Baby showers

Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pas

From the guest list to the registry, baby showers can be dicey. Follow these tips to avoid any social blunders on your big day.

By Rebecca Cuneo Keenan

Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pas

Baby shower etiquette

Baby shower basics

We talked to Nancy Rector, co-owner of Fiddleheads kid shop in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to learn what to expect at your baby shower and what is expected of you. If you keep in mind that your shower is primarily about celebrating the birth of your baby and receiving gifts is secondary, then everything else will follow. “People today value etiquette less than they used to,” says Rector, “but one thing that is never old-fashioned is being thoughtful of other people.”




Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

Don't invite everyone from Facebook


If your baby shower isn’t just a huge gift grab (and it’s not, right?), then you really want to limit the guest list to the people closest to you. “Again,” Rector reminds us, “look at the shower as an opportunity for people who care about you to show support and celebrate this new life and then that guides everything.”



It’s also super common to have smaller showers at work or with a group of friends. If people from a distinct social circle want to celebrate with you, they will make it happen.






Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

Registry info should be discreet

Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to launch a game of broken telephone between your mother-in-law and your oldest girlfriend to share the deets on your desired baby bath tub. But common etiquette still says the registry should be included on a separate piece of paper, if you're mailing out invitations, or as a discrete line on an evite. “It used to be taboo to include information about the registry, but I see it as a convenience for your guests," says Rector. "You’re helping to save them time and sometimes stress.” Still, she advises knowing your audience and maybe even mailing a couple special invites without mention of the registry to those who really care about that kind of thing.




Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

Let your registry set the tone


You may only want organic cotton sleepers, cloth diapers and wooden toys for your bundle of joy, but you can’t actually insist on that. What you can do is make sure your registry reflects your values and most people will take the hint. “We have people who register for cloth diapers and wooden toys only and people are never put out by that,” says Rector. But remember to accept all gifts graciously, even if it’s something you’ll never use. “People have to recognize that their values aren’t what other people’s values are.” And there’s no point getting worked up about it.



 






Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

Leave off the stroller


“It’s very common to register for strollers and car seats but when I have a guest come in and ask to see a registry I don’t mention those bigger items to them because they are clearly not there to buy a stroller,” says Rector. “Try to craft your registry thinking of your guests with a range of prices and include items that people love to give like toys, books and something practical.” Consider a second registry for those big ticket items that your parents have offered to purchase or just write up a discreet list for the organizer to hold onto.



 








Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

Ignoring the registry


You might as well accept that there’s nothing you can do to keep from ending up with a dozen baby hats, none of which will actually fit your newborn, nine hooded bath towels and three Sophie the Giraffes. Rector admits she rarely shops from the registry herself. “I will put together a collection of really practical items that a lot parents sometimes don’t know they need.”



As frustrating as it to have your carefully selected registry ignored in favour of stuff you’ll never use, this is a really good time to remember it’s not about the gifts.






Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

Another baby, another shower


You’re expecting again, should you also expect another shower? “I think it’s regional,” says Rector. “In Ontario, where I’m from, no one I knew ever had a shower after the first, but here in Nova Scotia it’s much more common place.”



It makes perfect sense, however, to want to honour the birth of every baby in your family with a gathering of close friends and family. “I’m really opposed to making a big fuss over one life and making no fuss over other lives,” Rector says. But you probably want to tone it down. You can have a boy or girl-specific shower with a focus on clothes but not gear, a pamper mom shower with a few close friends or a baby sprinkle that is much smaller in scale.






Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

Open sesame


There’s been a shift toward not opening gifts at showers and birthday parties but giving gifts is still a big part of what people expect at baby showers. “Think about the gift givers, they want to see the person open their present and see the reaction,” says Rector. So go ahead and unwrap those goodies. Just don’t forget to practice your gushing first.



 






Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

The thank you


You really meant to sit down and write out personal thank you messages to all your guests but then the baby was born two weeks early and now you can barely even find time to shower. Is an email OK? Strictly speaking, you should follow up with a handwritten note. “Having said that,” says Rector, “if it’s your close friend, a personal email that names the item and talks about how it will be used will really get across the true thank you.” Older family members will still expect a card in the mail and you should always acknowledge handmade gifts with a corresponding amount of effort in the thank you.






Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

Boys are welcome


It’s still absolutely the norm in Canada to have women-only showers, according to Rector. “But the man’s role in the family has changed drastically within the last generation,” she says. So if you’re not the only one who’s going to be on poopy diaper duty and if you purposely registered for that gender neutral diaper bag, then it makes total sense to include the dad-to-be in shower festivities. “More and more, we’re less confined by traditional etiquette,” says Rector. “This is a big transition for men, too, so why wouldn’t you have men getting together to give advice?”






Baby shower etiquette — avoid these faux pasPhoto: iStockphoto

Read more: How to throw a coed baby shower 8 DIY baby shower favours What to wear to your baby shower

This article was originally published on Jul 18, 2016
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