Baby Shower Etiquette: Tips on What to Do and What to Avoid
As times have changed, the rules of baby shower etiquette have evolved. Few “rules” remain in place outside the ones that dictate manners (like being gracious and courteous about receiving gifts – all gifts). In days gone by, what was allowed and not allowed surrounding baby showers was pretty straightforward. These days, however, a baby shower’s format is guided by the desires and creativity of the mom-to-be.
That said, baby showers are a tradition that can be a big help to new parents. There are still a few etiquette guidelines in place that make it simpler for the host(s) and guest of honor to plan a special event. Take a look below to find answers to some of the most commonly asked baby shower etiquette questions.
Who should host the baby shower, and what are they responsible for?
Usually, a family member, close friend, or sometimes a friendly co-worker will host so that your community can “shower” you with gifts. The host (or hosts – there can be more than one) are typically in charge of any and all planning leading up to the event, any costs associated with the event, and running things day-of to minimize stress for the parents-to-be. This includes choosing the location, sending invitations, gathering RSVPs, decorating, handling food and beverages, and coordinating games or activities.
According to lifestyle expert Martha Stewart, the only contribution the parent-to-be should make is providing a registry if they have one and a list of potential invitees and their contact details.
Who can I invite?
Anyone can be invited to a baby shower, from family and friends to co-workers and neighbors. As the guest of honor, remember that it’s courteous to be conscious of your host’s space and budget limitations as you make your list so that things don’t get uncomfortable.
While phone call invitations are acceptable, a paper or digital invitation is the best way to honor such a special event. Martha Stewart recommends invitations be sent out at least a month in advance to allow time for RSVPs, food prep, and more.
What is expected of the parents-to-be at the baby shower?
As the shower honoree, your primary assignment is to be a courteous and appreciative guest. If you’d like to contribute beyond that, consider asking the host if you can help out with either of the following:
- Food or beverage. Offer to assist with the refreshments. If you're arranging a more informal gathering, you may suggest making it a potluck event.
- Party favors. These are optional, but fun. Something small and inexpensive, like chocolates or a pretty candle, are a sweet thing to do for your guests.
Can I have multiple baby showers?
Yes! This is not uncommon since many parents-to-be have varying circles of friends and family. For example, you may have a shower thrown by co-workers during your lunch break, a larger shower in your hometown with extended family, and a weekend brunch-style shower with only close friends.
Etiquette expert Emily Post says it’s perfectly acceptable to have a baby shower for a second or third baby. This encore shower is frequently (and sweetly) referred to as a "sprinkle" instead of a shower since the family often already has many of the items they need. Immediate family and intimate friends are typically included. Bear in mind that registering for what you need is especially useful with subsequent babies since, depending on the age of your previous child, you may not need lots of supplies.
If the family truly needs nothing, some will have a “Stock the Freezer” shower to help supply the parents-to-be with ready-made meals for after the baby is born. Others hold a “Sip n' See” instead (which is basically a brunch where you meet the new baby.) You may even consider indicating directly on the invitation, “No gifts necessary – just the pleasure of your company.”
Can I register for baby shower gifts?
Creating a registry is a handy way to specify the things you'll need before your baby arrives. Though you’ll have a few guests who prefer to shop off-list or bestow their own special gift, many guests will value the direction a registry provides and want to give you things they know you’ll use.
Select primarily modestly-priced items from an online store or major retailer. This strategy works best for two reasons. Firstly, it’s far more convenient for most guests. Secondly, it’s not polite to put them in the position of feeling obligated to spend more than they’re comfortable with. Guests who want to splurge, upgrade, or do a little boutique shopping still have the opportunity to do so.
Shopping for someone else but not sure what to give them? Give them the gift of choice with an ANB Baby gift card. With so many gifts to choose from, the recipient will be sure to find a gift they love either for themselves, their newborn, or their child. Gift cards are delivered by email and contain instructions to redeem them at checkout. Our gift cards have no additional processing fees.
Set up your registry before invitations are sent. Have the host include a separate note that lets guests know where you’ve registered or let interested guests inquire with the host.
Are invitees who are unable to attend the baby shower obliged to give gifts?
Not at all. It’s a party invitation, not a gift request. If they prefer, they can send a gift to the host’s home who can then bring it to the shower. It’s also alright for them to wait until after the baby is born to send a gift.
When should you send baby shower thank-you notes?
As with any thank you note, the sooner you can send it, the better (especially since the imminent arrival of your little one is likely to put the brakes on any note-writing for a while). Ideally, send notes within two to three weeks of the shower. But it’s never too late to say thank you. It’s also a nice gesture to show appreciation to your host with a special gift, like flowers or a small piece of jewelry.
While there aren’t many hard-and-fast rules when it comes to baby shower etiquette, do what makes you comfortable and use these tips to consider your options and prepare. Ideally, you’ll be able to sit back and relish every moment while your family and friends “shower” you and your baby with love.
A thoughtful gift is hard to come by unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. Take a look at our shop for thoughtful gifts for new babies and new parents-to-be.
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