Who should host the baby shower?
Traditionally, only non-relatives are to host a baby shower—co-workers, church groups, etc.; however, it has become more common and acceptable for mothers and sisters to host showers too. And why not? The important thing is that someone takes the initiative to host the shower. What a wonderful display of caring for a growing family and a special way to help welcome a new life into the world. Really, the only one who absolutely should not host a shower is the expecting mom herself!
It is also perfectly acceptable for more than one person to host a baby shower. It can be fun for a group of friends to share the responsibilities and excitement of planning and hosting this special event.
When do I throw a baby shower?
Showers are normally given before the baby is born, generally a month or two before the mom's due date. It's a good idea to give the mom enough time following the shower to shop for items she didn't receive as gifts, yet wants to have before the baby arrives. And of course you don't want to hold the shower too close to baby's due date in case he or she makes an early arrival!
Some people prefer to hold a "welcoming shower" a few weeks after the baby arrives, particularly if guests want to bring gifts specifically for a boy or girl. This is also an option if there are special out-of-town relatives (baby's grandparents, for example) that are coming post-birth and would love to attend the shower but cannot arrange two trips.
Where should I have the shower?
The answers vary! Showers are normally held in the home (or backyard on a pleasant day) of the hostess. If desired though, you can certainly host a shower at a church fellowship area, a favorite restaurant, or even at a banquet hall—it really all depends on what atmosphere you are looking for and how much money you want to spend.
Who do I invite? How should I invite the guests?
You likely have some idea of those you want to invite to the shower, but it is always a safe bet to run the guest list by the mom-to-be to ensure you haven't left anyone out. If the shower is not for a firstborn, you may want to invite only those close to the pregnant mom or those who have not attended previous showers.
You can invite guests via a phone call or an e-mail (be sure they check their mail regularly!), but the written invitation is still the most preferable way to kick off a shower. Written invitations are a great opportunity to set the tone for the party and are also a handy reminder for the guests to keep on their bulletin boards! You can purchase pre-printed invitations at card shops or stationery stores. If you're really feeling creative, make the invitations by hand! This allows you to incorporate your theme into the invitation itself.
No matter what type of invitation you use, be sure to include pertinent information—whether it regards a theme, a note of where the mom-to-be has registered, a map or written directions to the shower, or any special item you want the guests to bring for the mom.
Should the men be invited?
The answer to this really depends on what type of shower you are planning on hosting. For the most part, guys likely will not be interested in playing traditional "shower" games and eating cutesy foods while ooohing and aaahing over a mom-to-be's tummy! However, a shower can be a special event for expecting dads as well as moms if they're done with women and men in mind; and why shouldn't the dad-to-be get some of the attention and share in the gift opening and fun?
If the party is not a surprise, be sure to check with the pregnant mommy as to whether the dad (and his friends) would enjoy a baby celebration. If she agrees, go from there. If you are including games at your shower, be sure to make them "men friendly." And have plenty of food available for your male guests. It would be a nice touch to include gifts that are special for the new dad—a book on fathers and children, an "I love my daddy" bib for the baby, or maybe a frame Dad can take to the office to display a new picture of his baby.
Should I invite a friend who recently miscarried or is dealing with infertility?
It's best to err on the side of caution. While your friend may not want to attend the shower because it would be too painful, she may feel even more hurt if she isn't invited at all. Gently ask your friend if she would feel up to coming—no pressure. Assure her that it is OK for her to decline the invitation if a shower is just too difficult for her.
To surprise or not to surprise ... that is the question
Surprises can be fun if they are the kind of thing the expecting mother typically enjoys. In this case, you need to enlist the help of those close to the mom to find out her needs and wants for the baby. You'll also want to plan the guest list carefully, checking it with a close relative or friend to be sure you haven't omitted anyone close to the expecting mom.
A non-surprise baby shower is a safer bet: it gives you a chance to review the guest list with the guest of honor, and also allows the mom to register for gifts and let the hostess know if there is anything particular needed for the baby.
No matter whether the shower is a surprise or not, keep in mind that it is for the mom! Make sure she has a comfy chair to sit in, someone to hand her gifts (what pregnant woman should have to bend down to pick up packages?), her favorite food, and plenty of help getting the gifts to her car and into her home. It's her special day!
What should we do at the shower? The baby shower should be comfortable and fun for everyone, but most importantly the mom-to-be. Traditional showers often consist of a greeting time when guests can mingle, a light lunch or appetizers and drinks, a fun game or two, and cake or punch served during the gift-opening.
Some hostesses choose to give small prizes to game winners or little hostess gifts to guests. These can be handed out as guests are leaving the party.
Who pays the bill? How much should the host spend?
Generally those hosting will pay for the cost of the shower. This is one reason it might be nice to co-host a shower with someone else. How much you spend depends on whether you are serving a full meal at the party or just hors d'oeuvres, what type of games and prizes you plan on (if any), and how elaborate you want to be with decorations.