Shower Etiquette for Expectant Moms
In a perfect world, you would get to call all the shots in the planning phase of your baby shower, without actually having to do any of the work. After all, the guest of honor shouldn't have to do more than show up at the party with a smile. But if you're not involved at all, the planners might not realize that you cringe at the idea of shower games or that you get too tired these days to withstand a four-hour shower. It's your prerogative to weigh in on shower timing. This party is all about you, so it should be no shorter and no longer than makes you comfortable.
In most cases, between two and three hours is the right length for a baby shower. That gives you plenty of time to talk with all guests, enjoy some food, maybe do a few activities and open presents. Showers tend to drag if they last longer than three hours. Both you and the guests will likely start to get tired or antsy around the three-hour point.
Erring on the shorter side of that timeline is reasonable if you're requesting that guests bring their gifts unwrapped. This trend is gaining popularity with eco-conscious moms who don't like the idea of wasting wrapping paper. It's also a great option for moms who feel uncomfortable about the idea of being the center of attention for 30 or 45 minutes of gift opening. If the organizer does ask guests to bring their gifts unwrapped, you can eliminate that activity from the itinerary and just spend two hours chatting and eating.
Baby showers typically aren't open-ended affairs. The host should include both a start and end time on the invitation. That way guests can make childcare arrangements and other plans for the day.
Baby Shower Etiquette
Traditionally, baby showers were organized by friends of the mother or by close-but-not-immediate family members, such as the cousins or aunts of the mom- or dad-to-be. Etiquette prevented the guest of honor's mother or sister from hosting because it could be seen as self-serving. But today, it's perfectly acceptable for any person close to you to throw you a shower, even if it's your mom.
Showers are generally scheduled during the third trimester. If you're having a normal, healthy pregnancy, you may prefer to hold off on having a shower until you're four to six weeks out from your due date. If you're carrying multiples or having any complications, you may prefer to have your shower(s) earlier in case you go into labor early or are put on bedrest. And if you prefer to wait to have a shower until after the baby is born, you can do that, too.
If you're lucky, multiple people in your life will want to throw you a shower. Maybe you'll have one for coworkers, one for your partner's side of the family and one for your side of the family. Just make sure no two showers are scheduled for the same day, because you may be exhausted from the emotion and effort of each. It's common for the people closest to you, like your mom and your partner's mom, to be invited to multiple showers. Other guests should be invited to just one. You can use all the diapers and gift cards you can get, but Aunt Kathy and your book club friends shouldn't have to supply them all.
Kathryn Walsh has more than 20 years of experience working with children and has been writing about children and parenting topics for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared on sites including TheBump, Working Mother and Mamapedia.