on expectant mom's tummy -- she may not be comfortable with them. Check with her about choices of games and ice-breaker activities.
  • Greet all guests at the door as they walk in, provide them with name tags (if there are many guests) and introduce them to others to get conversations going.
  • Lots of women have very different food preferences when they're pregnant as opposed to at other times. So do check with the guest of honor while finalizing the menu -- yes, every single item! She may have some ideas of her own about what baby shower food she prefers. Avoid foods are not recommended during pregnancy.
  • It's a real hassle for guests to eat a meal balancing their plate on their lap. Good shower etiquette demands that you provide sufficient tables so everyone can enjoy their meals. That way they don't have to worry about whether they're about to spill food on the floor!
  • Don't skimp on quantities of food. Sometimes a lot more may get consumed than you had bargained for! Same holds for baby shower favors, drinks, ice, etc -- having a little extra buys you peace of mind.
  • Register for gifts at only one place. Even if there are reasons like another store being closer to some guests. Else mom-to-be may end up with duplicate gifts she may have to return. And guests will be disappointed if they find that someone else has chosen the same gift they have.
  • While giving gift suggestions, include items at a variety of price points, not just high-ticket items. And do suggest that guests can get together to purchase higher priced items.
  • If there are older siblings, make sure they receive a gift each. They may already be feeling somewhat left out with a new baby on the way, so this is a great idea.
  • Irrespective of whether it's a coed baby shower or not, buy a gift specially for dad. He should feel that he was remembered too.
  • Record who gave each gift. Essential information when the time comes to send thank you cards! Sending thank you cards is essential baby shower etiquette.
  • Hand gifts to mom-to-be for her to open and take it from her once she's done with it. This will save her the hassle of continually getting up and moving about to pick up gifts.
  • Sometimes, some guests may need to leave early. They'll appreciate it if mom-to-be will open presents while everyone is eating.
  • Start the baby shower on time and keep it fairly short. Don't get bogged down in any one segment like games. Be sensitive to mom-to-be's energy level and any signs of fatigue she may show. End the party if she's beginning to feel run down. Walk guests to the door as they leave and be sure to thank them for coming.
  • Don't expect perfection. No party ever is perfect. There's always the unforeseen -- power goes off just as gifts are being opened, you forgot to dust one corner of the room, the pack of baby shower favors you opened just before the party turns out to be a different color than you ordered and so on. You can't control it all.

Special situations

You might have a friend or relative who just lost a baby, or is infertile despite all treatments. Should you call her for your baby shower? Attending may be a challenge for her. Being confronted with another's pregnancy may be difficult for her to bear.

The rule in such situations is -- ask. Check with her and find out if she is up to attending the baby shower. Don't just send an invitation in the mail. On the other hand, don't presume that she can't come and not call her at all. If she's close to the mom-to-be, she may well want to come. Or at least, she may send her good wishes and a gift.

But if she tells you that she can't make it, accept the situation with grace. Never hold it against her in any manner. Even if she said she would come and later backed out. Remember, it is probably one of the most difficult times she's ever had, so be generous and supportive.

Once you've understood these simple baby shower etiquette guidelines, you'll be far more confident about hosting a baby shower. Have fun, and create a special time that will live on in everyone's memories!

About the Author

Jessika Ryder is a successful business writer and party enthusiast providing valuable information on hosting fun baby showers. Her numerous articles provide party planning tips and other useful insights.

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