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If you are looking for a how-to on baby shower planning, this is it! Take our ideas and advice, make your own shower and let us know how it goes! If you need more ideas or opinions, jump right in and post.
Organize yourself - write down what you need to do, purchase, make and plan before the baby shower. For our To-Do List, check here! From your list, you can delegate tasks to involve more people and to keep it from all falling on YOU.
Budget - plan the budget for your baby shower. If you are co-hosting the shower, decide how the budget will be split between the hosts and when the money needs to be pooled.
Date and Time - check with the mom-to-be to find a date and time that works for her. She may need to check with some of her family members or spend some time with her calendar before she is able to decide. Plan to have the baby shower 2-3 months before the baby is due. Pick a date for RSVPs as well. Also plan for how long the baby shower will last. Typically, 2 hours is a good time.
Guest List - coordinate with the mom-to-be and the dad-to-be to find out who needs to be on the guest list and to get addresses for the invitations.
Location - choose a location (in-home, public place?) to hold the party. If there is a deposit fee for your location, make sure you note it and include it in your budget information. If you are choosing to have your shower in a restaurant or other public location, make sure to make your reservations in advance! It will depend on your location, but try to reserve at least 6-8 weeks in advance. If your location is even more in-demand, it may have to be earlier!
Theme - will you have a theme for the baby shower? Themes aren't necessary, but can help tie in everything from menus and invitations to gifts and decorations. A theme can also help make the shower even MORE memorable for the mom-to-be.
Menu - coordinate with the mom-to-be and dad-to-be to see if there are any diet restrictions she has or any of the guests have. You can also include an allergy or special diet question in the RSVP to verify. Depending on the time of your shower, will you be serving a sit down dinner, lunch, BBQ, finger foods or just snacks? Remember to include beverages in your menu! If you are planning to prepare the food yourself, consider calling some of the other invitees to help. If you are having the shower catered, make your reservations 6-8 weeks in advance. There may also be a deposit for the catering, which should be noted in your budget.
Rules - will children be invited to the shower? Dad-to-be? Couples? Will you be providing a babysitter for children of the guests? (If you are, you can also arm her with games and prizes for the kids, too!)
Invitations - whether you have a theme or not, you will need some way to invite your guests! Pick out your invitations and begin to address them as your guest list firms. Remember to include the date, time, and location of the party. You may also want to include a map. Be sure to indicate any rules for the party (typical showers are women only, so if kids or men are invited or babysitting is provided, make a note!). Also remember to include any special diet or allergy questions as well as the RSVP date and how the guests can RSVP. You may be able to do some invitations online, but remember - not every Great-Grandma-to-be has a computer! You will want to send out invitations about 4-6 weeks in advance of the shower. You can also coordinate with the mom-to-be and dad-to-be to find out where/if they are registered if you would like to include this in your invitation. Some showers also have diaper raffles (bring a pack of diapers for an entry into a raffle), and that can be included in the invitation too.
Items Needed - what do you need to serve the food? For small parties, some like to use china and silverware. For large parties, paper plates and disposable silverware is a great idea. Do you need trays for any of the food? Extra tables or chairs? Serving utensils? Check with co-hosts to see if anyone else has the needed items before buying to save your budget. You may need to make reservations for some of the big items at a party supply store. Check at least 5 weeks in advance if you are reserving items. There will also be a deposit fee, which you should include in your budget.
Decorations - Pick and purchase your decorations 2-4 weeks in advance of your party. If you are crafty and making some of the decorations, plan to start sooner. Dollar stores, craft stores and party supply stores are all great places to look.
Games - if you are planning to play games at your shower, start looking into what games you think your guests would enjoy and what you will need for the games. For example, if you are planning to play the Dirty Diaper game, you will need some diapers and baby food (or other ingredients) to put on the diapers.
Prizes - pick and purchase doorprizes, game prizes and any kids prizes if you are providing babysitters. Doorprizes and game prizes could be centerpieces, gift cards, or a range of other small gifts. Some hosts choose to give a prize to the game winner AND to the mom-to-be at showers, but it's up to you. If you will be having a diaper raffle, also remember to pick the raffle prize.
Favors - many hosts choose to give favors to the shower guests. If you will be doing this, be sure to pick and make or purchase your favors in advance. If you are buying the favors, aim for 2-4 weeks before the shower. If you are making them, be sure to start sooner!
Cake & Flowers - if you are planning to purchase a cake and/or flowers, be sure to get the orders in to the bakery and florist early. Aim for 4 weeks before the party.
Verify - 4 weeks before the party you should verify your menu, who is bringing what if you are co-hosting and preparing the food yourselves, items that you will be renting, catering, reservations, any plans you have made with other people - make sure the details are still the same and that they are on the same page as you.
RSVP - 2 weeks before your party, everyone should have RSVP'd. If you haven't received responses from anyone, call to see if they will be coming. Once all your RSVPs are in, you can make nametags for your guests. Be sure to have some blank name tags in case you have any surprise guests.
Gift for Mom - most hosts or co-hosts will have a gift for mom. Choose your gift and wrap it at least a week before the party so that you aren't rushed.
__________________ Joanna wife, mother, blogger, support group leader, perpetually behind on laundry