Great baby shower ideas-from cute invitations and easy, shower menus to clever themes and party favors.

Baby Shower Etiquette

When should the shower be held?

A baby shower should be held four to six weeks before the due date, unless the honoree prefers to have it after the child is born (for example, if her religion encourages this or if she has chosen to keep the baby’s sex a surprise and doesn’t want gender-neutral gifts).

Who decides who is invited – the guest of honor or the host?

Since the host bears the expense of the party, it is up to her to determine the number of guests she’s comfortable accommodating. If the shower is not a surprise, the host should give the honoree that figure and ask whom she’d like to invite. For a surprise party, the honoree’s college roommate trumps the host’s book-club buddies (sorry).

How many guests are too many?

A shower should be an intimate affair, not a gathering of anyone and everyone the honoree has ever known. Limit the guest list to close friends and family. (Hint: It should not come as a surprise to anyone on the guest list that there is a baby on the way!) Keep in mind that if your home can hold only 20 people comfortably, inviting more is doing no one a favor.

Should the invitation include registry information?

Many shower invitations do, but that can make the shower seem like a bit of a gimme-fest. Better yet, keep registry information off the invitation but feel free to pass it along if guests ask you for it. Or have them contact the honoree’s family or the honoree directly.

If you’re close enough to the mom-to-be that you’re throwing her a shower, you should try to make an appearance at one of the other showers if your schedule permits. However, if any of these showers requires a train, plane, or lengthy car trip to attend, it is completely acceptable to decline politely, guilt-free. Whether you attend additional showers or not, there’s no need to bring or send a second gift, since hosting a shower is like a second gift in and of itself. But if you feel uncomfortable arriving at a shower empty-handed, come with a small token, like a gift certificate for a manicure or a child’s storybook.

How much should I spend on a gift?

As with any gift, how much you spend should have more to do with your relationship with the recipient and what you feel comfortable spending than with an arbitrary, “customary” dollar figure. Traditionally, the family of the mother-to-be takes on the more expensive, utilitarian gift items, like cribs or kitchen appliances, while friends bring gifts that are more creative, personal, and, yes, inexpensive. If you’re not a family member of the honoree, a basic rule of thumb is to spend no less than $30 and no more than $50 on a baby shower gift, bearing in mind what other gifts you plan to purchase.

The guest of honor doesn’t want a typical ladies-only, afternoon affair. Are there other ways to celebrate?

Try opening up the event to husbands and male friends, and ask guests to bring themed personal gifts, like entertainment tickets, items to stock a bar, or, in the case of a baby shower, food to fill the freezer. And remember there’s no rule that says the honoree has to open her gifts at the party.

What if the guest of honor starts making other demands about the party?

The honoree surely has plenty on her mind and is probably in full-throttle decision-making mode. Try to be patient. If it’s simply that she must have lilac napkins or her mother’s ginger-ale punch, make every attempt to accommodate her. But if she is pushing you, say, to invite more guests than you feel comfortable hosting, then you are within your rights to gently let her know why you can’t give her what she wants.

Baby Shower Planning Tips

When it comes to life’s biggest events, you don’t get much bigger than the birth of a baby. And so it follows that the shower leading up to this occasion should be appropriately meaningful. Happily, this does not require slaving over a fantastically elaborate spread. To truly honor these new beginnings (and elicit oohs and aahs from your guests), all you need is a little creative vision and a few personal touches.

Choose Fun Invitations

Make your baby-shower invitation into a mock library slip for the mom-to-be’s “Great Expectations.” Write the party details on a vertical index card, stamp the book’s (er, baby’s) due date at the bottom, and mail the card in a coin envelope. (Everything to make this invitation is sold at office-supply stores.)

Decorations & Setup

The Simplest Bouquet

Long considered mere filler (and unwanted filler, at that), baby’s breath is strikingly lovely on its own when gathered in a large, airy bunch. Sold at most florist shops, it’s inexpensive and neutral enough to work in any setting. Drop a generous handful into a tall ceramic or glass vase.

Alternative Seating

If you don’t have a dozen extra chairs lying around (or room to set them up if you do), provide throw pillows or ottomans for the (younger, more limber) guests to sit on. And, if possible, limit the gift-opening portion of the party to one hour or less. Any longer and all guests can start to get antsy.

Double-Duty Decorations

To give your shower a garden-party feel, buy small pots of thyme and slip in Popsicle sticks that identify the herb (and, thanks to a play on words, announce the upcoming big day). Bonus: The plants double as party favors.

Personalized Favor Idea

Block letter stamps turn a stack of blank matchboxes into custom favors. (You can find blank matchboxes and stamps at party-supply websites.) If you wish, make extra for the couple to use at their own parties. And try customizing some paper cocktail napkins, too.

Pretty Place Settings

For a baby shower, it’s child’s play to turn ho-hum white napkins into little bundles of joy. To make this sweet take on the napkin ring, knot a narrow ribbon around a plastic rattle, then loop the ribbon around the folded napkin and finish it off with a bow.

Gifts as Centerpiece

Instead of splurging on an elaborate (and probably expensive centerpiece, let the guests’ gifts do the work. Stack presents on the coffee or buffet table for an instant, eye-pleasing still life of patterned papers and pastel bows.

The Activity

A successful shower game is easy to play, appeals to all ages, and does not overly embarrass the honoree (or, worse, her mother).


Opening the presents is the easy part. Helping the honoree pack them back up and doing it quickly and efficiently is more challenging.

Group them: Arrange the gifts in labeled shopping bags or boxes according to type (baby clothes in one, toys in another; linens in one, kitchenware in another). When the honoree arrives home, she’ll have an easier time unpacking all the loot.

Carry them: When a shopping bag is stuffed with presents, it can be difficult to grasp both handles at once. Make it easier to carry the bag by fashioning a sturdy handle out of packing tape. Cut a 16-inch strip of tape and fold it in half lengthwise, adhesive sides in, so that it is still 16 inches long but half as wide (and not sticky to the touch). Thread the strip through the bag’s handles. Tie the ends of the strip above the handle and seal them together with more tape. This loop is your new handle.

Ship them: If the guest of honor lives in another town, have a supply of shipping boxes and labels on hand so the gifts can be sent directly from your house to hers. That way, she won’t get stuck with excess-baggage fees on her flight-or a car too full of boxes to fit the people she’s traveling with.

Stuff them: Don’t have an economy-size carton of packing peanuts stashed in your garage? Then use the discarded wrapping and tissue paper from the opened presents to cushion fragile items before the guest of honor lugs them home. (Even if the breakables are nestled safely in individual boxes, stuff extra padding between boxes to safeguard against jostling.)

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