Baby Showers

It's wonderful to shower a mother-to-be with a party that celebrates the impending birth of her child. While most women have one baby shower, it's perfectly OK if you want to have more than that for a good friend or family member. The only real etiquette to keep in mind is that holding a baby shower isn't truly appropriate in a work setting. That's not to say that you can't throw a colleague a baby shower—just don't do it in the conference room or during work hours. It's something you should plan to have when no one is working.

Planning a Pre-Baby Party

When planning a baby shower, you can choose to make it a surprise or you can tell the mom-to-be ahead of time that you've arranged for a celebration in her honor. Either option is acceptable. Just make sure that you give invited guests plenty of notice so that if they have to travel to attend, they can do so without experiencing any time or financial hardships.

If you've decided to make the baby shower a surprise, enlist a few friends who will be able to keep the expectant mom occupied on the day of the shower and get her to the party on time. Plan ahead of time for a good diversion, such as a morning at the spa together, and then a valid reason for her to visit the restaurant where the shower will occur. A ladies day out for lunch works well as a decoy.

First-time parents always need “starter” equipment for their home, some of which can be pricey. It's perfectly acceptable for a group of people to go in together on a big shower gift, such as a stroller, car seat, or crib. Just make sure that you check with others first before buying—no one wants to end up with two big-ticket items that need to be returned.

Since moms get so much of the attention before the baby is born, it may be a nice gesture to arrange for a second baby shower to be a couple's shower. That way the dads can be included, and you can ask guests to bring gifts that are appropriate for the new dad. You may even want to hold the dad's shower in a “manly” setting, such as at a backyard barbecue.

Registering for Baby Gifts

Baby showers have become just like bridal showers—with friends and family expecting a couple to register for gifts. Not only does this help the couple stock their nursery but it also makes it easier for well-wishers to buy gifts.

Before you decide where you're going to register or what you're going to register for, consult any parenting books you may have picked up. They will give you a good sense of must-haves to include on your registry, such as diapers, wipes, and onesies. Then make sure that you devote enough time to registering, because it will take longer than you may anticipate—two to three hours is about average.

Unlike weddings, it's OK for people to share where the parents-to-be have registered in an invitation. If you're the person throwing a baby shower, you can feel comfortable including registry information in the invitation.

Keep in mind that your registry is supposed to help your guests buy your baby gifts, not frustrate them or make them feel inadequate. Restrict your registry selections to affordable basics, such as diapers and wipes, with only a few big-ticket necessities, like a crib or stroller. Even if you're dying to have the latest Louis Vuitton diaper bag, which retails for $1,000, resist adding it to your registry.

Attending a Shower Celebration

The first thing you should do when you've been invited to a baby shower is check your calendar and R.S.V.P. on time to the folks who are hosting the party.

If the invitation isn't specific about whether or not the shower is a surprise, call the host right away to find out. There would be nothing worse than ruining the surprise for the expectant mother. Find out from the host what time the mom-to-be is expected to get there so you can plan your arrival accordingly.

If the shower is a surprise, plan to arrive early or right on time, based on the party invitation. If you get delayed and know what time the expectant mother will be arriving, delay yourself even more so you don't show up when she shows up—that will give it all away, especially if you're holding a wrapped gift. Park somewhere discreet so you can watch for her arrival or just accept that you'll be getting to the shower fashionably late.

Gifts for Baby and Mom

Buying a gift for the new baby and the new mom is a snap, if you know that the person has registered somewhere. Do her a favor and buy a gift off the registry. Then you'll know you're getting her something that she wants and needs. If you find that there's nothing left on the registry in your price range, clothing, blankets, and diapering essentials are always a good bet. Another great gift to give in a pinch are note cards that she can use for her thank-you notes.

If you are expected to open presents at your baby shower, make sure that you practice your poker face ahead of time. You don't want to look dissatisfied if you open a gift that you don't like or that you believe is inappropriate. You should always smile and act graciously when you open presents in a group.

Finally, enlist a friend who can take notes as you open your gifts. Have her write down the name of the gift giver and what she gave you. Having a gift list like this will make it easier for you to write your thank-you notes later.

Showering Shower Guests with Appreciation

Your friends and family took the time to plan a baby shower for you and to buy you gifts. Now you've got to take the time to thank them for their good wishes and generosity.

Unless you go into labor immediately after your baby shower, there's no reason that you can't get your thank-you notes out immediately after the celebration. Don't worry about writing your version of War and Peace in each thank-you note. Instead, you can keep things simple if you follow this step-by-step process:

  • Start each note by greeting the person by name.

  • Thank her for the baby shower gift by name.

  • Tell briefly why this gift meant so much to you or how you plan to put it to good use once the baby is born.

  • Thank her again and maybe add something like, “We'll be sure to keep you posted on when the baby is born.”

  • Sign your name.

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