Factors like excellent planning, food choices, limiting guests, maximizing creativity, and deciding the right place is vital when planning a baby shower on a budget. The best places to consider for your baby shower are at your home, beaches, lakes, gardens, vineyards, farms, parks, restaurants, your friends’ yard or space, community centers, clubhouses, and anywhere you can beautify. If you need to pay, these places will not cost you much.
Like other parties, a baby shower can be a huge event, or you can decide to have a low-key celebration without sacrificing the true meaning of a baby shower: giving love, showing your care, and sharing well wishes and gifts to both parents and the baby.
All you need is to use your creativity and excellent planning skills to shower blessings in a simple but unforgettable way.
According to lilbabycakes.com, the U.S. ranks 3rd worldwide for the amount spent on baby showers individually, behind China and India, followed by Indonesia and Brazil.
Did you know that the average amount spent on a baby shower gift in the U.S. is $30? This is accordingly more than the $20 average spent on birthday gifts and less than the $50 average spent on wedding gifts.
Whether you’re the mom’s best friend or close family friend, future godparent of the coming new baby, a family, or a colleague all planning to host a baby shower, read on. This article may help you on how to throw a cost-effective baby shower near you.
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What is a baby shower?
A simple google search about baby shower will tell you that it’s a “party of gift-giving or a ceremony that has different names in different cultures. It celebrates the delivery or expected birth of a child or the transformation of a woman into a mother”.
This is the time for the parents-to-be to receive support, wisdom from experienced parents and be showered with love, care, and gifts.
Most parents appreciate this event as it helps tick off the items found on the baby must-haves checklist, ultimately helping parents-to-be lighten up their financial responsibilities.
Baby shower vs. baby sprinkle
While a baby shower is usually thrown for a 1st baby, a baby sprinkle typically celebrates a family’s 2nd (or more) child, has fewer guests, more specific or practical presents, and is usually celebrated shorter than a baby shower.
A baby sprinkle is like assuming that future children will use hand-me-down baby stuff from the 1st baby. So this doesn’t involve gifts that much, and the celebration provides more emotional support for the mom.
Dos and don’ts of baby shower
How familiar are you with baby showers? Definitely, like most parties, there are certain good manners you need to know and adhere to whether you’re hosting the party or attending it.
A baby shower is, after all, linked to traditions, so it’s wise to know a few of its dos and don’ts and avoid unintended awkward situations.
- Do consult all concerned before taking action – Respect the parents-to-be.
- Do invite the dad-to-be – The trend is changing; the co-ed baby shower is common now.
- Do a clear RSVP – Do it timely or ASAP. Avoid answering maybe, this doesn’t help the host. If you’re not sure, might as well give your slot to another friend.
- Do respect the requests included on the invitation – Notes written on the invites are with purpose. Be thoughtful.
- If it says, “no children or the invites reserved a seat for you”, don’t come with some extra.
- If it says “no gifts”, even if you’re being thoughtful and generous, don’t bring with presents. If you must, discreetly give or send the gifts some other time.
- Do ask if gift registry information is available – If not, it’s perfectly okay to ask the parents-to-be their preferred gifts, they may be reluctant but I’m pretty sure they will appreciate your gesture.
- In case the expectant parents would want you to decide, it’s a good thing to let them know what you are bringing to tick off some item on their list if any.
- Do include the gift receipt, wrapped it discreetly – If needed, like the gift you brought is a duplicate of another gift, it would be easy for the parents to return it for exchange or refund.
- Do keep the party short and sweet – 2 hours is long enough to have a catch-up, open some gifts and eat nice foods. A longer party is tiring for the mom-to-be.
- Do buy clothing in multiple sizes and do consider the timely seasons’ changes in your location – Or size up as babies grow really fast. This is to ensure your gift will be of use for a longer time.
- Do open some presents but not all presents, if you can – Nobody can resist cooing over teeny, tiny baby clothes so open the presents while the guests are there, explain though that you can’t open all gifts to give way for other activities.
- Do offer to stay and help clean up – Throwing a party is a big job and it doesn’t end when the guests leave.
- Don’t throw a surprise party – If you think it’s not appropriate. Know exactly when to throw a surprise party or if a solemn gathering is preferred.
- Don’t forget to go if you RSVP with a yes – Sometimes things happen but if you can go, then go. Commitment is a good virtue.
- Don’t serve alcoholic drinks, as much as possible – If needed, serve only with limits.
- Don’t get drunk – If alcoholic beverages are served, this is to help people relax a bit and have fun, not to get people plastered.
- Don’t tell birth/infancy/breastfeeding horror stories – You’re attending to support and celebrate. Share your experiences if asked, don’t add up stressors telling bad experiences.
- Make the party a place to share the joy of motherhood, focus on the positive instead of the negative experiences.
- Don’t stay if they don’t need help – Especially if it’s at the expectant mother’s home, she may want alone time, respect that.
Planning a baby shower
Before doing anything, planning is a must and with a baby shower in your mind, consider the following basic reminders for your guidance.
- If you’re a friend or a family member, know (in whatever way you can) if the parents-to-be, especially the mom-to-be is okay for you to hold the event.
- Know then if a calm private party is preferred or a fun-filled type is acceptable.
- Ask if an all-female or co-ed baby shower is okay.
- Know who else is available and can co-host.
- Know the right timing – some may want to have a shower after the baby is born than the normal trend of hosting a shower before the birth of the baby.
- Keep the event stress-free considering how heavy is the mom-to-be in her 3rd trimester.
9 important baby shower factors to consider
Moving on to planning your event on a budget, don’t forget to consider the factors below in making a memorable and successful bash. Don’t stress about something, especially if it cost you more money, think about what’s really needed.
Being excited to do things related to the event may cause increasing financial needs.
What you can do is strictly stick to your budget – I know this is easier said than done, but what else can you actually do? Well, this is the reason why you need to plan, know your resources, and be creative.
Pick a theme you can blend with your chosen venue and consider your old kept decors which you think are reusable. Guestlist
Limit and stick to your guest list. Always remember, the more you invite, the more you will need to spend.
Make a simplified invitation card, no need for the printed invites – go digital; it’s wise and practical.
The concept of DIY decors is popular at present. Use available old decors and hit those cost-efficient party supplies store as needed. Print your own banners, or tarpaulin, look around your home and decide which are usable, ask your friends for some old materials, and confirm if they can lend some for this purpose.
Be creative with lights. Note that lighting is crucial in creating an overall atmosphere. A personal tip, keep reusable things secured after the party; who knows when you’re going to use them again.
Try to avoid lunchtime or dinner time; this will require you to serve a full meal and drinks, hurting your tight budget. Instead, choose snack time and serve finger foods, appetizers, or light and easy to eat foods.
6. Foods and drinks
As mentioned, since it’s snack time, foods like sandwiches, pizza, cupcakes, cookies, fruits & veggies plates, ice cream, pasta, and chips are recommended.
For the drinks, tea and coffee are traditional, along with fruit juices, punches, and a few cans or liters of sodas. If you must, you can serve a small amount of non-alcoholic drinks or wine.
Further, take your friends up on their offers. For example, if someone says, “do you need desserts?” let this someone bring it. You’ll be surprised, and they’re happy to contribute.
Keep the cake simple without sacrificing its quality. If you have someone who bakes and this person can commit, allow him to bake a customized cake. Otherwise, buy from a local bakeshop that you trust.
You can use printed cuties as your cake toppers instead of paying for the cake design. Another way to save, indeed.
8. Games and Giveaways
Don’t forget to include 2-3 games in your party. This will allow guests to mingle, catch up with each other, socialize, and be entertained simultaneously. For instance, you can try doing a diaper raffle, find the guest, and guess the baby food name games.
For the prizes, you can distribute giveaways if you have any – this is also a good chance to extend your appreciation to all your guests for coming and sharing their blessings.
9. Soundtracks and playlist
Don’t forget the music – 1 of today’s free entertainment is creating a personalized playlist from your browser. Similar to lightings, music also creates a beautiful vibe to the party.
Places to consider for a baby shower
Selecting the right venue for your baby shower will depend on how many people you plan to invite.
It’s said that the average number of attendees ranges from 30 to 50 pax, mostly attended by your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors. So take note of your plans about decors, guests, foods, and most importantly – the mom-to-be who is now near her full term.
Finalizing your venue is tricky, not to mention that you have a limited budget and need to consider the mom-to-be. So where is the best place? Joshua Barlett of naturalbabylife.com listed the below options that you may want to consider.
1. Your home
You can never beat the conveniences of holding the event in your own space.
Be it the home of the parents-to-be or friends or family, the convenience of no time limits, no fees, and no need to transfer all the decors, foods, drinks, and presents (if it’s the parents’ home) from place to place is comforting.
If you’re in a location with a good climate like California, hosting your event outdoors in a park is a good choice. Parks usually has free spaces for such event. You just need to coordinate your plans with the person in charge.
3. Beaches or lakes
Unless you want to rent a “karaoke” or use cottages, the space at your local beaches or lakes is free. Weather permits, the scenery of a body of water near you is a wise choice and a new vibes of environment for your event.
Personally, I love this choice, and you can put up some tents just in case.
4. Local churches
Although not totally free, most local churches have convention space and good options for your baby shower. You just need to pay or give a small amount as a donation.
5. Community centers
Like your churches, this is not free but worry not because the fees are reasonable. Some center offers indoor and outdoor spaces, and you choose considering your budget and guest size.
Also, some of these centers offer a clean-up service, up to you if you’ll use this additional service – of course, it adds to your expenses.
6. Farms or barns
Another personal favorite. I love farms, and the space it offers is huge and free (given this is your friends or your farm); otherwise, a little fee doesn’t hurt.
Wow, I can start imagining the adorable photos from here. I love garden themes, best for an intimate or solemn event if you want to. If you or your friend have this space, go for it. Just be careful with the flowers and all.
Loving the greenish scenery, fresh air, wide space, and good weather – like the final scene of a good movie called “Love in the Vineyard”? Then, don’t forget to consider any available vineyards near you.
Like farms, beaches, lakes, parks, and gardens, this venue also offers a wide area for your event.
Some may require fees, but if you’re lucky enough to know someone who can offer this for free – then why not go beyond that 4-walled space you always have for an event?
9. Restaurant and clubhouses
This may always require fees, but note that some are offering discounts provided that you meet their minimum headcount requirement – that is, your order per head – you may only be paying food with drinks and dessert per head minus the venue fee as a package.
Sometimes though, you can’t bring in your own foods, but you can always negotiate.
Still, the most important thing is to consider the parents-to-be (especially the mom) and select a place that will accommodate the overall of your plans.
Or you might opt for a virtual baby shower, especially in this pandemic time. Virtual baby shower is the trend.
What’s best in this setup is you can actually invite all your available friends and relatives even if they’re miles away and around the globe without risking everyone’s safety and health. A good plan, isn’t it?
Favorable baby shower gifts
Deciding what to bring is again tricky, especially there are so many options these days.
As you know, in America, a lavish baby shower is common, and they’re more than willing to spend for gifts – spoiling the new additional baby in the family.
According to BabyCenter, 82% of expectant parents request gifts via registry – most of the time, this is convenient both for the giver and parents-to-be; however, it’s also worth mentioning to re-consider gift registry utilization when your friends or family members are having issues with it – of course, you can’t force someone to give something.
Here’s a list of the top 5 most popular baby shower gifts in the U.S. for your reference.
- Picture frames
- Sophie the Giraffe (teething toy)
Whether you’re browsing through favorable gift ideas or supplementing the gift registry item, these are some of the practical presents that you can check with. Just don’t forget that you’re not required to bring gifts. It’s actually up to you – gifts from your heart.
- Feeding bottles
- Bottle cleaning set
- Portable baby bathtub
- Toiletry basket
- Baby-friendly laundry essentials and cleaning supplies
- Smart baby monitors
- Swaddle blankets
- Baby clothes
- Baby bag
- Gift vouchers/certificate
In China, the traditional gift is money given to both the baby and parents. The money must be placed inside a red container which color is strongly associated with luck and good fortune.
Gifts not recommended to give
While it’s good to think of baby gifts outside the box, it’s important to note that you are giving a gift for a baby who is yet to be born or is still a tiny human being. The baby’s safety is a vital consideration this time.
Here’s a list of some items you may want to reconsider giving as a gift.
- Crib bumpers, soft bedding, pillows, and/or stuffed toys – babies can’t protect themselves yet, they can’t roll over just yet in their early days so remember to avoid giving things that may cause babies suffocation risks. These are probably appropriate when the baby is 1-year-old or above.
- Baby powder – baby toiletries are okay but skip the talcum powder. Patricia Gabbe, MD, said, “talcum powder can get into babies’ lungs when inhaled”. It’s safe to offer FDA-approved products.
- Teething necklace or gels – similarly, this poses a choking risk for the baby. Gabbe added, “baby’s skin and oral surfaces readily absorb everything”.
- Used items like a car seat or stroller or changing table – while it’s good to keep reusable things, these are not recommended as gifts to newborns. The sole reason is nothing personal – it’s for safety reasons, you may not know when these things lack some parts and can eventually risk someone’s newborn.
Virtual baby shower
As mentioned, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual baby showers are common now.
More planning is needed as you’ll need to select a video chat service to use like google meet or zoom, and make sure to send the link out to the invited people.
Guests can send baby shower gifts directly to the parents-to-be home, and if possible (presents sent in advance), the parents can open gifts on camera.
Since most of the participants are close friends and relatives, it’s easy to request all concerned to prepare some finger foods, and you can eat all together while on screen. Funny and new experiences to all concerned – still, the goals of baby shower are attainable.
Is a baby shower necessary?
I can’t honestly say yes or no. We’ve understood that a baby shower focuses not only on gift-giving but also on the best time for families to gather and express well wishes in welcoming the new baby and supporting the motherhood journey.
Personally, I did not have such an event myself, but many of my friends sent baby stuff to my home. They wrapped and sent me their support and well wishes without spending additional expenses for food, drinks, and giveaways. This may sound boring, but it’s the thought that counts – I’m grateful for it always.
Hosting a shower is really up to the mom-to-be or up to the people around her – if the event comes in a surprise orchestrated by friends, let it be?
But, be considerate, if you’re planning a surprise gathering – think it over, at least this is not a good idea if you will ask me. Why? For many reasons, being in her 3rd trimester, the mom-to-be is for sure exhausted, and the last thing she needs is being put under the spotlight.
It may be best to consult the parents about your plan, or if your thing is a surprise – at least make sure they’re okay with it. I mean, discreetly discuss the matter before execution. It would be a win-win.
Who should pay for the baby shower?
Traditionally, it should be the mom’s-to-be close friends or relatives or anyone around her who’s willing to host the party. But note that the traditions are now changing, and those moms who have no one near them can actually initiate their own baby shower.
Is it rude to hold your own baby shower? The answer is no, which is now widely accepted, contrary to the stereotypes of “asking gifts.”
You will know then that people are still happy to share their blessings and are excited to see the new baby when the time comes, just the same.
Do you need to open gifts at the party?
At present, you may not see gifts opened during the shower – and it’s okay. Although this has always been part of traditions, nowadays, it’s highly recommended to open and appreciate gifts in private.
While opening gifts, you may anticipate the “ooh and ahh” reactions, but proper etiquette is respecting the parents-to-be wishes and not asking them to open the gifts during the shower.
What is rude, however, is not opening gifts – at all. It’s also rude if the giver requests that you open the gift and you refuse him. Instead, a gift should be opened, and be thankful, do it as soon as possible after opening the gift, regardless of what you received.
Is a baby shower an all-female thing?
In the past and traditionally, yes, but the baby shower trend had changed over the years.
It’s now accepted to invite both sexes to attend the party and shower both the mom-to-be or the mom and her unborn or newborn with love, care, and presents – this is called a co-ed baby shower.
It’s a “family thing,” and family is not gender-specific, after all. The “give and take” process doesn’t need to specify which gender gives or takes – if you’re pregnant now, the taking is yours. In time, it’s your turn to give by then. Mostly though, it depends on your preferred theme and what sort of gathering you’re expecting.
Is “no gifts before the baby’s birth” common?
Although a baby shower is celebrated differently, this event is widely known and common worldwide, excluding the countries whose traditions considered baby shower before the baby is born – bad luck, like in China and France.
Some cultures consider it bad luck to receive or open gifts for a new baby before birth. For example, in Orthodox Jewish culture, a mother may not open any gifts for the baby until she gives birth to her child.
According to some traditional beliefs, opening gifts and flaunting happiness before the baby’s birth can cause misfortune for the family. Like in Bulgaria – no baby gifts are given to the family before the baby’s birth.
A baby shower can be a fun-filled event or a solemn type, and it’s up to you to decide which theme to use. If it’s a surprise party, knowing the parents’ preferences is recommended before executing the plan.
What’s important is you accomplished your goal as to why you hosted a baby shower.
I know some friends who threw such successful celebrations, and I also know some who opted not to hold one but still achieved the same goal – received generous heartwarming support from all concerned people.
Lastly, a baby shower absolutely doesn’t have to empty your savings. Remember, it all comes down to supporting and blessing the baby and the parents-to-be, like narrowing down the list of baby stuff needed; how comfortable your guests feel after the party is a bonus — nothing more matters. Sometimes there’s no need to spend much to show you care – the little things and effort matter.
Congratulations again on your baby, mom and dad. Until the big day, enjoy every hiccup, kick, and all other pregnancy hurdles – it’s all part of the process. If this helps, let me know your experience with a baby shower on a budget. Have a safe and protected day.