How to Plan a Baby Shower
Learn what it takes to pull off the ideal party for the mom-to-be and her new bundle of joy.
Anyone in an expectant mom's life can host her baby shower, including friends, relatives, and even spouses. With this step-by-step guide for planning a baby shower, you’re guaranteed to throw a fun and festive celebration!
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Select a date and time. Consult with the guest of honor to choose a date and time for her party. Most baby showers are held when the expectant mom is about seven months pregnant—she's well into her pregnancy by then, but she's probably still pretty comfortable. This time frame will also give her plenty of time to organize gifts after the shower and decide what she’ll still need to purchase before the little one arrives.
Determine the guest list and budget. Once the mother-to-be has given you the complete guest list (be sure she gives you emails or addresses, too), come up with your budget. This will guide your selection of a venue and food services. "If you have $500 and 10 people, you can probably splurge a bit on the venue and food," says Sabrina Hill, of Everyday Event Planner in Los Gatos, California, and co-author of The Everything Baby Shower Book. "If you have $500 and 50 people, you might need to scale back."
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Choose a venue. Consider the time of year, number of guests, and budget. Hosting a shower in your backyard or living room is intimate, and you won't have to pay a fee to reserve the space. If the guest list is large, or you have a bigger budget, consider a nearby hotel or restaurant. "The setup, catering, and cleanup will be managed by their staff, so the host can sit and enjoy the event," says celebrity party planner Mindy Weiss. Parks can be a good option if you're hosting a shower in summer or fall—just ask your local parks department whether you need a permit, and make sure to have a backup plan in case it rains.
Send the invitations. Guests should receive their invites about six weeks before the shower. "That way they'll have plenty of time to reserve the date, RSVP, shop for gifts, and find a babysitter if need be," Weiss explains. For a casual shower, an email invitation is perfectly fine. If you're hosting a more formal shower, go with a paper invite.
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Plan the menu and decor. When planning a baby shower, nail down these details about three weeks before the shower. Purchase decorations that aren't perishable (wait until the day before to buy flowers, for example), and make or buy place cards. Finalize the menu to mesh with the guest of honor's tastes. If she's craving comfort food, try mini sliders, mini fried chicken, small bowls of potato salad, and mini cupcakes. Expectant moms who are into Mexican cuisine might like tacos, guacamole, salsa, and nonalcoholic margaritas. Consider serving miniature portions to make it easier for guests to manage the food and take part in the event.
Come up with an agenda. Next up is planning a baby shower timeline. Most showers include games, gift opening, eating, and drinking. The key is organizing these activities to create a fun flow that keeps guests entertained and engaged. Give guests 15 to 20 minutes to arrive and offer drinks to people as they come through the door. Once everyone is there, start an activity. You might want to set up a bodysuit-designing station, for example, or have guests add photos and thoughts to a scrapbook for the guest of honor. Serve food while gifts are being opened, followed by dessert and coffee.
Pick baby shower favors. A parting gift is a simple way to thank your guests for attending, and it doesn't have to be extravagant, Hill says. One approach is to stick to your theme—for example, give iTunes gift cards for a musical theme, and give take-home bags of candy or homemade chocolates for a sugar-and-spice theme.
When considering how to plan a baby shower favor, you should also think about your guests. Others moms might appreciate magnet picture frames, while pencil cups and paperweights are thoughtful if your party is packed with coworkers. Scented soaps, candles, or bubble bath are also crowd-pleasers.
To make sure you're on the right track, save this checklist for planning a baby shower.