Who Is Supposed To Host A Baby Shower?

Who Is Supposed To Host A Baby Shower?

Who Is Supposed To Host A Baby Shower?

Baby showers come with certain customs, rules and expectations. One big consideration: Who should host? Anchiy via Getty Images

A baby shower is a wonderful way for loved ones to get together and celebrate the expectant parents in their lives. It’s also a great occasion to connect and relax before the baby arrives and brings big changes.

As a longstanding tradition, however, baby showers come with certain customs, rules and expectations. One big consideration: Who should host?

From relationship dynamics to optics to logistical issues, many factors play a role in answering this question. With that in mind, we asked etiquette experts to share who should or shouldn’t host a baby shower, as well as other important things to remember as you prepare for this kind of celebration.

Traditional etiquette barred certain people from hosting a baby shower.

“Traditionally, the mother or immediate family member would not host a baby shower to avoid looking as if you are pandering for gifts,” said Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and corporate trainer specializing in adult behavior.

The idea was that a friend, cousin or aunt should throw the shower because there’s a relationship there but still enough distance from the honoree.

“Since the occasion for a baby shower is to bestow upon the mother-to-be presents that a newborn baby would need, it is considered inappropriate for immediate family members to host the baby shower,” echoed Tami Claytor, the etiquette coach behind Always Appropriate Image & Etiquette Consulting.

This traditional approach avoids making close relatives appear greedy or self-serving, as if they’re saying, “Hi everyone, go buy gifts for my sister or daughter ― i.e., gifts for my immediate family!”

But the rules have loosened in this day and age.

“These days, truly anyone can host a baby shower,” said Lizzie Post, a co-president at the Emily Post Institute. “That rule about close family members just doesn’t work anymore. Sometimes the logistics are more difficult, as the shower might be in the honoree’s hometown rather than the place where they moved.”

Opening up host eligibility allows for convenience in an age when people are more mobile and can live in different communities, but want to connect with loved ones back home during this exciting time while they’re expecting. Though some might still frown upon the idea of an honoree’s parents throwing the shower, avoiding it is no longer a hard-and-fast rule.

“People just don’t have that negative impression anymore about close family members hosting a gift-oriented event,” Post added. “More often a close relative is more knowledgeable about what would work well anyway. Time marches on, and the way we interact changes based on all kinds of things. It’s important to pay attention to that rather than make us all conform to something that really isn’t working.”

As our world changes, so too do our traditions. Baby showers encapsulate that reality very well.

“Given the evolution of what is considered a family, hosting etiquette has in many ways become more inclusive,” Claytor said. “For example, baby showers are thrown for anyone welcoming a new baby, whether same-sex couples, single parents or adopting parents. As such, baby showers are no longer exclusively hosted or attended by women.”

It’s not uncommon for expectant parents to have multiple showers, especially if they are involved in a religious organization, work in an office or belong to various communities.

“It’s unreasonable to expect the same hosts to host several showers,” Gottsman cautioned. “If you are having multiple showers, you should vary the guest list so the same people aren’t invited to multiple showers.”

And even if you decide to go with the traditional etiquette rules around hosting, that doesn’t mean your close family members can’t be involved.

“Do note that while not official hosts, those closest to the honoree can help to plan and finance the event behind the scenes,” said Jodi R.R. Smith, the president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.

Make sure the honoree is OK with any baby shower games you’re planning.Make sure the honoree is OK with any baby shower games you’re planning.

Make sure the honoree is OK with any baby shower games you’re planning. NoSystem images via Getty Images

There are still other important etiquette rules to keep in mind for baby showers.

Although the rules have loosened around who gets to host a baby shower, other areas of etiquette remain unchanged.

“Extend invitations early ― at a minimum four weeks in advance, and at a maximum six weeks in advance,” Claytor said. “People have busy schedules, so you want to give guests enough time to make plans.”

Make sure the honoree is OK with any games you’re considering. They might not want everyone to guess the size of their belly or test their diaper-changing speed.

“While the host is planning the shower, they should be mindful of the menu, ensuring most of the foods selected are palatable by the parents-to-be,” said Jackie Vernon-Thompson, the founder of From the Inside-Out School of Etiquette. “The host should select a variety of dishes to be sure the guests have options as well.”

Don’t forget to make a suitable playlist, plan some activities and generally be prepared to invest the funds necessary to put together a nice experience for everyone, she added.

“If a relative, friend or co-worker is hosting the shower in their home and covering the refreshments, the shower can be the gift they are giving,” Smith noted.

The host might also prepare a small but meaningful present, like a special children’s book or outfit. As for the rest of the guests, it’s important for the host to share a gift registry to make the shopping process easier and more impactful.

“A gift registry should have a variety of items with a sliding scale of price points,” Gottsman said. “It’s a good idea to give a group gift to the new parent if there is something special they would like but [it’s] too costly to buy it alone. If you ask for no gifts, it’s important to put any random gift you are given away, so it doesn’t make other guests uncomfortable.”

For traditional baby showers with presents, make sure to acknowledge the gift-givers. Opening the presents at the event is a great way to personally connect with each guest and thank them for their thoughtfulness.

Post believes this should remain a standard practice at baby showers, though many people have moved away from the tradition. What is nonnegotiable is sending a thank-you note.

“A thank-you note is an act of gratitude that goes such a long way,” Post said. “And don’t prewrite thank-you notes for your honoree ― take the time to make it personal and engage in this gratitude practice. Hosts should not ask guests to preaddress their thank-you note and write down which gift they bought. That’s gone too far. I understand making things efficient, but you’ve taken the sentiment right out of it.”

Post similarly advised against demanding only cash gifts or one certain type of gift. And although you might make a gift registry with desired items, don’t be offended if a guest gives something else.

“It’s a checklist, not a wish list,” Post said. “Remember that when parties are held in our honor, the best thing we can do is be grateful and connect with these people in our lives. Don’t forget to participate and focus on connection over gifts. That’s how we make sure we’re being good hosts and good honorees.”


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