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Baby Shower Etiquette – Learn the Basics

Baby showers are wonderful, informal events that celebrate a mom-to-be and her impending delivery. But just because baby showers are informal doesn't mean there aren't certain rules of etiquette that apply. There are some rules you should follow that will make everyone more comfortable.

Let's start with invitations. The hostess should ask the guest of honor for the names and addresses of people to invite. The guest of honor should ask the hostess how many people she is able to accommodate. The invitations should be mailed out about three weeks before the event and tracking RSVPs is helpful. If the mother-to-be has registered for gifts, it’s fine to include registry cards with the invitations. It isn’t appropriate, however, to ask for gift cards. And while you can certainly ask for gifts to be unwrapped, this makes the entire event seem more mercenary and less festive – if you aren’t willing to spend time opening presents, you may want to decide against having a shower.

Is it OK to send email invitations? That depends. While it’s certainly OK, it isn’t nearly as fun as sending paper invitations. It also assumes that everyone on the guest list shares the same level of computer savvy, which is seldom the case. For this reason, it’s better to send paper invitations.

The guests and guest of honor should plan to arrive on time to the shower. In this day of cell phones, it’s easy to call ahead of time if you expect to be delayed. The guest of honor in particular should make every effort to arrive at the specified time. The hostess, or one of the hostesses, should greet each guest, place their gift in the appropriate location – usually on a certain table – and invite them to have a beverage or snack. Treat the guests at a baby shower much as you would the guests at any other event, by introducing them to other guests as needed and helping them find their way around the location.

The shower will likely move on to the games portion of the event after all of the guests have arrived. When it comes to baby shower games, the hostess should be considerate and not plan anything too risqué – especially if the mother-to-be's mother or mother-in-law will be in attendance! Everyone should participate in the games and be good sports.

Yes, the gifts should be opened during the shower. It’s best to open the gifts at one time, so that everyone has a chance to see everything. Two people should help the mother to be – one person should hand her the unopened presents, while another should write down the name of the gift and the giver. The guest of honor should also announce the giver of each gift, hold the gift up when opened, and say something complimentary along with her thanks. It’s then common to pass the gifts around in a circle so that all the guests can see them up close. The person who’s handing the gifts to the guest of honor will usually put the opened gifts back on the table where they were once everyone has had a chance to look.

As the shower draws to a close, the hostess and the guest of honor should thank all the guests for coming. The guest of honor should make a special point to thank the hostess as she is leaving. It’s also appropriate for the guest of honor to give the hostess a small “thank you” gift for hosting the shower.

Some hostesses have asked guests to address envelopes to themselves in which the thank you cards will be mailed, although this is in very poor taste. If a guest goes to the trouble of purchasing a gift and attending a shower, then the mother-to-be or her partner can certainly go to the trouble of addressing an envelope for a thank you card. In general, thank you cards should be handwritten and mailed as soon as possible after the shower.

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