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Having a baby is such an exciting time. If you are lucky enough to host a baby shower for a friend or loved one, making the shower run as smoothly and as efficiently as possible with as little stress and financial obligation should be your top priorities. Well, that, and ensuring that the mom-to-be has a great time! As someone who has hosted quite a few baby showers, myself, I hope to provide you valuable insights on how to create fun, creative baby showers while sticking to a budget and meeting (and exceeding) the expectations of the party-goers.
It’s always a good idea to start with double-checking when the baby’s due date is. Generally speaking, baby showers are held 4 to 6 weeks before the due date. Remember, the closer to the due date, the higher the possibility that the baby could come before or during the shower.
You want to have enough time to send out invitations and for those receiving the invites to be able make any necessary arrangements to attend.
Additionally, you always want to check with the expecting mother. As the guest of honor, we should be flexible around what works best for her.
Lastly, you’ll want to check in with the important people in the new mommy’s life, such as her parents, grandparents, best friends, siblings, etc. If schedule conflicts cannot be resolved and the guest of honor has many friends and family members, you may want to suggest having two showers (although you don’t have to host both of them).
Most baby showers are held in the early afternoon and on the weekend, but mostly on Sundays. I usually host mine on Sundays around 2 or 3 pm, but have hosted later ones as well. I have also attended a few late morning showers.
Just keep in mind that if you’re hosting the shower on a Sunday, you may want to be considerate of any Sunday church goers.
You will want to consider various locations, depending on your decorating and food plans and the number of attendees. You are more than welcome to have a shower outside your house or at a park or garden. Just keep in mind that anything that you’d normally have inside will have to go outside, like food, tables, chairs, decorations, etc. And all of which are subject to the elements, especially insects and cold/heat.
If you are only having a few guests or don’t want to cook, a good alternative is to have the shower at a restaurant. Some even allow you to decorate. You will just have to decide who will be paying for everyone’s meal. It is usually understood that if it is at a restaurant, the attendees will pay for their own meal. If you or someone else is going to be paying for everything (or everything minus alcohol) at a restaurant, include that sort of information on the invites.
Alternatively, if you are expecting a large number of guests, a community center, hall, or church recreation or event room may suit the shower best. Many of these places are free or low costs and include tables, chairs, and a kitchenette.
“Home is where the heart is,” or so they say. This is why the warmth and coziness of a baby shower can often be found at home – either the host’s or the mother-to-be’s home.
I even decorated at my grandmother’s house (may she rest in peace) for my sister-in-law’s shower. If you ARE using someone else’s house, be mindful of how you decorate and what you move – ask permission and have alternative ways to hang things up (push pins, real tape, washi tape, sticky puddy, or removable clips and hangs).
If you allow them, showers can end up costing you alot. This is why it is absolutely crucial to set a budget and stick to that budget.
If you’ve never hosted a baby shower before, you’ll want to first get some prices to know how much you should set your budget to. Just look around online and in stores to kind of get an idea and then really hammer down the details.
Whether you have hosted a shower before or not, I suggest first looking at how many people are coming and where you will be holding the shower. Knowing how many people are coming tells you how much food you will need, whereas knowing the location can tell you what types of decorations you can use and how much money you have to allocate to the cost of the location (if any).
Once that’s been established, you’ll want to have three main budget goals – decorations, food, and prizes.
Try to get others to pitch in. See if they will make some of the food or even the decorations. Just because you’re hosting the party, doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself.
Know someone that loves to throw parties or that decorates their house all the time? See if you can borrow some of their decor.
I’m a spreadsheet type of gal, myself, so that’s how I would suggest staying on budget and also shopping around. In one spreadsheet, you can create a list of all the things you’re wanting to buy, borrow, or make and then how much it will cost you (if anything) at various stores, locations, etc. Then go with the best price. In a different spreadsheet, you can list how much money you actually spent and what it was for.
And don’t forget: shop around and use those coupons!
Themes make planning meals, decorating ideas, and other party details easier to plan out.
Your theme can be as specific as “cacti” or “princesses”, or as broad as “purple and pink” or “bling”. No matter if your theme is specific or broad, you’ll want to know what the constraints of that theme is. Say, the expectant mother likes cacti but doesn’t like western/cowboy stuff, you’ll want to avoid those types of cactus decorations.
If the parents want the gender of the baby to be a secret until he/she is born, you can use gender neutral colors, or decorate with both pinks and blues.
When choosing a theme, you want to ask for feedback from the mom-to-be and also think about her interests. If she is having a boy and is totally into football but doesn’t know much about race cars, don’t choose race cars unless that’s what she wants.
Even if the mom doesn’t care what theme is chosen or you’re throwing a surprise shower, try to keep her in mind. What would she like, not what would you like.
Of course, you don’t have to do this, but I suggest you do.
The dietary restrictions of the mom-to-be is the most important thing. If mom is gluten, dairy, or nut free, you want to make sure that she has things to eat. (And not just one or two things, either.) It is her party, after all.
However, it is nice to ensure the guests are able to eat things too. They are the ones making time in their schedules to attend and are the ones buying the gifts. I attended one shower where the host knew that I was gluten free and made special deserts just for me. I thought that was incredibly sweet of her as she totally didn’t have to do that.
Even if you aren’t going to have alot of specialty foods, it would be considerate to at least know if which of the foods served have allergens and which ones don’t, and be able to communicate that to the attendees. I attended a dragon themed baby shower once where dragon themed placed cards said what the food items were and indicated allergens (if any). This was super helpful.
This goes along with the previous suggestion about ensuring guests have something to eat. You want to have something for everyone. Generally speaking, you’ll want to have: a mix of finger foods, a light/main “meal,” and dessert. At a shower, you usually don’t serve a heavy meal, unless you have it at a restaurant.
For finger foods, mixed veggies, pinwheels, and fruit are commonly seen at showers and are very popular among guests.
For the light meal, I would suggest going along with your theme. If you have a succulent theme, you could do a taco bar. Alternatively, if you have a beach theme, you could do seafood (be careful with this and pregnant ladies) or sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls. The possibilities are endless!
Cake or cupcakes are very popular items for dessert. Personally, I like having lots of different types of deserts. There are so many fun desserts you can make that go along with the theme or the colors of the baby shower.
Decorations should have a purpose. Are you wanting to highlight the cupcakes? Or have a great backdrop for photos? Or maybe announce who’s baby shower it is? Or frame a door? I know this seems sort of silly, but it does actually matter. The first few times I hosted showers, I bought all sorts of things that I ended up not using or that didn’t work in the space (or that I wasn’t allowed to use because of the venue’s rules). So, knowing what decorations go where will help you avoid unnecessary spending.
Decorate with items the expectant mother can use for the baby. Instead of spending money just on decorations that will end up back in the closet (or worst, the trash), use baby items to decorate. For example, you can create a diaper “cake” out of diapers and ribbon with a stuffed animal on top or add in bibs, rattles, pacifiers, or toys. Simply attach with ribbon or string.
In that same essence, you can create a wreath for the door using a metal or wooden wreathe circle, decor mesh, and a large ribbon in the center. All around the wreath attach the aforementioned items for the baby or mom-to-be.
I have also even seen baby clothes and accessories hung on clotheslines and strung up as decor.
If the mother-to-be has a theme for the nursery, you can decorate with items that can be re-used in the nursery.
Decorations don’t have to be expensive, seriously. I suggest writing down a list of the decorations you want to have and then shop around for the best deals. While you can probably find everything you need on Amazon, it’ll likely run you hundreds of dollars of you only buy through them. Many discount stores, like Dollar Tree and Dollar General have amazing decoration supplies for cheap. (Sometimes only a dollar!) You can also sometimes find good deals with Oriental Trading Company.
This isn’t a marathon board game day. You want to choose activities that don’t take a long time to explain and that aren’t confusing, even if they are fun.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get creative or have fun. You just need to consider the time.
For example, I love the Price is Right game, but it takes a while to set up, a moderate amount of time to explain, and a lot of time to play. If you’re dead-set on playing the Price is Right game or another game equally as time consuming, I suggest having that be your main activity and maybe have something simple as a secondary game, like the “don’t say baby” game or the melted ice cube game.
For the ice cube game, you get some of those little plastic babies. (You know, the ones in Mardi Gras cakes.) Then you put the plastic babies in some ice cube trays, fill them up with water, and let them freeze. Everyone gets a baby ice cube. When theirs melts, they have to say that their “water broke” or something else cute like that. Whomever’s melts firsts, wins. When my Granny B was still around, we played that game. She was a very wholesome woman, so I thought it was so funny when she dipped her ice cube in her coffee and was, of course, declared the winner. And, no, she didn’t dip the ice cube in her coffee to cool it off – it was to win!
Ideally, you want to have activities available that relate to your guests. If you have guests that are silly or a little more on the dirty side, have them race to finish a liquid via a baby bottle or bob for baby bottle nipples. If you’re going to do one of these types of games, get the inexpensive bottles or bottle nipples. While I have linked some of my suggestions here, the last shower I hosted, I found a pack of 4 bottles at a local dollar store for only a few dollars. So, definitely check price around where you live.
If your guests are more traditional or mixed, utilize more traditional games like bingo or “don’t say baby” with clothespins.
If you have a lot of extroverts, try having activities where they can get up and move around or are forced to mingle. Toss the bottle nipple is fun one.
I have lots of ideas for games and other baby shower ideas on my Pinterest if you’re looking for some inspiration.
If you are hosting a coed party, you don’t want to have only girly prizes.
If your guests like to party it up, maybe you could purchase shot glasses, alcohol, wine glasses, etc to use as prizes.
If they are “girly, girls” perhaps bag up gifts of make-up, bath bombs, soap, beauty face masks, or smell good stuff, like lotions, hand sanitizer, and sprays.
If you don’t really know your guests, try gift cards, snacks, or other small items. Or just ask a few of them what types of prizes and “thank you” gifts they would like to have.
Please note: not all showers have “thank you” gifts or favors. It’s not mandatory but can be seen as a nice gesture.
Have someone that knows the majority of the guests write down a detailed list of gifts received and who gave them.
Thank you cards are much appreciated and are often expected after a baby shower. But if the expectant mother can’t figure out who gave what, it’s hard to send thank you cards.
If you can’t find a good scribe, record the entire gift opening process and make sure that someone is saying who the gifts came from.
If you can, I would actually have all the attendees fill out an envelope with their address on it, so the mom-to-be doesn’t have to do this later and so that you can ensure she has the correct addresses for everyone.
Provide the following resources on behalf of the expectant mother: digital invitation (or Facebook group), actual invitations, and pre-addressed thank you cards.
Becoming a mom takes alot out of you. You’re growing a human, after all. So, if you’re hosting a baby shower, go ahead and set-up everything for mom, so that the shower has enough attendees and so those attendees will feel gratitude and appreciation for attending and gifting.
Communicate with the mommy-to-be about your ideas and plans throughout the shower planning process, but don’t overwhelm her.
Most moms like to feel like they have a part in the planning and want to know that everything is on schedule. However, some of them have dreamed of having their shower look a certain way, especially those of us who have been trying for a baby for a long time. For those moms, please be patient with them and listen to their ideas, no matter how ridiculous they sound.
Offer gift suggestions when a guest requests ideas. Stay on top of the mom-to-be to ensure she has created a registry that you can share with others. If possible, have her create a registry at these three stores (at least): Amazon, Target, and Walmart. Some people have particular store preferences, so it’s good to have items listed at multiple stores.
I would generally suggest duplicating many of the items. However, there are some things that should only be on one list, so you don’t get duplicates of those items. These are going to be your big ticket items, like rocking chairs or diaper genies or things of that nature. If they are cross-listed, you’ll want to mark them as “received” as soon as you’re notified (if you are, in fact, notified).
Some moms don’t put everything on the registry, so ask the expectant mom what she really needs for the baby and pull from your own knowledge about the expectant mother and her ideas. And some people like to go rogue and buy whatever they want, and that’s okay too.