Baby Shower Etiquette

Michele Meleen
Contributor: Susie McGee
Pregnant Woman embracing Friend

Baby showers are a time-honored tradition for moms-to-be that come with specific etiquette standards. Modern hostesses may not take baby shower etiquette into account although most follow etiquette rules without even thinking about it.

Baby Shower Planning Etiquette

While most of us take care of the basic baby shower etiquette requirements, sometimes you need a gentle reminder to make sure all the bases are covered. Use a party planning checklist to help make sure you've got everything right.

Who Hosts the Baby Shower?

A close female family member of the mom-to-be is usually the one to host. Often, several family members such as the grandmother-to-be and new mom's sisters serve as hostesses.

  • The hostess pays for the entire shower but can ask for financial assistance from the mom-to-be's closest friends or family members if needed.
  • Keep communication lines open. Be sure you communicate frequently with the other hostesses so everyone knows what they are supposed to do.
  • One of the hostesses should be the official greeter at the door when the shower begins.
  • Provide nametags if there will be a lot of guests who may have never met.
  • At least one hostess should be in charge of seeing each guest to the door upon their departure.
  • After the shower ends, hostesses clean up the event space and help carry gifts to the mom-to-be's vehicle.

What Does the Mom-to-Be Do for Her Baby Shower?

The purpose of a baby shower is to honor the new mom and cater to her needs as a soon-to-be parent. While the mom-to-be isn't expected to do much aside from have a good time, she does have a few key duties.

  • Provide the hostess with information for the guest list and invitations.
  • Complete a gift registry before the invitations get mailed if gifts are desired.
  • Sit in the best seat in the house, preferably at the front of the venue where everyone can see her.
  • Allow guests and hostesses to serve her food, drinks, and gifts.
  • Be gracious and thank everyone at the shower.
  • Write and send "thank you" notes after the shower for any gifts received.
  • Give the hostess a gift to say "thanks" after the shower.

How Do You Handle Baby Shower Invitations?

The hostess and mom-to-be will need to work together to handle baby shower invitations.

  • The new mom provides addresses for all guests while the hostess physically puts the invitations together and mails them.
  • Don't forget to include directions to the shower and maybe a map for harder-to-find places.
  • If the guest of honor has registered at several stores, include this information on the invitation. If the gender of the baby is known, include this, too.
  • If the mom-to-be has special requests like using baby books in place of baby shower cards, make that clear on the invitations.
  • Be clear about whether a meal or snacks will be served.
  • Make sure you get invitations out at least a month in advance so guests can plan ahead and give an RSVP number that is easily reached.

Are There Special Considerations for Family Members?

Mom-to-be with her grandma

Baby showers are all about the mom-to-be, but they are also about celebrating all the important people in the new baby's life. Treat close family members with the same respect and consideration you give the mom-to-be.

  • Any women who will be closely involved in the baby's life, such as Great Grandma, Grandma, and the mom-to-be's mother-in-law should be seated with the guest of honor.
  • The mom-to-be and anyone seated at her table should be the first to go through the buffet or be served their meal and dessert.
  • Baby shower etiquette for grandmothers, particularly the grandmothers of the mom-to-be, suggests hostesses serve their drinks and food.
  • If this is not the mom-to-be's first child, include her other children as guests of honor and treat them similar to their mom.
  • With a traditional shower, it is customary to invite the dad-to-be for the end of the shower where gifts are opened. He can then help load them into their vehicle.

What Goes on at the Baby Shower?

They type of baby shower you choose and the time of day it's held dictate a lot of what is expected to happen at a baby shower.

  • If this is the mom-to-be's second child, and it has not been long since her first was born, the shower should be smaller and not solicit gifts. If it has been several years since she had a child, this baby shower can follow the same format as her first one.
  • Ensure there are enough seats for all expected guests and a few extras for those who didn't RSVP but show up last minute.
  • Plan for more food than is needed to feed guests and create a baby shower menu that covers special dietary restrictions.
  • Offer games or activities to fill the time when guests are waiting for the shower to start or others to finish eating.
  • Start on time and keep tabs on each part of the shower so it also ends on time as guests may have other places to go.

Baby Shower Guest Etiquette

Guests at a baby shower are expected to behave in certain ways so the mom-to-be has a good time.

Baby Shower Gift Etiquette

Baby shower gift opening etiquette dictates that the mom-to-be opens all her gifts at the shower where everyone can see. Shy women and some modern moms choose not to open gifts at the shower to save time and any embarrassment from bad gift reactions.

  • If the invitation explicitly asks for no gifts, do not bring a gift. Also, if it says to bring a baby board book in place of a card, honor those wishes.
  • If the invitation includes a baby registry link, purchase an item from the registry as the mom-to-be has hand-picked the items.
  • When the mom-to-be is opening gifts, watch attentively and express positive reactions to each gift.
  • Your relationship to the new mom suggests the amount of money you should spend on a gift. Close friends and family members might be expected to spend more while distant relatives could spend less.
  • If the new mom doesn't open gifts at the shower, keep a positive attitude about it. If you really want to see her reaction, ask her to open it privately with you another time.

Come and Go Baby Shower Etiquette

A come and go baby shower, also called a drop-in shower, is a casual event where there are no set times for any activities or meals. Guests are welcome to come any time during the scheduled hours and leave at any time they desire.

  • Provide ample time, like three to five hours for the event.
  • Although the point is to come when you can, plan to stay at least a half an hour.
  • Arrive well before the ending time of the event so the mom-to-be doesn't have to stay longer than planned.
  • Bring your gift directly to the mom-to-be as soon as you arrive so she can open it with you.
  • Each gift is displayed on a table after it's opened for everyone to see.
  • Say goodbye to the mom-to-be before you leave so she knows you've left.

Sprinkle Baby Shower Etiquette

Moms who already have kids and the large baby gear items they'll need for the new baby might have a sprinkle instead of a shower. Sprinkles are much more casual and smaller than a traditional baby shower.

  • Limit the event to an hour or two.
  • Invite only very close friends and relatives.
  • Serve light appetizers or snacks.
  • Give practical, smaller gifts such as diapers, wipes, and clothing.
  • Forgo baby shower games and activities to allow for intimate conversations.

Coed Baby Shower Etiquette

Baby shower party

A couple's baby shower or co-ed shower gives dads-to-be and their male friends and relatives the chance to celebrate the new baby too. Account for all the extra guests and make everyone feel comfortable.

  • Ask both the mom-to-be and dad-to-be if they are okay with this type of shower first and respect their wishes.
  • Include the names of both husbands and wives on the invitation.
  • Create a menu men will love with options such as barbeque or classic home-cooked dishes.
  • Keep a more casual vibe to the whole event.
  • Choose games that don't focus on potentially uncomfortable interactions like wrapping something around the new mom's belly.
  • Offer favors that appeal to men and women such as treats.

Baby Shower Etiquette Don'ts

In most cases, there are no major consequences if you don't follow every single etiquette point. However, there are a few no-nos you should avoid whether you are the hostess, guest, or the mom-to-be.

  • Don't ask for special treatment-Unless you are the guest of honor, don't request that the time or place of the shower be changed to convenience your attendance!
  • Don't ignore guests-There may be a few guests who actually don't know anyone else in attendance other than the guest-of-honor. Be sure you introduce these guests to others and take special care that they aren't left alone without anyone to talk to.
  • Serving order-Hostesses eat last. The mom-to-be is the first one served, then the guests are served next. If you are a hostess, you may have a chance to gobble a few bites. That's great, but keep in mind that you'll need to continue to replenish drinks, serve the cake, and clean up dirty dishes and trash.
  • Don't brag or complain - This goes for the hostess, guests, and mom-to-be. Even if you hate a gift or think you're the most informed mom who ever lived, keep it to yourself and put on a happy face.
  • Last one left-Hostesses should clean up and be the last one to leave. If there is an end time listed on the invitation guests should leave by that time unless they are helping clean up.

Minding Your Manners

Every woman, family, and baby shower is unique, but most run under the assumption everyone will use their best manners to make the day special for the mom-to-be. Don't get caught up in the etiquette details. Instead, mind your manners and try to have a good time as a group.

Baby Shower Etiquette