More than 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and baby showers are the most popular way of celebrating this joyous event. If you have the honor of hosting a baby shower, we've put together some guidelines to help make this occasion a truly special one. You'll find tips on choosing shower themes, creating invitations, planning games & activities, and selecting favors for the attendees.
baby shower planning
Who should plan and host the shower is one of the most common questions that arises for friends and family. Traditionally, it was the province of the mother's friends, and to this day it's usually a close family member or friend who assumes hosting responsibilities. However, even expectant parents are known to organize their own celebration.
Once the host has been established, she'll need to decide whether the baby shower should be a surprise for the mom-to-be. While there is no right or wrong answer, there are advantages and disadvantages to either approach: Surprise parties can be fun, but you'll need to keep everything a secret. If you choose to make your plans public, you'll lose the element of surprise, but you'll be able to consult the mom-to-be on all aspects of the party, including the guest list, theme and any baby registries the guests should be aware of. That's where a baby registry comes in handy; once you register, your friends and family can keep track of all gifts and purchases on that registry, and mom-to-be is chore-free.
The next step is choosing a date for the baby shower. Generally, showers are held one to two months before the baby is born. That way, mom-to-be has plenty of time to plan and register for the gifts she really needs. In addition to making sure the guest of honor, her family and friends are available on the date you choose, you'll want to be sensitive to the expectant parents' cultural heritage and customs. For example, according to some traditions, the celebration of baby's arrival should take place after the birth to avoid bad luck.
When it comes to deciding where to hold the baby shower, there's no hard and fast rule. Showers may be held in the home of the hostess, a family member or friend; but they can also be at a restaurant, banquet hall, or even a park, weather permitting. If you're looking for an affordable venue that will hold a crowd, consider local churches, community centers and non-profit spaces.
Although they were traditionally held only for the first child, some expectant parents are now having baby showers – often called "sprinkles" – to celebrate the arrival of their second, third or even fourth child. After all, every baby's arrival is a special event, and parents may still need lots of gear, clothing and supplies, especially if the second child is a different gender than the first. If you choose to go this route, just remember to keep costs in mind. If you want to make sure the event is affordable for the host and your guests, you may want to consider having a potluck shower, which will save you time and money.
baby shower themes
Traditionally, expectant mothers were limited to one kind of shower: an all-female gathering attended by relatives and friends that entailed eating lots of cake and tea sandwiches. Guests would "ooh" and "ahh" over baby outfits and make the mom-to-be sit on a central "throne" and don a hat fashioned from a paper plate plus all the bows that had adorned the gifts.
Although these traditions are still practiced, nowadays hosts can choose from an array of baby shower themes. Here, we highlight some of the popular ones.
jack and jill baby showers: Gaining in popularity, co-ed baby showers allow both expectant parents to mark the momentous occasion with family, friends and colleagues. At these celebrations, the color schemes, invitations, menus and games have a guy-friendly feel, and mom- and dad-to-be generally open the gifts together.
pampering spa baby showers: What mom-to-be couldn't benefit from a day of pampering? At spa-themed baby showers, guests get to wrap themselves in terry robes and indulge in massages, facials, manicures and other luxurious services. Favors are usually gift bags containing body lotions, hand creams and other spa goodies, and menus can range from the diet-friendly to the indulgent.
long-distance or virtual baby showers: Even if the expectant mom's family and friends are located across the country and she's been advised not to fly, you can still celebrate. Consider throwing a long-distance shower that you'll videotape and send to the mom-to-be.
Or if you're technically savvy, use a software application such as Skype so that she can participate in the festivities in real time. You can even use the latest social media sites to help plan and pull off the party. To see our favorite Baby Shower ideas, follow the Babies"R"Us baby Shower board on Pinterest.
holiday baby showers: If the calendar allows, why not use an upcoming holiday as a festive theme for the shower? Around Valentine's Day, you can use hearts as your motif; for the Fourth of July, you can decorate in red, white and blue; and in the weeks leading up to Halloween, transform a traditional baby shower into a spooky soir̩e. Just make sure the shower isn't scheduled too close to the holiday, or it could interfere with guests' vacation plans.
green-themed baby showers: At these trendy get-togethers, guests usually feast on locally grown or organic foods. Instead of using disposable products, the food is served on ceramic plates with silverware.
other themes: In addition, some folks opt for themes based on particular colors, such as white or pink, or design motifs, like polka dots, flowers, stars, moons or rubber duckies. Themes can also be inspired by various kinds of food or beverages, such as dim sum or tea, or by certain meals, such as brunch.
baby shower invitations
Another critical aspect of planning a baby shower involves the invites. Be sure to give guests advance notice of at least three weeks to a month. You can send the invites digitally, but for some guests, you may want to use old-fashioned snail mail. In all cases, the invitation should include all of the key information: where the mom-to-be is registered, the RSVP number and date, and the party's theme, if there is one.
baby shower games and activities
For some, getting together, eating and opening gifts is enough entertainment for one afternoon. But if you'd like to keep some vestige of baby shower tradition, you may want to include infant-related games at your gathering. Just be mindful of the various attendees and their taste levels.
For example, Pregnant Twister or Celebrity Baby Match Game may fly at an all-female party, while Baby Stroller Dash would be well-suited for a kid-friendly baby shower. For a co-ed celebration, you may elect to play Diaper-Changing Derby or Diaper Poker, in which diapers are used in place of poker chips. And though a scientific crowd may enjoy predicting and then testing how much water a diaper can hold, others might prefer games such as Scrabble or Boggle with a baby name twist. And if this wordplay helps the couple choose their child's name, so much the better.
baby shower favors
Make sure that the baby shower attendees know that their presence and participation is appreciated with a thoughtful memento of the occasion. Much like the party games, the favors should reflect the distinctive character of the people you've invited.
For a women-only gathering, an assortment of nail polish or bath salts would likely be a hit. Bubbles with custom-made labels commemorating the festivities would work well for a kid-friendly party, as would a medley of cookies or candy, which would also suit a co-ed or coworker affair.
Another great party-favor idea for any baby shower: tree saplings in teacups. If you have the time and/or talent, give your favors a personal touch by making either the favors or the containers that hold them. You'd be amazed how touching a homemade keepsake can be, such as a flower constructed from tissue paper or a hand-painted butterfly brooch.
baby shower etiquette for the guest of honor
Even if it seems daunting, unwrapping gifts at the party is a great way for mom-to-be to say thanks. Most of the guests will not only enjoy "cooing" over the gifts, but also want to see the look on mom's face when she opens their present. Since it can be tricky for mom herself to keep track of who sent what, be sure to ask a friend or relative to help.
Whatever route you take as a host, remember that a baby shower celebrates one of life's most joyous events. And while you'll want to be as organized as possible, have some fun with it too.