Congratulations, you’re having a baby – now it’s time to celebrate!
After discovering you were pregnant, one of the most memorable and enjoyable parts of your pregnancy is likely to be your baby shower.
These are beautiful events where friends and family can celebrate with mom-to-be, and can range from a grand formal event to a much more casual affair.
I’ve thrown several baby showers for other moms and I can confirm they are indeed a lot of fun, but they do require some planning and thinking ahead.
Things like the venue, budget, guestlist, activities, gifts and your outfit all need to be thought about well in advance, so in this Baby Shower 101 guide, I’m going to address all these issues and more.
Table of Contents
- What Is A Baby Shower?
- Why is it Called a Baby ‘Shower’?
- When Do You Throw A Baby Shower?
- Do Dads Go To Baby Showers?
- Who Plans & Pays For A Baby Shower?
- Can You Host Your Own Event?
- How Much Do Baby Showers Cost?
- How To Throw An Awesome Baby Shower On A Budget
- How Many People Should You Invite?
- Who To Invite To A Baby Shower?
- Who NOT To Invite?
- What To Wear To Your Baby Shower
- Unique Venue Ideas
- Affordable Venues
- Baby Shower Hostess Duties
- How Much To Spend On A Gift?
- Diaper Raffles
- Thank You Cards
- Final Word
What Is A Baby Shower?
A baby shower is essentially a party thrown to celebrate the impending arrival of a new baby.
The guestlist typically consists of family and close friends who are there to show their love and support for the mom-to-be.
A baby shower usually includes food and drink, games, gift-giving and opening, and a diaper raffle (more on all these points later).
The event is traditionally only thrown for the first baby, but nowadays this is less strict, and some moms like to have a “baby sprinkle” for their second or third child, which is a celebration on a smaller scale with fewer guests and fewer presents.
Why is it Called a Baby ‘Shower’?
Aside from celebrating with the mom-to-be, one of the main purposes of the event is to help provide the parents with everything they need for their newborn.
Raising a baby is expensive after all, so loved ones who are invited to the event support mom by “showering” her with gifts.
When Do You Throw A Baby Shower?
A baby shower can be thrown at any time during pregnancy, although they are usually held in the third trimester.
Many women find that around 4-6 weeks before the due date is a good time, as it’s far along into the pregnancy and a great time to show off your baby bump, but not so late that the baby might make an early arrival to disrupt your plans.
It’s also worth pointing out that although most occur while mom is expecting, some women prefer to have their event after their baby is born.
Do Dads Go To Baby Showers?
If you are thinking about having your husband at your event then you’re not alone, because a lot of women nowadays wonder if it’s ok for dads to go to baby showers.
Traditionally these events are only for women, so if you’re going with traditional etiquette, then the husband, dad-to-be or other men should not attend the event.
However, as with many things these rules have become more relaxed, so if you do want to invite one or several men to your baby shower then there’s nothing wrong with that.
Keep in mind however that dads can also have their own diaper party, which is a nice way to keep mom and dad’s celebrations – not to mention activities and themes – separate.
Who Plans & Pays For A Baby Shower?
If you are following traditional etiquette, then the host is the person who pays for the event.
Traditionally, the host is someone who is a close friend of the mom-to-be, or a distant relative (for example an aunt, cousin or sister-in-law), but NOT a close relative.
The reason why close relatives were not supposed to be the hosts is not entirely clear, but many people believe it is to avoid the immediate family or mom-to-be appearing like they are throwing a party to simply collect gifts for the parents or unborn baby!
Nowadays the etiquette around hosting is less rigid, and it’s typically fine for close relatives – or even mom herself – to host the event (see my next point).
Can You Host Your Own Event?
There are two lines of thought regarding whether you can or should host your own baby shower.
Some people will tell you it’s absolutely fine to throw your own shower, especially if you want a less traditional, smaller or more casual celebration and you like the fact you have more control over the event.
On the other hand, you should be aware that some people believe hosting your own event is poor etiquette and greedy, because it may be viewed as a way to get gifts out of your guests, especially if you have a baby registry.
How Much Do Baby Showers Cost?
The cost of a typical baby shower can vary from $150 to $1,200 depending on the venue, number of guests, entertainment and food and drink options.
How To Throw An Awesome Baby Shower On A Budget
It’s worth stressing that throwing a beautiful baby shower does not necessarily have to be expensive.
Typically the venue and the food and drink options are the most significant costs of hosting the celebration, so these are areas to focus on if you’re looking to throw an inexpensive yet memorable event.
While food and drink is expected, you don’t need to go overboard, so you could stick to simple finger food and perhaps make some food or bake some sweet treats yourself if you can.
It’s also worth remembering that it’s acceptable to ask other friends or family to help contribute to some of the costs, so don’t be shy in asking others for help, and remember help can either be money or offering their house or yard, cooking skills or decorating skills.
If you choose the right venue and time (avoid meal times), keep the guestlist narrow, enlist help from others, and create your own invitations, you should be able to host an awesome yet low-cost baby shower for as little as $100 to $200 if you wish.
Which is pretty impressive when you think about it!
How Many People Should You Invite?
In terms of averages, the typical baby shower is a fairly intimate event with around 15 to 20 guests in attendance.
Five important things to consider when creating a baby shower guest list include:
- Venue Type & Size
- Desired Level of Intimacy
- Overall Budget
- Size of Mom-to-Be’s Family
- Size of Mom-to-Be’s Friendship Circle
Who To Invite To A Baby Shower?
The guestlist of a baby shower tends to be exclusively female (unlike diaper parties, which are the male equivalent).
Typically close family (mom / stepmom, grandmas, mother-in-law, sisters, aunts, cousins, older nieces), close friends and work colleagues are invited to a baby shower.
But if you are hosting a baby shower, you should always check with the mom-to-be about who she would like to attend, because she might have some people she does not want to invite.
Who NOT To Invite?
The guestlist of a baby shower should ideally only include those who are close to the mom-to-be.
Now when it comes to any guestlist let’s all acknowledge that there’s nothing worse than having someone at your party who you don’t really want there!
For this reason, it’s a good idea to think twice before inviting any of the following groups of people:
- Anyone Who Will Create Drama
- Distant Relatives
- Long Lost Friends
- Casual Co-Workers
What To Wear To Your Baby Shower
Your baby shower is the time to show off that beautiful bump of yours in style, ideally while looking both gorgeous and comfortable at the same time.
Ideally, you should wear whatever you find most comfortable and stylish, and not worry too much about following rules, because this is your day.
Are you more comfortable in dresses than pants? Great, in that case, reach for a long maxi dress.
Are you usually more of a pants type of gal? Then embrace that and opt for jeans.
Do you prefer dark colors such as black over bright patterns? Go for it. Want to wear pink even though you’re having a boy? Again, go right ahead because this is you get to set the rules!
However, irrespective of your exact outfit choice it can be helpful to think about these 5 style tips:
- Embrace Your Bump: Everyone in attendance knows you are expecting, so make the most of it and proudly show your loved ones that ever-growing bump of yours.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes: Flat shoes can look cute and stylish too, so don’t feel as though your style will go out of the window just because you’re not wearing a pair of stilettos.
- Choose Your Fabric Wisely: Materials and clothes that don’t stretch much, or worse still feel tight, are definitely worth avoiding. Lighter fabrics such as cotton and linen are a great choice, and if you’re worried about getting cold, you can always add layers if necessary.
- Layer Up: Even if your baby shower is in winter (see below), it’s still advisable to avoid heavy fabrics in favor of lighter and more breathable materials that you can add additional layers to such as a cardigan or pair of leggings.
- Don’t Neglect What’s Underneath: Refrain from thinking about those undergarments as a mere afterthought, and instead opt for maternity underwear that is both comfortable and supportive.
Unique Venue Ideas
Whether you are planning a baby shower for 10 guests or more than 50, or if you’ve got $150 or $1500 to play with, there is no shortage of amazing baby shower venues out there if you’re willing to think outside the box.
Here are some of the best and most unique venues to consider – with something for everyone there should be at least one or two options in our list that mom will surely love!
Outdoor Baby Shower Venues
- Rooftop Terrace: These can range from cozy and informal to more glamorous and hip, so it’s one of those types of venue locations that could suit everyone.
- Park: From grand parks to botanical gardens, there’s something magical about this type of setting on a spring, summer or even fall day.
- The Beach: A beach might not be to every mom-to-be’s liking, but for those more laid-back moms it could be the ideal choice, especially if you are planning on inviting younger guests or kids.
- Vineyard: This outdoor venue is a little less weather dependant than the beach because of the surrounding buildings, which are usually event ready and capable of providing high quality food, amazing views and of course delicious drinks.
Indoor Baby Shower Venues
- Restaurant: Perhaps not the most unique choice in our list, but a great option because of the space, range of establishments to choose from, and the fact that someone else will do all the cooking, serving and tidying up!
- Dessert Restaurant: A little treat now and again didn’t hurt anyone, so celebrate in style and give in to your sweet tooth by choosing a dessert restaurant or delicious chocolatier.
- Tea Room: With cozy interiors, old-school decor and a range of options to suit differing budgets, another one of the more unusual baby shower venues out there is a tea room.
- Brewery: If mom is less of a wine drinker and more of a beer lover, she might appreciate her baby shower being hosted at a local brewery.
- Friend or Relative’s House: If neither the host nor mom has the space, it’s worth thinking about whether someone else on the guestlist would be willing to let you host the event at their home or in their garden.
- Spa: Everyday life is hard enough, let alone while having to grow a little human inside you! Facials, massages, body treatments…select a package that meets your needs and help spoil mom on her special day. A word of caution though – be sure to check with the venue that any treatments you book are safe for pregnant women.
Are you looking to throw a baby shower but are concerned about the potentially high cost?
Choosing a budget-friendly place to host a baby shower might seem challenging, but as someone who has hosted multiple baby showers over the years, I can tell you that such places do exist!
The interesting thing about baby showers is that the venue is normally the most expensive part of hosting a baby shower.
So if you are on a budget, then keeping this part low (or better still free) will go a long way to ensuring you meet your overall budget, while still leaving you enough money to do things like choose an awesome cake, buy beautiful decorations, prepare tasty food and serve delicious drinks and pregnancy mocktails.
- A Park
- Botanical Garden
- A Friend or Relative’s House
- Community Space or Church
- Afternoon Tea
Baby Shower Hostess Duties
If you are planning to host a baby shower or will be helping out in the lead-up or on the day itself, you will no doubt be wondering what a hostess does at the event.
No two celebrations are the same, but typically some of the most common duties of a baby shower host include:
- Choosing the venue
- Organizing food and drink
- Decorating the venue (for example with bunting, flowers or balloons)
- Organizing games such as the A-Z baby items game (some will need pre-preparation like “Guess Who”, where guests bring their own baby photo and guests try and match the baby photo with the grown-ups in attendance, or “Who Knows Mommy Best”, a quiz all about mom).
- Organizing the diaper raffle
- Asking mom who to invite to the baby shower and sending out invitations, which may include selecting your preferred diaper raffle wording
- Bringing advice cards or a book for other moms in attendance to fill in with words of wisdom
- Ensuring everyone is mingling well and having fun on the day, and most of all making sure mom-to-be is having a great time!
How Much To Spend On A Gift?
The first thing to consider before setting the budget for your gift is to think about who you are buying for.
This is because the general rule of thumb is the closer you are to the parents-to-be, the more you are likely to spend on a gift.
There are also other factors you may wish to consider, for example how extravagant the event, if you’ve had to travel far for the party, and whether this is mom’s first baby shower or not.
Here are some averages that you might find useful, but they are of course only a guide so the final decision is down to whatever you feel is most appropriate:
- Immediate Family & Close Friends: $100 to $200
- Friends & Distant Relatives: $50-$100
- Co-workers, Employees & Clients: $25-50
Many people also wonder if it’s ok to give cash as a baby shower gift.
In terms of etiquette, there is nothing to suggest you cannot give cash, and most moms-to-be are likely to be thrilled to receive cash because they can spend it on what they really need the most.
Raising a baby is expensive work – the cost of diapers alone in the first year can be up to $2,000 – so any extra cash will probably be very well received!
A diaper raffle is a game that is often played at a baby shower, diaper party, baby sprinkle or gender-reveal party.
These games are fun, easy to play and a fantastic way to acquire lots of useful diapers before your baby is born.
There are two parts to every raffle – tickets and prizes.
Guests get one ticket for every one pack of diapers that they bring to the party, and each ticket is an entry into a prize-draw.
During the party, all the tickets go into a container, and at some point during the event the winning ticket is drawn, and the winner gets the prize (more on this shortly).
Thank You Cards
The event is over and you’ve hopefully had a gorgeous, memorable event.
There’s one last thing you need to do now, and that’s to show your appreciation to your guests by sending them a thank you card.
Here’s a simple five-step formula for writing the perfect thank-you note that won’t let you down:
- Send The Card Out Within 1-2 Weeks of The Event
- Make It Personal & Handwritten
- Mention Their Gift
- Don’t Worry About Including A Photograph
- End The Note on A Hight
Whether you are the mom-to-be, host or a guest who’s been invited to a baby shower, it’s worth remembering that the event is about celebrating the impending arrival of a baby above all else.
So try not to get too hung up about traditions, taboos or social expectations, and instead focus on having a good time and celebrating the miracle of life!