From deciding who hosts to sharing your registry with guests, here's what you need to know about this joyous occasion.

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mom to be holding baby onesie
Credit: Getty / RyanJLane

You've made all the phone calls and finally shared—all over social media—that you are expecting. After the steady flow of well wishes, likes, and loving comments, one question remains on your loved ones' minds: "When is the baby shower?" You, however, likely have many more queries on the topic, most of which pertain to the etiquette behind the event. Who should host? Should you even throw a shower in the context of the pandemic? Who should you invite, and how should you go about inviting them? To help you navigate the ins and outs of this joyful celebration, we tapped two experts. Ahead, your most-pressing baby shower etiquette questions, answered.

How should you time the event?

Arguably one of the most pressing decisions to make? Determining your baby shower's timeline. According to Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and the founder of The Protocol School of Texas, "the event traditionally occurs at the sixth or seventh month mark." With this in mind, be sure to time invitations accordingly; whether you opt for a paper or virtual suite, invites should be sent out four to six weeks in advance of the event, shares Gottsman.

Are paper invitations better?

According to Myka Meier, the founder of Beaumont Etiquette, paper invitations quickly become cherished mementos—and they often help an occasion feel more monumental. "Some wish to later frame or keep them as keepsakes," she shares. "Others love the tangible, traditional, and more formal elements of celebrating such a special and momentous occasion."

How should you share your registry information?

While Gottsman advises keeping baby registry information off the main invitation card, there are ways to convey this key piece of information on your paper goods. If you're hosting an informal gathering, placing the website in a discrete corner is perfectly acceptable, she shares. For a more traditional affair, opt for a details card. Or, consider taking the virtual route entirely. "An invitation sent by email makes it easier for guests to order gifts," Gottsman affirms. "But think of your guests and their comfort level—and then make the decision on where you place this information. Making it easy to understand is always best!"

Who hosts a baby shower?

While tradition states that immediate family members shouldn't host, Gottsman says that these days, anything goes. "Generally, close family members should not host the shower—but these are unprecedented times and a family who wants their loved one to enjoy a baby shower may break tradition and hold a virtual one, for example, on their own," she shares. "Or, make a discreet suggestion to the mom-to-be's close friends."

Can you host a shower in a pandemic?

While it is possible to host a baby shower during the pandemic, ensuring your personal safety—as well as the health of your loved ones—is paramount. "A very small gathering of immediate family in your pod, or a virtual baby shower, is most appropriate," says Gottsman, who advises hosting this party online. "Subjecting the mom-to-be, family members, and friends to potential health risks is reason enough to celebrate virtually." If you do opt for a small in-person gathering with your pod, "make sure to incorporate social distancing, masks, and plenty of hand sanitizer," she continues, adding that proper hand-washing stations and good ventilation are critical. And if time allows, consider waiting for warmer weather so you can gather outdoors.

As for who ensures all guidelines are carried out? It's the job of the host, continues Gottsman, to prepare any and all attendees for the socially-distanced affair. She recommends including all relevant health information on a separate card in your invitation suite, with verbiage like, "We respect your health and every effort will be made to keep the shower both festive and pandemic conscious. We will understand if you choose not to join us, but certainly hope to see you on the date."

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