The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Baby Shower

Ultimate Guide to Planning a Baby Shower.jpg

So you are helping to plan a baby shower, now where do you start? A baby shower is an exciting milestone, and you can easily take steps to ensure that you have a fun and festive celebration.  As I’ve planned these events in the past, I’ve noticed that resources and information can be scattered all across the web, so I’ve tried to create a guide that offers as much planning information as possible. 

Decide on who will be helping to plan the baby shower.  Planners can include pretty much anyone in the expectant mom’s life, including friends, relatives, and even spouses.  Consult with your guest of honor to find out who has offered to help and can be reliable in making the commitment.  In general, it’s usually better to have a small group to help plan (e.g., 2-5) and one person who is good at delegating and can be responsible for making sure things are on track.

Decide on the date of the baby shower.  Consult with the guest of honor to come up with a date, time, and type of party.  Baby showers are usually held around the time that the expectant mother is around 7 months pregnant (she is safely into pregnancy, can enjoy the event, and can decide on what gifts they still need).   

Decide on the type and time of baby shower.  Next, you need to choose the type of baby shower you want.  Types might include in/formal lunch or dinner, casual appetizers, afternoon tea, etc.  This will often tie into your time of day.  For example, for in/formal lunch or dinner you might want to plan it around the time most people will eat.  For casual appetizers, you might be able to plan this outside of meal times.  In general, we have noticed baby showers lasting between 3-4 hours (but this can vary), so guests have time for food and activities (and those occasional stragglers). 

Determine the guest list and size.  First, decide with the guest of honor whether she wants the baby shower to be just females or unisex.  Then ask the guest of honor to give you a complete guest list (including emails/physical addresses depending on if you send physical invites) based on how big you want the baby shower to be. 

  • A quick Google spreadsheet template is here for you to download that you can send to the guest of honor to quickly fill out
  • The template can also be used for easy upload to Paperless Post (specific instructions on upload here) or Evite (specific instructions on upload here)

Determine the budget.  Come up with your budget based on realistic expectations about your venue, food + drinks, decorations, guest count, etc.  Also, try to clarify who will be helping to pay for costs related to the baby shower.  This can include friends, family, or the guest of honor herself, and is very situation dependent.

  • A quick Google spreadsheet template is here with holder budget line items for you to fill out yourself

Decide on a venue.  Based on the number of guests, budget, time of year, and the guest of honor’s preferences, decide on where you want to host the baby shower.  For a more comfortable budget, you might want to consider a nearby restaurant or hotel where the staff can take care of a lot of the food and drink logistics.  For a lower budget, you might want to consider free alternatives, such as a local park, your home/backyard or a friend’s, or a local clubhouse. 

Decide on what theme you want for the baby shower.  You can decide the theme with the guest of honor or choose what you think she might like. You can definitely be creative with what theme you want, and it can entail such things as favorite colors (e.g., blue and greens), the theme of the nursery (e.g., woodland creatures), or a general look (e.g., succulents, boho-inspired, and nature).  I have a free succulents theme collection under resources along with other themes to choose from.  Another great place to get ideas for baby shower themes is on Pinterest or Instagram.  Feel free to visit my Pinterest board here or Instagram here for some inspiration.

 Create and send invites.  Next up, you need to decide how to send invites.  These can be in the form of physical or electronic and can be dependent on your guests.  To save more money, many people opt for an electronic invite or even a Facebook invitation (if your guests are on social networks).  Below I’ve listed some options along with some thoughts.  For electronic invites, the excel template will come handy for easy upload. 

  • Paperless Post (Online): I like this option the best, because you can make a decent free option. The default link is to the free baby shower option.  Make sure while you are going through the process, you take out the extras that might cost more money (envelope, etc.).  I’ve also found that outside of the baby shower specific options, there are some appropriate invites.  The only thing is that I’ve found to send detailed reminders, it’s harder to do on Paperless Post so I’ll usually send a follow-up email to guests with more detail (template below) right before the event.
  • Evite (Online): They have a lot more options if you are looking for more selection, but I personally am not as excited about all of the ads on the site.  For Evite, it’s a lot easier to send more detailed information prior to the event through the website.
  • Minted (Printed): They have a vast collection of adorable baby shower invitation options.  I love this site, but I sometimes struggle with how much I want to pay for invites, as nowadays people are fine with online invitations.
  • Vistaprint (Printed): If you are looking for a cheaper printing option, Vistaprint has decent prices and if you Google for coupons online you can sometimes find great codes.  The selection isn’t as modern or vast, so I’ve often uploaded my own designs.
  • Choices on our Earl Grey Events (Printed or Online): We have a small selection of freebies and budget invites
  • Some sample language for invite & reminders here

Create registry.  Make sure the guest of honor has ample time to create a registry so that guests can choose gifts.  These can either be shipped to the guest or brought the day of.  Below we have listed some common registries people have used.  It’s up to you what you want to do, but I’ve sometimes seen people do a combination of two of them in case they wanted a wider selection.  Either way, as the guest of honor receives gifts, make sure they keep track of who is gifting what on the spreadsheet!

  • Amazon: If you are like me and you buy everything from Amazon, this might be the perfect registry for you.  Additional perks include a 10% discount for those items that no one ends up purchasing from your registry.  If you are prime member, Amazon also has features such as up to 20% off diapers & food, a free welcome box, and a free parenting book.  I’ve never unlocked these bonuses, so please let me know your experience if you end up using them! 
  • Babies “R” Us: They have lots of baby options, and they have stores all across the U.S.  Some of the perks include 10% “earnings” back and 15% discount for those items that no one ends up purchasing from your registry.  Additionally, stores have pre/post-natal classes (haven’t checked these out).  I have tried them once, and unfortunately the store ended up forgetting the order that I had gifted my friend so she had to follow-up with them.  More of a clunky user interface, but specifically baby focused.
  • Baby List: If you like to pick and choose from lots of different stores and options (similar to Zola for weddings), then this might be for you.  What’s unique is that you can also choose gifts that aren’t in any stores (e.g., home cooked meals, etc.). Perks include a free welcome baby box.  I like the concept, though it stopped the flow when I had to go off platform to order items from a specific store such as Etsy. 

Decide on activities.  Depending on what type of baby shower you want, you can have specific activities for the whole group, stations for people to engage with individually, or even low key with no activities.  Below, I’ve listed some common activities people might have at baby showers (if they are linked I’ve written a write up of how to put it together and where to get supplies).  I’ve often found that having some “activity” allows people to get to know each other better and mingle.  This is all highly dependent on what the guest of honor wants.  If you have activities, make sure you know who the MC will be for these games.  I would highly recommend scoping out the Dollar store and Target $1-5 section for supplies.

  • Group activities:  
    • The price is right game: based on the popular game show but with baby items.
    • Baby bingo: first person to fill a row wins.
    • Don’t say baby: whoever doesn’t say baby and collects the most pins wins.
    • Baby food game: blinded pairs try to feed each other baby food the fastest.
    • Baby name game: guess what the couple chose as the baby name.
  • Individual activities:
    • Onesie decorating station: decorate a unique onesie for the baby.
    • Selfie station: take a selfie with your friends.
    • Baby face mashup: mix and mash pictures of the couple to see how their baby will turn out.
    • Diaper raffle: hold a raffle where people bring in diapers for an entry and the winner gets a prize.  We recommend that people bring an assortment of diapers, since the baby will need these throughout there childhood (not just newborn).
    • Alphabet blocks: decorate an alphabet block for the baby.
    • Alphabet book: color/draw a letter in a alphabet book for the baby.

Decide on itinerary.  Decide on a rough timeline for the event.  This will include start/end and during what time you will do certain activities.  I recommend that you leave time in the beginning for people to arrive, settle down and mingle, and drink/eat, and do group activities towards the middle of the event. 

Decide on seating and tables.  You should roughly decide on where people will sit and whether or not there will be tables.  If your event is more formal, you might have formal seating arrangements with place cards.  If it is a more informal event (e.g., at a house), you might have open seating areas all around including the living room, patio, etc.  If you want a more structured sitting area, you might want to consider borrowing six foot tables or renting them.

Decide on food and drinks.  Decide on what food and drinks you would like and whether they will be home cooked, store bought, or brought by other guests.  Depending on the type and theme of your event, make sure you have a broad selection for all of your guests (including any dietary or allergy restrictions).  Types of food and drink samples can include (please keep in mind cooking is not my specialty!):

  • Appetizers: Cheese, meat, and nut platter, quiches
  • Main courses: Lasagna, BBQ, Tacos
  • Desserts: Cupcakes, doughnuts
  • Nonalcoholic drinks: Sparkling water, water, juice
  • Alcohol drinks: “Mom”osa bar (with champagne and fruit), wine, beer, signature cocktail
  • Plates/cups/utensils/napkins: make sure you have enough for people to use

I have personally found really good budget options at Trader Joe’s, where there are a selection of frozen appetizers you can throw in the oven. 

Decide on entertainment.  I will usually throw on a playlist from my phone or Spotify, but if you are fancy you can also hire some entertainment.  For a more intimate event, if you know a friend who plans an instrument, feel free to have them play for part of it.

Decide on decorations, take-home favors, and other miscellaneous.  You can definitely create a beautiful event without too many decorations.  My personal belief is that less or more, and I have found that simple accents like flowers, signs, and picture frames can do a lot.  I would highly recommend scoping out the Dollar store and Target $1-5 section.

  • Signs: you might want to have signs throughout the event to make sure people know where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do.  This might include signs for all of the games & activities, a welcome sign, dessert/food sign, etc. 
  • Place cards: if you are planning on having a formal event, you might want place cards so people know where to sit
  • Table decorations: be sure you have a tablecloth and you might want to incorporate centerpieces that match the theme
  • Balloons: often times people will buy a bunch of balloons of the theme color or balloons that spell out certain words (e.g., Baby).  Keep in mind that letter balloons and the price of helium today is pretty expensive, so make sure you budget for that.   At Party City, one balloon ran me ~$20, and I ended up having to get four of them.  I do have to admit that they are a nice centerpiece to decorate, and people really enjoy taking pictures in front of them.
  • Diaper cake: I have seen a lot of these at baby showers.  Some people like these, but others prefer not to have such a baby themed shower.  There are lots of tutorials online that show you how to make these.  I found this one pretty helpful, but am not as excited about them since you can’t really reuse the diapers afterwards.. 
  • Flowers: flowers are the perfect way to decorate a place without too much effort.  A great budget place to get flowers is Trader Joe’s or Costco
  • Pictures: you might want to decorate by placing pictures of the guest of honor in picture frames.  Baby pictures are especially touching, since the guests get to see into the guest of honor’s personal life.
  • Favors
    • Pre-made: succulents, dessert (e.g., popcorn, chocolate, etc.)
    • Incorporated with activity: succulent making station, tea making station
  • Prizes for games: gift cards, mugs, etc. Target has a great selection as well at their $1-5 section.

Now, you just need to show up early the day of and make sure you ask anyone who might be helping you set up.  Make sure that the guest of honor is as stress free as possible, and have lots of fun!!