A Quick Etiquette Guide to Baby Celebrations

Get the lowdown on what's expected at these special (and emotional-filled) social events.

Who Should Host? To Invite? Are Men Allowed?

Baby showers and baby-welcoming ceremonies are filled with joy -- and fraught with expectations. To ensure a good time will be had by all, here are some guidelines for hosts, guests, and parents-to-be.

Baby Showers

Baby showers are a relatively recent phenomenon -- they became common only after World War II, during the baby boom of the 1940s and '50s. Still, they've developed their own traditions and etiquette.

Who should host a baby shower?

Tradition states that a shower should not be hosted by a close family member of the parents-to-be, but instead by a friend or more distant relative, such as a cousin or an aunt. This rule was meant to avoid the appearance that the family was simply on a mission to collect gifts. However, like many traditions, this rule isn't strictly observed these days. In fact, it's usually considered perfectly acceptable for a sister, mother-in-law, or even the guest of honor's mother to host or co-host a shower. It's still unusual for a mother-to-be to host her own shower, though.

Who should be invited?

Close friends are a natural for the guest list, as are family members. Beyond that, when you're thinking of adding someone to the list, consider whether it would be appropriate to ask that person to buy a gift for the guest of honor, since that's what's expected of a shower guest. You should certainly consult with the guest of honor on the list and let her invite whomever she wants (keeping in mind any limitations on space, of course).

What about the dad-to-be and male guests?

It's becoming more and more common to include men -- friends, spouses, relatives -- on the guest list. But it does change the chemistry of the party. You need to decide whether you want that traditional "female-bonding ritual," with lots of oohing and aahing over adorable baby clothes and exchanging of labor tales, or whether you're looking for a more coed experience. Also, consider the personality of the dad-to-be; some may relish sharing in every aspect of the pregnancy, while others may be uncomfortable with the idea of being a guest of honor at a baby shower. The mom-to-be should be able to give you a good reading on this. Even at a "girl power" party, the expectant dad often makes an appearance toward the end of the shower to thank everyone for the gifts. And if you opt to include male guests, take a look at some of our coed-friendly shower ideas.

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