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Baby Showers: An Etiquette Guide for Hosts and Guests

Whether you’re the host or a guest, a baby shower is an exciting event, and there are useful tips to ensure everything goes smoothly on the big day. Pottery Barn Kids is here to help with setting up a gift registry and finding table decor, but there’s much more to consider. How many people should you invite? What’s a baby sprinkle? Do guests RSVP? Find the answers in this guide to modern baby shower etiquette – a primer for parents, party organizers and guests.


When to Hold a Shower and Who to Invite

You’re organizing a baby shower. What’s next? First, consider a date. Common options are four to six weeks before the baby is born or immediately after the birth, when the baby is the center of attention. The parents-to-be know best, so it’s a good idea to consult with them. Check that your proposed date is available and ensure it works for family members and friends whom the parents would love to see.

It takes a bit of bravery to organize a surprise shower! Involving the parents-to-be in the planning stages is a safer option, and it’s part of the reason why many expectant mothers choose a close family member as a host. There’s no limit to the number of baby showers someone can have, so leave surprise showers to co-workers or the guys and gals from the book group unless you know the parents-to-be love surprises.

How Many Guests?

Creating a guest list for the baby shower invitations involves some practical considerations. You want to keep everyone happy and invite everyone the parents want to see. However, baby showers are often intimate, and it’s a good idea to invite the number of people that can comfortably fit in the venue. Send the invitations four to six weeks before the shower. This gives guests plenty of time to clear their schedules and respond. Include the date and time, the location and the details of the gift registry.

Remember that you can choose to take advantage of technology by chatting with family members from other countries and streaming live footage on social media for the people who can’t make it.

Gifts and Thank You Notes

It may seem improper to include registry details with a shower invitation, but most guests see the inclusion of a registry as a convenience that saves them time. Instead of including the registry details on the invitations, you might want to offer them on a separate note. Pick out a range of low- and mid-priced items, including toys and essentials. This gives the guests plenty of options, and it doesn’t put them in a position where they feel pressured to spend more than they’re comfortable with.

It’s traditional for the parents to send handwritten notes or baby shower thank you cards for all the wonderful gifts they receive. If the new baby arrives before they’ve had a chance to write the notes, they might suddenly find they don’t have the time. The guests are sure to understand, but it’s still wise to write thank you notes as soon as possible. Having the guests each complete a self-addressed envelope at the shower is a great way of speeding up the process.


The guests are an important part of any baby shower, and it's nice to let them know how much you appreciate them. Giving out small favors is a special way to say thank you, and it’s possible to make favors into treasured keepsakes by personalizing them. Possible options include small picture frames and candles or candy bags with name tags featuring the shower date or the baby’s due date.

Second Baby Showers

Traditionally, baby showers were for first-time parents. However, it’s becoming increasingly common to have showers, called sprinkles, for every baby. These subsequent events are smaller, and they may or may not involve gifts. A registry is still important for sprinkles – the parents may already have most of the essentials they need for the baby and just need a few key things.

Guest Etiquette

The most important thing is to be there for your loved ones! You can let them know you’re attending by sending RSVP cards as soon as possible. Baby shower gift etiquette suggests bringing a gift to a shower, but for the host, the shower is usually the gift. If you want to buy a present, consider using the gift registry, but remember it’s partly there for convenience. Feel free to go off the list if you find something else you think the parents will love.

If you end up going to several different showers for an expecting friend, don’t feel obligated to bring a gift every time. One gift at the first shower is much appreciated, although you may want to bring along a smaller gift for the expectant mother. A baby shower is a celebration, and everyone will be happy you’re there to share it with them!