how to host the best baby shower ever

Congrats to all of my friends - both offline and online - who are pregnant, adopting, or reveling in newborn baby bliss.

In honor of all of you, I'm going to digress from my regular content to share my top tips for planning the best baby shower ever:

how to host the best baby shower ever 1DO host a shower for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th time mom. It used to be that people scoffed at the idea of having a shower other than for a 1st time mom (some people still do). Me? I say: All babies (and moms) deserve to be celebrated, regardless of birth order.  Also, I have no idea why people assume that parents don't need anything for subsequent babies. Clothes get stained, book pages get ripped, babies are born in different seasons, new products debut on the market, etc. These things are true even if the baby is the same gender as previous siblings.

how to host the best baby shower ever 2DO have real fun. Here's a novel idea. Plan fun activities that the mom-to-be actually enjoys doing. Walk in a 5K together. Go to a scrapbook store and make albums. Have a make-your-own pizza party. Host a Wii tournament. Watch Jane Austen movies. Hike in the mountains. Etc. Think about what the mom likes and then plan related activities (do run it by her first).

how to host the best baby shower ever 3DON'T play ridiculous games. I don't know about you, but I don't want to play Baby Bingo or Guess the Baby Food or Smell the Dirty Diaper or Give-Me-Your-Clothespin-If-You-Say-The-Word-Baby. If I get invited to a shower, I will play these games, don't get me wrong. But seriously? Let's all call a spade a spade. Those games are just silly (and not particularly fun for anyone).

how to host the best baby shower ever 4DO open presents later. Speaking of spades, here's the truth: Opening presents in front of others is awkward for the recipient and boring for the giver. The mom-to-be has to respond to each gift with enthusiastic and cheeky comments, while the givers have to whittle away their time watching a string of oohs and aahs (when they could be conversing w/ the other guests or having fun).

how to host the best baby shower ever 5DON'T embarrass the new mom. Never talk about how "big" the mom is or ask her uncomfortable questions about stretch marks or sex. In fact, it's probably best not to draw unneeded attention to the new mum (which is another reason why centering the shower around an activity is such a great idea).

how to host the best baby shower ever 6DO take a lot of pictures. Have a backdrop and fun props. You can be the photographer yourself if you are handy with a camera...or hire a photographer for the event. Be sure to tell the guest-of-honor and attendees ahead of time so they don't walk in all sweaty in gym shorts and a ponytail.

how to host the best baby shower ever 7DON'T post them on Facebook afterward. I repeat - Do NOT rush home and post all of the shower photos on Facebook. Most pregnant women don't feel exceptionally beautiful and radiant (even if they really are). So always, always ask permission before plastering their photo up for the whole world to see. In fact, that's a great rule of thumb for FB pictures in general.

There you have it. The BEST baby shower ever.

Oh, wait. One more thing. Have good FOOD. And P.S. - the menu doesn't have to be cake w/ heavy frosting and pastel mints. If you like that, go for it. If not, have root beer floats or western bacon cheeseburgers or vegetable lasagna.

Do you agree or disagree with my tips? What tips would you add?  Tell us about the best baby shower you've ever attended or planned (and what made it special).

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45 comments on “how to host the best baby shower ever”

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  2. We are in San Jose California and we used a tea party caterer (http://www.ttraditions.com) to provide food, china, linens, and tableware for 2 baby showers. The set up was so elegant, we did not need to do any games- we really just enjoyed conversation over tea.

    They made scones, tea sandwiches, salads, and fresh fruit. They set it up buffet style using 3 tier cake stands and laid out the china tea cups and brewed 2 urns? of tea. They also had 2 of their staff set up and clean up.

    Our cost was only about $24 per person and we really had to do nothing about cleaning up, so we really had the opportunity to enjoy the afternoon.
    BTW- most people thought we payed much more for the event.

    After the tea, the men came back from golfing and started devouring the tea sandwiches.

  3. I want you to plan my next baby shower, it sounds like you would throw a much better one then I had. There were games and not much fun. Blah.

  4. I just had my second baby and I did not have a shower. I wasn't expecting it either, we've got everything we need. What I'd like to do and I don't know if we will, is have some sort of party for everyone to meet the newest little one. I like your ideas and while I'm not keen on watching people open presents, I think people like to see the creativity of everyone.

  5. Love all your tips Stephanie (as usual). Especially doing a "non- showerish" activity. I agree wholeheartedly on games and not embarassing the mommy of honor. I've been to some where a craft was set up to be done (bibs/onsies decorated) and it was really nice to be able to chat while working on something the new mom would put to good use. I agree on the gift opening- I have found it awkward as the showeree and at times as a guest.

  6. I completely agree that you can have a shower for the 2nd baby (etc)! I had one with my 2nd one and they made it a diaper shower. I was able to have diapers forever!!! I especially like that you mention to do a 5k walk or pizza party! That really does take the pressure off of the mom-2-B!!

  7. I was just the recipient of the best baby shower. my sister planned it and she was very thoughtful to what I wanted. We planned the menu around the things I have been craving this pregnancy. Another thing was we didn't plan any games but at the end people who needed to go could, and people who wanted to stay , hung around and we made scrapbook pages for baby's first year. It was great!

  8. I love baby showers. I think that all babies should be celebrated, but it can be done in different ways! I like the idea of throwing a "dinner shower" where everyone brings a homemade meal that the mom to be can put in the freezer and make out post-delivery. I don't know about you, but I was so happy to have meals available!

    I also like watching the mama open gifts. There are some really great ideas that I have used for other showers i.e. my friend made a "hooter hider" or the burp cloths with the cute fabric sewn on. I also think that it is a great way to show appreciation for the gift, followed by a thank you card.

    I can't wait to start throwing baby showers for my sisters!

    1. Your "dinner shower" idea is fantastic. Very creative. And what new parents wouldn't appreciate a freezer full of home-cooked meals?

  9. I love all these tips - but, I think you or another blog posted before about not opening the gifts - how do you explain that to guests, when people seem to expect you to open their gift in public (so they can then LEAVE, which I think is rude!)?? I guess it just has to become a more prevalent practice... I agree it gets boring to sit through 50+ gifts esp. when you're in the back of the room and can't see any of them! :)
    My mom/sis threw a brunch shower and we had the MOST fun breakfast foods - it was delicious!

  10. This is a sadly serious comment to make a point on a not so serious post, so I feel like I should apologize before starting, but I really, really like the first point about celebrating every baby! With my 2nd daughter, I suffered a placental abruption at 36 weeks & we lost our little girl. The day before our loss, some of my friends threw a shower for me at our church and a bunch of women were very vocal about not coming because they thought a shower was inappropriate. Once we lost our girl, however, these same people volunteered to help with her memorial service, & I had a really hard time dealing with them. In my head, I appreciated the assistance they offered, but in my heart I felt like if they weren't willing to celebrate her while she was alive, I didn't want their help in mourning her death.

    On a lighter note, however, I love all the ideas about different ways to do a shower, brunches, hikes, etc. Especially for subsequent babies, these seem like great ways to celebrate new additions to the family in a fresh way.

    1. Kara, I'm so sorry for your loss. All the more reason why each baby deserves to be celebrated and each mom deserves to be honored (in whatever way) by family and friends.

      There's so many truly awful things in the world that I feel like someone making a big deal and being so vocally disapproving of a second baby's shower is just being petty and rude. They aren't forced to participate and if they don't want to, they should just make a polite excuse and leave it at that.

    2. Thanks so much for sharing your heart here, Kara. I am so very sorry for your loss (and I agree with everything that Katelyn said).

  11. I actually don't mind the silly games. I guess I like silly games and I'm usually good at them. I like seeing the gifts, too.

    What I don't like is getting tons of stuff I don't need or want. I'd rather have NO gifts than stuff I am going to feel bad re-gifting later or just giving away. Why don't people look at gift registries?

    What I do like is the idea of celebrating the mother and doing something enjoyable for everyone. And eating GOOD FOOD. It would be nice to ask the mother-to-be what she likes so that she can actually eat what is on the menu.

    I wonder if people are willing to just give "donations" at baby showers. With my next baby the main thing I want to get is a good wrap sling and they are expensive. I'm pretty picky, too, and want to do my own shopping for clothes and toys.

  12. You have some really great tips. I am so with you on most of the cheesy games. I play along, but really... can we do something else? Especially if it is not for a first-time mom. I have hosted a party with a few games though.

    I have to disagree with the present opening though. That is usually the main event at showers. I find that people who want to socialize go right ahead and chat during that time anyway. And a lot of people really really do want to see what they received. I think it is wise to do this last so that those who are not interested can duck out though.

  13. I totally agree with the celebrating every birth, whether it's the 1st, 3rd or 6th one! I have always felt that way, but after moving to this little town, I found out that the women here feel like once you have a kid of that gender, you don't need more stuff. It's something I'm trying to break, as I've thrown showers for all the moms whether they have the same gendered kid or not. Now that it's my turn to have a baby (girl #3!) I feel weird having a baby shower since I know how many of them feel.

    I actually like having the mom open presents in front of everyone. Although I agree that being the one opening the presents can be awkward, I enjoy seeing the mother's response the the gift that I put so much work and thought into.

  14. I agree!! The only one I struggle with a bit is having a baby shower for every baby...I love the idea of showering the mom by having a special brunch, going for a hike, etc..but my savings account just isn't that big and shower gifts can get expensive!

    Last month I went to a beautifully done baby shower for a friend who was having her second baby. It was small, only like 6 or 7 of us...so we all fit nicely around one table, and had a fancy brunch at the hostess' house. Afterwards we just sat and talked...it was wonderful...!

  15. Hmmm, I think I'm going to be the "odd man out" here. I'm 31 weeks pregnant with our 4th baby, and would be REALLY uncomfortable if anyone suggested having another shower for me. The exception would be if it was my "new friends". We live in a different location now than we did with our first 2 babies. Anyway, people are so stretched financially, I would be embarrassed to have another shower with the same people who were so generous to us the first time around.

    That said, I ALWAYS try to take a gift to a new mom, whether it's her first or her 5th baby. Often, that gift will be a home-cooked meal and diapers. ANYONE can use those!

    I enjoy the gift opening at showers, too. ;) It's fun to see all the new baby stuff!

    Dislike silly shower games. When I host a shower, it's all about the yummy food (NEVER cake... always appetizers or brunch) and visiting.

    Wondering now if my opinions would change based on the size of the shower? The ones we host and the ones that were thrown for me all had 20-40 guests. A more intimate setting might make me think differently about some things.

    1. Amy,
      Myself & other friends are in the same situation of not wanting people to have to give us stuff anymore, for each baby. BUT. You can still do something fun with a few people you are close to, to celebrate baby. For my friends 4th baby, two of her friends hosted a "Quattro" sit down dinner. Every course in the meal had 4 as a theme somehow, e.g. four-cheese pizzas. It was really fun. The mom got a little pampering & we got to spend time with the sweet new baby.

  16. love your baby shower tips... i especially agree that all babies (not just the first) should be celebrated and welcomed into the world. for subsequent babies, it is fun to involve older siblings and have a family shower... everyone gets to come and everyone is involved. we went to a family shower for some friends and they had a bounce house, coloring, and toys out for all the kids who came, food and drinks for adults and kids... more like a party than a traditional shower. the kids had a blast playing together and even the dads had a good time catching up and hanging out. just getting family and friends together to celebrate a new baby can be so much fun!
    i also agree with the tip about the gifts... especially for moms who are uncomfortable being the center of attention. some moms like to be in the gift opening spotlight, but i am definitely not one of them (i feel this way about bridal showers too). i can feel myself getting flustered and flushed just thinking about it ; ) i like the "on display" gift idea from one of the previous comments. i have also been to a couple of showers where they played gift opening bingo (mentioned in a couple of the above comments). if you are expected to open gifts, i would suggest this game... dims the gift spotlight a bit and makes for some fun for the guests.

  17. I agree with you on everything but not opening the presents. When I give a gift, I've usually put in a lot of thought and part of that is because I love seeing their response plus seeing other great things they get (ideas for another day).

    As a recipient, I love getting to get pictures taken with the person that gave it to me - helps with thank you cards (I can print the photo and write on the back). I also love showing them that I love whatever it is they gave me, because it is from them. Sure, sometimes there are awkward moments (duplicates or something totally embarrassing) but that is part of gathering with friends and being celebrated.

  18. I love your tips and really wish that my family would read this post TWICE and commit it all to memory. One thing that my wonderful sister-in-law did for my shower (that actually breaks two of your rules) was making a bingo game out of opening presents. Then, at least it wasn't boring while I was opening presents and guests were truly excited for each package to be opened. If you must open gifts, I would highly recommend making a game of it!

  19. I wish someone would have read this before ever throwing me a baby shower! My last shower was put together by my mother-in-law. She invited everyone she has ever met in her life (she's 82) and everyone who has ever met my husband and not a single person that I knew. It's pretty uncomfortable to be first introduced to someone while you're nursing a baby and they're handing you a gift.

  20. I agree with most of your tips - especially #1. Sometimes subsequent babies are "surprises" from God, and the previous children's things are long gone. And while I was extremely nervous opening my shower presents in front of everyone, I'm glad I did because I felt I could convey my appreciation better in person than in a thank you card (but I still wrote my cards!) I also like seeing what other new moms got. New products are constantly coming out on the market and I like to see what's available without going to the store.

  21. I think those are great tips. Baby showers should definitely be thrown for 2nd, 3rd, 4th expectant mamas. I did get a couple of sideways looks when I threw one for a friend of mine who was on her 2nd. But, she hadn't expected to have more than one and had gotten rid of all of her baby gear. How could I not?
    And, shower games....ugh. They are dumb. I'd rather be chatting.

  22. I agree with almost everything, except that I do enjoy watching gifts being opened. At my baby shower and my sister's bridal shower we played gift bingo, where all the guests wrote down ahead of time what gifts they thought might be received, and then as we opened the gifts they got to mark things off. If they hit bingo, they won a small prize. Made for some fun "BINGO!" shouts in between all the "aww, that's so cute" (or "ooh--look at that lingerie") comments. :)

  23. Oh my goodness...this is great!!! I am so glad your 1st one was to have a shower for all babies. I believe babies are a wonderful blessing and all of them need to be celebrated. Several of my friends have 4 or more children and they always hear you must have everything you need whenever they are pregnant. We have started having fun mom night out showers. We go to dinner at a nice restaurant and just enjoy each other's company and those who want bring gifts for the new baby. Or we make pottery and usually a few people will pitch in for the new mom's cost.
    Also LOVE the don't open presents at showers and feel the same goes for birthday parties or any other event people bring presents too. It is not that exciting and if someone didn't bring a gift they feel called out about it not to mention the huge price range in gifts. All-in-all it is not fun to open presents with everyone around.

    Great dos & don'ts

  24. Great tips! I love your comments about having showers for ALL babies and celebrating them ALL and understanding that Mom's still need stuff each time around! I have always said that, and never understood the PC "only for your first baby" shower thing.

    I love your idea about an event, that's amazing!

    I too hate baby shower games (who actually likes them?) But there are some cute baby themed activities like for Steph's (adventures in babywearing) my friend Ashlee had us all decorate onesies- that was really fun, and the onesies she could actually use!

    I'm really like your take on gifts too... I think I'll do that next time.

  25. I like your ideas, Stephanie, and I agree. Except I like to open gifts in front of the people who gave them to me, and I also like to watch the gift-opening at showers, etc. I have seen invitations that ask attendees to bring cards with advice on them at both baby showers and bridal showers. I think these are a nice touch and something the bride or new mom can read either later or at the shower. Of course, she may not like all the advice, but there might be one or two gems in the mix that she is really grateful for.

  26. The last shower I attended there were one or two silly games and she did open gifts in front of everyone, but for the most part we just hung around and visited.

    I personally feel so uncomfortable when I'm the center of attention. (This includes birthdays or any "party" in my honor.) I actually declined my MIL holding a shower for me (preg. with first now.) This was mainly because the friends and family I would want to invite live nowhere near her, but also because I've always found baby showers to be awkward events. The ones I've seen also tend to leave out "Dad" or surround him with all of "Mom's" friends.

    I really like your tips though. If the shower was centered on a fun activity and focused on celebrating new life instead of gifts and goofy games, it would be so much better. Depending on the season, I can see an after baby is born barbeque being a lot of fun too.

  27. I do enjoy watching the gift opening too. One neat thing our church has done at showers is have the giver of the gift share something while their gift is being opened - maybe a story about how they know the recipient, or their best piece of mothering advice, or their funniest mom blooper, etc. That takes some of the focus off of the mom opening gifts, and also allows for a fun (and often hilarious) way to get to know a little more about the people at the shower.

  28. I 100% agree with you :)

    Though in both the last showers I threw, the mom to be wanted the silly games, so I acquiesced.

    But I do enjoy watching baby gifts be opened most of the time. :)

    1. You make an important point, Kris! It's always a good idea to check in w/ the mom-to-be to ask her about her preferences.

      If I were planning a shower and the guest of honor wanted silly games, frosted cake, and gift-opening...then, that is what she would get. :)

  29. For the most part I love it, but I do like watching the guest of honor open gifts. I love seeing all the creative things people came up with! And to be honest, the time I saw people having the most fun watching the guest of honor open gifts was while they were playing baby gift bingo, where we all guessed what things she would receive. It engaged all the guests and involved them in the process whether they brought gifts or not. Maybe I'm weird in enjoying those things, but I'm also easily amused. :)

  30. I just had our third baby shower this week, or as I call it welcome to the world baby showers.

    We have showers after baby is born, because we do not find the gender before birth people want to buy gender specific stuff so after birth is better, bonus guess can hold, kiss and admirer the newborn cuteness :-)

    For game we do, guess how many candies on this baby bottle (for the kids) and adult will do "write on the card your best and worst advice you ever received about parenting, and the new Mama will choose the best and worst of all"

    Our host (pastor wife) will do a devotional and she always to a acronym with the baby's name and to each letter find a word and a bible verse that goes with it and pray that for the baby, (ex. E for encourager, and verses that come along with being a encourager and then we pray that baby will grow up to be a encourager)

    For food, our church ladies are all amazing cook, never had to complain for all the treat we go to eat!

    Yes we do have a social time before opening gifts

  31. I agree...I hate gift opening at parties/showers, etc. and asked all of my hosts to make them display showers where gifts were unwrapped and just "on display"....it was great...plus there was minimal to no wrapping which made me feel a ton better. Gift opening is just awkward plus it makes the gits seems like the most important thing when the most important thing should be hanging out with your loved ones celebrating. Good tips!

    1. Oooohh! I like the displayed gift idea. I am not crazy about opening gifts in front of everyone. And, it can take a long time sometimes & feels a bit of a waste. But, I always like to be able to see everyone's gifts. So, it is a bummer for me if the gifts are taken home unopened. The display/unwrapped gifts is brilliant. (Even though I do love wrapping gifts...)

    2. Thank you so much for sharing the "display" idea, Our Green Nest! That is truly a wonderful compromise - everyone can see all of the beautiful gifts...without the awkward moments!

  32. I love all of these suggestions (and am kind of wish everyone who planned my shower had read this first...but I'd never let on to them that I felt this way!) I'm not a fan of the shower games...or sitting in front as the center of attention, with every eye in the room just staring at me, while opening gifts! I'm so uncomfortable in the spotlight, even when it is a special event such as this.

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