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Who Traditionally Throws A Baby Shower? Is It Okay For A Family Member To Host?

Baby showers became popular during the baby boom era of the 1950s as a way help new moms prepare. They are also a way for family and friends to celebrate the new arrival. Today, in addition to traditional baby showers, many are opting to host a “Sprinkle” (for encore babies) or a “Sip and See” (a celebration after the baby arrives). Over the past decades traditions and celebrations have evolved as have the etiquette rules regarding who hosts a baby shower.

Who Should Host a Baby Shower?

Formal etiquette says that a close family member of the parents-to-be should not host a baby shower. Instead, a close friend or more distant relative (such as a cousin or aunt) should throw the shower. Since a shower is a gift-giving event, this “rule” avoided the appearance the family simply wanted to collect gifts.

But times have changed. Like many traditions, this etiquette rule is now considered outdated. In fact, it’s now thought to be acceptable for a sister, mother-in-law, or even the guest of honor’s mother to host a baby shower under certain conditions. For example, if the mom-to-be lives away from her hometown, her mother or sister may want to host a shower so longtime friends can join the celebration.

Who Should NOT Host a Baby Shower?

In today’s standards, the only person who should never host the baby shower is the one having the baby.

Have baby shower or gift-giving etiquette questions? Email us at AskCheryl@RegistryFinder.com. We will respond to all questions and possibly feature your question on our blog or newsletter.

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6 Responses to Who Traditionally Throws A Baby Shower? Is It Okay For A Family Member To Host?

  1. Dallas September 3, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all
    your posts!

  2. Mattie January 23, 2017 at 3:34 am #

    Thanks for posting this info. It was really helpful and seems hard to find.

  3. Adele M Carcia May 16, 2018 at 9:15 pm #

    This is my son’s first child how ever his girl friend second child. She is having another girl. Being they are on a tight budget and she gave away what her first daughter grew out of. Is in wrong to do a Co-ed shower to celebrate. Not sure wear to mention in the baby shower invitations that she having a girl.

  4. Anastasia Fonger August 19, 2020 at 11:05 am #

    My sons “girlfriend” is having baby boy. It’s his first child. Most of her 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 10’x 30’ tent, along with $50.00 in disinfect sprays, wipes, & gloves.

    The disaster begins with the guest list. I planned an all female shower with my son present only to help in opening gifts. 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 a outside Baby shower. Any feedback as I am in shock!

    • Cheryl September 19, 2020 at 4:21 pm #

      Hi Anastasia,
      Thank you for your question. 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 communicate that you were planning a family shower? You wanted to graciously invite four to six of her friends, but did you communicate that number? Also, to some a baby shower of 20 people is a perfect number (and I agree with 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 choice but to accept their choice not to have a shower, or possibly offer to invite more of her friends or 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 point 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. All the best to you and your family!

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