What Not to Do When Hosting or Attending a Baby Shower
Whether you're a first-time baby shower host throwing a party to celebrate your future niece or nephew or an experienced guest whose friends are moving into the new-parent phase, nailing the correct baby shower etiquette is easy—if you follow this quick primer from etiquette author Myka Meier, who runs an online finishing course through Beaumont Etiquette.
Don't ask the new parents to contribute.
The parents-to-be will host plenty of parties for their child, but the baby shower isn't up to them. "The parent-to-be is the guest of honor and should not be responsible for any financial contribution to the party in any way if it's being hosted by friends or family," says Meier. "If you are choosing to host a shower for someone else, stay within your budget and, aside from asking if there is a registry and who the parents want to invite, there should not be any work asked of the new parents."
Don't forget to vary the menu.
While offering a variety of food and drink—including vegetarian, gluten-free, and non-alcoholic options—is standard etiquette for most events, consider pregnancy diet guidelines, too. "There is an old saying that pregnant people flock together, so it's likely there will be a need at a shower to cater to pregnancy diets," says Meier. "Be sure to research ahead what pregnant guests can and cannot eat when planning your menu. Smoked salmon blinis and soft unpasteurized cheeses with cold cuts on a charcuterie board—with mimosas—may sound delicious to a regular party goer, but the pregnant person may be left hungry!"
Don't expect every gift to come from the registry.
The expectant parents may have their own requests for big-ticket baby items, like strollers and cribs, and favorite colors or nursery themes, but etiquette doesn't require guests to buy only from the list. "A registry is simply a guide of items the parent or parents need for their impending arrival," says Meier. Choose the lightweight swaddling blankets your own baby loved, a favorite children's book, or a handmade piece of artwork for the baby's room. "While some guests choose to buy an item from the registry for the baby, others choose to pamper the parent-to-be, with for example, a facial or gift certificate to the spa, instead," says Meier.
Don't get offended if the gifts aren't opened at the shower.
While traditional baby showers include the parents opening a stack of presents in front of all the guests, that's not a requirement; the host may choose to extend the meal or offer more time for socializing, instead. "It's up to the host to decide what events—from games to cake or gift opening—will take place at the party," says Meier. "I recommend the host ask if the parent-to-be would like to open gifts at the party or not, as they likely have a preference."
Don't forget to speak thoughtfully.
You may have only the best intentions when commenting on an expecting mother's belly or questioning the details of a surrogacy, but some thoughts are better left unsaid (even if you're the future grandmother). "Be cautious about what you say to the parent-to-be—commenting on how 'big' they have become or saying, 'You look like you're having twins!' when they are not can be hurtful," says Meier. "If someone went through IVF or is using a surrogate or adopting, avoid asking too many personal questions—like, 'Do you mind if I ask why you chose to use a surrogate?' or, 'How much does that cost?'—which may be seen as prying and can be uncomfortable, and instead let them tell you what they want to about their process." A baby shower is also not the time to trade tales of high-risk, emergency C-sections, or delve into the scariest parts of labor and delivery. "Avoid telling pregnancy or childbirth horror stories," says Meier. "Sure, many people may have them, but it's not the time to share them! Focus on positive conversation topics to help mentally prepare the parent-to-be get excited."