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11 Things You Should Know Before Hosting a Baby Shower

Throwing a baby shower but have no idea where to start? Follow these simple tips and you'll make hosting a fabulous party look effortless.

By Erica Young, Freelance Writer

Table filled with glass platters holding pink and blue frosted cupcakes, cake pops, and other assorted candies in glass jars

Shutterstock / Anna Azimi

Unlike a casual potluck or dinner party, throwing a baby shower requires some organization. From wrangling gifts and games to ensuring everyone has enough food, shower hosts have a lot on their plates. Here are our tips for throwing a baby shower without all the stress. You might even be able to enjoy the party!


1. Schedule carefully when choosing the day of the shower

The end of the second trimester or the very beginning of the third is the ideal time for a baby shower. Mama will be glowing and sporting an admirable belly, but still comfortable enough to enjoy her party. Be sure to check in with her about out-of-town guests well before the day is chosen. This way she can coordinate schedules and be sure that all her loved ones are able to attend.


2. Send out invitations three to four weeks before the event

For traditional paper invitations, get them in the mail three to four weeks before the baby shower. This gives guests plenty of time to plan ahead, but isn't so early that they'll forget about the event before the day arrives. Remind the baby-mama to register before the invitations go out. Guests will want to check her registry online right away.


3. Consider going paperless

Although nothing beats receiving a beautiful invitation in the mail, email invites have come a long way. These aren't your mom's corny musical emails from 1999. Chic and trendy options (that you can design in minutes) abound online. With everyone checking their email and social media every day, it's easy to get the word out online, plus you'll save money on expensive cardstock invitations and postage.


4. Choosing a simple color scheme makes decorating a breeze

When it comes to decor, less can actually be more. Choosing a simple color scheme makes things easier and actually makes a bigger impact in the end. Narrow it down to two colors, or even go monochromatic. Coordinate tablecloths, paper goods, balloons and banners in the chosen color scheme. Remember, you're not stuck with pink for a girl and blue for a boy! Consider a seasonal color—like sunny yellow for spring or silver and white for winter—or ask mama her favorite colors. (Want to go more traditional? Here's how to make a beautiful DIY gender reveal cake.)


5. Take inventory before going shopping

Before breaking the bank buying party decorations, take an inventory of what you already have. Go through your house and gather candleholders, baskets, vases and anything else that coordinates with the look or theme you're going for. You'll be surprised at what you already have on hand, even if you're not a seasoned party host. (Hosting in your home? You'll want these tips for decluttering quick.)


6. Save money with grocery store flowers and greenery

No need to stress about arranging perfect bouquets and spending a fortune on whatever flower is trending on Instagram. A few simple arrangements are all you need—and you can get them at the grocery store. A big bunch of carnations can actually look very chic. An airy bouquet of baby's breath is striking and adorably on-theme for a baby shower. Or consider going all green with sprigs of eucalyptus leaves or other pretty greenery.


7. Mix it up with a breakfast shower

Baby showers are traditionally thrown at lunchtime or in the late afternoon, so mix things up by hosting a breakfast or brunch shower. This allows guests to enjoy the party right at the start of the day, and they'll still have the rest of the day to themselves. A breakfast shower also opens up the options for a yummy menu including these tasty French Toast Fingers or these miniature Brunch Casseroles. (Find more brunch-hosting tips over here.)


8. Let guests graze with a buffet setup

Avoid the hassle of a sit-down meal and set up a buffet. Big platter salads, fruit plates, dips and crackers or crocks of sandwich or taco fillings are easy to set out and allow guests to help themselves. Want to make it fancier? Consider including some small-bite foods, like these Chicken Salad Party Sandwiches, which feel fancy even though they're simple. Handheld mini desserts are also completely adorable (and we've got easy recipes for 'em, too).

And don't forget the beverages! It's always a good idea to offer an interesting drink option for the guest of honor. Here are our favorite grown-up, not-too-sweet mocktails.


9. Low-pressure games will keep the party flowing

There's nothing worse than the entire party coming to a halt so guests can be led through a series of tedious and embarrassing baby shower games. Instead, set up a few low-pressure games that guests can participate in at their leisure throughout the party. Make a poster with photos of celebrity moms, and set out blank questionnaires to see who can name all of their kids. (Here are some of the strangest baby names we've heard of.) Put out notecards and pens for guests to write down their wise parenting advice for mama. Set up a onesie-decorating station, which is both fun and practical (new babies go through onesies like nobody's business). All you need are blank white onesies, fabric pens and space at the table to let everyone get creative.


10. Prepare a gift-opening kit

Before the party starts, put together a gift-opening kit. This includes recycling bins to collect wrapping paper, scissors for stubborn bows, plus a notebook and pen to keep track of the gifts and their givers. Put everything together in a box and set it near the chair where the mom-to-be will sit while opening her gifts. This way you'll have everything you need, and you won't be scrambling for supplies during the chaos of the party.


11. Assign a gift-list secretary

As noted above, you'll need someone to record the gifts and who gave them. This makes the thank-you card process super easy. As host, you'll be busy keeping an eye on the food and mingling with guests. Assign the gift-list job beforehand to a friend or family member of the mom-to-be. They'll jump into action when the time comes, and you'll remain free to be an "I've got everything handled" party host.


Finally, for when the baby arrives, we share thoughtful ways to help new parents—that are actually helpful.