How wonderful! One of your best friends in the whole wide world has just announced that she’s pregnant. Naturally, you’re delighted, and can’t hold back your tears of joy. It’s hard to imagine that, in just a matter of time, your special friend is going to be a mother (maybe even for the second or third time…or more!).
As you let the amazing news sink in, your friend is envisioning the journey that will usher in a new life into the world: the gynecologist visits, the morning sickness, the ultrasound testing, the roller coaster of emotions that will eventually culminate in an experience that defies description.
Indeed, despite the frequency of births – tens of thousands a day, all across the world – they remain nothing short of miraculous. It’s not hard to imagine, therefore, that your friend is reflecting on issues that are truly hard to put into words.
Your world, however, is rather more pragmatic. You’re thinking of the baby shower; or rather, you’re thinking that you might not know enough about planning and eventually managing a baby shower. And that has you worried. After all the better the plan you muster, the better the shower will come off.
Well, worry no more! In your hands (or on your screen) is the guide to How to Plan the Perfect Baby Shower. Within the following pages, you’ll learn everything that you need to know to plan and therefore throw a perfect baby shower.
Don’t worry if you’ve never planned a baby shower before. And worry even less if, in the past, you’ve tried to plan a baby shower but bumped into some obstacles along the way. This guide is designed to be easy, practical, and fun. In fact, if you aren’t careful, you may just become a baby shower specialist, with people calling you up and asking you for your advice and insights. Now would that be fun?
As you make your way through this guide, bear in mind that the suggestions in here are meant to be applied – and they do work – but there’s always an element of uniqueness to every baby shower.
So instead of putting together a baby shower in the way you might put together a recipe – adding ingredients exactly as they’re listed and ending up with a predictably tasty dish – you’re gently advised to approach your baby shower project a little differently. Use the advice in here as a guide for creating a magical day for the mother-to-be, and the caring people who attend the baby shower.
Some of the ideas in here you’ll want to take to the bank; others might not fit with what you’re trying to do, or what can be done (such as some of the baby shower games we talk about). Don’t worry if you apply only some of what you read here.
Use your common sense, and remember: baby showers are supposed to be fun and special events. They aren’t meant to be stressful, and the last person who should feel overwhelmed is you.
Now that you have this book, pulling together an excellent and memorable baby shower plan might be the easiest thing you do all year (or course, you don’t have to tell people it was so easy…☺).
Who”ll Throw the Shower?
There’s an ongoing debate – that can actually become quite emotional and vocal – that tried to determine whether or not a relative should throw the baby shower. Traditionally, the view has been that a relative should not throw a baby shower, because it can appear that the relative is requesting gifts. Yet traditions change, and there are times when a sibling, or a cousin, or an aunt might be the ideal and somewhat convenient choice.
So what should you do? To answer this, we can respond with the best, and sometimes most unsatisfying answer of them all: it depends.
Sorry, but it really does depend. If you hail from a rather traditional or conventional background, it may be wise to see that a non-relative is in charge of the baby shower. In addition, even if you, personally, are comfortable with a relative throwing the baby shower, some of your guests – who may be less comfortable with it than you – may object (or just whisper about it behind your back).
Use your judgment here. Perhaps the most practical advice is this: if you can conveniently and pleasantly not have a relative run things, then that will likely be the best route to go. However, if that’s just not possible, plausible, or preferred, then don’t feel like you’re someone from outer space because you’re related to the mother-to-be. More and more people are breaking with tradition; especially since they feel that the perception of a relative “asking for gifts” arguably doesn’t exist anymore.
Gifts (which we talk about further on in this guide) are rather integral to baby showers; it’s quite hard to imagine one without gifts. Since that is the case, whether a relative requests them from those attending the baby shower, or a non-relative requests them, arguably isn’t important to those attending. They’re likely focused on what the baby shower should focus on: the mother-to-be, and a wonderful opportunity to share in her joy.
Now, there’s an amusing (at least from our current detached perspective) on this that you should know about. Some people may not want to run the baby shower. It’s assumed that if you’re reading this, that you’re quite happy with the assignment, and you’d like to do some quality – and easy! – research so that everything goes off without a hitch.
Yet if you aren’t the one whose holding the baby shower, but perhaps the mother-to-be who is about to hand over this guide to a relative or friend who will hold the shower, then we should take a little time-out to talk about something important.
A baby shower is a wonderful event that is filled with laughter, love, and perhaps a few tears (of happiness). Yet putting one together can require an investment of time. Not a lot of time; not compared to, say, planning a wedding or for some people, planning a vacation.
Yet it’s fair to simply note that putting together a baby shower does require some focus, and some time. If you’re about to nominate someone to take on this task, then please bear this in mind; that person should understand that they’ll need to do a little bit of work (but it’s fun work, of course).
And if you’ve been asked to put together a baby shower – or if it’s just been assumed that you’ll do it – and you’re a little worried about your own lack of time available, then don’t worry. This book will help you immensely. Furthermore, nothing is stopping you from recruiting a deputy or two to help you with the details, such as preparing food, refreshments, and helping with decorations and games.
When Should the Shower Happen?
This is an important question to ask, and of course, to answer. And as usual, there are a few different viewpoints on when to hold the baby shower. Fortunately, however, these views aren’t as debatable as they sometimes are when it comes to whether a relative or non-relative should hold the baby shower (as we discussed above). So don’t worry; this is a rather easy and straightforward challenge to solve.
Now, the real problem here is simply that there isn’t a clear answer to the question: when should the shower happen? The answer to this will almost always depend on factors that are specific to the mother-to-be, the guests, and other issues.
So rather than providing a “one-size-fits-all” answer here – which is something that we can’t do without knowing the details of your particular baby shower – let’s just look at the variables. Once you know these, you’ll easily be able to determine when the baby shower should be held.
Let’s start with mother-to-be. She may have a preference about when the shower should be held; and this preference should be heeded. The father-to-be might also provide input here, which is wonderful and should be part of the overall decision-making process.
What kinds of things might influence a mother-to-be’s preference on when the shower should be held? Some of them prefer to have the shower when they’re showing; they may feel that there’s something more appropriate (for lack of a better word) about holding a shower when people can actually see that a baby is on the way.
In practical terms, this means that a shower might be held well into the second trimester, or into the third.
As we all know, December is a season for parties and events; both business, and personal. As a result, it may be polite to not hold the baby shower during “party season”, as it may influence whether people would be able to attend (or be able to relax when they attend, because they don’t have three more “get togethers” to go to after the baby shower!).
Furthermore, if you live in a wintry climate, it may be a pleasant idea to not have the baby shower in the dead of winter. True, life does go on in the middle of January and people go to work and do many of the things that they want to do (go shopping, go to restaurants, and so on), but if it makes absolutely no difference to you and the mother-to-be (and/or the father-to-be) whether the baby shower is held in late January or late April, then it may be advisable to choose the latter; simply for climate concerns.
This is one that most people don’t think about until someone brings it up, and then they say to themselves: ohhhh, yes, that makes sense! Fortunately for you, you’re getting a sneak-peak at that thought well before someone at the baby shower asks it!
As we all know, some people prefer to give gender-specific gifts. While, indeed, times have changed and makers of baby-related items are creating more gender-neutral items, there’s still a large contingent of people who want to give baby blue gifts to an impending son, or pink gifts to an impending daughter.
In light of this, if the parents-to-be have decided to learn the baby’s gender via ultrasound, and further decided to share that information with the world-at-large, then it may be very appreciated by the baby shower guests if you hold the shower after the baby’s gender information has widely disseminated. In other words: some people will be grateful that they know whether a boy or girl is on the way before they buy their gift.
Ultrasound gender diagnostic tests typically happen around the 9 week mark of gestation (though it can be later in some cases), and so this factor may influence whether you hold the shower early on, or wait until this information is known (assuming, of course, that the parents-to-be want to know!).
Post-Birth Baby Showers
Some people are surprised to learn that many baby showers happen after the baby has been born. Actually, this is quite common because, in addition to having the shower itself, this timing affords guests the wonderful opportunity to actually see the baby (and make all kinds of goo goo gaa gaa noises that we all love to make!).
Holding a post-birth shower may also work out better in light of other factors noted above, such as climate, and preferences of the parents-to-be.
Sending out Invitations
Okay, here’s where things can be a little bit awkward. Scratch that; here’s where some people dread being in charge of a baby shower, because at issue is: who to invite?
A good rule of thumb here is to work with the mother (and ideally, the father) to-be in order to decide who should attend, and who should be left off the list. This is a delicate scenario and can cause a number of minor headaches (even some major ones).
The problem is, simply, that while it would be ideal to invite everyone who would want to attend, that’s just not practical; either economically, or simply in terms of planning. Ultimately, decisions will have to be made, and if you can work with the parents-to-be to make these decisions, the chances of making wise ones will increase.
Once you’ve figured out who to invite – and this process can take a few days of thinking and re-thinking – the next step is to send out the invitations. Ensure that you do this well in advance of the baby shower. There are two major reasons for this.
Firstly, you want to give your invitees enough lead time to that if they do have something planned on the baby shower date that they can, if they wish, move those plans in order to attend. If you don’t provide them with enough notice, even if they want to change their existing plans, they might not be able to.
Secondly, you want to give people enough time to RSVP (i.e. confirm their attendance). Some people are not the most organized people in the world, and as such they might not RSVP right away. As such, you want to give them a bit of time to get to this on their ever-growing TO-DO list.
Now, there’s another issue here that we should discuss. Some people think, or just assume really, that if you don’t RSVP, that means you aren’t attending. That’s actually not technically correct. RSVP doesn’t mean (even in the French language from where it comes) that someone is going to attend. It simply means: please get back to me on this.
So what’s the issue? It’s that it can be a little disastrous to assume that if you don’t get an RSVP, that people won’t attend. Because some people will simply show up, and when you say that you assumed they weren’t coming because they didn’t “RSVP”, they may frown and say what we’re pointing out here: RSVP, itself, doesn’t mean yes or no. It just means: please respond.
Naturally, of course, people should RSVP and let you know if they’re going to attend. It’s the polite thing to do, without question. But polite is one of those eye of the beholder terms; and people who haven’t invested several days of their life to putting a memorable baby shower together may not realize how impolite they are being by just showing up, unannounced.
So how do you solve this problem? Well, like all good solutions: you head it off before it becomes a problem! While you want to have all of your invitees RSVP, you should make it utterly clear that you’d like a response regardless of whether they will attend. To that end, depending on the size of your baby shower guest list, you should include a self-addressed stamped envelope and a self-typed note with each invitation that says something like this:
You are warmly invited to attend a baby shower for our friend Darla!
The shower will be held on April 15th at 1:30pm. It will be held at my home, which is at 123 Main Street. It’s just one block east of Main and 8th Avenue, and ample parking is available on the street. If you need directions, please call me at 555-1234.
We’d like to have a sense of how many of Darla’s friends will be able to attend. Could you please fill out this form below by checking in the appropriate box, and then mail it to me in the self-addressed stamped envelope provided? Please Send it to me by March 28th. Thank you so much!
(please check one)
I will be attending Jane’s baby shower on April 15th at 1:30pm.
I regretfully will not be able to attend the baby shower.
*** Remember: Please mail before March 28th in the self-addressed stamped envelope provided. THANK YOU! ***
You can create any variation of this as you want. This is just a simple little sample that highlights the things that you should ask: whether an invitee is attending, or whether an invitee isn’t. In other words, you don’t want any grey area here; you don’t want any default that says: I didn’t reply, so I’m not coming. A little note like the one above obliges, in a polite and tasteful way, your invitee to actively let you know whether they’ll show up or not.
Now, if your baby shower guest list is smaller and it’s feasible to do so, you may want to skip the mailing campaign and just phone people up and ask them to attend. If you have the time and the ability to do so (e.g. the guest list is small enough for you to manage), this is the preferred method. It gives your invitees the opportunity to ask pertinent questions, such as whether the mother-to-be is in any gift registry. Let’s talk about this right now.
To Gift Registry or Not to Gift Registry
This is another one of those fun decisions that involve the mother-to-be, and probably the father-to-be, as well. Gift registries are, generally speaking, wonderful inventions because the conveniently solve a lot of potentially confusing problems, such as:
- What will the parents-to-be want as a gift?
- What gift items have already been purchased by other invitees?
- What price range is appropriate?
So with all of this evidence in favor of gift registries, why might someone not use one? Well, there are few reasons.
The simplest reason is one of preference. Some people simply don’t want to limit the range of things that guests might buy; especially if some gifts aren’t typically found in stores that offer registries. For example, some artistic guests may want to create something for the baby; perhaps wooden mobile, or a beautiful picture to hang in the baby’s room.
These kinds of items, by definition, can’t appear on a gift registry; and so parents-to-be might wish to avoid using one.
Another reason is one of cost. Depending on the number of people invited to the baby shower, and presuming that those that have been invited attend, there may be a slight awkwardness if the registry contains gift possibilities that might frankly be outside of a person’s price range. This can indeed be awkward.
For example, if 20% of the gifts in the registry are below, say, $30, there is some possibility that these ones will be snatched up first; thus leaving a latecomer to buy something more expensive, or risk buying something that isn’t on the registry at all and therefore might not be wanted by the parents.
To help deal with this situation, it’s possible for you (as the organizer) for informally recommend that people band together to buy certain bigger ticket items, like a crib or a stroller. In this way, people can still stay within their budget limitations, yet purchase something that the parents want, and indeed, need (since babies can be very expensive!).
Remember, of course, that if you choose the registry route, that you provide all the necessary details. It may also be wise to include your phone number if anyone has any questions about gifts or the registry.
The handful of people who may be stuck with the expensive gifts may all call you around the same time, and you can tactfully suggest that they all get together and purchase an expensive item. Voila: problem solved!!
In conclusion, there are many factors to consider when planning for a baby shower, however, if you faithfully use this guide, you will be well on your way to creating a memorable life-time experience for the mother-to-be and her guests.
The evidence of a well-planned baby-shower event is that it looks effortless. Now go out there and do it – you can!