Baby shower Q&A

Baby showers are meant to celebrate moms-to-be and babies-to-come, but sometimes the details of who to invite, where to host and when to throw can distract from the party’s original intention.
By Lauren Brockman

BassinetIllustrationHere’s everything you need to know regarding proper protocol, so you can focus on simply celebrating.

Who receives a baby shower? How many does one get?
Baby showers are traditionally held for first-time moms. However, it is perfectly acceptable to celebrate second and third-time moms as well—nine months of childbearing warrants a little acknowledgement, no matter how many times it’s been done!

Baby showers are also an appropriate means of celebrating an adoption. Adoptive parents are just as deserving of congratulations and are every bit as in need of baby gear. Often, such showers take place after the adoption has been completed successfully and serve as an opportunity to meet and welcome the newest family member.

While some moms have one shower, others have multiple. Sometimes, friends and family alike look forward to sharing in the same rousing game of baby bingo. Other times, reserved co-workers want to throw a shower separate from that of outgoing friends. Whether there’s one shower or five, it’s most important that the mom-to-be feels supported and loved.

When do showers take place? Who’s invited?
One or two months before the due date is a good time to have the shower because it’s late enough that the pregnancy is healthily underway and soon enough that an early labor isn’t likely to interrupt. Plus, in the remaining weeks before her due date, the mom-to-be will still have time to pick up anything she didn’t receive at the shower.

As an alternate option, showers can also be held after the baby arrives. Doing so provides the perfect occasion to meet the new baby and allows guests to bring gender-specific gifts instead of all things yellow and green.

Guests lists will vary, but can include anyone from friends and family to co-workers—even husbands can join the party! Whether the shower is a girls-only gathering or a co-ed celebration should be left for the mom-to-be to decide; both can be loads of fun! (Of course, if dads are part of the plan, it’s a wise idea to have more on the menu than finger sandwiches and lemon tarts.)

When should invitations be sent? What should they say?
Send invitations several weeks before the shower so guests have plenty of notice to make themselves available for the big event. Before dropping invites in the mailbox, check with the guest of honor to confirm she doesn’t have any doctors appointments or prenatal massages that conflict with the chosen time and date. (While you’re at it, make sure other pertinent guests can make it too, such as grandmothers-to-be or out-of-town friends.)

Although email and phone invitations can suffice in a pinch, invitations sent via snail mail are preferable. Along with the usual details, directions to the party, instructions regarding a particular theme and registry information should also be included in the invitation. Remember: with very few exceptions, it’s inappropriate to request monetary donations in place of gifts. Instead, graciously accept any gifts you receive (yes, even that eyesore of a sweater from dear Aunt Sally, which was knitted with love.)

Where are showers held? How long do they last?
Baby showers usually last about two hours—long enough to mingle, play games, eat cake and open presents without entirely exhausting the mom-to-be.

They are often held at the home of the hostess, although some budgets allow for the event to take place at a restaurant, country club or other venue.

Who hosts the shower? Who foots the bill?
Anyone (except the mom-to-be, of course!) can host a baby shower. Traditionally, friends or co-workers take on the task, but it’s also becoming common for family members to do so. Co-hosting a shower is a great way to share in both planning and financial responsibilities, as the hostess covers the expense of the shower as well.

Are thank you notes necessary? When should they be sent?
Thank you notes are a definite must! You’re sure to be showered with both practical and fabulous gifts, and you want to make sure all of your guests know how appreciative and grateful you are. It’s best to get thank you notes sent before the baby is born, as your life will be a million times more chaotic afterwards. If you don’t get them sent beforehand, it’s still acceptable to send them anytime before the baby’s first birthday, though we don’t recommend procrastinating too long. (Some of those notes might be going to potential baby-sitters!)

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Posted in Emotional Health, imported, Pregnancy