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Q & A: Baby shower etiquette

Although baby showers are a common occurrence, you may find yourself mystified about the etiquette for attending or throwing one of these celebrations. If so, you’re not alone, many people are unclear about the general do’s and don’ts for hosting showers, giving gifts, inviting guests, and many other issues of concern.

Baby Shower Q & A


To demystify some of these matters, we gathered the advice of two party planning experts: Desiree Spinner, founder and event planner at Desiree Spinner Events, and Melissa Phillips, founder of the premier event planning firm, Simply Perfect by Melissa.

Q: Who should plan and host the baby shower?

A: “Unlike wedding showers, there is not really a rule as to who should host or who should not,” says Phillips. “Obviously, the bride or her significant other should not host their own shower, but parents, siblings, or friends are all great hosts.”

Q: When is the ideal time to schedule the baby shower?

A: “We tell our clients six to seven months is the best time because the mother is beginning to ‘nest’ or get ready for the baby,” says Spinner. “Also, most moms tend to feel the most comfortable with their growing bellies around this stage. During the eighth and ninth month of pregnancy, it can be very uncomfortable to sit in one spot opening gifts for an hour or two.”

Q: Should a shower be given to a mom having her second or third child?

A: “Sure! If the mom is having a second or third baby of a different gender or has a large age gap between children, then we throw what is called a ‘sprinkle.’ A sprinkle is a light shower or intimate party for the mom-to-be with a few friends and family to help stock up on some opposite gender clothing or new products that the mom-to-be may not know about,” explains Spinner.

Q: Should the father-to-be attend the shower?

A: “Having the father-to-be present is a nice touch as he too will be part of the baby’s life, but it is not essential. It would definitely be nice if he would come at the end to help pack up all of the great gifts into a car to relieve that duty from any of the ladies,” explains Phillips.

Q: What is appropriate attire for a baby shower?

A: “The attire should be the same for a baby shower as for a bridal shower or engagement party. Women should wear a dress skirt or dress pants with an appropriate blouse. Men should wear a polo or button-down shirt with khaki pants or shorts,” says Spinner.

Q: Are there guidelines for how much someone should spend on a shower gift?

A: “The amount you spend is completely dependent on your own budget. Big or small, expensive or inexpensive, it is the thought that counts. Some of the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts may be inexpensive monetarily, but have a huge sentimental value,” says Phillips.

Q: What are appropriate gifts to give at a baby shower?

A: “Normally I would say that purchasing something on the registry is important because it’s something the mom-to-be has requested. If you want to personalize it a little, you can purchase something smaller on the registry as well as another item that you used or liked for your own children as an alternative,” says Spinner. “Attach a note to the gift explaining why it was included for a personal touch. For example, at a recent shower I purchased bath towels and a robe from the registry, but also purchased bath products and a book. I attached a note that said, ‘My favorite time with my son when he was a baby was bath time when we would settle in with a book. The smell of the soap will always remind me of a newborn baby and the excitement of becoming a mom for the first time.'”

Q: What do you give a mom having her second or third child?

A: “Baby supplies tend to get a bit beaten with each child, so fresh staple items are always nice: onesies, burp clothes, bibs, sleepers, and clothes in general. She may even need some new, larger equipment like a stroller that seats two children versus one. If she does not register, this is when asking her what she may be able to use would be completely appropriate,” explains Phillips.

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