Baby Shower Basics for Every Host

Nov 23, 2021 | 5 minute Read

Congratulations! Your thoughtful gesture to host a baby shower must mean you have some very special people in your life and a tiny, new baby that will soon be joining your world.

Whether it’s been years since you last threw a baby shower or this is your first time hosting, putting on an event worthy of a special mama or dada-to-be can feel a bit daunting. Luckily, whether it’s choosing a location or planning the theme, many resources exist to simplify the process. 

While plenty of traditions remain a hallmark of yesterday’s baby showers, there are just as many new trends making today’s showers more personalized and focused on fun—for both you and your guests. 

To help make planning a breeze, we’ve assembled this handy guide to take you from guest lists to party favors. 

Before getting too far along, check in with the mama or dada-to-be

Some people live for surprises, but many still appreciate the chance to participate in the initial plan for their special day. So before deciding to surprise your expectant mom, consider if she’s the type who would appreciate one or the other. If you decide to leave the surprise-factor to a gender reveal party, let your first party planning call be with your guest of honor. This ensures you’ll have the opportunity to incorporate her vision for the day (if she has one!) and connect you with anyone else who may also be hoping to host.

Take some time to learn about how she envisions her shower. Does she want it to be themed? Small and intimate, or all the important people in her orbit? Will she have a registry full of needs or is she just hoping to be showered with love and wisdom? Do the new parents want to celebrate together at a large, co-ed event? Most importantly, before you get too far into the planning process, pull out your calendars and find a time that works well for her and any key guests she’d like to include—think grandparents-to-be, godparents and other close family and friends.

Choosing a date and mailing your invitations

Ideally baby showers are held sometime between the end of the second trimester and beginning of the third. Your guest of honor will be showing and glowing, yet still comfortable enough to enjoy the celebrations at her own party. Work backwards 3-4 weeks from this date, and you’ll have your window for sending invitations— just enough time to allow guests to plan ahead.

Wondering whether to go digital or postal? Both are perfectly acceptable etiquette for showers today. Several online sites offer beautiful, affordable options for either. Need some inspiration? Check out Paperless Post, Minted, or Canva for some simplified solutions of both types.

When creating your invites, be sure to include any registry information, the baby’s gender (if it’s already been announced) and any details relevant to your theme. If your mama-to-be hasn’t yet registered, now’s the time to give her a nudge to ensure guests have a stocked registry to shop from for their gifts.

What’s in a baby shower theme? 

Many traditional baby showers will outfit parents-to-be with everything from diapers and onesies to seasoned wisdom and Old wives tale. If the parents are expecting their first baby, a “Stock the Nursery” theme might be exactly what they are hoping for. However, if this shower won’t be the only one for your guest of honor, or perhaps this isn’t her first baby, it could be fun to play with the theme.

Consider a “sprinkle” rather than a full shower for moms who have already welcomed one baby into the world. These more relaxed gatherings are a great opportunity to focus on celebrating a new life, while placing less emphasis on registries and baby gear.

Some more playful themes like this honey bee one or this Ready to Pop” shower allow plenty of space for familiar traditions while feeling fresh and memorable.

Food for a crowd 

Have you ever noticed the most relaxed parties often don’t involve the host sweating away in the kitchen while guests arrive? Many seasoned hosts will be the first to tell you that the secret to their calm, relaxed hosting style has to do with prepping the food in advance.

It’s perfectly fine to serve guests lighter fare on small plates suited for mingling. Many small hors d'oeuvres, tea sandwiches and mini desserts are all easily made the night before or even frozen a few weeks in advance. Perhaps you live near a Trader Joe’s or Aldi? Take a stroll down the frozen aisle, and you’re sure to find many pre-made, frozen snacks perfect for your party.

Serving up brunch at a breakfast shower is another easy way to keep party day food prep to a minimum. Simply prep quiches or egg bakes the night before and pop them in the oven an hour before guests begin to arrive. If that level of cooking is beyond your comfort zone, check with local bakeries or grocery stores to order fresh quiches that will simply need to be warmed in the oven. Not only does a breakfast shower lend itself to easy day-before prep, but your guests (and likely even yourself!) might even appreciate having the rest of the day and weekend to themselves.

Have fun with gift opening 

Before your party starts, set up a gift opening station, complete with a comfy seat of honor, scissors, trash bags and a notebook and pen for recording gifts and gift givers. Assign a secretary to log each gift, and your mama-to-be will be able to enjoy the moment, knowing she’ll have a clear list to look back on and properly thank each guest when she takes on her thank you notes.

Gift openings are a big part of baby showers. However, they can make for a long stretch of time for guests to sit still, while the mama-to-be is often more than ready to relinquish the spotlight. Planning ahead to incorporate games into this portion of the party can liven things up and provide a guest of honor with a bit of spotlight reprieve.

Baby Gift Bingo is a game that will take little explanation, and very little prep time. In fact, you can easily find free templates online or purchase digital files for pre-made boards from sites such as Etsy.

A longtime tradition of baby showers past and present has been guessing games and diaper cakes. A group of guests or shower hosts may choose to go in together on this timeless gift that involves a hearty supply of baby diapers to send home with a mom. These almost-cute-enough-to-eat cakes are a breeze to make and a favorite way to give Huggies diapers to an expectant mom. Pass a jar with pens and slips of paper around the room while opening gifts and ask each guest to guess the number of diapers in your cake—it’s sure to get the room laughing and talking with ease.

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