How to Plan a Baby Shower—A Complete Guide

how to plan a baby shower complete guide

Along with weddings, graduations and milestone anniversaries, baby showers are one of life’s biggest celebrations. They can be small or large, formal or casual, and are usually hosted by a cousin, friend or aunt. If you’re throwing a party for a mom-to-be, having a checklist of essential to-dos and supplies will take the stress and guesswork out of planning. Our guide on how to plan a baby shower will help you gather decorations, organize invites and otherwise host an unforgettable event.

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Meet with Mom

It’s important that you create as little work as possible for the expecting mother and honoree. After all, she already has enough to think about! While you don’t want to overload her with details, you should still involve her in brainstorming sessions. Include her in the conversation about the right colors, ambiance and non-alcoholic refreshments. Most importantly, ask her who should be there. Invite her to your home for brunch or meet her at the nail salon for a mani-pedi. Tell her how important it is to you that she not only enjoys the celebration, but that it suits her personality and celebrates the baby in a special way.  

women enjoying brunch together

When taking your notes from mom, be sure to touch on the following topics:

The guest list: It’s not only important to know who to invite, but who to leave out. Ask who she wants there and how many total people she’s comfortable with. Most baby showers are women-only, but it doesn’t hurt to check that she doesn’t prefer a co-ed event. Once you have your list, determine how to get addresses. If she doesn’t have them readily available, you may be able to get them from her mother or a friend. You can also grab their cell phone numbers so you can call or text them yourself.

The event date: Check the calendar. Is she busy on certain days? If a holiday is coming up, steer clear. Some guests may be on vacation.

The party theme: By now, mom probably knows whether she’s having a boy or girl. Inquire whether she wants a traditional pink or blue party or something else. Today, there are many interesting baby shower themes like “In the Woods,” “Winter Wonderland” or “Enchanted Garden.” If she has a general idea in mind, take it and run with it.

The food: When it comes to refreshments, some honorees just want a couple of their favorite sandwiches and sparkling waters. Besides that, they don’t care what else you order. Others have an entire menu in mind. Ask if she prefers an array of snacks or a sit-down meal. Then, make a list of all must-haves.

The venue: If you have a small budget to work with, ask if she’s okay with having it at a friend or family member’s house. Fellow loved ones may want to pitch in to rent a room at a restaurant or country club. If this is the case, let her know you’re looking at options. Since you’re throwing her the shower, she will probably be pretty flexible.

meet with mom graphic

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Send Guest Invitations

By now, you have the address of every guest. In most cases, you’ll be sending paper invitations, so browse early for styles in the colors or theme you’re creating. You’ll also want to follow proper RSVP protocol.

When managing guest invitations, be sure to:

Mail the invites early: Baby showers take time to plan. Send invitations at least two months early so guests have time to decide if they can come. However, don’t send them too far in advance. A five- or six-month lead time may cause people to forget.

Send quality cards: You don’t need to mail wedding invitations but be sure you choose good card stock. You can print them at home or hire a printing company, as long as the cards look and feel quality. Some of the most popular options include buying a card and envelope template online or designing a digital card and then having a company mail them out.

Include all the essential info: Check that the card says who the shower is honoring and where it’s located. It should also list the date, time, host and how to RSVP. Some events may require additional details, such as the fact that both men and women are welcome or to follow a certain dress code. Don’t forget to include baby registry information.

Collect RSVPs the easy way: Be clear about how guests should tell you they’re coming. One of the most popular ways is to send a text. Include your phone number so people can call if necessary, but don’t be afraid to write “text preferred” under it. When you get replies, put them on the “Accepted Invite List.”

group of friends at baby shower

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Plan Party Details

Now that guests are planning to attend, it’s time to finalize specific details, like catering and playing the traditional baby shower games. There’s a lot to remember—but try checking off each item on your phone or a notepad as soon as you complete it. Different colored text may help you distinguish a task that is done with something that’s currently in progress.

To pull off every essential aspect of a modern baby shower, you’ll need to:

Enlist help: Even those who are hosting small showers can use help. To make things more manageable, ask a few people in your circle (and who are also on the guest list) to be in charge of certain details. A food and beverage committee can be in charge of ordering and picking up refreshments, while a decorating group can ensure that balloons, helium and streamers are ready to adorn the event space. This approach will free you up to attend to guests, as well as sort out potential changes or challenges.

Buy favors and decorations: Ask any experienced shower host and they’ll tell you that decor is one of the most time-consuming aspects of a baby shower. Remember, lists are your friend. Write down each and every item that you need, from the cake topper to the disposable tablecloth to the Onesies® for guests to decorate. Save time by buying from an online party store or visit a shop to view everything in person.

baby shower decorations

Store everything together in one place and then double check you have it all at least one week beforehand. You’ll also want to give a parting gift to each guest. Bath and body products, candles and small bottles of champagne are a few of the most popular “thank you” presents for baby shower attendees. For extra personality, add a tag to your gift. Write something clever like “Pop this bottle after baby is born!” or “Relax—baby is almost here” and then tie it around the item with a piece of ribbon or yarn.

Order food: Whether you’re buying deli trays from the grocery store or having a restaurant make lunch, it’s critical to make your order weeks in advance. Always get more than you need, so you are prepared for any extra guests. Along with the mom-to-be’s favorite foods, ensure you have both gluten-free and vegetarian appetizer or meal options.

Create a loose schedule: No party ever goes exactly to plan, but it helps to have an idea of when events will happen. Decide when socializing, eating and gift opening will take place. If you’re running late, you can prompt guests with a cheerful announcement to keep things moving.

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Prep the Shower Venue

The venue is just as important as the details. Visiting the shower site as early on as possible will help you decide how much decor you need. It’ll also allow you to understand how much space you have for tables, chairs and gifts. If you can’t get there in person until the day before the party, appoint someone to take photos or a video for you.

To ensure the shower is ready to kick off, you should:

Set up early: If possible, get all decorations, chairs and buffet stations set up the night before. If the venue will not allow it, get there as early as possible on the day of the shower. Most hosts and their helpers will need a few hours to set up, even for a smaller party. Make sure there are separate areas for gifts, eating and games. One corner of the room may feature a large table for holding bags and boxes of newborn baby clothing, toys and feeding supplies, while another has a sofa and other comfortable chairs for sharing new mom advice.

Prepare for the unexpected: While there’s no need to add anxiety to an already full schedule, it may help to think about challenges that could pop up during the party. For example, the cake could run out too quickly—or several members of the RSVP list could get lost. As we mentioned, having extra supplies on hand, as well as having your cell phone handy, can help you enjoy the celebration while being there for others.

prep the venue graphic

Greet the mom-to-be: Ask mom what time she’ll be there—and make sure you aren’t too busy at that time. As host, it’s up to you to make sure you greet her and make her feel comfortable. Designate the comfiest chair in the house for her to sit in—and grab her a drink as soon as she gets there. Check to see if there is anything you can do to make her feel more comfortable. If she gets there ahead of the shower’s start time, give her a tour to see if she wishes to change anything.

Complete final checks: Make sure every snack, balloon and bingo card is in its final position at least 30 minutes before the first guest is set to arrive. Some people may come before you expect them to. This is also the right time to be sure you have ice in every beverage tub, that there’s someone ready to take pictures and that one of the appetizers isn’t still in the refrigerator.

Gather your helpers’ gifts: If you had anyone helping you plan the shower, don’t forget to give them a token of your appreciation. Offering a small gift in addition to the regular party favors will make them feel special. Restaurant gift cards, movie tickets and trendy bracelets are just a few of the many possibilities.

In just a few moments, your guests will arrive—and the baby shower will commence. Weeks, if not months, of preparation will come to fruition. Best of all, it will really start to feel like baby is almost here!

Planning and Throwing an Unforgettable (and Fun!) Baby Shower

We all like going to parties—but knowing how to plan a baby shower is not as easy as one may think! Now that you have the complete guide to being a baby shower host, you can rest easy while getting everything ready—and feel comfortable and prepared on the big day. As you celebrate with mom and her friends, don’t forget to give yourself a big pat on the back. You put in a ton of time and effort to make the expecting mommy feel special—and that’s also something to be celebrated!

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