How to Plan a Baby Shower
Who should throw a baby shower?
Anyone except the expectant couple — though Miss Manners might disagree. Formal etiquette says that someone who's not a relative must throw the shower to avoid having it look as though the family is asking for presents. Our advice? Ignore traditional rules. Any relative, close friend, or close co-worker should feel perfectly okay about planning a baby shower.
When should the shower be held?
Most baby showers are held before the baby is born. Any time after conception is fine, but a shower makes for a welcome diversion toward the end of pregnancy. Besides, it just doesn't seem real if the expectant mom isn't sporting a big belly.
When setting a date for the party, consult with the parents-to-be first. They may be able to warn you about scheduling conflicts. You may have to accommodate the schedules of grandparents, for example, even if they aren't the guests of honor. Nothing is worse than planning a party and sending out invitations (see below) only to find out that the most important people can't make it.
If you decide to schedule a shower for after the baby is born, that's fine, too. Then guests can bring gifts specific to the baby's sex. And with a baby as the centerpiece, you'll have a surefire icebreaker and conversation topic.
Who should be invited?
If you're hosting the shower, you may have some ideas about the guest list, but it's best to consult with the guest or guests of honor before finalizing your list. That way you avoid leaving out someone important or inviting someone the mom (or dad) would rather not include.
What about hosting a shower for the expectant mom and dad?
Although many baby showers still follow the "for women only" tradition, coed parties are growing in popularity. It all depends on what sort of gathering you're planning. If the shower is for a second or subsequent baby (these babies deserve a celebration, too!), the guest list is usually made up of close friends and family and anyone who was, for whatever reason, not invited to the first shower.
Another party-planning consideration:
Think long and hard before choosing to throw a surprise party. If your guest of honor doesn't like surprises, you may be putting her in an awkward position. Besides, if you let the future parents in on the arrangements, you can be confident that they'll be pleased with the outcome.
What kind of invitations should I use?
In addition to including the basic who, what, where, when, and RSVP information on the invitation, it never hurts to spell out the theme of the shower inside. If the expectant parents are registered for baby gear anywhere, it's fine to mention that, too, but it may be easier (and even a bit more tasteful) to offer that information when guests call to respond.
When should I send them?
Plan to send invitations out early enough to give the guests at least a few weeks' notice: This allows them enough time to work the shower into their schedules and shop for the perfect gift.