What You Need to Know About Baby Showers

The custom of celebrating a new baby has been around for centuries. Although the times have changed and traditions differ from one culture to another, the central purpose of baby showers remains the same: to share in the joy of an expectant couple's upcoming arrival and help them prepare for their new lives as parents.

The Purpose of a Baby Shower

A baby shower definitely is a joyous occasion, when family and friends gather together to congratulate the mother-to-be, play games and eat. But, the purpose of a baby shower goes deeper than just fun and games. It is an opportunity for family members and friends to offer advice and support to the often nervous soon-to-be mother (and father).

Gifts, Favors and Prizes

A new baby means new expenses, and a baby shower is the perfect way for family and friends to extend a helping hand. Both creative and practical gifts are appropriate for baby showers. Some common gifts include clothing, blankets, baby toys, baby supplies, etc. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when shopping for a baby shower. Obviously, the gender of the baby might dictate what you purchase. But some couples still are waiting for the birth of their baby to find out what the sex of the baby is. Do keep in mind that if you are buying something practical such as baby clothing, it is highly likely that many others are shopping for the same thing. Check to see if the couple has a baby registry. More and more, couples are setting up baby gift registries to make the shopping experience less stressful and more practical. Or think ahead and buy something the baby could wear or use a few months down the road. Or even a year. If you live in a four-season area, buy something for the baby a couple of seasons ahead.

If you are throwing the shower or one of the people throwing the shower, don't forget about the guest favors. Baby shower favors can be anything from a small box of candies to sachets to small gifts. The baby shower favors are presented to your guests as tokens of gratitude for their love and support. In addition to the baby shower favors, gifts also are awarded to winners of baby shower games. This is mainly for female-only baby showers, but even with couple baby showers, if you are going to have games, you should have prizes on hand. The prizes need not be anything extravagant—remember, although the shower should be fun for all those that attend, the main focus is giving support and advice to the soon-to-be parents.

With baby showers attended by guests beyond family members, some showers can turn out to be full-fledged parties. Depending on the length of your guest list, you might need to prepare yourself, mentally and financially, to plan an event similar to a large dinner party or reception. Make sure you have enough baby shower favors for all of your guests. Consider having place cards to avoid awkward seating arrangements. Often times, you can decorate your tables with your favors and have each guest take one home with them. If you are watching your budget, consider presenting your guests their placecards with beautiful placecard holders. Placecard holders often are less expensive but make wonderful gifts. Your guests can take them home and use them to display photos or cards.

And Daddy Makes Three?

Traditionally, baby showers mainly have focused on the mother-to-be and the baby. The guests of honor were the baby and expectant mother -- or new mother -- and the guests were female family members and friends. However, times have changed, and it is not uncommon to find baby showers being thrown for the couple. Throughout the years, men have become more and more involved in the births of their babies -- from birthing classes to the delivery room. It's only fitting that they be involved in the baby shower as well.

Other than the actual presence of men, there are some other differences between the traditional baby shower and the couple shower. Couple baby showers tend to be more like a family dinner party. Because there are men on the guest list, the showers often revolve around a meal rather than cute games and snacks. And although finger foods and desserts often make up the menu for the traditional female-only showers, baby showers involving men will require more food, as men often expect something more substantial to eat.