Shower Planning 101

by Shellie Spradlin

Like Lamaze class, assembling the crib, and picking a car seat, the baby shower is part of the ritual of welcoming a new baby. But the baby shower is without a doubt the most fun -- involving food, loved ones, gifts, and hopefully tons of laughs and support for the mother-to-be.

Planning a shower is a pretty significant undertaking with considerations for etiquette, entertainment, food, guest list and location.

Who can host a baby shower?

There are two schools of thought on this. The old school says that no one who is direct family to the baby (parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle) should host the party. This is because a shower is a solicitation for gifts and it seems tacky for a mother, for example, to solicit gifts for her daughter.

The new school of thought says that anyone who loves the mother-to-be and knows the family well should feel free to host a party welcoming the newborn and helping the family have what they need to care for him or her.

The only real requirement for hosting is that you be familiar with either of the parents enough that you will know what type of party to plan (formal, casual, come-and-go). You also may want to take into consideration location when choosing a host since the host would need to be able to provide ample space for all invited guests and the gifts they bring as well as ample food or snacks.

How do I determine a budget?

Cost is a direct function of the quantity of guests and the formality of the event. A formal function with written invitations, decorations, or even a special location will cost more. Informal functions save on all of these costs, and can even be potluck, which shares the cost of food. Either way, the more people you have, the more of everything you will need.

In addition, consider whether you are getting the mother-to-be a gift in addition to the party, and factor that into your budget.

How do I determine a guest list?

There are two ways to do this: one is to make the choices yourself based on how well you know the parents, and the other is to take a lot of input from the couple themselves.

There are benefits to both ways. By including the parents you are making sure that their particular wishes for this party come true, and you are heading off possible uncomfortable circumstances by inviting someone they didn't want included, or not inviting someone they did.

On the other hand, not including the couple in this decision (as you would for a surprise) takes the burden off of them to do any planning for this event, which can be a relief especially at this stage of the game.

This is YOUR party that you are throwing on behalf of the new parents, so it's a good idea to take their input and keep their wishes foremost in your mind while also remembering that you are the host and it's your call to make.

Remember that these days showers aren't necessarily women only, and couples showers for both Mom and Dad can be very successful.

It is also a good idea to get complete contact information for each person on the list. This includes address, phone number, and email so you can be sure that each person has no chance of missing out on the fun event!

How do I pick an invitation?

Invitations can range from the casual phone call to more formal printed invitations. The host can decide what works best for the shower based on the budget and type of party that has been planned.

However you let people know they're invited, the following information is important:

Name of the expectant parent(s):
Date/time of the shower:
Location of the shower:
Sex of the baby (if known):
RSVP contact information (including host's name):

If the parents are registered for baby items, this information can be tactfully conveyed either in a follow-up e-mail or phone call, or in response to the question of what they would like for the baby. Remember that the gift registry is a wish list that is intended to make things easier for the guests -- it is not a demand list to give the mother what she wants. If guests choose to ignore the registry that's entirely up to them.