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How to Plan a Baby Shower

Your ultimate baby shower checklist

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
toy story baby shower

A baby shower is a celebration of parents-to-be and their new child. Baby showers are a great time to gather with those closest to you before your baby arrives and inevitably dominates your schedule for the next several months. It’s also a good time to check some must-haves off your baby registry, play some games and eat some cake. Whether you’re planning a shower for yourself or for a loved one, we’ve put together a clear timeline to make party planning simpler.

Answers to common baby shower questions

Who should throw a baby shower?
Often, a close friend or family member will host the baby shower in honor of the mom-to-be. However, it's not uncommon for the expecting parent, or couple, to host the event themselves.
When do you have a baby shower?
A baby shower usually takes place in the third trimester of pregnancy — about four to six weeks before the baby's expected arrival.
What do you do at a baby shower?
Usually, baby showers are an opportunity to celebrate the new mom and the baby-to-be. The honoree opens gifts, and everyone eats and plays a few games before heading home. Common activities include games like blind taste tests of baby foods and matching baby photos to guests. What you do at a baby shower is totally up to the host and parents, though. You can go traditional or create your own type of event — it’s your day.
Who do you invite to a baby shower?
Typically, people invite close friends and family members to baby showers. If you’re hosting on behalf of a mom-to-be, always consult her on the final guest list before sending invitations. Traditionally, baby showers have been a woman-led event, but baby showers open to everyone are becoming more common.
When do you send baby shower invites?
We recommend you send your baby shower invites at least four weeks in advance. This gives your guests ample time to save the date and shop for a gift.
What do you serve at a baby shower?
Light fare is typical at baby showers — think finger sandwiches and other hors d'oeuvres.
Do you have to have party favors at a baby shower?
There’s no rule that you must have party favors at a baby shower, but they are standard. You don’t need to go all out: Small guest gifts like candles, succulents, bath and body products, seed packets or mini champagne bottles are common.
Can you have a baby shower for a second baby?
Of course. The idea that you should only have a baby shower for your first baby has gone by the wayside in recent years. You’re more than welcome to have a baby shower for your second or third — or sixth — baby if you want. Every baby deserves to be celebrated, and baby showers are a way for friends and family to gather to support their loved one. That support shouldn’t be exclusive to the event of someone’s first child.

Baby shower checklist

To plan the perfect baby shower, you must juggle a handful of tasks. We’ve made it easy for you by laying out everything you need to do on the timeline below.

A couple of months before

  • Determine who hosts: A baby shower might be hosted by a close friend, a family member or the mom-to-be. Deciding who's hosting is the first big decision you need to make.
  • Set a budget: A typical baby shower costs between $100 and $1,000. There’s no reason you have to break the bank on a baby shower, though — you can go as fancy or as low-key as you’d like. Setting a budget helps guide you through the rest of the planning process. Remember to set a budget aside for the venue (if hosting off-site), cake, catering or store-bought food, decorations and party favors.
  • Pick a date and time: Most baby showers are held four to six weeks before the baby’s due date.
  • Choose a location and make a reservation: If you have your eye on a particular venue, book it early. Hosting the event at an off-site location increases your expenses, so consider hosting it at home, in the backyard or at a free or low-cost community center if you’re trying to keep costs down.
  • Make a guest list: If you’re hosting on behalf of someone else, work with the mom-to-be to nail down a final guest list.

Six weeks before

  • Choose a theme: You'll want to have a theme or color palette in mind before you go shopping for decorations, so now's a good time to figure that out. A theme can be as simple as “rustic” or “modern” or can be more specific (like theming the party after the mom’s favorite animated children’s film or book).
  • Send out invitations: We recommend you send invitations out four to six weeks before the party. You want to make sure people know early so they can clear the calendars for the big day.
  • Plan the menu: You can choose to work with a caterer or plan the menu yourself. Baby shower food is usually simple — think appetizers, not a four-course meal.
  • Make a shopping list: Now that you’ve decided the theme and planned the menu, it’s a good time to start your shopping list. If you’re not using a caterer, who's responsible for getting the food (and making it)? What decorations do you need? Making a list early lets you do some online shopping if you wish, which might open you up to some good deals.
  • Rent tables, chairs and any extras you might need: Depending on how large your guest list is, you might need to rent some tables and chairs for the event. Now is a good time to lock those down. Don’t forget about tablecloths, place settings and anything else you might need that a party rental company can provide.

A month before

  • Plan party games and activities: Now for the fun stuff. Take some time to plan out some games for the big event. If you want your guests to bring anything — like baby photos of themselves — now's a good time to share that information with them so they can start searching for the perfect item.
  • Go shopping for decorations and favors: You don’t want to leave the bulk of the shopping until the last minute. Start now to make sure you can get everything in time for the big day.
  • Order cake, balloons and flowers: Unless you have some serious baking skills, you probably want to work with a bakery to get a cake made for the event. Shop around for the perfect place and put in the order now. The same goes for flowers, especially if you want a professional arrangement or custom work.
  • Enlist volunteers: You might have been in it on your own until this point, but now's the time to ask for help and secure some volunteers. Who will take pictures? Do you need any help picking up supplies or setting up the space? Take advantage of your network and get some teamwork going.

Two weeks in advance

  • Confirm all reservations: A couple of weeks out is a good time to check in on any vendors and event spaces you have booked to reconfirm your reservations and make sure you’re set for the party day.

The week before

  • Follow up on RSVPs: Have a few friends slacking on responses to the invite? Follow up with them this week so you can get the right headcount for the party.
  • Prepare goody bags: If you’re putting together party favors for your guests, take some time this week to package them up so you don’t have to worry about it as party day approaches.
  • Clean up: if you’re hosting at your home, the week before is a good time to do a deep clean to get ready for guests.

A few days before

  • Finish grocery shopping: If you’re doing any of the cooking yourself, head to the store with your list and get any supplies you don’t yet have. A few days before should be close enough to party day to shop for perishables.
  • Start prepping food: Prepare any food that can be made in advance. You’ll be thankful you didn’t wait until the day before — or morning of.

The day before

  • Set up the party space: If you have the option, setting up the party space the day before makes the party day much less hectic.
  • Finish preparing food: It’s time to complete last-minute cooking and baking.
  • Do a quick clean: If the event is taking place at your home, do a final cleaning sweep to declutter.

Day of

  • Pick up the cake: Head to the bakery and party supply store to pick up the cake and any other last-minute items.
  • Head to the venue early: As a host, you should head to the venue a few hours before guests are scheduled to arrive to ensure everything is ready. Enlist some helpers so you’re not stuck setting up by yourself.
  • Prepare refreshments and set out food: Set out food for the party. Serving something hot or cold? Make sure it’s the right temperature when your guests arrive.
  • Help with thank-you notes: Designate someone to jot down who gave what gifts to make sure thank-you notes can be sent out quickly and easily after the party.
  • Enjoy your hard work: Breathe a sigh of relief. It’s party time, and you’ve done it all. Enjoy your hard work and don’t forget to take photos (or have someone else take them)!

Bottom line

A baby shower is a fun way to honor a mom-to-be in your life. Take the day to celebrate your loved one and the new bundle of joy about to enter the world. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to create a baby registry. A baby shower is a great time to collect a few items from that list — and don’t forget to ask for diapers in multiple sizes.

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Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.