1. Well Intentioned Host

    I play on a co-ed sports team with about 30 friends. The people on this team make up a fairly close group of friends. One of those friends is pregnant.

    I, along with 5 other the women in the group, want to throw a baby shower. We decided to host a co-ed shower for the people in this group. We prepared a guest list with the names of all the people in our group and submitted it to the mom-to-be asking if there was anyone else she wanted to invite. She added 5 names and asked that we not invite 3 women from the group. Everyone else from the group will be invited. One of the women she “cut” is the girlfriend of one of the men who will be invited; the other two are sisters who are not close to the mom-to-be, but are part of this group.

    The shower is supposed to be at my home. I am not comfortable excluding these 3 women. I spoke with the mom-to-be directly and explained why I would like to invite these 3 women (these women are part of the group we are inviting to this party; it is rude not to include everyone; we should not invite the man without inviting his girlfriend; the 3 excluded women have been nothing but nice to all the hosts). For a variety of reasons (it’s her shower, and she should be able to decide who she wants to celebrate with; if one of the excluded women had a baby shower, she would not expect to be invited; the girlfriend did not invite the mom-to-be to a small surprise party for her boyfriend; the mom-to-be is not close with the 3 excluded women; the shower is about the mom-to-be, not the hosts), she still said no.

    At this point, I believe my options are:

    1- host the shower and ignore the fact that 3 people who are part of this group will know that they have been excluded and feel hurt;

    2- try again to change the mom-to-be’s mind, either on my own or with the help of some of the other hosts who share my concerns;

    3- just invite these women and let the chips fall where they may;

    4- decline to be publicly named as a host but still contribute to the cost of the shower and permit the shower to be held at my home;

    5- politely decline to host the shower, require the other hosts to find an alternate location, do not contribute to the cost of the shower (assuming a shower would even occur).

    I guess my question really boils down to who should have the final say– the hosts or the honoree?

    Thank you in advance for any guidance you may be able to provide!
    – Well Intentioned Host

    • Country Girl

      The shower is about bestowing gifts on the guest of honor to celebrate her new arrival and has absolutely nothing to do with the sports team. So not including the two women who are not close to the expectant mother is perfectly fine. These women shouldn’t feel excluded unless others on the team make a big deal of the shower to them, which you should try to diffuse ahead of time. Since the purpose of a shower is for guests to purchase her gifts, it is appropriate that the expectant mother chooses a guest list of those closest to her.

      The problem, however, lies in the fact that she wants to invite one half of a couple. Unless this was a very new relationship and the couple doesn’t live together, etiquette dictates that you cannot invite one without the other. In the case that the couple lives together and/or have been together for a while, you will need to let the mom to be know simply that you are willing to either invite both bf and gf or invite neither, but you will not break the rules of etiquette by inviting boyfriend and excluding girlfriend. If at this point she makes a stink, feel free to politely decline your offer to host.

  2. Jody

    I disagree with Country Girl on one point, I think the entire group should be invited (option #3 on your list). Not inviting 3 out of 30 makes it obvious that somebody has something against those individuals, and you will likely come in for the blame (even though it was not your decision). Those three may respond “no,” in which case the difficulty will be solved. If they do attend the party, let’s hope the honoree has enough grace to not interact with them rather than to be outright rude.

    What do the other hosts think of this situation? Unless I’m reading too much into your question, it seems like they agree that all should be included. If they don’t, I would feel comfortable letting them know that you won’t be able to host after all.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with Jody. The group that formed around the team forms the major part of the invitation list and it will be clearly hurtful to exclude only a few members because of some minor (perhaps even imagined) slights. As the host, you have the right to have some say over the invitation list. Since you already had one unsuccessful conversation with the mom-to-be, is there another of your fellow hostesses who strongly agrees with your position but is also a good friend of the MTB?

      However, once you (or one of the hostesses) goes back to try to reason with her one more time, I think you have to be prepared to say pretty explicitly that you do not feel comfortable hosting the shower while excluding these three people, and if she insists on excluding them you will be unable to host. This might put the final nail in the coffin of your friendship.

      The more I think about it, the more I think you should just invite the other three and let the chips fall where they may. The more you discuss it, the more you will both be entrenched in your position. No good deed truly goes unpunished!

    • Country Girl

      Perhaps I misread/misinterpreted. I was thinking onto my own husband’s various coed teams, none which include more than 12-17 players. I suppose I considered the spouses/significant others being included in the 30 total. I might have completely missed the mark if this is perhaps a coed flag football team? (Off the top my head I really can’t think of any other teams that have that many players.)

      In the case (which I maybe unfairly assumed) that there are really 15 actual players, 11-12 of them could easily be seen as more close to the MTB. My husband is in fact on a team right now one town over where we are understandably not as close to all of the players. We wouldn’t dream of being offended at not being included in a function.

      In the case that there really are 30 players in total… woah boy. A baby shower with possibly 60+ people including significant others of teammates and the other 5 guests MTB wants to include? Seeing that the vast majority of this guest list doesn’t even include family, personally, that just seems so over the top to me. Showers are typically intimate gatherings for those closest to the expectant mother, not a giant bash with every person with whom she is acquainted. In this case I, myself, would have totally disassociated the shower with the team and gone with simply those few who are really good friends with mom to be outside of the team.

      • Elizabeth

        I understood the OP to be describing a co-ed team that has 30 people on it of both genders, mostly couples. (That last bit is a big assumption, but if it is a co-ed team, it seems likely.) It could be dodgeball??

        In any case, the 5 hostesses are all part of the team and the guest list is made up mostly of people from the team. The MTB will likely have a separate family shower, since it sounds like this one is for friends. I think showers can come in all shapes and sizes, and this one would be (I’d bet) like a cocktail party with presents. They don’t have to be intimate, they can be a giant bash, and everybody could bring a onesie and an inexpensive book. It read to me like the friends got together and told the MTB that they wanted to through her a shower, thinking also that it would be a fun party for the group. (and why not?)

  3. Well Intentioned Host

    Hello ladies! Thank you so much for sharing your words of wisdom! This conflict has really been weighing on my mind, and I’m so grateful to have an outlet for my concerns and a place to seek gracious, principled advice.

    It’s a kickball team, and the point of the shower (at least in my mind) was to have a party for this group of friends to celebrate the mom-to-be. I never could have imagined that we would have to choose whether it was a party for this group or for the mom-to-be.

    I was hurt that the mom-to-be was not more gracious about the hosts not wanting their names to be associated with an event that included the vast majority of people from a group but intentionally excluded others, especially because none of the hosts have a problem with the women the mom-to-be wanted excluded.

    I guess Elizabeth said it best– no good deed goes unpunished.

    Just as an update, the other hostesses were equally divided. Two wanted to have a much smaller, women only shower– if we weren’t including the entire group, it wouldn’t have been a problem to only invite the women the MTB felt closest to. Two wanted to throw the party exactly as the MTB wanted. And two wanted to ask the MTB which she preferred. For cost and location reasons, the shower couldn’t be big unless all 6 hostesses participated, and 2 of the hostesses would not have participated unless these other women were invited.

    So a different hostess approached the MTB and explained that the options. She is upset, but she has agreed to invite the entire group.

    We have our resolution of this issue, but my underlying question still remains– when a conflict like this arises, who should have the ultimate say-so about who is invited to a shower: the mom-to-be or the hosts?

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks for the update. Glad to hear that it turned out ok. To try to answer your question – I think it really is a gray area, I don’t know if any sort of “ultimate” authority rests with anyone. Since a shower is a hosted event, technically the hosts are responsible for issuing invitations. I suppose that this whole thing could have been avoided had you not shown the MTB the guest list and simply asked her if there were any additional people. However, the reality is that the guest of honor usually does need to collaborate with the guest list. I think you all handled it the best you could, and I totally understand your desire not to alienate just a few people from a group activity.

    • Country Girl

      Oh good, I’m also glad you have come to a conclusion that will hopefully be agreeable for all parties. To answer your question, I agree with Elizabeth; typically collaboration is the key to choosing which guests are invited to a shower. For a typical shower, I would give the final right of guest count to the host(s) [since he/she/they are paying for everyone and in charge of providing a suitable location] and I would give the right of veto to the guest of honor [since you want guest of honor to feel comfortable with all those in attendance.]

      However as you just mentioned, this is not a typical shower. It sounds more of a team party with a focus on celebrating the the new arrival, which is lovely. Of course hindsight is always 20-20 and this may not be of much help now, but since you had planned on having the whole team it might have been easier to preface this offer to MTB as a “team party” with a focus on showering her to avoid the confusion.

      Glad all is settled though, I hope you all have a wonderful time!

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