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How to Plan a Baby Shower: Checklist + 5 Game Ideas

Get your feet wet at planning a baby shower with this all-inclusive guide.

Baby showers have long been a favored way for family and friends to celebrate an upcoming birth and the expectant mother. There are no set rules as to who should plan it, who’s invited, or what theme to use.

But for the event planner, a baby shower can create a lot of stress. When deciding how to plan a baby shower, you may be overwhelmed with ideas, or maybe you don’t have any.

Organizing a baby shower can be tricky, particularly if you’re doing it for a relative or close friend. Do it wrong, and it can turn into a bridezilla-like situation.

If you’re planning a shower, we’ve got your back. We’ve spent hours researching to bring you plenty of ideas and simplify the process for you. From invitations to the best party games and themes, we’re here to help you plan the entire event.

Key Takeaways

  • Plan a baby shower with a convenient date, budget, and venue for the expectant mother and guests.
  • Choose a theme for the baby shower to make it more special and memorable.
  • Keep the menu diverse, considering food allergies and dietary preferences, and offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Incorporate fun games or activities to engage guests and create a memorable experience.

Who Should Host the Baby Shower?

The role of the host can be given to anyone. Some parents-to-be prefer to plan everything themselves — it’s not uncommon for the expectant mom to take control entirely.

Others will ask a relative or a close friend to arrange something.

You can also take a different route and plan a surprise shower for the mother-to-be. However, we will say that if you do this, it’s best if you know her well.

To-Do List for a Baby Shower

1. Plan a Date and Time

Before you start anything, pick the date and time. Remember, give yourself ample room to get everything ready — don’t arrange a baby shower with a one-week notice.

Consult with the parents-to-be about the best date. Baby showers are generally held toward the end of pregnancy when the mother is about seven months along.

Another benefit of throwing the shower around the seven-month mark is that she’ll have time to organize the gifts. She won’t need to rush out to get any items she still needs.

Avoid having the shower when the expectant mother is past the eight-month mark — by this time, she may be feeling too uncomfortable to enjoy it (1). Or, she could deliver early, and in the worst-case scenario, the guest of honor wouldn’t be at her own shower.

2. Determine a Budget

The budget is a determining factor when planning a baby shower. It should be able to cover food, venue, seating, decorations, potential games, and so on. Low-budget parties generally call for a short guest list, or you must cut back on luxuries like catering.

If you’re short on funds, don’t worry. It’s entirely possible to throw an amazing, low-budget baby shower. This could be an intimate affair for the mother-to-be and her close friends and family.

For baby shower extravaganzas, the budget must match. Here are some facts to give you an idea:

  • Baby showers cost anywhere between $100 to $1,000 (2).
  • Individual invitation cards can cost from 50 cents to $1. You’ll need one for each guest.
  • Decorations can cost you between $30 and $200 — even more if you want high-end items.
  • Catering and the cake typically cost around $5 to $10 per person.
  • The venue or location can range from free to over $200.

Before you settle on a budget, consider how long your guest list should be. Consult with your partner or the mother-to-be about who should be there.

There’s no limit as to how long the guest list should be. However, keep in mind that baby showers are generally an intimate event where stories are shared. So, inviting people you barely know is not the best idea.

3. Select a Venue

Before sending out invitations, you should have a venue or location booked. Consider the date you’ve decided to host the party. Is it during the summer, spring, fall, or winter?

Decide your budget and the number of guests. A small budget and guest list might not even require a venue. Such showers can easily be held in the backyard or at home in the living room if space allows.

If you don’t have a large house or backyard, one of your close friends or relatives might. Consider asking them if it’s okay to throw the shower there. Just remember that they should be on the guest list!

With a large budget and a bigger guest list, it might be better to find a venue that offers ample room. Hotels and restaurants are great for larger parties. These locations also generally provide catering, which is one more thing checked off the list.

Choosing a venue away from home also relieves you of the burden of preparing, cleaning, and catering. If your budget allows, you can hire waiters and waitresses to help the day go smoothly.

If you’re planning a summer baby shower, consider hosting it outdoors at a park or beach. Such places can allow you to expand your guest list.

4. Do You Need a Theme?

A theme will make the baby shower extra special. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Rubber Duck Theme

This is a popular theme, particularly for boys. Rubber ducks are relatively inexpensive, so you can place them in punch bowls, on the cake, and even do a fun game.

Dinosaur Theme

Boys love dinosaurs, and there are countless takes on this theme. You can do Jurassic Park or something a little simpler with cute baby dinos.

Mustache Theme

Mustaches look good on men but funny on women and babies. This theme has loads of potential for fun at an informal baby shower. Who wouldn’t laugh at a sign that reads, “You mus-tache presents here.”

Cowboy Theme

If the expectant parents are outdoorsy, they’ll probably appreciate a fun cowboy-themed party. You can find some cute decorations and inexpensive cowboy hats for the guests to wear.

Bee Theme

If you don’t know the baby’s gender, a bee theme can’t go wrong. Yellow and black are two universal colors, and this theme also allows room for saying “mother-to-bee.” There are some adorable wine glass you can have the Queen Bee drink from.

Mermaid Theme

For girl baby showers, a mermaid theme works swimmingly. It’s an opportunity to use every color in the book to create an underwater world for the expectant mother. You could even take it one step further and buy mermaid wigs for everyone.

High Tea Theme

High tea is the perfect theme for a formal shower. It doesn’t have to be for a girl — it can also be for boys. You can invite your guests for tea, finger sandwiches, and macaroons.

Balloon Theme

Balloons are great fun, and they can be quite budget-friendly. You can create extravagant decorations using colorful or themed balloons.

Minimalistic Shower

Minimalism is trendy and can be quite beautiful if you do it right. Stick to natural colors with plants to add a pop of green.

Lush and Luxe Theme

Lush and luxe is an excellent theme for a formal baby shower. It doesn’t have to be super expensive, but you’ll probably have to spend more on flowers and other luxuries.

5. Plan the Decor

Once you’ve settled on a theme, it’s time to plan your decor. Put aside part of your budget just for decorations. If the budget is tight, try to see if you or some willing friends can make some of the decor.

Plan to have all non-perishable decor ready at least three weeks before the baby shower. Obtain perishable items such as flowers and pre-filled balloons as close to the time of the party as possible. Get to the venue early to set everything up.

6. Sending Invitations

You should send the invitations well in advance — aim for around four- to six weeks before the event. This will give your guests ample time to purchase gifts, RSVP, and plan their outfits.

Always follow the proper etiquette when sending out invitations. With informal showers for close relatives and family, you can easily send an Evite or even a cute text message.

Keep it simple — the invitation should state the shower date, an RSVP date, the venue, the store where the mom-to-be is registered, and whether the guests should dress formally or informally.

Should the baby shower be formal, emphasize the vibe by sending out proper paper invitations. Include a short message with the guest’s full name. Add the date and time, venue, RSVP deadline, and dress code if you’re doing a theme.


The RSVP deadline is essential to include. Allow enough time for yourself to plan for catering and so on. You can state that guests can RSVP through social media or email.

7. Plan the Menu

Baby showers are like weddings — guests expect food and drink. Whether you’re hiring a caterer or planning to whip up some dishes yourself, make sure you have time to plan the menu.

Take the time to decide on a specific type of food. Depending on your budget, you have the option of more than one course. If you’re planning the shower for the mother, consult her on this (you know how we pregnant women are with our food).

Consider food allergies and lifestyles. You don’t want to serve sandwiches and cakes to a wheat-intolerant mom-to-be or meat platters to a vegetarian guest of honor. It’s not necessary to avoid these foods, but ensure you have plenty of choices for your chief guest.

Always go with dishes that are easy to eat and not heavy in the stomach. Baby showers are generally an afternoon event with games and toasts, so light, delicious foods are usually preferred.

Another point worth considering is how the food should be served. Do you plan on having a sit-down meal or buffet? This depends on your guest list and setting.

If it’s formal and people are wearing cocktail dresses and fancy outfits, consider a sit-down. Buffets are excellent for large parties, but you must plan the quantity of food. Guests tend to return for seconds, and you don’t want to leave someone hungry.

Regarding beverages, non-pregnant guests are likely to appreciate some alcoholic options. However, ensure you have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks for the mom-to-be. Watching everyone else sip a fancy cocktail while you’re gulping water isn’t fun.

8. Baby Shower Games

Baby showers usually consist of eating food, opening presents, chatting with guests, receiving sentimental toasts, and playing games. However, for the most successful and memorable baby showers, you need an agenda. This should be something fun that everyone can engage in.

The shower generally starts with guests chatting and mingling. Once everyone has arrived, the fun begins. If you’re not into fun and games, consider renting or creating a photo booth where guests can record fun memories.

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If you’re up for it, here are some fun ideas:

“Don’t Call Me Baby”

This is an entertaining game that plays out over the course of the shower.

When your guests arrive, give each one a diaper pin or clothespin to attach to their shirt. During the party, no one is allowed to use the word baby.

When someone says the word baby, the person who catches it gets their pin. During the last hour of the shower, end the game. The person with the most pins is the winner.

Pregnant Twister

Have your guests wear false pregnant stomachs and then play a game of Twister. Create the bellies using a fanny pack, hand weights, and a pillow. Place the weights inside the fanny pack and wrap it around the stomach with the pillow.

Start the game and watch the guests struggle with a large and heavy belly. It’s particularly a favorite when husbands and other men attend the shower. They generally become the participants.

“Who’s the Celebrity Baby?”

Print out copies of well-known celebrities and their babies. Assign a number to each celebrity baby photo and hang them up. Next to these, place the pictures of the celebrity parents.

Allow your guests ten minutes to match the pairs. The one with the most matches wins.

Baby Stroller Olympics

This one requires some planning and room, but it’s well worth it. Collect a few strollers and dolls. Create an outdoor obstacle course using whatever you can find — this can be logs, lawn chairs, tables, and other things.

Create a start and finish line, then have your guests line up with their strollers and dolls in hand. The contestants must strap their “baby” into the stroller and make their way through the course.

A point is deducted every time they touch an obstacle, and they’re disqualified if the doll falls out. The first one to cross the finish line wins.

Baby Babble

This is a fantastic game everyone can participate in, but it does require some preparation. It’s like Scrabble but a baby version.

Start by printing out a sheet of paper with scrambled words, like this one. Give each guest a pencil and a deadline to fill out the answer.

Once finished, the one who got the most words correct wins. Here’s a cheat sheet for the judge.

9. Party Favors

Also, don’t forget about party favors — your guests are bringing gifts, so giving them something in return is always appreciated. These could reflect your theme, too.

You can do almost anything — popular baby shower party favors seem to be edible gifts. This could include baby-themed sugar cookies, cotton candy, colored popcorn, or lollipops.

Some creative ideas include unpopped popcorn in small mason jars with a note saying, “Thanks for popping by.” Candy pacifiers your guests can snack on during the party are also fun.

Other fantastic ideas could be sugar scrubs, bath bombs or salts, “baby-making potions” (small liquor bottles), or jars of honey.

You could also give your guests something to help them remember the shower, like a heartfelt card or small succulent plants they can keep at home. A popular gift seems to be seeds the guests can grow at home to remind them of the baby.

You will also want to consider your guests — are they close to you or just acquaintances? For close friends and family, heartfelt, memorable gifts are perfect.

Whatever you choose depends on your budget — remember that there should be a gift for each guest.


How Do You Throw a Simple Baby Shower?

A simple baby shower can include a few decorations, a selection of easy-to-prepare foods, and a handful of games or activities. The focus should be on celebrating with the expectant parents.

What is a Good Budget For a Baby Shower?

A good budget for a baby shower can vary greatly, but a reasonable range could be $100 to $500, depending on the number of guests and the chosen venue.

How Many People Should You Invite to a Baby Shower?

The number of guests at a baby shower ranges from a modest gathering of close friends and family to a larger party, typically not exceeding 20-30 people for manageability.

How Many Hours Does a Baby Shower Last?

A baby shower typically lasts about two to four hours, giving guests enough time to enjoy food, play games, and celebrate with the expectant parents.

Do You Have to Open Gifts At a Baby Shower?

Opening gifts is a traditional part of many baby showers, but it’s not a requirement. Some parents-to-be prefer to open gifts privately later.

How Many Games Do You Play At a Baby Shower?

A typical baby shower includes about two to four games, depending on the length of the party and the preferences of the host and guest of honor.

Should There Be Cake At a Baby Shower?

While not mandatory, cake is a popular and festive part of many baby showers. It can be a simple or elaborate creation, fitting the shower’s theme.

What Drinks Can You Serve At a Baby Shower?

Serve a mix of non-alcoholic drinks like lemonade, iced tea, and mocktails, as well as coffee and tea. If desired, a limited selection of alcoholic beverages can be provided for guests who aren’t pregnant.

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Edited by

Shannon Serpette

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and editor, who regularly contributes to various newspapers, magazines, and websites. Shannon has been featured on Insider, Fatherly, SheKnows, and other high profile publications. As a mother of two, she loves to write about parenting issues and is dedicated to educating other parents at every stage of their child's development.