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!
Table Of Contents:
- The origins of baby showers
- Males at baby showers
- Baby shower food
- Budget baby shower
- Not Opening Gifts at Shower
- Honoring Grandmas-To-Be at Baby Showers
- Requesting Gift Cards or Diapers in Baby Shower Invitation
- Shipping Baby Shower Gifts
- Baby Showers for a Pregnant Boss or Manager
- Old-fashioned Baby Shower Hostess
- Baby Shower at Mommy-to-Be’s House
- Husband Throwing my Baby Shower
- Gift Registry and Baby Shower Invitations
- Baby Shower Invites – Address Labels or Hand Written
- Baby Shower for a Dad-to-Be
- Including a Surrogate at a Baby Shower
- Cost of a Baby Shower Gift
- Game Prizes for Baby Shower
- Baby Shower for Expecting Triplets
- Baby Showers and Money Gifts
- How to Decline a Baby Shower Offer
- Asking Someone to Host a Shower
- Inviting Grandmas-to-Be
- Baby’s Name on Baby Shower Invites
- Gifts for the Hostess of a Baby Shower
- Throwing your Own Baby Shower
- Baby Shower Invitations for Adopted Babies
- Baby Showers for Second (and Subsequent) Babies
- Strictly “Adults Only” Baby Showers
- How to Word the Invitation When Gifts Aren’t Required
- Disagreement Over Where to Hold a Baby Shower
The origins of baby showers
Where do the traditions of baby showers come from?
While the phrase “baby-shower” is relatively new, celebrations and rituals to celebrate an impending birth are as diverse in cultures as they are age-old.
We know that the Ancient Egyptians had rituals surrounding birth and pregnancy, although the details aren’t so well known, as these female-only events were shrouded in mystery from the males in their society.
In Ancient Greece, pregnancy was celebrated after the birth, with mothers and those in attendance shouting ‘oloyges’ (similar to a baying noise) to announce the safe arrival of both baby and peace.
Other notable periods for the earliest of baby showers are the middle ages, the Renaissance period and the Victoria era, with the modern incarnation arriving shortly after WWII when consumerism spread like wild-fire through the 1950s and 1960s. This period would see the first events where mothers-to-be were “showered” with gifts, as well as arranging day trips out for shopping.
Males at baby showers
The husband/boyfriend wants to attend the baby shower – can he?
Yes – there is no rule book banning males from attending and, after all, parenthood is a journey that they will experience together. In this instance, you have two choices – invite only the proud father-to-be, or make the shower an open event by inviting the partners of the female guests.
You may also want to involve the father by ordering him a special future-daddy cake, and consider whether menu or drink changes are necessary (such as serving alcohol).
Baby shower food
Is food an essential for a baby shower?
There are no hard and fast rules about supplying food for baby shower guests, but there should at least be refreshments offered.
You should consider the time of day, and plan the menu accordingly. For example, if it’s in the middle of the day, a light lunch menu may work well. Conversely, if it’s early evening then guests may not have eaten, so a larger buffet or sit-down meal may be most suitable.
If your budget is tight, consider a time that sits between meal times – such as between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and dinner.
Budget baby shower
I’m arranging a baby shower along with a few others. Despite the mom-to-be always going the extra mile for others, they are planning a budget menu. We have a reasonable amount of money to spend. Shall I share my concerns?
Wanting your friend or family member to have a nice shower is commendable, however a nice shower doesn’t always translate to mean expensive. Ask yourself – would she be happy with the menu and arrangements? If you feel strongly that she wouldn’t, you can take a proactive line by saying that you wish to take up the task of a new menu. The alternative would be to simply voice your concerns over the plans, which may lead to tension and an outcome that’s anything but helpful for the mom-to-be. You could also make other suggestions as to how the day can be made extra-special for her.
Not Opening Gifts at Shower
Depending on the number of guests, the gift part of a baby shower can take as long as 3 – 4 hours. Is it rude to not open your presents during the shower itself, instead delivering an informal ‘thank you’ speech?
Most baby showers are centered around the giving and opening of gifts, and so this could indeed be seen as rude. After all, people spend time and consideration on choosing a gift, not to mention money – most people like to at least receive the satisfaction of a happy mom-to-be as she opens it.
That said, the host is in charge of timings and keeping the event moving along. She can be super effective at this part of the day by arranging someone to write down what the gifts are and who purchased them (for later thank you cards), and organize another person who passes/stacks the gifts as you move along.
Honoring Grandmas-To-Be at Baby Showers
Should the grandmothers-to-be be honored during a baby shower? If so, would a corsage be suitable, and is a corsage also suitable for the mom-to-be?
A new baby brings change for many people, and is often a rite-of-passage not only for mom, but for the females who will soon become grandmothers for the first time (or second, or third…). Acknowledging the soon-to-be grandmothers isn’t essential, but it is often a nice touch. Corsages are a simple yet touching tribute, and can be tied into the color scheme of the shower. Other ideas include t-shirts and/or tiaras (with a simpler version for the grandmothers, and a more ornate version for mom).
Requesting Gift Cards or Diapers in Baby Shower Invitation
Is it rude to request gift cards or diapers for a baby shower – whether first, second or any other baby?
Yes – being specific as to what gifts you’d like can be considered improper if you don’t provide plenty of choice, such as with a gift registry. However, that’s not to say that mom can’t return any unwanted/unsuitable gifts that she receives for something else that she does.
Shipping Baby Shower Gifts
When organizing a baby shower for a mom who lives far away, can I request that gifts are sent directly to the mother’s home instead?
Baby showers are centered around the fun of giving and receiving gifts, so ideally you should avoid this situation. Yet as host, you’re responsible for helping mom get her gifts back to her home, so you may want to explore the following ideas:
- Arrange a courier to transport the items after the shower.
- Organize a virtual gift opening session.
- Ask gift-givers to take a photo of their gift, which can be emailed to you for a scrapbook – this can then be used to look through during the shower if you do choose to have the gifts sent directly.
Baby Showers for a Pregnant Boss or Manager
Are employees expected to host a shower if the boss or manager is pregnant?
This very much depends on how close the boss or manager is with her employees. That said, a lunchtime shower with one large gift between everyone can be both a lovely surprise, as well as a cost-effective way of helping her with her baby preparations.
Old-fashioned Baby Shower Hostess
My mom is arranging my baby shower and, like all new moms, I want it to be extra special – not only for me, but also my husband. As a traditionalist, my mom can’t understand the idea of men being invited to a baby shower. How can I make her understand?
Be positive and enthusiastic about her plans, and explain how excited you both are about the baby and her sharing your journey as a team. Explain that the baby shower is one of the very first events together as a family, and that his attentiveness is one of the reasons you chose to be his wife.
Baby Shower at Mommy-to-Be’s House?
My friends and family want to throw me a baby shower – with multiple people saying that they’d like to host it at their house. I’d like to have my baby shower at my home – is it inappropriate to request this?
No, not at all, and your friends and family can still play host (with the extra bonus of not having to transport all of the presents!). Just because the shower is at your house, doesn’t negate their tasks to prepare, decorate, clean and create/serve the food and beverages.
Husband Throwing my Baby Shower
Can I throw a baby shower for my wife? Her friends don’t mix, and her family are based all around the world. As her best friend (and husband), is it odd to arrange her baby shower?
The problem here lies in the fact that you’re the father-to-be, so throwing a shower would be similar to asking everyone for gifts – it’s simply not the done thing.
It’s worth remembering that baby shower events usually involve guests who don’t naturally mix (such as friends, family, in-laws and co-workers). The solution here would be for one outgoing friend or co-worker to step forward as host.
Gift Registry and Baby Shower Invitations
Some friends and family have advised me that creating a gift register and including the details on the invitation is poor etiquette. What are your thoughts?
While previously this may have been true, times have changed. Today, people lead busy lives, and having to get in touch with the mother-to-be can be inconvenient for many baby shower attendees, so this little detail is usually appreciated. The majority of stores provide registry cards that can simply be included in the invitation envelope.
Baby Shower Invites – Address Labels or Hand Written?
I’m preparing the baby shower invites and wondered whether the addresses should be hand written or if I could use labels instead?
Printed labels are absolutely OK and can save the host valuable time when it comes to their to do list. Focus your efforts in what is inside the envelop, rather than on the outside. Having a list of names on your computer can be used to create the labels, list out the gifts that have been given and can ensure that you get everyone’s name spelt correctly.
Baby Shower for a Dad-to-Be
My friend is no longer in a relationship with the soon-to-be mother, and will be having visitation. Is it OK to throw a baby shower for him on the arrival of the baby?
Of course! Both mom and dad will be responsible for their new baby, so it’s absolutely fine to “shower” him too. No longer are showers just for moms, nor do they have to take place before the baby is born.
Including a Surrogate at a Baby Shower
My friend and mother-to-be is using a surrogate to birth her child. Should the surrogate be invited and if so how should I involve her in proceedings?
This depends on the mother-to-be’s feelings. Given that her surrogate is giving her an amazing gift and making her baby possible, she may naturally feel as though she wants her there. If so, remember that it is the mother-to-be who should be the center of attention, but that small acknowledgements for the surrogate can be a nice gesture. This may include a t-shirt, tiara or corsage (similar but less grand to the mother’s and grandmother’s) and wording on the invite may include:
- NAME will be present with the baby on board
- Some say a stork delivers the baby but we know it’s an angel
- A baby grows beneath an earthly angel’s heart to fill DAD’S NAME and MOM’S NAME.
Cost of a Baby Shower Gift
How much should I spend on a baby shower gift? My friend tells me that the average is around $70 – is this right?
There’s no set amount that guests should spend on a baby shower gift – it’s entirely up to the guest. Some mothers create a gift registry, although these do not necessarily need to be used.
Game Prizes for Baby Shower
Who should be given the prize from baby shower games – the mother-to-be or the guest who wins the prize?
The guests have each already given gifts to the soon-to-be-mother, so it should be the guest who takes home the prize.
Baby Shower for Expecting Triplets
My friend is expecting triplets – should gifts be purchased for each baby?
No, not necessarily, it’s entirely up to you, however you may want to consider choosing a single gift that all three babies can use (such as a basket, mountain of diapers or ear thermometer).
The Million Dollar Question about Baby Showers and Money Gifts
Is it improper to ask for money, rather than gifts?
Yes – you should never request money (even when the baby shower is for subsequent babies and the parents may have lots of baby essentials already).
How to Decline a Baby Shower Offer
Many of my friends have offered to host a baby shower, however I don’t have enough people to invite as guests to each and every one. How do I tactfully turn these offers down?
As soon as you’ve accepted one offer to host a baby shower you can just say something similar to “Thanks so much, your offer is really kind. However, Sally has already offered – perhaps you’d like to help her?”.
Asking Someone to Host a Shower
Is it rude to ask someone to host a baby shower?
Yes, it is. Baby showers are expensive to organize, and most people will feel awkward about turning down your request.
Is it customary to expect the grand mother-to-be to attend a baby shower if the other grandmother is hosting?
There’s no dead set rules in this instance, however it may be appreciated by the non-hosting grandmother if she is invited.
Baby’s Name on Baby Shower Invites
When the baby’s sex and name are already known should they be included on the invite to their baby shower?
Yes – as long as the mother is happy for everyone to know.
Gifts for the Hostess of a Baby Shower
Should the person hosting a baby shower be given a gift?
The mother-to-be isn’t obligated to give her host a gift, however it is nice to acknowledge her hard work and the associated expense.
Throwing your Own Baby Shower
Can I throw my own shower, or isn’t it proper?
While etiquette around baby showers have relaxed over the past two decades, it remains questionable as to whether you should throw your own shower. A better approach would be to drop a few (very subtle) hints to see whether anybody steps forward.
Baby Shower Invitations for Adopted Babies
How should I word the writing on the invitation for a mother who’s adopting, given that there’s a slight chance of the adoption not going through?
The guests should already be aware that adoptions sometimes don’t run smoothly, and if something should happen that you’d call to speak with them. For now, treat it as the joyful occasion that welcoming a new child is. As a side note, you may want to consider still moving ahead with the shower if the adoption does fail, as your friend will need all the support she can get.
Baby Showers for Second (and Subsequent) Babies
Is it OK to have a baby shower for either a second baby or any baby subsequently?
It is always OK to have a baby shower. This event is about more than just gifts – it’s a chance for family and friends to get together and celebrate the impending birth of a new life.
If the mom-to-be doesn’t want any gifts, it’s fine to forego them and to simply have a gathering to celebrate. Other ideas include a casserole night or a pampering evening.
Can Baby Showers be Strictly “Adults Only”?
I don’t have children and I’m soon to host a shower. Can a baby shower be “adults only”?
There’s no correct answer to this – it really depends on the needs/wishes of the mother-to-be.
Baby Showers – How to Word the Invitation When Gifts Aren’t Required
We don’t need any gifts for our baby, how can we word this on the baby shower invitation?
It’s quite acceptable to simply say that the only gift required is your guest’s presence.
Disagreement Over Where to Hold a Baby Shower
I’d love to host my friend’s baby shower at mine, however she wants to have it at hers. What should I do?
When something is specifically requested by the mom-to-be, especially the location of the baby shower, you should follow her wishes. There may numerous reasons why she wants things a certain way. For example, she may feel more comfortable at home (especially if she is in late pregnancy) or she may want to show people around her baby’s nursery.