When your bestie tells you that they are expecting a new bundle of joy, you’re bound to get excited. After all, now you get the fun job of spoiling a cute baby without any of the late-night diaper changes, and who wouldn’t love that? When that feeling wears off in a few weeks, though, you’re going to start wondering how to throw a baby shower.
Our guide will walk you through how to throw a baby shower that will leave the parents-to-be overwhelmed with all the love and support shown to their new bundle of joy.
Baby Shower Traditions to Throw Out Like a Dirty Diaper
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of hosting a baby shower, there are a few traditions we need to discuss.
DON’T just invite women to your shower. Keep in mind that the guest list may change the vibe of the shower. Women-only showers tend to include a lot of talk about delivery and being a mother, while showers with kids on the invite list will need some age-appropriate activities to keep them out of trouble.
DO throw showers for anyone expecting a new child, whether they are LGBTQ+, straight, adopting, or using a surrogate. Even if your friend is adopting a teenager, the new parents still deserve to be celebrated!
DON’T be afraid to throw a shower for a friend. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter who hosts, as long as the guest of honor isn’t throwing the party themselves.
DO use the shower as a chance to prepare the new parents for parenthood mentally, emotionally, and financially while also keeping the affair personal and fun.
Don’t Cry Like a Baby on Shower Day: Plan Ahead
Like any gathering, a good baby shower requires a little bit of planning on the part of the host. The following 10 steps can help keep the tears (of stress) to a minimum on shower day.
1. Talk to the guest of honor
The most important step is to talk to the guest of honor. While you’re the one throwing the shower, the party isn’t about you; it’s about the parents-to-be and the exciting new addition to their family.
2. Pick a date and time
Suggest two or three dates in the seventh month of the pregnancy to the parents-to-be and let them choose the date and time. This is generally considered the best time since the parents have had the chance to create a registry but it’s not too close to the due date.
Some cultures and religions believe it is bad luck to hold the shower before the baby arrives. If this is the case, wait a month or two after the birth before hosting the shower.
3. Set the guest list and budget
Once you get the invite list from the guest of honor, think about your budget. If the invite list is small, you may be able to splurge on catering or a venue, but if it’s larger, you may need to think carefully about your options.
If you’re feeling a financial pinch, invite someone to co-host so you can split the cost of the event and share the planning duties.
4. Choose a location and theme
Location is often determined by the budget and the interests of the guest of honor. If you can afford it, consider a restaurant or a tea shop. If the budget doesn’t allow it, consider holding the shower at a park, church, or your own home. Whatever you do, try to avoid having the shower at the parents-to-be’s home to keep them from stressing out too much.
Once you have a location, consider themes. Think about the parents-to-be’s interests and think beyond pastels and storks (unless that’s what the guest of honor wants, of course!).
5. Find out where the parents-to-be are registered
If the parents-to-be are using a registry, add that information on a separate piece of paper in the invitation rather than printing it directly on the card to avoid looking like you’re only throwing this shindig to get gifts. You can also spread the registry details via word of mouth.
6. Send invites
Mail the invites four to six weeks before the shower. You can send the invites on paper or digitally via email, but it’s a great idea to get both addresses and emails from the guest of honor so you can follow up when someone doesn’t RSVP.
The invite should include all the details: when and where the party is and how to RSVP. If you are requesting that guests bring something to the shower, like a children’s book or a package of diapers, note that on the invitation.
For guests who may not be able to attend but want to send a gift, give the address of where to send gifts.
7. Plan menu and decor
Make sure the parent-to-be has a say in the menu, and consider any cravings, aversions, allergies, or dietary restrictions.
Keep the decor simple: a bouquet or two of flowers, a themed banner, and some balloons can be enough to make a space feel festive. If you’re hosting the shower at a venue, check with them to make sure decor is allowed.
8. Create an agenda
Baby showers typically last anywhere from two to three hours. You can structure a baby shower into five distinct parts:
- Arrival lasts about 20-30 minutes, during which time people can sign the guest book, visit with the guest of honor, and munch on the food.
- Allot 30-60 minutes for games or activities to loosen up the guests and get them talking.
- If the guest of honor wants to do a gender reveal, make sure you have a specific time set aside to do that. This can be part of the activities portion of the agenda or be done right before everyone leaves.
- Opening gifts usually takes about 30 minutes, during which time the guest of honor unwraps the gifts while the guests exclaim at the adorable onesies and little shoes.
- Wrap things up with dessert. People can enjoy a slice of cake, say goodbye to the guest of honor, and grab their favor on the way out. This can generally take 20-30 minutes.
While there’s no need to be checking your watch every two minutes to make sure you’re on schedule during the party, you’ll want to have a rough idea of the order of events for the day before guests arrive.
9. Select favors
As a thank you to the guests, send them home with a little something to mark the occasion.
Don’t break the bank on favors; aim to average about $3-$4 a person. Favors can even be something easy, like a flower from the bouquets you used as decor or a sugar cookie decorated to look like a pacifier.
10. Create the games
Design three to five fun games or activities for people to do. These activities help break the ice and keep the party from lagging after the initial buzz of everyone’s arrival.
8 Tips to Stay Sane During the Shower
As host, it’s your job to help everyone have a good time, which can be a stressful undertaking for you. Keep these tips in mind to stay calm, cool, and collected.
1. Be sensitive to guests
For some people, baby showers bring up unpleasant feelings, especially if they are struggling with infertility or the loss of a pregnancy. Understand that all of the guests are there to support the new parents but some may be struggling emotionally on the inside.
2. Serve mocktails
While some expecting parents may be fine with guests having a glass of champagne at their shower, others may be missing the chance to imbibe a little. Instead, offer up mocktails, which you can tie to your theme or the guest of honor’s favorite alcoholic beverage.
3. Have enough food and drink
Don’t feel like everyone needs to sit down for a meal at once. Set up a food station and let people graze as they feel like it. Whatever you do, make sure there is enough for everyone and offer a variety so people with restrictions can still find something they can eat.
4. Keep the party moving and light
Pay attention to the guest of honor. If her energy starts to wane (because growing a human is hard work) or she isn’t feeling great, it’s okay to cut some parts of the agenda.
5. Be prepared for gift opening
Before the party starts, get everything you need for the gift opening. Pick a comfortable chair for the guest of honor to sit in and place scissors, a recycle bin, and a notebook and pen for recording gifts next to it.
Similar to the bridal shower tradition of gathering ribbons and bows into a bouquet, someone can gather the ribbons and bows into a bonnet for the guest of honor. A piece of cardboard and some tape should be handy to help design the perfect bonnet.
As the host, you may find yourself pulled in a dozen different directions.
You can’t be everywhere at once, so enlist the help of fellow guests. Designate someone as the party photographer (this will keep everyone from being focused on their phones, too!). Ask someone else to record who gave what gift to the guest of honor. Someone else can be on clean-up duty or emcee the games.
By delegating, you’ll be able to make sure everyone has enough food, drink, and fun.
7. Document the Occasion
Get creative and tie the guest book to the theme. Anything can serve as a guest book these days, not just a formal guest book. A children’s book, a matted image of the sonogram, or even toys like blocks or puzzles make unique options.
Set up a photo wall with props for people to use in selfies.
8. Have guests prep thank you note envelopes
The new parents have enough on their plates without trying to track down addresses for thank you cards. When guests arrive, ask them to address an envelope and then draw one randomly for a prize at the end of the shower.
As an added time-saver for the parents-to-be, consider adding stamps and a return address sticker to each envelope. After the shower, all they’ll need to do is write the card and stick it in the envelope!
Playtime’s Over: What to Do After the Shower
Once the guests leave, your hosting duties are almost over! Just a few more steps to complete before you can congratulate yourself on a shower well-thrown.
1. Clean up
You can enlist a few stragglers to help clean up, but don’t let the guest of honor lift a finger! Of course, one of the pros of hosting the shower at a venue like a restaurant is there’s limited clean-up required since the staff takes care of clearing away food.
2. Transport gifts to the parents-to-be’s home
If you are hosting the shower at any location other than the guest of honor’s home, figure out a plan to get all the gifts back to their house. A lot of gifts for babies are bulky and heavy, so they may not all fit in one car.
3. Give addressed envelopes and gift list to the guest of honor
Don’t let the guest of honor leave without the addressed envelopes for thank you cards and the gift list. It’s a good idea to put them inside a manila folder labeled “Baby Shower Thank You Cards.”
Baby Shower Themes That Go Outside the Crib
Themes are one of the best parts of baby showers since they make the event unique and memorable. While the predominant themes of the past were gender-based, you aren’t limited to pink and blue anymore. Here are a few gender-neutral suggestions to get you started whether the guest of honor is welcoming a boy or girl.
1. Lil Cutie
This gender-neutral theme is based on the popular clementine fruit of the same name.
Start the theme off with invitations decorated with oranges, and then decorate with a color palette of orange and white. Decorations can include orange and white balloons, a sign that says, “A little cutie is on the way!” and oranges and other citrus fruits in bowls.
The menu can include orange-flavored food or focus on foods that are orange in color, like carrots and orange icing. Plus, the party favor is a breeze: Everyone leaves with a delicious clementine!
If the guest of honor loves books, you can choose her favorite children’s book as a theme, or opt for a fairy tale or storybook theme.
Pick colors from the book for the decor, and choose foods that make an appearance in the story or that are inspired by the events. If you ask each guest to bring their favorite children’s book, you can set those up for everyone to see and have the decor taken care of!
A book can also serve as the guest book for everyone to sign. You could also set up a video camera or digital recorder in another room and ask each guest to record a message to the baby and then read the story they brought.
Not only is a color scheme of black and gold great for decor, but there are several plays on words you can make with this theme, like “Mom-to-Bee” and “What Will Baby Bee?”
Party favors ideas include a small container of local organic honey, soap designed to look like a honeycomb, or a packet of wildflower seeds to attract bees.
4. Little Pumpkin
The perfect theme for a fall shower, this gender-neutral theme is perfect for guests of honor who love all the tastes and colors of fall. Serve hot spiced apple cider and all the pumpkin spice baked goods.
Give a miniature pumpkin to guests as a favor, and use painted pumpkins as centerpieces. Burlap, straw, and leaves of all sizes and shapes can also create a fall vibe.
Whatever you do, though, refrain from comparing the mom-to-be’s belly to a pumpkin!
5. Showered With Love
Who says rain is a bad thing? Lean into the “shower” idea by decorating in blues and grays with a rainbow to add some color.
Make a photo wall by tying colorful raindrop cutouts to twine and hanging them under some billowy “clouds” made from cotton. You can even use a pair of adorable baby galoshes as a vase for spring flowers or other decor.
For treats, consider cloud- or umbrella-shaped sugar cookies, and send everyone home with a small watering can with some daisy seeds.
Baby Shower Games That Won’t Make You Spit Up
Love ’em or hate ’em, games are a main feature of baby showers. They function as an icebreaker for guests, many of whom may not know each other. Games also keep the party, well, a party!
If you decide to have games, make sure they won’t humiliate anyone. Don’t have guests guess the circumference of the mom-to-be’s stomach or pretend to waddle around like a pregnant woman. While it may seem fun to you, it may embarrass your guest of honor or other people at the shower.
Try these fun, engaging games instead!
1. Guess Who? Parent Edition
Before guests arrive, prepare cards with the names of famous parents from TV, movies, or other pop culture. Consider the age and interests of your guests to make sure the names you choose belong to famous parents they would know.
As every guest arrives at the party, tape a card with the name of a famous parent to their back. Don’t let the guest see their own card!
As they interact with other guests, each person should be trying to figure out who their famous parent is by asking yes or no questions of the people they talk to. The first person to guess correctly wins a prize!
2. Don’t Say Baby!
The main topic of conversation at a baby shower is babies. Moms talk about their labors, their kids when they were babies, and their own parenting fails. This game makes that discussion more interesting by making the word “baby” taboo.
As each guest arrives, give them a clothespin to clip to their shirt. Throughout the shower, any time they say “baby,” other guests can steal their clothespins. At a designated time (the host can set a timer to go off randomly), the person with the most clothespins wins a prize.
3. Guess the Baby
This game will have all the guests oohing and aahing as they look at baby pictures and will get people telling stories about their own experiences. This game also doubles as a decor option for the shower!
Before the shower, get photos of the parents-to-be as babies (it’s best if they are wearing gender-neutral clothes in the pictures) and hang them up or set them up around the room with sticky notes that give them each a number. Have guests look at the photos and try to guess which pictures match which parent-to-be. The guest who identifies the most photos correctly wins a prize.
Of course, you’ll want to exempt the grandparents-to-be from this game, since they’ll have an unfair advantage.
4. Baby BINGO
Opening gifts isn’t always the most exciting thing for guests to watch. This game is a great way to keep guests involved in the gift-opening process (and takes some of the focus away from the guest of honor — great for those who are introverts).
Take all the items from the new parents’ registry and put them into an alphabetical list. Before the guest of honor starts unwrapping gifts, distribute a blank BINGO card and a list of gift items to each guest. They should fill in their card with items from the list and one free space.
As the guest of honor unwraps their gifts, guests mark items off on their card. The first person to get a BINGO wins a prize.
5. Lullaby Emoji Pictionary
Have each guest pick up a Lullaby Emoji Pictionary card which lists several lullaby titles using only emojis. Each guest then needs to write the title next to the emojis.
At a specific time, reveal the answers. The person with the most correct answers wins a prize.
Virtual Shower Ideas Even a Toddler Can Do
If the guest of honor isn’t comfortable being around people, or if they have out-of-state family who are unable to travel, consider holding a virtual shower.
Here are some surefire tips to make a virtual shower a success.
Send guests a custom Zoom background
It can be hard to get into the party mood when everyone is in a different place. Make everyone feel connected by designing a custom Zoom background. Plus, this will make people feel more comfortable with their cameras on if no one can see any potential messes behind them.
If the budget allows, hire someone to emcee
Anyone who has led a virtual meeting knows it isn’t easy to keep everyone involved while also monitoring the chat. Consider hiring a professional to keep everyone engaged. Any kind of professional entertainer or emcee, like a drag queen or a comedian, can help entertain while you monitor the chat and write down who gave which gifts.
Have guests send gifts to the guest of honor a week before the shower
Zoom fatigue is real, so a virtual shower should be shorter than a traditional shower. One of the easiest ways to cut down the time is to eliminate the gift-opening part of the shower. You can have the gifts on display with the guest of honor instead so everyone can see.
If you decide to have the guest of honor open gifts at the virtual shower, provide guests with a deadline to ship their gifts so all the gifts will arrive on time.
Send guests a shower package
To make everyone feel included in the shower, send them a shower package. Inside, include a pre-packaged snack and beverage, or a list of ingredients to make their own. You can also include a small favor in the package.
Take a screenshot of the guests
Just like an in-person shower, you’ll want to document who attends. In the invite, tell everyone you’ll take a picture of all the guests so they are prepared. Ask everyone to turn on their camera and smile for a quick shot of everyone together screenshot.
Host a drive-by baby shower
Not everyone loves hanging out virtually, so as an alternative to hosting a virtual shower, consider a drive-by baby shower instead. Host the event outdoors and give everyone a large window of time for them to drop by. They can say hi to the guest of honor and drop off their gift in person and then move on.
Remember, the purpose of any baby shower is to help the parents-to-be feel loved, supported, and more prepared for their new bundle of joy. Whenever possible, defer to the guest of honor and what they want.
The goal is a stress-free party for the new parents, which may mean things are a bit more involved for you as the host. After the shower is over, treat yourself and reflect on how happy you’ve made the expecting parents!
When Mother’s Day comes around, don’t forget to send the new mom a sweet message to celebrate her first Mother’s Day as a mother. And don’t let out Dad either! He loves a sweet Father’s Day message just as much as mom, especially for his first one.