Baby Shower Guest Dilemma: How Far is Too Far

by epi on October 5, 2010

Q. Is it in poor taste to send an invitation to someone who cannot possibly attend a baby shower because they live abroad?

A. While it may not be practical, the intent is honorable. The guest list can be a dilemma for a shower host, who wants to make sure that relatives and close friends feel included, even if too far away to attend. It is acceptable for the host to send an invitation knowing that she will receive regrets. Sending a gift along with the regrets is entirely up to the invited guest.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Jody October 5, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Definitely send an invitation to this person. By doing so you’ll likely create a lot of goodwill (“how nice of Mary to include me”). By not doing so, you may create some ill will among family members or friends, depending on how close this person is to you. I speak from experience here; close friends sent everybody except me a wedding invitation; I was excluded because “we know she can’t come anyway.” My youngest sister, one of the bridesmaids, told the bride clearly what she thought of the rudeness.

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Jacqueline S. October 5, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I’m not sure if this is the correct place to ask…the “contact us” section said to post on a recently opened thread with new questions.

I am addressing (informal) a married couple in which the woman uses her maiden name. I can’t fit both names on one line and my address labels are circular. I’m using a template and centering the text on each label. Should I indent the second line (and John Smith) even though all text is centered?

Thanks so much for your help!

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Lisa October 5, 2010 at 8:34 pm

My company has a birthday card list that sends birthday cards to customers in our book of businees. One of our clients suddenly passed away, and it was to late to suspend the birthday card from being mailed. My supervisor thinks it is appropriate to pull the husband of the deceased aside at the funeral home and apologize for the birthday card the family is about to receive for the deceased from our company. Please help and provide me with an answer to the “in poor taste”, in my opinion.

Sincerely,

Lisa

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R. October 5, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I don’t think an apology is needed, as your company won’t be the only one sending stuff to the deceased client in the short term. However, your supervisor’s thought isn’t such a bad one, only the bad timing. If she wishes to say something, it’d probably be better to do so a few days after the funeral or closer to the date the card will arrive. And do ensure that the client’s name is removed from your list for next year!

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Debbie October 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Agreed! It is so nice to be thought of and included. Without the invitation, the person doesn’t even know that the sender has even thought of them.

When my sister was expecting and I was too far away, I contacted the hostess and mailed my gifts to her. This allowed me to be vicariously “present” at the shower with my sister via a gift (and a private note) . It meant the world to me to have the opportunity to participate at least in this way. By the way, I received an invitation to more than one shower for her and sent a gift to each one.

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Alicia October 5, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I think that there should be some thought inhto how the invitee would react. Some very close folks might be happy tobe included others less close or less fond of showers might consider it nothing more then a gift guilt. Different families and people react differently. Personally if there is no chance I could possibly attend a shower I’d rather not be invited at all.

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Judy Rybka October 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

My niece is 32 and expecting twins. I’m hosting a baby shower for her and she would like mne to invite her step mother (has been step mother 7 – 8 years). I don’t speak to my niece’s step mother. I don’t want to invite her because how do I invite someone I don’t speak to /acknowledge to a party I’m hosting. When my niece was married 3 years ago, I did not invite the step mother to the bridal shower and it was a non issue with my niece. Since my position toward her step mother hasn’t changed in those 3 years, I expected my niece would realize that and not expect me to invite the step mother. However, not inviting her is presenting a problem for the baby shower. Please help!

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Alicia October 8, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Congrats to your neice and her twin babies. It seems to me that you and your neice have a few choices and largely they depend on how strongly you dislike her stepmother and how strongly she is willing to stand by her stepmother.
1. You are gracious and invite the stepmother but then other then the basic welcome and goodbye mainly let the remaining guests take your attention from stepmom. Neice is in a good spot here and only has to make sure stepmom leaves before she does so you never ever have to be alone with stepmom
2. You decline to hostess stepmom. Neice can either a) decide that a shower that excludes close members of her family is agaist her wishes and decline the shower or b)insult her stepmother and father by agreeing to a shower that excludes stepmom
3.If there is someone who is more neutral and willing to cohostess the shower they event could be held at their place and stepmom invited and you could not be involved in the slightest in hostessing her.
Any of these three can be polite and it depends on the relationship you have with your neice, your relationship with her stepmom , and her relationship with her stepmom.
It is up to you all can be done gracefully.

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Barb Cowles October 18, 2010 at 2:20 am

my son & daughter-in-law are expecting their first child. They live in Seattle and most of their family members live in NY. Is it proper to hold an “absentee” shower for my daughter-in-law? I would invite close family members for a light lunch or cake & coffee. Also, is it proper to request “gift cards” since they do live so far away?

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Alicia October 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm

No it is not peroper to host an absentee shower. The main point of a shower is to shower the mother to be with well wishes , advice, ect. It is not to extort gifts. Think about what you are asking of your guests. It is basically a fundraiser pretending your son and daughter in law are the charity, here come have some coffee and give money. ( gift cards are just money that is limited in where it can be spent) Additionally , mothers are not supposed to hostess their daughters showers anyway due to it being considered crass gift grubbing.
I would save the expense of this event and skip it enetirely and instead use that money to fly out to Seattle and visit with your new grandkid and help yoru son in daughter in law by giving them some rest while you take care of the little one.
You mean well but this is not a good idea.

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Ti October 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I am giving my daughter a baby shower and the topic of weather to invite her step mom or not came up. Since her father has not been around other then a few calls or maybe a visit a year for the last 15+ years and the stepmom has not made much more of a effort, myself along with a few other family members from his side have very strong feelings that she should not be invited. They most likley will not attend if she does. My daughter wants to do the right thing and be the bigger person and invite her. She knows how we feel and everyone that I have asked especially those that have witnessed this through out the years all agree that she should not be invited. I do not want my daughter to be upset or hurt but I feel like if she does invite her that in a way it would be a smack in my face even though I know she does not want to hurt me either. It is hard for me and others to understand why she wants to waste her time on those people that make no effort to be a part of her life. Please what is your advice?

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Lauren N. November 25, 2010 at 6:50 pm

It’s clear that the father and stepmother have made no effort to involve themselves with her for the past several years. If you are hosting this shower mainly for those on your side of the family, then it makes sense to not invite the stepmother. Additionally, express the concerns you listed here to your daughter. Communication is key!

(It really is unfortunate that her father has chosen to exclude himself from his daughter’s life. Just focus on being a doubly excellent grandmother yourself! She will really appreciate that!)

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HAZEL December 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

MY GIRLFRIENDS ALONG WITH MY MOM ARE THROWING MY BABY SHOWER AND THE TOPIC OF MY STEP MOTHER COMING HAS COME UP. MY DAD IS VERY ACTIVE IN MY LIFE AND HIS WIFE HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOOD TO ME OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS AS WELL. SHE HAS ASKED ABOUT COMING OR WHEN THE SHOWER WOULD BE AND I HAVE KINDA LEFT IT VAGUE BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T SET A DATE AND I HAD NOT TALKED TO MY MOM ABOUT IT. SO I SPOKE TO MY MOM ABOUT IT AND SHE DID NOT LIKE THE IDEA AT ALL, SAID IT WAS TACKY AND DID NOT FEEL SHE SHOULD HAVE TO SHARE THIS EVENT WITH HER. SHE IS TO THE POINT THAT IF MY STEP MOTHER COMES THEN SHE WILL NOT COME. I JUST FEEL WE ARE GROWN ADULTS, SHE IS GOOD TO ME AND IS A PART OF MY FAMILY AND MY PARENTS SPLIT OVER 30 YEARS AGO…WHAT IS THE RIGHT CALL ON SOMETHING LIKE THIS? :O(

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Just Laura December 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Is this shower for you or your mother?
Because this is YOUR shower, and your step mother has always treated you with respect, I hope you will treat her with the same respect and enjoy her presence celebrating this exciting addition to your family. Your mother’s placing additional stress on you at this time is unfortunate. Gently remind her that this is important to you, and you hope she can find it in her heart to put aside any ill feelings for just this one little party for her daughter and grandchild.

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HAZEL December 6, 2010 at 4:00 pm

THIS WAS MY THOUGHT AS WELL, IT IS NOT ABOUT HER PERSAY… SHE FEELS THAT ALTHOUGH IT IS ABOUT ME AND THE BABY IT IS ALSO A SPECIAL DAY FOR HER AS WELL AS I AM HER ONLY DAUGHTER, FIRST GRANDCHILD AND SO FORTH..BUT I WOULD HAVE HOPED THAT WE ARE ADULT ENOUGH AND SECURE ENOUGH THAT THIS TYPE OF THING WOULD BE A NON-ISSUE ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY HAVE NEVER MET…THIS COULD BE A GOOD SETTING TO GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER WITH ENOUGH PEOPLE AND THINGS GOING ON THAT NO ONE WOULD FEEL STUCK. BUT IT LOOKS LIKE IF MY STEP MOM COMES THEN MY MOM WILL NOT.. IT IS PETTY AND SELFISH IN MY OPINION AND I REALLY DON’T APPRECIATE IT BUT IT IS WHAT IT IS AT THIS POINT. THANKS FOR THE ADVISE!

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Just Laura December 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Hazel, I’m glad you were able to come here and get some advice that was helpful. I look forward to seeing you around these forums in the future as well. I was wondering, however, if you could leave your caps lock key off? It comes across as yelling on the internet, though I know that is not what you intend.
Again, thanks for dropping by!

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Sherri February 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I am a Step Mother in the same situation. However, i know i would be invited to the shower but will not be able to help in the planning process. I have been in my Step Daughters life since she was 5 and is now 23. I took it upon myself to throw my own baby shower for her and at the same time i am having so much fun planning it. Maybe this is an option for your Step Mother to invite her family and your fathers to there own shower! Wish you well

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Rosi May 18, 2011 at 8:20 pm

My son is getting married in June. We had a nice bridal shower for his bride to be in April. Around August, they will be moving out of State and she is expecting a baby in November. Would it be in poor taste to have a baby shower at the end of July before they move? Thank you in advance!

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Graceandhonor May 18, 2011 at 10:35 pm

If a friend of the expectant mother or a friend of your family offers, that is fine, but family members should not host showers.

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Arti January 5, 2012 at 1:26 am

My son and his girlfriend are expecting their firstborn, (my first grandchild.) They live across the country from me and there will be a baby shower in their hometown. I plan to go for the shower but they’ve asked me to send addresses of people I’d like to invite, even though the people I’d like to invite all live by me. I don’t know if I should:
1. Invite the family and friends to the shower even though they won’t be able to attend
OR
2. Invite the family and friends to a “Welcome Baby” party in my town after the baby arrives and when my son and his family travel back to my state (this might be when the baby is 5 months old.)
(I think my closest family members will want to do both)
Help PLEASE!

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Alicia January 5, 2012 at 7:36 am

Arti,
It is nice of the Baby shower hostess to be so kind as to ask you if there is anyone whom you would like to invite to the baby shower. However, due to distance there is nobody you would like to invite to that baby shower. Call or email the hostess and say thank you for the kind offer but that there is nobody that you would like to add onto the guest list of the baby shower. Thank the hostess at this time for being so nice as to throw a baby shower for your grandbaby. Inviting people to showers that they can not attend is just alkward as it comes across as a gift grab. If they wish to send a baby gift they will do so regardless of showers or not.
A welcome baby party is a lovely idea but something that you should wait until the baby is born to decide upon doing if you are thinking when the kid is 5 months old. Very young babies are often told by opediatricians to stay away from large groups and also babies scheduales during the first few months may make a party difficult.

I’m certain as the proud grandma you will have lots of oppertunities to show off your wonderful grandkid.
Congrats!!

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StepMonster June 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm

My 20-something expecting stepdaughter let me know that her bio-mom and aunt will be throwing her “main” shower, but that I am welcome to throw a second one for the other half of the family since we will not be included on the guest list of mom’s. She and I have not been close, she only attends this part of the family’s events when there will be something in it for her and never if it is an occasion where she might be “expected” to bring a gift. Her aunts and cousins on this side of the family are asking if I am going to throw one and I honestly don’t have the time, inclination, or funds to throw a huge party, but also not sure how to gracefully avoid it without hurting some feelings. One of her cousin’s on this side of the family is also expecting, so I suggested that the aunts/cousins may want to consider a joint party. The last thing I want to take on is the financial burden of throwing a party for someone that until this point has had very little use for me and who actually refers to me with her brother and bio-mom and that side of the family as “that b*t*h” for no other reason than I fell in love with and married my husband (10 years after he divorced his ex). I was actually hoping that now that she is old enough to be a mom herself that everyone could put their best foot forward and that I (who could have children of my own) might get to enjoy being a grandma without all the drama and manipulation that have filled the last decade. Any advice?

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Alicia June 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

So you do not wnat to throw a shower do not do so. Simply let what the bride told you be your excuse that her mother and aunt are throwing a shower and you would not want to compete or throw a second shower in deference to the mother of the bride and skip throwing the shower at all. You do not need to and any bride that complains that they only get one shower is spoiled anyway so absolve yourself and use the other shower as your gracious reason out.

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Brook May 4, 2013 at 8:59 am

A dear friend is throwing me a baby shower. My question is: do I have to invite someone who, almost 2 years ago, invited me to hers? We are acquaintances, I like her, I just know that she won’t know anyone at the shower and I’m worried that I will be concerned about her and distracted. I knew 2 other people at her shower so at least I had them to talk to because I didn’t know anyone else. I would like to just not invite her but fear that it’s rude. I’m not even sure how she would find out if I had a shower, although we know some of the same people those people are not invited. Help!! Thank you.

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Winifred Rosenburg May 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

It is not rude to not invite her. There are many legitimate reasons for not inviting her even though you were invited to hers, including you are having a smaller shower or you simply don’t think she will enjoy herself.

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Alicia May 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm

No she does not need to be invited. But it is ok to if you want invite someone to a party where they do not know anyone. Just introduce them to an extrovert friend who knows a lot of the crowd early on and they may have a blast.

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