Someone special in your life is expecting someone very special to enter theirs soon. This means the pressure is on to create a special event that celebrates and honors that friend, sister, cousin, or colleague in the biggest and best way.  

Whether you’re putting together an intimate fete with their nearest and dearest or an all-out baby bash, planning a baby shower is a detailed endeavor. Don’t worry too much about getting it perfect; just follow these tried-and-true steps to keep your planning on track. On the big day, all that really matters is that the parent of honor feels the love, and with some careful thought and attention to detail, you can pull this off with minimal stress. Here’s everything you need to know and do to plan a baby shower. 

Baby Shower Planning: First Things First  

Set your baby shower budget and delegate.

The very first part of the baby shower planning process is to figure out who is hosting the party and accordingly, what your budget is. If you’re on your own, certain extras may be out of reach. If you have a nice crew of co-hosts or perhaps some relatives and friends willing to pitch in financially, you can do a bit more. Baby showers can be done on a tiny budget or in full-scale Kardashian-style. Your care in celebrating the babe-to-be is the most important part, not how much is spent.

Once you have figured out who is on the hosting committee and what your total budget is, sit down to write out a task list and divvy up the responsibilities for the various stages of planning among yourself and the other hosts. 

Build your baby shower timeline.

Staying organized and on top of everything you need to do and plan for the shower is easiest when you start by writing out a physical timeline. Ask the parent-to-be how soon before their due date they’d like to have the party. This varies by person, but a month or two out is usually the sweet spot. 

Once you’ve selected a date, write out a calendar with key items and deadlines (like when to get the invite list, send out invitations, secure flowers, and so on). Then, you can just check off items as you go. 

Baby Shower Planning: Making the Big Decisions  

Pick your baby shower location.

Before you can chart out the rest of the plans, you’ll need to find and secure a venue. If you’re planning an outdoor baby shower, make sure to have a rain plan or, as a less preferable option, a rain date. Restaurants, coffee shops, and even wine bars are great options if you’re looking to host an indoor shower. Some hotels and event spaces have rooms that can be rented out for private events, as do art galleries and shared working spaces. 

If you’re planning to host the shower at your home, consider booking a cleaning service for before and/or after the event. If throwing it in a park or other outdoor public venue, do not just assume it will be free and available; do the research necessary to make sure you have the space secured. Wherever you plan to host, book the venue ASAP to avoid scheduling snafus.

Choose your baby shower theme and colors.

This is the fun part of planning a baby shower! Baby shower themes are where your creativity and the personalities of the parents-to-be really shine. If you don’t have a very strong idea of what the guest of honor will love, it’s okay to ask for some guidance, or at least get an idea of the colors and themes that are no-go’s. 

In lieu of a theme, some hosts like to just set up a color scheme to decorate the space and coordinate details. Think “pink,” reach for baby blues, or consider an all-white shower for the modern mama-to-be. Jewel tones, neutrals, and pastels are other pretty ideas to consider if decorating without a theme but just coordinated colors.  

Invite Baby Shower Guests  

Make your baby shower guest list and gather info.

It’s a good idea to get a sense of how large or small the guest of honor would like the shower before you start looking for a venue, but once that is sorted, you’ll need an actual guest list. If you have any guests coming from out of town, make sure to reach out to them before you even send the invites so they can save the date and book travel.  

Source as many of the addresses (digital or physical) as you can on your own before asking for the rest. It’s okay to text or send a Facebook message to someone you don’t know very well to ask their address for the invitation. Only bother the guest of honor for the contact info for anyone you can’t get to on your own. 

Create the perfect baby shower invitation.

Baby shower invitations are always a pleasant thing to open, whether in the physical mailbox or digital inbox. Decide according to budget, timeline, and convenience whether you’ll be sending a paper or e-invitation. If you do go the digital route, you can always have the graphic from the invitation printed up for Mama as a keepsake for her baby book. Design an invite that matches the colors and theme of the shower, and make sure to include on it: 

  • Date and time of the shower
  • Baby registry information if applicable 
  • RSVP-by date
  • Any special details they might need to know about the activities, food, or dress

Send invitations and follow up.

Mail invitations eight to 10 weeks in advance of the event. If you are planning with less time, that’s okay. Just go digital to cut any lag time and send them out as soon as you possibly can. As mentioned above, there should be an RSVP date on the invitations so you can plan food and activities in advance. Follow up with non-replies within two days of the RSVP date.   

Baby Shower Planning: Nailing Down the Details

Plan your baby shower menu.

Baby shower food should first and foremost be about the parent-to-be, so make sure if they have any allergies or aversions, to avoid those foods. And, of course, you’ll want to plan your menu according to the time of day–whether that’s a waffle bar, egg bites, and “mom”-osas for a brunch shower; traditional soups, salads, and sandwiches at lunch time; or light bites for an afternoon or cocktail-hour shower. It’s fine to serve alcohol at the shower, but make sure to have a mocktail, juice, cucumber or fruit water, or sparkling water chilled and ready to serve as well. You’ll be a total rockstar if you include the mom-to-be’s pregnancy craving in the menu, too!

If you’re cooking or delegating the cooking to co-hostesses, build a menu and a plan down to the grocery list well in advance of the date. Also, make sure to order any custom cake or other sweets as soon as you have the date and location pinned down. Catering orders vary on timelines requested, but order as soon as you can and then finalize numbers closer to the date when you have a final headcount. (Here are some sweet ideas for baby shower desserts!)

Get your décor ready.

Flowers, paper, and balloons, oh my! The pretty pieces of interest that will make the party so special for her and for the guests are also some of the most fun to source and plan out. If working with a florist, order your blooms soon. Another option is to source flowers yourself and arrange them in simple vases. Check Goodwill or other consignment shops for awesome deals on antique vases. 

Add candles, themed paper goods, and balloons to make the space pop. If you’re pressed for time, you can work with a planner or rental company to get these items taken care of. If doing it yourself, Etsy and Amazon are fantastic resources. You might be amazed at how far some simple linens, a string of fairy lights, and a balloon arch will go in setting up a picture perfect space.  

If hosting the shower at a restaurant or coffee shop, make sure to clear all decor pieces in advance. Some restaurants do not allow streamers or anything that is affixed to the walls, but will let you bring in flowers and balloons, for example. 

Figure out your baby shower activities and favors.

Your guests will not necessarily expect games or activities, but they can be great icebreakers and make the shower more fun. There are plenty of cool baby shower game ideas that aren’t cheesy or boring. In lieu of games, you might consider an activity that results in a craft they can take home, like flower crown building or the decorating of onesies for the mom-to-be. 

Order a traditional guest book or consider something special to be signed, whether it’s a small poster to be framed and kept as a keepsake, a picture frame from the event that guests can decorate with their signatures or a small message, or thumb print art that can go in a scrapbook.

Arrange baby shower favors, which can be anything from soaps and bath bombs to mini bottles of champagne; hand-poured candles or DIY sugar scrubs, to flip flops and beach bags. There are so many affordable and easy-to-find favor ideas. Keep the central theme of the day in mind as you plan this portion and don’t worry about it being spendy. In a pinch, small baggies of candy are super-simple, cute, and affordable. 

Baby Shower Planning: Final Preparation

A week before the baby shower…

Get organized seven days in advance, making a detailed to-do list and starting to check items off. Finalize your headcount, follow-up with the caterer, florist, and photographer (if you’ve hired one), and assemble everything you plan to DIY in one space. 

A few days before the baby shower…

Gather ingredients for anything you’re cooking or baking for the event and stuff the goodie bags a few days in advance. Balloon arches can be blown up and created 48 hours before the big day. Walk through the space and, if possible, set up whatever you can ahead of time. If you will not have a professional photographer at the event, text a few guests who are handy with camera phones or own a real camera and ask if they’d mind taking some photos. The more photos you have, the better the edit for Mama!

On the day of the baby shower…

Set up the space as early in the day as you can and get all food organized before the party begins. Create stations for games, make sure there are plenty of seating options available, and get any helium balloons blown up in the morning. Assign a guest who can sit next to the expectant mom and jot down all the gifts as she opens them. 

The more you do beforehand, the more you’ll enjoy the actual party. But keep your eyes and ears open throughout the event to make sure that the guest of honor is having a good time and is insulated from any potential stress. (They don’t need to know if the wine didn’t arrive or there are 10 too few crab cakes on hand, for example!). 

After the party, enlist help to get all the gifts out to the car so the expecting parent can just slide into the seat and go home without lifting a finger. 

You did it!!

More baby shower planning tips: 

About Jenny Studenroth Gerson

Jenny Studenroth Gerson is an Atlanta-based lifestyle journalist and novelist (Let Me Let You Go, 2020). Her work can be seen in publications including HuffPost, Cosmo, and WSJ, among many others. Jenny has researched thousands of baby names, combed through hundreds of nursery designs, and curated dozens of baby shower guides, making her absolutely the mom—and writer—you want to talk to when planning for Baby. When not meeting deadlines, she is chasing toddlers or chugging coffee—or both! Find her on Instagram @ourlifeinrosegold for mom hacks and more.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.