No one tracks how many women host baby showers. But each year U.S. moms give birth to nearly 4 million infants. So it's a safe bet that on any given weekend, thousands of women are throwing and attending baby bashes and ooh-ing and aah-ing over adorable bibs. To find out how to properly throw a memorable party, FamilyGoesStrong talked with Peggy Post, great-granddaughter-in-law of Emily Post and co-author of the 18th edition of EmilyPost's Etiquette. Excerpts:
What's the right number of guests to invite?
There's no magic, perfect number. Base it on the house, how much room you have, and also the new parents — how many people they'd like to invite. Ask them. Also you need to weigh in as the host. There's no magic number. Showers should be intimate get-togethers for the honorees.
What's the best kind of invitation? A Facebook group? An email?
If you do the Facebook group, be really careful that the invitations don't go out to more people than you want to invite. Anything goes. But the bottom line on invitations is they seem more special when they're on paper. They make the upcoming event seem more special. That's why a lot of people are still sending them out that way.
How pot luck-ish should showers be?
If the hostess is hosting, I would go for doing everything or most everything. If you have a couple of super close friends, certainly you could say, "Would you be willing to help out?" If you're hosting and other people bring things, then you're really co-hosting. If somebody offers to bring a special dessert or an hors d'oeurve, I would give them credit. "Susan made this!"
What's the best way to give credit?
If it's not that huge, tell people verbally. The key is you don't want to offend somebody. Somebody went all out and brought an entrée, and you don't even mention it — that person might feel a little bit put out.
What other activities should you have at a shower?
"Should" is a big word. You want to make sure people know each other. You introduce them. If you have an opportunity, say a little bit about that person. Provide a little background if you can. Take the refreshments flowing and the conversations going. Some hosts will come up with little games – "let's guess the weight of the baby." Generally, the party is really about the honoree, about the mother-to-be. Opening the gifts really is the central part of the party. The food is secondary.
Should you spend the first half of the shower on eating and the second half on opening presents?
There's no set rule. If you want to provide the food early because you want to have it warm and out there, fine. Some people will have the central part, the opening gifts right away. Often it's the food because people are hungry.
What's the worst etiquette faux pas?
I'll start out with thank you notes. People like to be appreciated and thanked for whatever they do. In our society, people actually want to receive a thank you note after the shower from an honoree. The thing that I've heard that people don't like is the host of the shower handing out envelopes to all the guests and saying, "Please write your address on these envelopes so the honoree can send thank you notes." That's not good. Another thing I've heard of is pre-prepared thank you's [that say] "thank you for the gift" — and handing them out as they leave. That's a low note, too. The other thing I've heard of that people don't like is a cash shower –meaning instead of a physical gift. If a shower is going to happen, the gift opening is the highlight! A cash shower, there's nothing really there. I heard of one, in this case a young bride, opening up each envelope and blurting out the amount! That's tacky!
Is it OK to just invite women to a baby shower these days?
Sure. You're the host. You set what you want to do. Communicate with the honoree. Sometimes people will ask the host for gift ideas.
What about giving registry information?
It's tacky to put it in an invitation to a wedding. But since a shower is a gift-giving occasion, it's OK. I always like to preface any communication about a registry with "just in case you're looking for ideas" or "whatever you choose will be terrific." Some people will include a list of where the person is registered or say, "She'd love to have baby clothes."
Can siblings or parents throw the baby shower?
It used to be that immediate family did not host showers for the mother-to-be or the bride. That's one etiquette guideline that's pretty much gone out the window.
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