Planning a Baby Shower
If you have an upcoming baby shower, or you’re planning one for someone else, here are some tips and ideas for a fun and memorable event!
Baby Shower Planning Basics
Date and Time
When? How soon before due date should you hold the baby shower? Baby showers are usually held about four to six weeks before the baby’s due date.
What day of the week should the baby shower be on? Baby showers are typically held on a Saturday or Sunday, and can be any time of the day, usually in the late morning through early afternoon, and often including lunch.
How long should a baby shower be? About 2 to 3 hours are good. Enough time to include lunch, time for mingling, games and activities, dessert/cake, and opening gifts, but not so long that it lingers on and one.
Where should you hold the baby shower? A baby shower should be held in a place where the guest-of-honor is comfortable and that can accommodate the amount of guests you’re inviting, as well as your budget. In addition to having enough space to hold everyone, consider how comfortable everyone will be, where they’ll sit, eat, play games, etc. What will the weather be like that time of year? Can you hold the event outdoors, indoors, a combination of both? How busy do you want to be? How much help will you have? Some options for your baby shower location include at home (your home, someone else’s home), at a restaurant, a banquet room or banquet hall, at the park, the beach, or some other creative location.
How many guests should you invite, and who should they be? This varies greatly. Is it a collective shower, or just family or work friends? Will she be having other showers with other groups of people? Can some people overlap (and be invited to more than one shower)? Is it a couples’ shower or a traditional one? As far as the guest list, you will need to get this from the guest of honor, who will also need to give you their addresses (or email addresses).
Once you have the when, where, and who figured out, you can start working on the details.
A great way to start is by choosing a theme. This will help tie everything together cohesively, provide a framework, and allow you to creatively infuse it in the details. The theme can be carried through the invitations, decorations, cake, and more! You may choose to involve the mom-to-be in determining the theme, or at least the general idea or inspiration for the theme. If the baby’s sex is known, this is often a good starting point for the theme and color scheme. If not, you may opt for something more neutral. Theme ideas can come from anywhere, such as favorite colors, hobbies, activities, movies, places, characters, books, seasons, and more. Here are some examples of baby shower themes: Mermaid; Tropical/Hawaiian/Luau; Under the Sea; Beach; Surf; Jungle; Ballerina; Garden; Tea Party; any Disney or other popular movie or character; Teddy Bears; a certain animal; a favorite sport or sports team; Trains; Boats; Cars; Pineapples; Sailing; Woodland; Airplanes; Sun, Moon, Sky; Space; Paris; Travel; Harry Potter; Winter Wonderland; Traditional Baby Shower theme with storks, baby bottles, safety pins, cutouts of babies, diapers, etc. (in boy, girl, or neutral colors); or a certain color or combination of colors.
Choose invitations that tie in with your theme, and set the tone for the special day. You can decide how formal you’d like your invitations to be, and if you’d like to send them out by mail or by email, and how you’d like people to RSVP.
Typically, baby shower invitations are sent out about 4 to 6 weeks before the baby shower. This allow enough time for anyone who might be coming from out of town to make arrangements.
What to include on the invitation: The basics, like who the shower’s for, the date and time of the shower, where it will be, address, phone number of host, RSVP information, including who to RSVP to and their phone number and/or email and when to RSVP by. Also, include registry information.
Tip: the mom (and dad) to be typically registers for gifts at the end of month four or beginning of month five).
Keep track as the RSVPs come in.
Next Planning Details
The Overall Itinerary
Decide what you would like to do at the baby shower, and a general schedule for when to do what. Again, typically a baby shower begins with mingling, with light snacks and beverages and maybe some sort of ice breaker activity. Soon, there’s often lunch and then activities, such as a toast/welcome or other nice words from the host/s and others, and baby shower games. Then, it’s usually cake and opening presents. Have this general itinerary in mind when you’re planning the rest of the event. You can fine tune it later, when you have a better idea of how many guests will be attending, what your menu is, what games and activities you will include, and so on.
This can be a lot of fun! Your theme will help you determine how to decorate. You can find ready made decorations, make your own, or use various items you have (and other friends have), or some combination of these. Decorations might include tablecloths and settings, centerpieces, wall décor, flowers, streamers, garland, lights, hanging fixtures, signs, posters, props, figurines, balloons, etc. Plan ahead and determine how many tables, chairs, plates, place settings, and so on, you will need. A lot of this will depend on your location. If you’re holding the shower at a restaurant a lot of this will be provided. If you’re holding it at home, there will be much more to set up.
The menu will depend on the time of day you’re holding your shower. Baby showers often include brunch or lunch. Again, your menu will depend on your location. At a restaurant, they may give you a choice of different entrees you can provide your guests. If the shower is at your home, you can be creative with your menu. Your theme can be a good starting point. Plan for snacks/appetizers, beverages, brunch/lunch, dessert and/or cake, and coffee. Baby showers typically include a cake, which can reflect the theme.
Most baby showers include some games, typically 3 to 5 different games, with prizes for the winners. The games usually begin about 30-45 minutes into the baby shower, and may include an icebreaker, which can actually begin as soon as guests arrive, and allows guests to get to know each other. Some examples include a scavenger hunt (where each guest gets a list of statements and has to find someone who fits that statement); and, “Don’t Say Baby” (where each guest gets a clothes pin, safety pin, necklace or some other visible item, and another guest may take that item away if they hear the person say the word “baby”). Other baby shower games include all kinds of paper/pencil games, like Baby Word Unscramble, Baby Bingo, and All About Mommy-to-Be (answering questions as you think she would and active games like guessing the baby items in a bag, guessing the baby food. Other games include Who’s That Baby (each guest brings a baby photo of herself; everyone has to guest who’s who), Baby Items in the Bag, Guess the Baby Food, Guess Mommy’s Measurements, Nursery Rhyme Trivia, Name that Baby Song, and many more. Game prizes might include candles, bath bombs, soaps, lotions, tea sets, manicure sets, gift certificates, small jewelry boxes, and so on.
Baby Shower Favors
It’s nice to send guests home with a little gift, which can reflect the theme of the baby shower. Some ideas for baby shower favors might include boxes, bags, or jars of candy or other edible items, key chains, small plants or succulents, flowers in vases, bath goods, cute cut-out sugar cookies, scented sachets, lip balms, figurines, charms, ornaments, mini wine or champagne bottles, picture frames, engraved items, and so on.
Setting the Stage
Prior to the baby shower, you will be busy receiving and recording RSVPs, and eventually finalizing your guest list. Once you have your final number, you can determine how many tables, chairs, and place settings you will need (if you’re having your event at home). You can also determine how much food to order or purchase and prepare, how many favors and game prizes you’ll need, and so on. How you stage your event will again depend on where you’re having it (at home, restaurant, etc.) the time of year, weather, etc., and the formality and theme of the event.
If you’re having a home event, you’ll need to make sure you have enough space, seating, tables, and chairs for your guests, as well as room for games and activities. Plan out the flow of the party – where guests will arrive and congregate, where they will eat, play games, and where gifts will be opened.
If you are having your baby shower at home, or somewhere similar (i.e., not at a restaurant), here are some things you may need to account for:
- Tables (for dining, serving food and drinks, for cake, for gifts, for other displays)
- Serving platters, trays and utensils
- Warming or cooling trays or devices
- Centerpieces and table décor
- Decorations, props, special touches
- Food and drinks
- Cakes and/or dessert
- Game prizes
- Shower favors
- Thank you cards for the mom-to-be to send after the shower
- Start planning the shower at least 8 to 12 weeks before due date
- Set date for shower (usually about 4 to 6 weeks before due date)
- With the mom-to-be, compile the guest list (and addresses)
- Determine location and time frame for shower (usually allowing for about 2 to 3 hours)
- Get and prepare invitations
- Send out invitations (usually about 4 to 6 weeks before the shower)
- Track RSVPs as they come in
- Once you have guest list totals, plan the menu (if at a restaurant or catered location, give them the guest total, determine menu details with them and the mom-to-be, and find out what you need to bring and do; if at a home or similar, plan the menu)
- Also, if the shower is at home, determine what items you will need, and arrange for any rentals you might need (i.e., extra tables, chairs, tablecloths, dishes, flatware, serving items, etc.), order any flowers, balloons, props, or other decorations; purchase shower favor and game gift items; choose and prepare games, activities, and music; place order/s for any food or beverages, cake, desserts, etc. that need to be ordered in advance
- Two weeks before shower: designate areas for various shower activities; develop a day-of shower timeline
- Week before shower: prepare music (play list), prepare games (make sure you have all the pieces, components, etc.), wrap game prizes
- A week to a few days before the shower: assemble/prepare shower favors; shop for food items; start preparing food (if possible); clean the house; have rentals delivered; decorate
- Day before shower: prepare any other food that can’t be prepared sooner; pick up/arrange flowers, balloons, cake (unless it’s being picked up on the day of the shower); finish decorating; put tablecloths on tables; set out any place settings that can be set out in advance
- Day of shower: make any last-minute pickups (such as cake, flowers, or ordered food) and decorating, set tables, set up games and activities, prepare music, set out food and drinks, greet guests, designate someone to take pictures, and others to do other tasks, let your timeline be your guide
Baby Shower Timeline Example:
- Guests arrive, serve drinks and light appetizers, ice breaker activity and mingling (about 30 minutes)
- Continue with Games and activities (about 15-30 minutes)
- Lunch (or brunch, or some other meal) (about 30 minutes)
- More games and activities (about 15-30 minutes)
- Cake/dessert (about 15 minutes) (guests can enjoy cake while gift opening begins)
- Open presents (about 30 minutes to the rest of the time of the shower)
- Give out favors as guests leave
Visit Kabana Kids’ Baby Shower Center for printable baby shower games (digital downloads), shower favor tags, baby shower gifts, and more!
Here are some great baby shower gift ideas!
- Lori Granieri