How to plan a baby shower
Expert and inside advice on throwing a baby shower in pregnancy, including fun games to play, how to cater the event, decorating and budgeting for your shower, plus proper baby shower gift etiquette...
Baby showers are an American tradition where the mum-to-be is literally ‘showered’ with gifts for her unborn baby – and they’re now growing in popularity in the UK.
While the interest in baby showers has increased here over the last few years, it's with our own British twist, believes Alexandra Atkins, from The Ultimate Baby Shower.
“The baby shower tradition we prefer to uphold is rather more British – a gathering of close family and friends to celebrate the mum before her baby, nappies and sleep deprivation arrive,” says Alexandra.
“It’s about getting a support network together that new mum can turn to when baby has arrived. Plenty of advice and giggles amongst tea and cake create the perfect baby shower.”
Here, we’ll talk you through sending out invites, decorating your shower, sorting the food, the best baby shower games and how to do a budget baby shower…
Can I throw myself a baby shower?
If you want to, absolutely! It’s the perfect excuse to get your loved ones together for a little party.
“A baby shower is traditionally a gathering of the new parent’s close friends and family to celebrate the impending arrival of baby,” says Alexandra.
“It can be a massive help towards the huge costs of a newborn as baby shower guests usually come armed with array of baby gifts,” she adds.
We know a lot of mums-to-be worry about throwing themselves a shower, as it might come across like you’re expecting presents.
“I don’t have any plans to arrange one myself but would be nice to have one," admitted pregnant Abi M. "I don’t feel comfortable to arrange for myself as feel like it’s just asking for gifts. Would like just a girly afternoon with all the people who will support us through this journey to celebrate my baby, though.”
If that's all that's putting you off, you can make it absolutely clear to guests that you simply want to spend time with family and friends.
When's the best time to throw a baby shower in pregnancy?
“The ideal time to have your baby shower or host one for a friend or family member is around the 7th or 8th month of the pregnancy,” says Leena, from The Baby Shower Host.
“Although don’t leave it too late, as it won’t give you much time to organise any gifts, plus the excitement could bring on the labour!”
Make sure you’ve planned around other family gatherings and major holidays, too – as your nearest and dearest may be busy...
You may also want to take a temperature reading, as it were, to see if it's the right time in everyone's lives to have such a celebration.
“I did want to have a baby shower but due to our work and family circumstances, I’m not sure it’s appropriate," Ann-Marie L told us, sadly. “We need to play everything by ear.
"My friend asked me yesterday if I was having a baby shower, and it felt really sad because I want a baby shower, I would love for my mum to throw me a baby shower like I did for my sister."
Can you have a baby shower for your 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th baby?
Of course you can. It's normal to want to celebrate every baby you have, and it's a lovely reason to get everyone together.
Charlotte F is actually having 2 for baby no 5! “I’ve never had one before so think it would be lovely to this time round, especially as this baby is likely to be our last.
"The girls at work are keen to throw me a baby shower too and have arranged one in July. It will be a girly get together with games and food.
"I’m also considering having a 2nd baby shower with family and friends outside of work, which can include my 4 daughters, as it would be nice to involve them too, hoping to do this mid-August.”
However, it's totally up to you. Amelia O decided, in the end, that she didn't fancy one for her 2nd child:
"I had one for Harrison which was a nice surprise - my husband and best friend organised for me. I don't like to plan parties or out myself in the centre of attention but enjoyed my shower in the previous pregnancy.
"I do feel that a baby shower seems to be something more done for your 1st baby as everyone is excited for you having your first. After that, people are a little less fussed.
"It's nice when you get useful gifts like nappies though. Ha!”
How do you let people know you're having a baby shower?
With a good old-fashioned paper invite, says Alexandra. “It’s good to make an effort with your invitations so your guests will be excited about attending.”
And, as far as the guest list goes, you'll probably want no more than 10 to 15 people there to keep it stress-free and personal.
Make sure to include:
- date and time
- location address
- if there’s a dress code
- an idea of the event (afternoon tea? Games? Something a bit fancier?)
- a request for an RVSP
- a request to be notified of any dietary requirements (that you’re not already aware of).
If a paper invite might get lost in translation for tech-savvy friends, you can always start a WhatsApp group, or send out emails, too.
How do I politely ask for/refuse baby shower gifts? Baby Shower invite wording…
As we mentioned earlier, we know some of our mums-to-be can feel a tad uncomfortable throwing themselves a shower – for fear it looks like asking friends and relatives to buy you presents for your new baby.
Worry not, as it’s very likely your loved ones WANT to buy you a gift, and a shower is a lovely place to do that.
If you would like to request specific things (that you need, or geared towards your baby’s sex) – you can register, or create an Amazon wishlist.
“In Britain most of us are still shy when it comes to gifts,” says Alexandra. “A gift list for guests is a great idea because parents-to-be really do know what they’d like for their baby and it makes it much easier to know the gifts received won’t be wasted."
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There are lovely tokens and gifts available for most price points, too – our baby shower gift guide ranges from £10 to £150 – so you don’t have to fill it with expensive items.
If you know your family and friends won’t be offended, there’s no harm in putting it on your invite – but know your audience ?
Conversely, if you want to make sure no-one feels obliged to bring a gift, you can point this out on your invite. We saw the phrase ‘we ask only for your presence, don't worry about presents’ online and thought it was quite a nice side-step ?
How do you choose a baby shower theme?
How do you make a baby shower look like a shower, rather than a party? It’s all about the baby-orientated decorations, says Alexandra.
“The room would be baby-fied, but preferably in an elegant manner with a few banners, table centrepieces, baby-themed cookie bouquets and some suitable tableware."
“Many like to put a personal stamp on their shower and have a theme,” says Leena. "If you know what sex your baby is, you might want a pink or blue theme, or even go all out and have it as your favourite film or fancy dress!”
MFM mum Claire H, above, was expecting a girl, so chose a pink theme, with a 'baby girl' banner, a pink and white floral wreath - and a creative ferris wheel which spun around to reveal pick'n'mix sweets.
Or if you want to amp up the drama at your shower, why not try something a little bit different and join the new American craze by throwing a gender reveal party.
If bouquets and tableware sounds a bit much, stick to the basics: appropriately-coloured balloons (pale blue, pale pink or silver is always a good shout) to scatter around, a banner or some bunting as a focal point in the room, and a cake. Job done!
How do I find baby shower decorations?
Baby shower decorations – like balloons, bunting and baby banners - are available on pretty much every party shop’s official website.
How do I sort catering for my baby shower?
What you offer will depend on how many people you're inviting, the time of day and where you're holding the shower.
Tea parties are always popular as they're fairly simple to organise, suitable for all ages and you don't have to provide alcohol. They're purse-friendly and easy to put together, using items from your nearest supermarket.
Luckily, baby showers are all about finger food and nibbles: xLisilx from our forum put on a marvellous spread of scones, cupcakes, crisps, sandwiches and quiche... see above!
Alternatively, it’s fine to ask each guest to bring a contribution, or ask family members to help out so you don't end up doing it all – especially in lieu of a gift. Just make sure whoever's cooking knows what's safe for pregnant women to eat – and are aware of any dietary requirements.
This worked for MrsHobbes's friend "We each brought something to eat/drink and [the mum-to-be's] best friend had lots of games to play. It was a really relaxed afternoon which she enjoyed immensely."
Where can I buy a baby shower-themed cake?
Often, the cake brings the WOW factor at a baby shower – because who doesn’t love cake?
The cakes we’ve picked cost anything from £35 to over £100, depending on the simplicity, design, size and how bespoke you’d like it to be. Check out our top pick of baby shower cakes here
Give yourself a good week before the shower to look at ordering your cake, too, as often cakes bought online or personalised in shops take a few days to be made and then delivered.
You don't have to pay for a massive cake, BTW. Cupcakes work just as well. We have to show you Claire H's cupcakes, too (above) - they were specially made to feature an image of her daughter Bella's baby scan.
The 23 best baby shower game ideas
Party games are just as important as cake, gifts and catching up at a baby shower. Alexandra reckons a couple will do for party entertainment:
“There should ideally be a few baby shower games - but not too many - because the guests will like the chance to have a good chat too.”
Here are 23 of our mum-approved baby shower games to try:
- Guess The Baby’s Sex! Why not have your guests place their bets on boy or girl, and follow up with a gender reveal as the shower draws to a close?
- Guess The Due Date/Birth Weight! “You can also guess when the baby arrives, or birth weight, and the person with the nearest guess wins a bottle of bubbly post-birth!” suggests Leena. Could also be a sweepstakes - £1 or 50p entry.
- Combine all three. “My Mum bought a photo mount and everyone wrote their guess of gender/date/weight on it. The closest one won a bottle of bubbly,” says rusty on our forum.
- Pin The Sperm On The Egg. Just like the old-fashioned game of pin the tail on the donkey, this updated baby shower version will give everyone a giggle. Blindfolds, please! We loveeeee Instagrammer @jen_nahhh88's homemade interpretation, above.
- Guess The Baby Food! Why not buy a few jars of baby food, remove the labels and get guests to guess the flavour... whoever's first to guess wins a prize! This one's a bit riskier - but it's bound to raise a few laughs and will make your shower one to remember.
- Baby Art! Get everyone into groups and have baby magazines to hand. The groups need to cut out pieces of different baby images from the mag and put together a picture of what they think the mum-to-be’s future baby will look like. The best one is picked by the mum-to-be and wins a prize.
- Pin The Bun In The Oven. Use a large photo of the mum-to-be's bump and get your blindfolded guests to pin the cake/bun on the belly button... hot-cross buns would be perfect for a springtime shower.
- The Ribbon Game. Have each guest pull a piece of ribbon. to the size they believe would fit perfectly around the mum-to-be’s tummy. After everyone cuts their ribbon, compare the results to the actual tummy. Closest guest wins.“You need the mum to be to not have a problem with her size though lol,” adds CJmumdrum on our forum. You can also use toilet roll for this – as one of our MFMers did. Check out out in action on @baybeetea's Insta...
- Pram Piñata! For £6.99, you can buy a buggy-shaped piñata from Party Pieces. Add in some sweets and let guests give it a whack – blindfolded of course.
- Don’t Say Baby! Give each guest a pin and ask them not to say the word ‘baby’ until the cake comes out. If someone slips up mid-shower, another guest can take their pin. Whoever has the most pins by the cake reveal wins a prize.
- Family Fortunes. One American mum on our forum revealed she’ll be playing a classic game of Family Feud (which is exactly the same as Family Fortunes). Ask your guests to form 2 teams, and ask them to reveal the most popular answers to your questions – highest no of points wins. (This is a bit complex: so here are the rules.)
- Baby-Themed Quiz. One of our MFM team’s family celebrates major events with a quiz. Get a small bag of prizes, dream up some pregnancy/baby-themed questions, team up your guests, and off you go.
- Who’s Who? Ask friends and family to send you a picture of themselves as a baby. At the shower, hand each guest a sheet of all the pics and ask them to guess who is in each one. Person with the most right answers wins a prize.
- The Price Is Right. Get the RRP for a bunch of big and small baby items like buggies, car seats and cots, etc. Show guests images and ask them to guess the closest price. Each right answer gets a small prize!
- He/She Said. Get the dad-to-be in on the fun by asking him to answer some questions pre-shower. Make sure the mum-to-be answers all the same ones. At the shower, reveal an answer to your guests – and ask them to guess who said it: mum or dad?
- Baby Animals. Get guests to match pictures of animal babies with their names. Might seem easy, but we reckon you can find some niche answers… for example, did you know a baby raccoon is called a ‘kit’, or a baby hog is called a ‘shoat’?
- Sock Race! See which guest can ball pairs of baby socks in the fastest time. The overall fastest guest gets a prize (and a job doing laundry [laugh emoji]
- Fill In The Gaps. Nursery rhymes might seem easy – but try remembering all of them. Play the start of a nursery rhyme and ask guests to fill in thet next few lines. Tally up the scores to see who won.
- Guess The Chocolate Brand. One of our mums, MissusS, has a game for those who aren’t faint of heart. “It’s disposable nappies filled with mushed up chocolate – guests guess the brand of chocolate, can taste if you dare…”
Who Knows Mummy Best? Another quiz - but this time full of questions about the mum-to-be. Claire H had this at her shower, using a printable sheet she found online. Genius, and so easy to sort.
- Make A Baby… With Play-Doh. Party guests will be given a small tub of Play-Doh and asked to make a baby from it. The mum-to-be will pick her fave attempt, and the guest wins a prize. Don’t worry, Play-Doh’s cheap at £5 for 10 pots from Hobbycraft…
- Who Knows Mummy Best? Another quiz - but this time full of questions about the mum-to-be. Claire H had this at her shower, using a printable sheet she found online. Genius, and so easy to sort.
- Blindfolded Nappy Change. “Put a nappy on a doll blindfolded – best attempt wins!”
- Pass The Dummy. “Each person has a drinking straw in their mouth and you have to pass a dummy (with holes or handle!) from person to person,” explains feelingsad on our forum.
- Baby Word Anagrams. Challenge guests to come up with anagrams from baby-associated words. You could also do things Countdown-style, and ask them to create the longest word possible from words like ‘pregnancy’ and ‘pushchair’.
What makes a good baby shower game prize?
Don’t stress about this bit: a box of sweets, a bottle of bubbly, or a little token like a small smelly will suffice here.
If you don’t want to shell out on prizes, you can always have a sweepstake instead – and the winner takes the money ?
What to wear to a baby shower?
For the mum-to-be, anything you're comfortable in is more than fine. It's your shower, you can wear what you want to ?
That said, you're the star of the event, and since you're celebrating your baby, you may want to pick out a nice, comfortable dress that makes the most of your bump.
For guests, something casual and comfy (for games and eating!) is good, but not too casual. Look nice, but don't overdo it with a wedding or christening-style outfit. Don't feel like you've got to wear heels, a nice pair of flats will do just as well.
Unless there's a dress code. Unlikely, but if there is, follow it and you'll be absolutely fine. Remember: all eyes will be on the mother-to-be, anyway.
How much will throwing a baby shower cost overall?
Baby shower costs do add up. A few of our MFM mums shared that their baby showers totalled around £200.
However, you can throw one for even less if you:
- print out invites from online
- use minimal decorations
- keep your guest list low
- play games that don’t require expensive prizes
- ask everyone to chip in with food, or make/buy nibbles you know what cost much
- got a baker in the family? Ask for a cake, instead of a gift
- serve food on your existing china, or pick up paper plates/platters at the pound shop.
“There are many ways to cut costs when throwing a baby shower. It needn’t cost much at all,” says Alexandra.
“You can buy a couple of banners, and do the rest yourself. It’s easy enough to print out invitations, add a little decoration and send them off.”
Can my partner/the dad come to the baby shower?
If it’s your shower, it’s up to you! It’s completely in-line with tradition that at some point during the baby shower, the dad-to-be will drop by and say hello to everyone.
If it’s a friend’s shower, you’ll likely know whether or not the mum-to-be wants the day to be all about her and her girlfriends, or if she’ll want her partner to come and join the fun at some point.
If you’re not sure, you can always ask her – or ask the dad-to-be if he’d like to pop his head in!
Share your baby shower tips!
Got any more fab pics, games or cot-cutting tips we should know about? We'd love to hear all about your baby shower in the comments below...
Images: Getty Images, Instagrams linked
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