Your Baby Shower Etiquette Guide (2024)

Baby showers are a relatively recent tradition, rising in popularity during the baby boom of the 1940s and 1950s. These parties are filled with joy and can foster self-esteem and a sense of belonging and community. But they can also create uncertainty about expectations and etiquette. People often wonder when to have a baby shower, who to invite, who should plan and host it, and what to do about gifts.

Ultimately, a baby shower is a festive occasion and should be fun, so feel free to follow your instincts and heart on how to plan the special celebration. However, widely accepted baby shower etiquette can offer helpful guidance on decisions like theme and when to have a baby shower. Following these guidelines for planning the perfect pre-baby bash can help ensure everyone—including the parent-to-be—will have a good time.

Planning the Baby Shower

Every baby shower is unique, and the event should be adapted to the expecting parent's or parents' wishes and needs. However, here are some general suggestions for making sure everything goes smoothly.

Who plans and hosts a baby shower?

According to tradition, baby showers are typically hosted by a friend or distant relative (like a cousin or an aunt) instead of an immediate family member. This custom is believed to have developed to avoid the appearance that the family was simply on a mission to collect gifts.

However, like many cultural traditions, this rule isn't strictly observed these days. In fact, it's usually considered perfectly acceptable for a sibling, in-laws, or even the guest of honor's parents to host or co-host a baby shower. It's still unusual for a parent-to-be to host their own shower, though.

When do you have a baby shower?

Baby showers can be held at any point but are typically held four to six weeks before the baby's due date. This timing is late enough that the pregnancy is well along but likely early enough to avoid the baby arriving beforehand and disrupting the party plans. However, some people prefer to have a shower earlier in pregnancy, and others choose to host one soon after the baby is born or adoption is finalized.

Some parents-to-be prefer not to receive gifts or celebrate until after the baby is born for religious, cultural, or other reasons (in certain traditions, it's considered bad luck to acquire baby items beforehand). In that case, you could begin preliminary planning but wait until after the baby is born to set a shower date.

For parentsadopting a child, you might have a baby showeronce the child has arrived in their home.

Do baby showers need games and a theme?

Baby showers aren't required to have games, a theme, or anything else. The baby shower host should follow their own preferences and guidelines from the parent-to-be in terms of what kind of agenda to follow. There's no rule stating that you must play certain games or that the color scheme must be pastel.

Some of the most memorable baby showers have unique, non-traditional themes—or no theme at all! That said, many people enjoy playing baby shower games or decorating with a theme. So, do what seems fun to you, the parent-to-be, and the guests.

Should you have a baby shower for a second (or third or fourth) child?

Every pregnancy deserves celebration, but since one of the main purposes of a baby shower is helping new parents acquire needed baby gear and supplies, it may be unnecessary to host a traditional baby shower for second or third children. Instead, some people throw a "baby sprinkle"—a smaller party designed to make parents' lives easier once they have a newborn and other children. You can also simply throw a party to mark the new baby's arrival.

Consider, for example, a "stock the freezer" shower or a parents' shower with gifts like movie passes and promises of babysitting. You could also just organize a fun, celebratory social gathering that doesn't center on "showering" the expectant parent with gifts.

However, if there is a significant gap in age between children, throwing a full-blown shower for a subsequent pregnancy may make a lot of sense.

The Guest List

There's no right or wrong in when it comes to deciding who to put on the baby shower guest list. However, there are guidelines that can help you make these decisions.

Who should you invite to the baby shower?

Naturally, close friends and family members should be at the top of the baby shower guest list. Beyond that, only choose guests who would gladly celebrate the parent-to-be and buy them a gift. You should consult with the guest of honor and let them invite whomever they want (keeping in mind any limitations on space and the host's preferences, of course).

What are co-ed showers?

While baby showers have traditionally been a women-only event, that idea is becoming pretty outdated. For one thing, not everyone who is pregnant or expecting a baby is a woman. Plus, women-only spaces may exclude some important friends and family members.

Including all genders on the baby shower guest list is becoming increasingly common. The good news is if you do an all-gender baby shower, you shouldn't have to modify your plan much, if at all. People of all genders may enjoy looking at new items for the baby and playing baby shower games. You and the expectant parent know your guests best and can decide on the guest list that will work best for the party dynamic you are hoping for.

If there is another parent-to-be or co-parent, consider their personality, too. Some may relish sharing in every aspect of the journey to parenthood, while others may be uncomfortable with the idea of being a guest of honor at a baby shower. Or the pregnant person may prefer the event to just center on them.

Ask the expecting parents about their preferences on the matter.

5 Alternative Baby Shower Ideas to Try Now

Baby Shower Gifts

Here are tips for everything relating to baby shower gifts.

Should you register for gifts?

Opinions vary about registering for baby shower gifts. Some people think creating a "shopping list" for friends and family could seem greedy. However, others love helping parents-to-be stock up on newborn essentials and would appreciate guidance on what to buy.

If you decide to register, you can create a baby registry through a store, catalog, or online service. These options are practical and time-saving for the guest of honor, who can avoid duplicates and returns. Registries are also helpful for guests who may not know what to give.

As for how to use a baby registry, there are two common etiquette rules to be aware of.

The first is related to how you share the registry with guests. Historically, it has been considered rude to include the registry information on the baby shower invitation. Instead, many hosts put it on a separate slip of paper or let interested guests inquire.

While this belief is still a common one, especially among older generations, it's no longer a hard and fast rule. With the introduction of digital invitation templates and baby shower websites that include a place for a registry link, it's becoming more common to see all information about a baby shower (including registry info) to be provided in one place.

While how you share baby registry information is mostly a matter of preference, one etiquette rule that persists is to never insist that guests use the registry. Many guests appreciate a registry to help guide their gifting, guests should always have the option of giving whatever they'd like—or nothing at all.

Are invitees who can't attend the baby shower obliged to give gifts?

Guests who can't make the baby shower are not required to give gifts. If they wish, they may send a package to the host's home, who can have it on hand for the baby shower.

Also, invitees who can't make the party may choose to wait until the baby is born and then send or bring over a gift to the new parent. But they certainly aren't obliged to give a gift. A shower invitation is an invitation to a party, not a demand for a gift.

When should the guest of honor send thank-you notes?

Usually, it's ideal to send thank you notes within two to three weeks after the baby shower. Unless, of course, the baby's birth intervenes.

In that case, waiting until after the hectic newborn period is over is fine. And if it's too overwhelming to send out notes, a text or email can suffice. It's nice to thank your hosts with a special token, too. A bouquet of flowers, a batch of cookies, a book, a gift certificate, or a small piece of jewelry would make excellent baby shower host gifts!

Key Takeaways

Baby showers are a wonderful way to celebrate the impending arrival of a new baby—and the expecting parent. There are many ways to do a shower—and the preferences of the parent-to-be and host are paramount. But etiquette guidelines can help make planning easier.

Tips for Planning the Perfect Baby Shower

Your Baby Shower Etiquette Guide (2024)


What is the etiquette for baby showers? ›

Never show up to a baby shower without a gift in hand! That being said, you're not required to buy a gift from the registry. Feel free to shop around and choose any special gift for the new little one (and their mommy!).

Who typically pays for a baby shower? ›

Who Traditionally Pays for a Baby Shower? The hostess traditionally pays for the baby shower and its associated costs. However, the hostess can divide up the responsibility and costs by asking a few close family members or friends to co-host.

Who should come to your baby shower? ›

Who should be invited to a baby shower? Anyone can be invited to your baby shower. This includes as few or as many of your grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors and coworkers as you'd like, as well as those of your partner.

Are dads supposed to go to baby showers? ›

While traditional baby showers consist of women only, co-ed baby showers are becoming more and more common. However, if you're looking to throw a traditional baby shower and still have the dad-to-be attend, this is completely acceptable and appropriate as most dad-to-be's will want to thank guests before they leave.

Who should not host a baby shower? ›

Any member of the immediate family (especially the mother) should NOT host a baby shower before the baby is born. This old-school secret code is still relevant today because it appears audacious, as if the expectant mother just wants presents, which is self-serving by having her immediate family host the party for her.

What do you actually do at a baby shower? ›

The purpose of a baby shower is for loved ones to shower the parents-to-be with gifts and needs for the baby. Showers are also celebrated with fun games, fun shower themes, gift-giving and most importantly, making memories.

What should you not wear to a baby shower? ›

Although there's no official dress code for a baby shower, celebrating such a happy occasion suggests wearing happy colors and prints; be mindful to steer clear of traditional blue and pink hues though especially for gender-neutral showers.

What is the order of a baby shower? ›

What Happens at a Baby Shower?
10:00Greeting guests, serving snacks or hors d'oeuvres, playing casual games like guessing the date of birth or gender
10:30Welcome and interactive games
11:30Lunch or desserts
2 more rows
Aug 20, 2023

How much money is acceptable for a baby shower? ›

We'll break it down by relationship: For coworkers or acquaintances, people tend to spend around $30 to $50. For friends or distant relatives, many people spend between $50 and $100. For close friends or family members, most people spend between $100 and $200 or more.

What to give the host of your baby shower? ›

Best Baby Shower Hostess Gifts
  • Digital frame. Aura Carver Frame. ...
  • Seasonal bouquet. BloomsyBox Original Subscription. ...
  • Vibrant picture album. Artifact Uprising Color Series Photo Book. ...
  • Luxe candle. Diptyque Mimosa Classic Candle. ...
  • Mason jar cupcakes. ...
  • Colorful wine glasses. ...
  • Versatile carry-on bag. ...
  • Comfy robe.
Mar 22, 2024

Is it better to have a baby shower on Saturday or Sunday? ›

Best Time of Week for a Baby Shower

Weekends are often ideal because less people have work scheduled and are able to attend. Saturdays and Sundays are also the time-honored choice, so more traditional mothers will likely prefer this option.

Can a mom throw a baby shower for her daughter? ›

Because gifts are central to showers, having a member of the honoree's (or husband's) immediate family host appeared self-serving. Today it is appropriate for anyone to host a baby shower, as long as there's a legitimate reason.

What if no one offers to throw you a baby shower? ›

Subtly mention to your mom, sister, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and best friends that no one has offered to throw you a shower. Sometimes people are happy to throw one for you, but they just assume that someone else has already offered. This will give them an opening to offer on their own.

Do you take a gift to a baby shower? ›

Baby showers are well and truly part of the fabric of pregnancy over here now, and it's definitely the norm to bring a gift. Often those closest to the mum-to-be (or dad-to-be) will have gone all out on the venue, theme and decorations so it's usually expected that guests bring a gift, unless explicitly told not to.

What is supposed to happen at a baby shower? ›

Essentially, it's a party to welcome the new baby and support the parents with gifts and love. Food is typically served, which can range from a dessert table or light snacks to a more substantial meal. And sometimes, the event includes activities such as games. Baby showers can happen before or after the baby is born.

Who traditionally throws a baby shower? ›

Tradition states that when it comes to throwing a baby shower, those who love you should do the honors. This person could be your best friend from college, a colleague from work, the next-door neighbor… or your sister, sister-in-law, mother, aunt, etc.

Do you honor the baby or parents at the baby shower? ›

The Guest of Honor: who do you honor on a baby shower invite? It may or may not seem obvious, but the mom-to-be or the parents-to-be are the guests of honors at baby showers. If the baby shower is more traditional where only women are invited then the guest of honor will be the mom-to-be.


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