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Baby shower etiquette: What every host & guest needs to know

A little girl kissing her mom's stomach at a baby shower.

Throwing or attending a baby shower for a loved one is a huge honor—not only are you celebrating an incredible milestone in a parent-to-be’s life, but you’re getting to celebrate a whole new life before you’ve even officially met them! Baby showers have been popular since the baby boom of the 1940s and ’50s, and since then, the etiquette around them has evolved (showers aren’t just for the ladies anymore, after all).

Whether you’re throwing your first one on behalf of someone or a seasoned pro on the baby shower scene, staying up-to-date on shower guidelines and rules is a must. Here are the top questions people are asking about baby showers!

Baby shower etiquette

Who hosts and plans a baby shower?

Traditionally, a close friend or relative of the parent(s)-to-be, such as a sister, cousin, aunt, or sister-in-law, planned and hosted the baby shower. While this person was often a female friend or relative of the expectant mother, nowadays, more people are opting to have a co-ed baby shower, with hosts and guests of any gender coming together to celebrate the parent(s)-to-be and their little one. Having someone else host means the soon-to-be-parent(s) can just enjoy the celebration with their loved ones. However, sometimes, the parent(s)-to-be will opt to throw their own baby shower if they prefer to plan it themselves!

You can also have more than one baby shower, especially if you’re traveling to visit family and friends who aren’t local or if your co-workers want to throw a baby shower for you at your office. Your guest lists shouldn’t overlap so no one feels obligated to purchase more than one gift for the expectant parent(s).

Once you’re ready to start planning a baby shower, our baby shower checklist is here to help keep you on track and feeling like the best baby shower planner ever!

Can you plan your own baby shower?

Of course! While having someone else host a shower on your behalf is a lovely gesture on their part, if you love to plan parties or want something more chill, throwing the celebration yourself is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. After all, the purpose of a baby shower is to share your baby joy with others, so people will be delighted to be invited regardless of who is sending the invites. Gender reveals and sip and sees are also commonly hosted by the parent(s)-to-be.

When should you start planning a baby shower?

Traditionally, baby showers are held during the third trimester of pregnancy, usually between the 32nd and 36th week (or 4–6 weeks before the due date). This shower timing allows the expectant parents to discover and share the sex of their baby (unless they're waiting until the birth to be surprised) to possibly guide shower decor and gift registry selections. It also allows more time to make any necessary preparations for the arrival of the baby after the shower, such as organizing gifts and setting up the nursery.

However, keep in mind that every pregnancy and journey to parenthood is unique (adoption showers can often take place after the child arrives at their new home), and there may be specific circumstances to consider when choosing the date for the baby shower. Check out our When to throw a baby shower guide to learn more about choosing the perfect time for a baby shower!

When should you send out baby shower invitations?

The ideal time to send out baby shower invitations is 6–8 weeks before the baby shower. The baby shower can take place anywhere from 4 weeks before the baby’s due date, to earlier, around the 28th to 30th week of pregnancy. This gives everyone on your guest list enough time to plan their schedules and RSVP to the party. Sending out invitations too early or too late can result in low attendance, which can be disappointing for expectant parents who want to share their joy with all of their family members and friends. But as always, every situation is different! You can learn more about when to send out baby shower invitations here.

What should you include on a baby shower invitation?

Diagram of where and what to write on an invitation for a baby shower.

Baby shower invitations should include the following either on the design or in the event details:

  1. The host line
  2. The request line
  3. The name(s) of the guest(s) of honor
  4. The date and time
  5. The location/venue
  6. An RSVP line (optional)
  7. A registry line (optional)

If you’re hosting a party on behalf of both parents, include both of their names on the invitation. Traditionally, the name of the mom-to-be goes first, but any order is fine! For the registry line, you can include a brief “Registered at _____” at the very bottom of the invitation if you wish, though this isn’t required. Our What to write in a baby shower invitation blog is full of more advice (and adorable, creative examples) for writing the perfect baby shower invitation!

Once you’re ready to start inviting family and friends to the shower, Evite’s collection of beautiful free and Premium baby shower invitations is here for you! Featuring designs for every theme, including woodland, stars, florals, rainbow and unicorns, our digital invitations come with free RSVP tracking, text and email delivery, a guest of honor feature, and room for up to 3 registries or a baby fund.

When should the guest of honor send thank you cards?

Ideally, thank you cards should be sent out 2–3 weeks after the baby shower by the guest of honor. However, given how busy the parent(s)-to-be are during this time, they have up to 3 months to send them out. If you’re looking for an effortless way to send your notes of gratitude out to everyone, consider sending a thank you eCard from Evite. You can customize messages to each recipient easily and use the guest list from your shower invitation to seamlessly add everyone who attended to your thank you card list. Once you’re ready to send out your thank you cards, our guide to baby shower thank you card wording is here to help!

Who should be invited to a baby shower?

Anyone the parent(s)-to-be want there! In the past, baby showers were seen as a more women-only event, but that's (thankfully!) changed. Generally speaking, close friends and family are invited, and occasionally, co-workers, too. Make sure to consult the parents-to-be on their guest list, whether it's an intimate or large gathering.

Should you send shower invites to people you know can’t make it?

Yes! Even if out-of-town family and friends can't be there to celebrate in person with you, they’ll appreciate being invited and knowing that you wish they could be there. 

What kinds of activities should be planned for a baby shower?

There are many traditional and trendy games to play, but you can never go wrong keeping your activities short and simple. Keep the guests in mind and what would suit them, as well as the venue. How much space do you have for a game? Will the shower be indoors or out? How much time do you and your guests have to plan before the party? A good rule of thumb (as with most shower planning) is to ask the guest(s) of honor if they have any activities they’d love to include. A few favorites to consider:

1. Who’s That Baby? 

Ask guests to bring a photo of themselves as babies, arrange them on a wall or table, then give guests a pen and paper to write down who is who.

2. Advice for the New Parents

This is a classic! Place some pretty paper out along with lots of pens so guests can write down a note of advice for the parents. Collect all of the notes and present them to the parent(s)-to-be so they can read them and hold onto them as keepsakes!

3. Name That Baby Tune

This is a great one for getting guests engaged without requiring a lot of work from them. Simply create a playlist of baby-related songs, play a few seconds from each track at the party and ask guests to write down the name of the song. Whoever gets the most names correct wins!

Want more fun baby shower activity ideas? We’ve compiled the top 10 baby shower games and activities into one big bundle of joy for your planning pleasure!

Are the parents-to-be supposed to register for their baby shower?

Definitely! The soon-to-be-parent(s) typically handle the registry, since they have a better idea of what they need and want. Make sure the registry is complete before the shower invitations go out so guests who wish to give a gift have time to choose the perfect one. (BTW—you can include up to 3 registries on Evite invitations!)

The parent(s)-to-be may also opt to create a baby fund instead if they aren’t sure what they need, could use a little help with baby-related expenses (because there are a lot) or are already planning ahead for their child’s future. 

Of course, if the expectant parent(s) don’t want to receive gifts, they don’t need to create a registry or baby fund. You can include a short phrase on the bottom of the baby shower invitation letting guests know that their presence and love are all that's wanted!

Another tip: If there is a registry, make sure it includes gifts with a wide range of price points so all guests can find an option within their spending limits. Need a little registry inspo to get started? Check out the most popular baby registry gifts with our customers!

What else is expected of parent(s)-to-be at their baby shower?

Easy—just sit back, relax and enjoy celebrating this exciting time with your nearest and dearest! But besides enjoying your guests' company, parent(s)-to-be might want to help the hosts provide party favors. Treats like chocolate or cookies are always a hit!

Who pays for the baby shower?

The host usually covers most, if not all, costs. But again, these days there are no hard-and-fast rules. Other family members, close friends or even the parent(s)-to-be might choose to chip in to help ease costs for the host. Guests, however, should never be asked to contribute to the shower other than if they choose to bring a gift.

Is it okay to have a shower for a second (or third or fourth) baby?

Of course, every baby deserves a celebration! Look to the parents for cues, and keep in mind it doesn't have to be an OTT event (unless it’s what they want). Baby sprinkles have been a go-to for parents who want a low-key celebration with just a few close family and friends, and some choose to forgo a registry as well if they already have what they need.

If you’re invited to a baby shower and can’t attend, are you still obligated to purchase a gift?

If you do not attend the shower, you are not obligated to send a gift. However, it’s always a thoughtful gesture if you still wish to send a present!

If you’re throwing a baby shower, are you still obligated to get the guest of honor a gift?

We recommend still getting the expectant parents a little something. It doesn’t have to be big, since you might be already paying for part (or all) of the shower, but it's the thought that counts.

Is it okay to give a gift card at a shower? How much?

Absolutely! Just make sure you’re giving a gift card or eGift card to a place the parent(s)-to-be like. One easy way to determine the best gift card to give is to see where they’re registered for their baby registry. That way, you know they’ll find the perfect gifts for their growing family (and there will likely be some leftover registry items they’ll want to purchase). You can also give them a gift card to their favorite restaurant or a spa so they can enjoy some self-care and feel pampered. Evite offers dozens of eGift cards to top retailers and restaurants, and they all come with free eCards so you can send your gift to your recipients in true gift-giving style!

Do you open gifts at a baby shower?

Generally, guest(s) of honor will open gifts at the shower. Part of the fun of gift-giving is seeing the reaction of the recipient to your thoughtfulness (and just seeing all of the cute gifts!), so it’s a joyful moment that everyone looks forward to. Etiquette suggests that it’s best to open them towards the end of the shower so the primary focus isn’t on the gifts.

However, there may be people who prefer to open them in private (or the guest(s) of honor may feel too tired to open everything by the end of the shower). In this case, the host should inform guests that the gifts will be opened after the shower so people know what to expect. Regardless, the guest(s) of honor are expected to send thank you cards to everyone who attended/brought gifts to their shower, so the opportunity to extend their gratitude will still be there.

How long does a baby shower last?

On average, baby showers last 2–3 hours. This gives guests plenty of time to arrive, enjoy the sips and bites, participate in some fun activities, have cake, open gifts, and most importantly, spend time with the parent(s)-to-be!

Do you give a speech at a baby shower?

It’s common for the host, grandparents-to-be and/or parent(s)-to-be to give brief speeches at the baby shower. The host will generally give a brief speech thanking guests for coming and letting them know what activities they’ll be enjoying, while the grandparents-to-be and parent(s)-to-be share their sentiments towards the end of the party. Speeches are not required, so if you prefer to simply thank everyone for coming, that’s perfectly acceptable.

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How do I create a signup sheet?

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    • Signup sheets for standalone events (without different time slots), perfect for when you’re organizing a class party, potluck or end-of-season party.
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What information should be included on a signup sheet?

When it comes to signup sheet information, there are some essentials to include regardless of what you’re organizing:

  1. A title for your signup sheet. Tip: Aim to keep your signup sheet title concise but clear. You want volunteers to read it and have a general understanding of what your event is about, and also make it easy for them to look for later if they need to reference your sheet again. You have the option to include a more descriptive note in a different field about your event, so save the more in-depth details for that!
  1. When and where the event is taking place. 
  1. The organizer’s name and phone number.
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When adding your slot information, clearly define what people are signing up for, especially for a what-to-bring list or role assignments. If you want someone to bring healthy snacks for kids to enjoy after a game, specify that. You want your volunteers to feel confident in what they’re bringing and to make it easy for them to know what’s expected of them. It will save them time and stress (and you, too!). That being said, if you make your ask too specific (for example, asking for a hard-to-source item or something expensive), you may not end up with a volunteer for it. So be clear about what you expect, but also be reasonable!

Aside from providing the basic signup information, you can also add optional descriptions to both your entire signup sheet and individual slots. While not required, they can help guide your volunteers further and provide more information. You can add information about allergies, preferences and general info about the event. You can also add a wish list to make it easier for your volunteers to bring exactly what you need!

What are the benefits of using a signup sheet template?

Signup sheet templates offer a ton of advantages for both organizers and volunteers and with Evite SignUp Sheets, you'll enjoy even more benefits than other digital and paper signup sheets! Some benefits our signup sheet templates offer include:

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With Evite SignUp Sheets, you can enjoy organizing and coordinating all your events with ease. Signup sheets streamline the signup process for everyone involved, ensuring that everything will go to plan on the day of your event while saving you precious time in the process.

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