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Baby Showers

Baby Shower Etiquette

Have a question about baby shower etiquette? Wondering if you have to invite the mother-in-law? Is it okay to have kids and husbands at showers? We can help! Click here to send in your questions; a new question and answer will be posted each month in our cubby.


Husband Wants to Attend Shower
Q. Help! My husband wants to attend my baby shower. He thinks showers strictly for mothers/women is archaic and wants to be present. However, the invitations have already been sent, and all of the guests are female. What should I do?

A. You have two options: let him come to the all-female shower and be the proud papa-to-be, or call all of your guests and invite their spouses/significant others to the event and make it a co-ed shower. Either way, your husband is sure to feel more involved and will appreciate your efforts to include him. If you opt for a co-ed shower, you can even put him in charge of organizing activities for the guys. Why not order him a special dad-to-be cake for good measure. Parenthood is a shared responsibility, why shouldn't he get prepped early?


Is Food Required for a Shower?
Q. I'm planning a baby shower for a good friend, but due to recent economical events funds are limited. Must I supply food for her guests?

A. Well, there is nothing that says you must supply a meal for baby shower guests, but some form of refreshment should be provided. Like a wedding, the time of day the baby shower is scheduled for will determine the appropriate menu. If funds are limited, plan a shower between regular meal times. Have a post breakfast, lunch or dinner shower and provide refreshments such as coffee, iced tea, lemonade, sherbet punch, or soft drinks with cake, finger food, etc. to keep costs down. The food menu does not need to be extensive, but should be existent. Remember, if you are friends with her other guests, you can also ask each guest to bring a dish which will definitely help stretch your shower budget.


Chintzy Menu for Co-Worker
Q. My colleagues are throwing a baby shower for a co-worker during lunchtime. However, despite the fact that they were given a decent budget, they are planning what most would consider a chintzy menu. The expecting mom always goes above and beyond for us and I just want her to have a very nice shower. Should I say something?

A. Everyone should have someone like you around ready to defend them, but as to whether you should intervene, I need to ask you a couple of questions. First, would the mom-to-be consider the menu to be chintzy, or would she like it? Second, what is your intent? Do you want to take over the menu planning, or will you simply state your opinion and leave it up to your colleagues to rectify? If it's the former, I say go for it, as long as you use tact and diplomacy and have enough time left to pull everything together. If it's the latter, I say perhaps you should take it upon yourself to supply an accompaniment you may deem more suitable for the occasion.


Not Opening Gifts at Shower
Q. I have been to many baby showers where it has taken 3 to 4 hours to open presents. Is it rude to not open presents at the shower, but to give a thank you speech indicating that my husband and I would like to enjoy opening the presents in our home so we can really focus on what we received? I would really love to spend the shower time focusing on games, food and socialization amongst the guests.

A. Yes, it would probably be construed as being a bit rude. Let's face it - people love to ooh and aah over teeny tiny clothes and cute stuffed animals and bedding. It's the nature of the baby shower. It also allows guests the opportunity to see what the parents-to-be have been given, what they may still need and the chance to fawn over the mother-to-be a bit. While opening gifts at some showers can take a great deal of time, it's up to the host(s) to keep things moving along or to coordinate activities so that guests are not bored, the mom-to-be isn't passing out from starvation and guests aren't trying to sneak out the door. Having someone designated to write down which gifts were received from whom, someone to refold/stack the gifts and someone to hand the next gift to the mom-to-be can keep the ball rolling.


Honoring Grandmas-to-be
Q. I am giving a baby shower for my best friend, and I am wondering if we are supposed to honor the grandmothers-to-be at the baby shower? For instance, a corsage or something? And should I provide a corsage for the mother-to-be?

A. It is not mandatory that grandmothers be honored, but it is a nice gesture. After all their status is about to change too - from parent to grandparent, or from the grandparent of (insert number here) to (# + 1), so kudos to them too! Corsages are a nice way to go. Perhaps provide the grandmothers with the same style smaller corsage and the mom-to-be with a larger version in the colors of her shower theme. Or provide corsages for the grandmothers and fashion a corsage for mom from the bows from the baby gifts. Some other variations have been similar tiaras for the grandmothers and a larger more ornate one for the mom, or having t-shirts made for the grandmothers and the mom-to-be.


Asking for Gift Cards or Diapers in Invitation
Q. Is it proper to note on baby shower invitations that gift cards or diapers are welcome? This is a second baby.

A. No, it isn't proper, but it is appropriate to register for exactly what the new mom will need and include the registry cards in with the invitations. If she wants diapers in varying sizes, she could register for them and nothing else. Astute guests will get the hint, and may forgo the diapers for a gift card. Or, if she receives something she doesn't need, the item could be returned or exchanged for something more appropriate.


Shipping Shower Gifts to Mom Who Lives Far Away
Q. I'm hosting a baby shower for someone who lives far away and I don't want her to be burdened with shipping gifts home. How do I word an invitation, not to offend anyone, that it would be best to ship the gift directly to the mother's-to-be home?

A. A huge part of the fun of a baby shower is the opening of gifts. Everyone loves to see the cute little outfits, the bigger items, and can then determine what else may be needed for the baby/nursery. Asking everyone to ship the items to her home address definitely takes the fun out of it.

As the host, it's your responsibility to help the mom-to-be get her gifts home. Perhaps a virtual shower with the mom-to-be at home amongst her gifts and can open them with a virtual guest list would be more appropriate. That way guests can ooh and aah over gifts and she would not have to worry about how to get everything home.

If think your guests wouldn't mind, you could ask them to take pictures of what they've purchased and you could create a scrapbook for her and present the scrapbook at the shower, letting her know that the items are waiting for her at home. But if the guests balk at shipping in advance or experience difficult in taking pictures of items in advance, as the host, it would be appropriate for you to make necessary arrangements.


Pregnant Boss
Q. What is appropriate when the boss is pregnant? Should the employees be expected to host a shower?

A. It depends on how close the boss is to the employees. It is not a hard and fast rule that employees must host a shower, just as there is not a hard and fast rule that an employee be given a shower at work either. It depends on the relationship of all involved. On the other hand, a lunchtime shower for the boss, on premises, with one large gift from everyone or individual gifts, could be a wonderful surprise and an inexpensive way to help her prepare for the new baby.


Old-fashioned Hostess
Q. My mother is throwing me a baby shower. It's my first child and I want it to be really special for not only me, but also for my husband. My mother is very old fashioned and when I requested that my husband be at the shower also, she couldn't seem to understand why I would request something like that because traditionally men don't come to baby showers. We went through this same situation last year when planning our wedding. What do I do to make her understand but not seem ungrateful or hurt her feelings by being pushy?

A. You should gently explain to her that you and your husband are ecstatic about the new baby and want to share in all aspect of his or her life as a team, and the shower is just one of the many first steps. He wants to be involved and she should be happy to have such an attentive husband for her daughter and father for her grandchild.


Shower at Mom-to-Be's House?
Q. I have multiple friends/family that would like to throw me a baby shower. I, on the other hand, would like to have the shower at my new home. Is it inappropriate to have the shower at the mother-to-be's home?

A. Yes! It is completely okay to have the shower at the home of the Parents/Mom-to-Be's! When my sister-in-law was pregnant I hosted her shower, but it was at her much newer and much larger home. Of course all she had to do was open her door for us and we took it from there. We cleaned, shopped, prepared the food, decorated, set-up the food/beverages, arranged the gifts, and cleaned up before we left. The added bonus to having the shower there was, the gifts were already exactly where they needed to be. They did not have to be packed back up, transported and unloaded again! So, if it's okay with the New Mommy-to-Be, go for it!


Husband Throwing Shower
Q. Is it okay to throw my wife a baby shower? She has different worlds of friends that do not intermingle that often and her family resides in another country. So as her "best friend" and husband, is it weird to throw a shower for her?

A. No, it's really not appropriate to throw your wife a shower. While you may be her very best friend, you are also the parent-to-be. It's kind of like asking everyone to buy gifts for you directly. It would be a better idea for her to have several small/intimate showers than one shower hosted by you. Baby showers, like weddings, are often comprised of people who do not normally interact - co-workers with family members, in-laws with college buddies, etc. This is just the beginning. Think of the special moments to come in your baby's life. Perhaps one large shower hosted by a brave friend or co-worker is more of a possibility than you think.


Gift Registry
Q. My mother thinks it's fine to register for baby shower gifts but that it is poor etiquette to include where you are registered on the invitation. She said you should wait for people to ask where you are registered. What do you think?

A. I think busy shoppers will appreciate not having to contact the mom-to-be before making a purchase. In addition, the mom-to-be is more apt to receive exactly what she wants/needs by enclosing registry cards. Most stores provide registry cards that are supposed to be included in shower invitations so that nothing needs to be written on the invitation itself. While your mother was right about how things were perceived in the past, this new millennium comes with a few revisions to what is now acceptable practice.


Address Labels
Q. I was getting ready to mail out the invitations and I was just wondering if it would be okay to use labels for the addresses?

A. Absolutely! In this day and age labels can make life so much easier on the shower planner(s) and the parents-to-be. It's also a way of streamlining the entire process. Hosts and grateful parents can focus their attention on what is going inside of the envelope, instead of the outside. One computer file can be forwarded to the host with the correct spelling of names and completed addresses and used to generate labels for envelopes. The same file can be used by the parents-to-be to send thank you notes and birth announcements. Technology can be so useful when time is such a hot commodity. By all means, put it to work for you.


Dad-to-Be Shower
Q. My son is not involved with the now mother-to-be. He will be having the baby at his apartment on visitation. Is it to have a baby shower for him once the baby has arrived?

A. Absolutely! He'll be a new parent responsible for caring for a new baby and he should be "showered" too. Invite his friends, your relatives and anyone else he may want there. Baby showers are not just for moms, nor must they take place before baby arrives.


Cost of a Gift
Q. Is there a "going rate" for a baby shower present?? I have a friend who says that you should spend at least $60-65 dollars. I'm not sure what to do!

A. There is no set minimum amount that should be spent when purchasing a baby shower gift. Many moms-to-be register for necessary items, but it's up to the individual to determine if she even utilizes the registry. Some of the most beautiful gifts cost the least. A handmade baby quilt, a glorious basket full of much-needed baby supplies, a three-ring binder full of "30-Minute or Less" recipes, or an assortment of tips for the new mommy. All wonderful ideas, each one showing just how much your heart welcomes the new addition, and how much you care for mom. So relax! No matter what is spent, rest assured that your gift will be appreciated.


Shower Game Prizes
Q. Is it appropriate to give a prize to a game winner that is for the mother-to-be or should the prize be something for the guest to take home?

A. Ideally, shower game prizes should be for the guesst to take home and enjoy as a reminder of this wonderful occasion. The guests have already brought gifts for mom and baby, so the prizes should be all about them. To coordinate, prizes can be geared towards the theme of the baby shower, towards a specific idea - like spa day, or even a specific color. Have fun with it.


Q. I am invited to a baby shower for a friend who is pregnant with triplets. What is the proper gift giving etiquette? Do I purchase a gift for each baby or do I just bring one gift?

A. Triplets, oh my! Just because your friend is having three babies, it does not mean that you have to purchase three individual gifts. Consider purchasing an item or type of gift all three babies can use. For instance, a digital ear thermometer, a basket, bushel or aircraft hangar full of diapers (don't laugh, she'd really appreciate that many!), a trunk sized case of diaper wipes, or a selection of cute onesies. Whatever you decide to bring, after so much careful thought, I'm sure your friend will love it.


The Money Tree
Q. We are having our second child and have lots of stuff already. We really only need some big items that I think are too expensive for a single person to purchase. Is it improper to ask the guests to bring a cash gift for a money tree?

A. It is never appropriate to request money. Until recently it was even considered inappropriate to have a baby shower for any children after the first one. However, times have changed and with many more parents waiting several years in between children, or starting second families after a many years, second showers are becoming more and more common. Chances are, your guests will realize that many items will be reused from your first child, and will therefore pay much more attention to your gift registry. For larger items, two or more guests may purchase items together, or may decide on cash or gift cards instead so that you may select exactly what you need. Don't forget, close family and/or friends will often ask you to tell them what you need. In that case, be specific and let them decide how they'd like to pursue the gift.


Declining a shower offer
Q. We are so lucky to have so many friends excited about our pregnancy, but it has created a dilemma. I have several friends who have said they want to throw me a shower - the problem is - I wouldn't have enough guests to spread around to all of these showers. How do I tactfully decline such a generous offer(s)?

A. Once you accept an offer, simply say something such as, "That is so kind of you to offer! Betsy has already offered; maybe you could help her?" Showers can have co-hosts and/or helpers so several people can be involved. If someone still wants to do something big for you, maybe they could organize your friends to go in on big ticket items on your wish-list such as a crib, stroller, or carseat.


Asking a friend to host a shower
Q. Is it proper to ask someone to give you a baby shower?

A. No, it isn't considered proper to ask. A baby shower is a costly event. How can a friend say no without feeling bad? If a close friend or relative approaches you and she listed a shower as one of her offers, such as, "I'd love to do something for you - please tell me what you would prefer - a baby shower, help after the baby arrives, film the delivery, etc..." then it would be ok to request the baby shower. Otherwise, it could put a friend/relative in an awkward position.

One suggestion is to host a "Welcoming Party" yourself to introduce people to the baby after s/he arrives. If people want to "shower," they will. Also remember that many people will send a gift when they receive a birth announcement.


Q. Is it expected and/or appropriate for my mother to attend a baby shower that my husband's mother is hosting for me? The other shower invitees will all be people from her (my husband's) side of the family?

A. There is no hard and fast rule for this one, so it's not expected that your mother-in-law has to invite your mother. It is appropriate and a nice touch to invite her, however. If they do not get along, the invitation should probably not be made. Best to avoid family squabbles when possible! If your mother is invited and someone from your family hosts another shower, then your mother-in-law should be invited as a courtesy.


Baby's name on invitations
Q. In sending out invitations for a baby shower, is it appropriate to include the name of the baby to be if the sex is already known?

A. Absolutely - if mom-to-be is comforting telling people. Unless this is a surprise shower, ask mom-to-be if she has a preference. Some parents-to-be are shy in giving out baby's name before birth in order to avoid any gripes about the name. If mom-to-be is comfortable, then go for it. If she's not, you can always mention that the baby is a boy or a girl if that's known.


Hostess Gifts
Q. Should you give a gift to the hostess of baby shower?

A. A mom-to-be isn't obligated to give her hostess a gift, but it's certainly a very nice thing to do. A lot of work goes into planning and hosting a baby shower so it's appropriate to acknowledge her. An expensive gift is certainly not expected or needed. Keep it simple and from the heart.


Throwing your own shower
Q. Is it okay to throw yourself a shower? I have several kids and am expecting triplets. I've never had a shower before.

A. It's true that "proper etiquette rules" have relaxed a great deal since Emily Post, especially for baby showers. However, in the world of baby shower etiquette, most people would consider it really tacky to host your own shower. Showers can be given by most anybody these days but are usually hosted by a girlfriend or a grandma-to-be. If you have enough friends and relatives to attend a shower, I bet someone among that group will throw one for you. If you don't hear of any plans, try dropping some subtle hints.


Invitations for adopted babies
Q. I'm throwing a baby shower for an adoptive mother. She would like the shower a week after the baby is born. How should I word the invitations if at the last minute, the adoption doesn't go through and there is no new baby?

A. If something happens at the last minute, it will be necessary to call everyone on your guest list to cancel the shower regardless of what the invitation says. Therefore, I suggest you not say anything about a possible cancellation on the invitation. Everyone on the guest list will know that the shower if for an adopted baby, and they'll know the possibility exists that something could happen even if something isn't on the invitation. Hope for the best and create beautiful invitations that just plan on everything going right! Then, if the worst happens and the adoption falls through, call everyone on your guest list. You may still want to have some type of gathering to "shower" your love and support on the mom-to-be who will be devastated.


Showers for second (or more) babies
Q. Is it improper to have a baby shower for your second baby, especially if the sex is different?

A. It is never improper to have a baby shower. A shower is so much more than gifts. It is an opportunity to gather family and friends together to celebrate the beginning of a new life. The birth of a baby is a joyous occasion, and it is always acceptable to celebrate it. If other family members or friends are concerned about it being improper to have a baby shower for a second (or more) child, there are ways to take the focus off the gifts. If the second child is a different sex than the first, it would be fun to host a "It's a Girl" or "It's a Boy" party, where guests bring gender specific gifts. Or, if the mom-to-be truly does not need anything for the new baby, forego gifts altogether and just gather to celebrate. Another option is to host a casserole shower or a pampering mom shower.


Is it okay to make a baby shower "adults" only?
Q. I'm giving the shower and I don't have kids. Should kids of the guests be invited to a baby shower? If it can be "adults only," how do I word that on the invitation?


A. There are many different variations of baby showers, and there isn't a right or wrong answer to this question. Whether or not to invite children to attend is a personal decision, much like whether or not children should be invited to a wedding. As long as you take the needs and wishes of the mom-to-be into consideration, the choice of whether or not to host an "adults only" shower is yours.

It's important to make your intentions clear on the invitations. You can state "women only" or "adults only" on the invitation. You can also address the invitation to a particular person, or an entire family.

If you decide children will not be welcome, please be aware that some invitees will be unwilling or unable to attend. One option for an adults only shower is to provide child care in another room or a nearby location for those parents that do not have alternate child care. It is, however, important to be flexible. For example, it may not be practical to expect a newborn infant to be left in child care.


How to word the invitation when gifts aren't needed . . .
Q. Our friends are hosting a baby shower for us for our second child expected this February. We are really low key people and although we know this baby is a girl (first was a boy) we really don't need anything. The question is how can we creatively word the invitation so that people don't feel obligated to bring a gift? If they do, fine, but our dream shower is a cocktail party and a chance to see all our friends together (and their kids) before our life becomes more complex with another child? Any ideas you might have on helping us plan a celebration rather that a consumer based party are appreciated.


A. I think it would be fine to simply state the only gift you need or want is the honor of their presence at a celebration for this new life. Something like "Please come share our joy and help us celebrate the beginning of a new life. No gifts, please."

Congratulations on your pregnancy.


Disagreement over where to hold the shower . . .
Q. I would like to throw a baby shower for my best friend at my home. She keeps pushing that we should have it at her house. I don't want to have it there. What can I do?


A. I think in this situation, it would be best to honor the mom-to-be's wishes. There might be a reason why she wants to have the shower at her own home. For example, perhaps she would like to show her family and friends the baby's nursery. Or, perhaps she does not have the means to transport the gifts from a separate location back to her house. I would recommend discussing your concerns with her, and perhaps you can come to an agreement on the location of the shower. If the reasons why you do not want to host it at her house outweigh the reasons why she wants it there, you can probably persuade her to change the location. If not, however, I think it is important to consider her desires when planning a shower for her.


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