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How to Plan a Baby Shower (Checklist & Games)

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’re probably 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. From invitations to the best party games and themes, we’re in full-blown baby-mode.

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 that she still needs.

Avoid having it when the expectant mother is past the eight-month mark — by this time, she’s probably feeling too uncomfortable to enjoy it (1). Or, she could deliver early, and 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 are estimated to cost anywhere between $100 to $1,000 (2).
  • Individual invitation cards can cost anything from 50 cents to $1. You’ll need one for each guest.
  • Decorations can cost you anywhere between $30 and $200 — even more if you’re looking for high-end items.
  • Catering and the cake typically cost anywhere between $5 and $10 per person.
  • The venue or location can range from free to more than $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?

Then decide your budget and 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 generally provide catering as well, 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 it, 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

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

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 gender of the baby, 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 be for boys as well. You can invite your guests for tea, finger sandwiches, and macaroons.

Balloon Theme

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

Minimalistic Shower

Minimalism is trending at the moment, and it can be quite beautiful if you do it right. Stick to natural colors with plants for a pop of green.

Lush and Luxe Theme

Lush and luxe is a great theme for a formal baby shower. It doesn’t necessarily 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 some of the things can be handmade by you and some willing friends.

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 in the morning 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 date of the shower, 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. Then 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 perhaps state that guests can RSVP through social media or email.

7. Plan the Menu

Baby showers are like weddings — guests expect there to be 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.

Sit down with a piece of paper and try 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 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 make sure you have plenty of choice 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 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 go back for seconds, and you don’t want to leave someone hungry.

When it comes to 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 so on. However, for the most successful and memorable baby showers, you need an agenda. This should be something fun that everyone can engage in.

As a general timeline, the shower starts with guests chatting and mingling. Then once everyone has arrived, the fun begins. If you’re not into fun and games, consider renting a photo booth where guests can create 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. It goes like this: Each guest will have a diaper pin on 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. When the baby shower is over, the one with the most pins wins the game.

Here’s what you do: As your guests arrive, give everyone a diaper pin to place on their top. Then explain the rules. During the last hour of the shower, end the game and name 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.

Then 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. Then assign a number to each celebrity baby photo and hang them up. Next to these, place the pictures of the celebrity parents.

Then 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. Then outside, create an 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. Then give each of your guests 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 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 remember the baby by.

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.

Shower Her with Gifts

Baby showers are a common tradition in the U.S. and are slowly spreading to other countries. It’s a fun party for the expectant parents who are showered in gifts and love from family and friends. It’s also an excellent opportunity for fun games and entertainment.

When figuring out how to plan a baby shower, endless ideas are thrown your way, and it can get overwhelming.

Having an easy-to-follow to-do list of everything can make it a lot smoother. It’s best to begin by setting a date and time — then create a budget, select a venue, and plan a theme.

When you get close to the day, get your decorations and food ready, so that on the day, you’re not overwhelmed. Also, don’t forget to send the invites!

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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.