Usually, a friend of the expectant mother hosts the baby shower. Splitting the hosting duties among two or more friends makes the numerous expenses and responsibilities more manageable and allows more friends to participate in honoring the mother-to-be.

In the past, it was frowned upon for family members to host showers, but now it is common for family members to host a family shower specifically for members of the family. It is no longer unusual for family members to host a shower that includes non-family members, as well.

While there was a time that baby showers were exclusively for women, co-ed showers are gaining popularity. Many men want to be more involved in the pregnancy and birth experience, and they appreciate being involved in a party to celebrate their new family member.

Showers are appropriate any time a new member of the family is added. While a first baby shower may serve the purpose of providing the many items needed by new parents, showers for subsequent babies may focus more on the mother or the family. An adoption is a special occasion that the parents will want to celebrate, and a shower is a great way to do that, even if the adopted child is older.

Showers may be held before or after the birth. If the shower is being planned for before the birth, you will want to make sure that it is early enough that the guest of honor will still be comfortable and able to travel. You'll also want to make sure that you aren't going to have any "special deliveries" during the party. The best time period for a shower before the birth is probably 4-8 weeks before the due date, although this will vary from mother to mother. If the shower is going to be held after the birth of the baby, it may need to be scheduled for 4-6 weeks after the due date. Some parents will be hesitant about exposing a new baby to too many germs in the first weeks. Others will be happy to have company right away. As with every other area of planning, make sure to consider the guest of honor's feelings.

Many showers are held at someone's home. Often this is the home of the hostess. Some pregnancy situations may mean that it is easier for the mother if the party is held at her own house. If this is the case, the hostess should make sure that house preparation is taken care of by someone other than the guest of honor. Other locations for a shower are church fellowship halls, a restaurant, or an office.

Guest lists for a shower will include friends and family of the parents-to-be. Don't forget to include the father's relatives when sending out invites. Co-workers who are close friends may also be invited, but you will want to take into consideration that many offices host their own showers. If you are hosting a surprise party, enlist the help of the dad-to-be or family members of the mom-to-be in making the guest list. You will need the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and possibly email addresses.

Invitations should be mailed 2-4 weeks before the shower. Make sure that you include RSVP information, maps, and baby registry information. If the registry is extremely long, you may just want to include the location where the parents are registered. Baby registries are not necessary, however they seem to be very popular at this time, and they do save parents the effort of returning duplicate gifts. If they party is going to have some sort of gift theme (learning gifts, an around the clock shower, etc.), this information should be included in the invitation, as well. If you are calling, instead of issuing written invitations, the same timeline should be followed and the same information should be relayed. If you are sending evites, make sure that the people you are sending them to check their email regularly. Follow up by phone if you have not received responses a few days before the party.

Games and activities are not a required part of a shower, but they may be what everyone remembers the most. When I was pregnant, I was adamantly opposed to shower games. Some of my friends refused to listen, and the games really were a lot of fun. There are books and websites that can help you if you don't know where to begin when it comes to shower games. We've also included a few on this website. Favors are another item that is not required but can really add to the celebratory atmosphere of your party. We have included directions on how to make some popular favors and decorations. If you are not the crafty type, there are plenty of sites where you can purchase fabulous, inexpensive favors.

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