Who’s to Host? Responsibility of the baby shower

by epi on July 2, 2012

Q: My son is about to be a first-time father, and he asked me if I would be willing to host a baby shower for his wife. They live a distance away from me and therefore the attendees would be friends of mine rather than people from my son’s age group. I told him that it would not be appropriate for me, as his mother, to host a shower and that it should be a family friend, not a close relative who would do this. I know that I have been invited to many baby and bridal showers where a mother, mother-in-law, or a sister has been the hostess. Is this acceptable now? Am I just being old-fashioned?

A: The “rules” on baby showers have changed. In the past, it was considered inappropriate for a member of either the mother- or father-to-be to host a shower at the risk of appearing self-serving. Today that is no longer the case. It has become more common and acceptable for the mother or sister on both sides to host a shower.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Lilli July 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I respectfully disagree. While it has become more common for close family members to throw showers, I don’t think that it is any more acceptable than it was in the past.

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Country Girl July 2, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I would add that the greater concern to me seems to be Mom’s suggestion that, due to her location away from the couple, attendants will be only/mostly her friends. It is not thoughtful to throw a shower where attendants do not know or are not close with the bride. That would really make it seem more like a gift grab and would be uncomfortable for everyone.

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Chocobo July 2, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I also disagree with EPI. It is not appropriate for family members to solicit their friends for items that they should be providing as the family. I have heard that one way around this rule, which very much still exists, is to throw a “shower” like event and only invite family members, and call it a family party. Then you circumvent the rule by making an occasion out of what the family should be doing anyway — providing for own of their own — but do not involve friends who do not carry that obligation.

Either way, it doesn’t matter — if the parents of the father are uncomfortable throwing the party, they shouldn’t be forced to do it.

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Ashley February 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I have a similar, but slightly different situation. The mother- to-be is my cousin in-law, and lives in California, while I live in Texas, and most of her friends and family live in New York. She has has one true sister in-law, however I don’t think the idea of giving a shower has even crossed her mind. I would actually really love to throw her a shower, but travel expenses and circumstances inhibit pretty much everyone from coming together. Is it completely inappropriate to send invitations and maybe a small favor of some sort, and explain how we would love to shower the mom- to- be even though we are all far apart?
I don’t want it to seem like I’m just fishing for gifts for her, but I want her to have help with all the purchases a baby requires.

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Alicia February 4, 2014 at 1:40 pm

No a shower without a party is just a gift solicitation. In an ideal world most of what a shower about is warm wishes and advice for the mother to be. But there is no way that this will come across as anything other then a gift grab. If you want to help with the new kid purchases then use the money it would have cost to host the shower and give the mom to be a lovely gift from you. Leave other to give or not give as they wish and without your input.

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Linda April 9, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Is it appropriate to send a thank you card to your mother-in-law and sister-in-law who hosted your baby shower? It was at your mother-in-law’s house.

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Alicia April 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Absolutely!!!

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Joanne April 28, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Is it acceptable for the grandma-to-be to host a baby shower for her daughter?

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Elizabeth April 29, 2014 at 10:02 am

According to traditional rules of etiquette, showers should not be thrown by family members because family members have an ‘interest’ in seeing their child or sister be given gifts. Showers, then, would be thrown by friends. However, some etiquette mavens have declare those old rules to be out of date, and are now finding it acceptable. I personally don’t have a problem with it.

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LAGirl316 September 2, 2014 at 9:22 am

I have a sticky situation. A coworker recently became pregnant. She began talking about her baby shower and what she wants the theme to be, etc. She assumes I will be throwing the shower for her, although she has never asked me if I would do it for her. She just keeps using phrases like “when you send the invitations,” and “I’ll help you with some of the details,” and “you and my mother will be able to do x, y, and z.” I am pretty much her only friend, so I feel guilty about saying I don’t want to be a part of the planning, but I also think it is incredibly rude that she just assumes I will be throwing her a party, especially since she knows that I am financially tapped out, being in 4 weddings (including her own) this year as well as having bought a new car. Is it appropriate for her mother to just throw the shower? She is already part of the planing and, from what I have heard so far, in charge of finding a venue and caterer. Do I have to throw the shower for her since I am her only friend and she had no sisters? The whole situation is stressing me out.

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Elizabeth September 2, 2014 at 9:46 am

No, you are not obligated to throw her a shower. Next time she brings it up and implies your involvement, you can gently say, “Pam, you keep mentioning me as one of the shower hostesses, and while I would love to do it, I’m totally financially drained and simply don’t have the funds to contribute as a hostess. I am overjoyed for you, though, and look forward to buying a nice gift as a guest. I hope you understand.”

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