– Ask Cheryl – Coronavirus Concerns Cause Baby Shower Guest List Disagreement

Is hosting a baby shower creating some tension between you and the mommy-to-be, especially when it comes to planning the guest list? After inviting the obligatory family members, there may only be room for a few friends or coworkers. But who gets the final say on the guest list? And what about social distancing and possible social gathering restrictions?


Hi Cheryl,

My son’s “girlfriend” is having a baby boy. It’s his first child. Most of his girlfriend’s family live out of state. SO…I offered to host a baby shower for her due to this and other complicated family issues.

I had to consider safety precautions due to the coronavirus restrictions here in Virginia. The baby shower was to be held outside so I purchased a tent, along with disinfectant sprays, wipes, & gloves.

The disaster begins with the guest list. With the family members to invite, the guest list was already near 20. I also offered to invite some of her girlfriends. My son’s girlfriend gave me a list of 16 friends to invite. I was floored as these friends/co-workers were another shower within itself. When I considered the number of tables and chairs needed with everyone seated 6’ apart and the costs, I had to let her know I cannot accommodate that many. I offered her to invite 4 to 6 as that is what I felt I could accommodate with the current coronavirus guidelines.

The end result was that my son & his girlfriend now tell me they don’t want a baby shower. They know I have already invested a lot of time and money over the past 2 months on this shower. They are now using the coronavirus as their excuse. I believe it is really all about not wanting to invite the 16 friends. I feel both my son & his girlfriend are ungrateful and have no consideration or respect for my gesture of giving them an outside baby shower. Any feedback as I am in shock!



Baby Shower Guest List Disagreement

Hi Anastasia,

It can be very distressing when a joyful event turns into a stressful or divisive situation.

It seems like the issue may have started with unmet expectations, which is a common problem. When we communicate with someone else, we think we understand each other, but we are actually thinking two different things. In the initial planning, did you explain that you were planning a family shower? You wanted to invite four to six of her friends, but did you clearly relate that number? Also, to some, a baby shower of 20 people is a perfect number (and I agree with you on that), but I’ve noticed that many think that a larger shower of 30 or more is the way to go.

From an etiquette point of view, the host of the shower decides how many can be accommodated based upon where it is being held and the host’s budget. All of your concerns are warranted even before this time of limited gatherings and social distancing, but during this pandemic she should understand your desire to keep the gathering limited in number.

While I agree that your son’s girlfriend should have been grateful and accepted your wishes, it’s also natural that she would want to include her friends.

Even though you are correct from an etiquette standpoint, the important thing here is to preserve your relationship with your son and the mother of your grandson. I’m afraid you have no alternative but to accept their choice not to have a shower (as disappointing as it is), or possibly offer to invite more of her friends as another option.

I always recommend that the best course of action is to sit down together and discuss the issue. Since that may not be possible, a FaceTime or Zoom call would be best. In a calm and loving way, discuss the limits that make you comfortable — both budgetary and social distancing. Carefully listen to their point of view. It would be nice if she would respect your wishes, but it looks like you will have to compromise.

Another consideration is that everyone reacts differently to this pandemic and its restrictions. While it seems that they decided against a baby shower due to not being able to invite all of her friends, it may also be that they had a change of heart. From anxiety to social shaming, there could be many reasons for their reversal.

Some other options that might make them comfortable are either a Virtual Baby Shower or a Drive by Shower. These are also more economical. We have some recommendations and tips here on our blog.

I’m sure your heart is in the right place, but above all, don’t let this ruin your relationships. Forgive and move forward. I’m sure you want to be an important part of your grandson’s life.

If you have questions or comments about gift giving or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling and grammar, or to remove sensitive information, however, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations and more.


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