In the South, we love to celebrate all types of occasions. But the guidelines for being considered a well-mannered guest or hostess are constantly changing. When etiquette conundrums surface, we turn to Erika Preval of Charm Etiquette school in Atlanta to answer questions on proper social protocol.
Q: My sorority sister’s first daughter is almost 18-months-old, and she’s expecting her second child in early spring. I’d like to host a baby shower to celebrate her good news. Is hosting a shower appropriate for a second pregnancy, or is this considered taboo in the South?
A: Baby showers, like wedding showers, are intended to properly prepare (and equip) a couple with the items needed to have a smooth transition into a new lifestage. In this case, we're talking about parenthood. While Southern tradition leans more to the side of firstborn only showers, modern etiquette allows a few instances for this to be an acceptable celebration. Also known as, not appearing as a gift-grab. It really comes down to how you plan the party. Here are a few suggestions for tastefully pulling it off:
Host a Sprinkle Shower – When pregnancies are a few years apart, many of the things the new baby needs will still be available and in good condition. The mother-to-be will most likely have bottles and the bassinet, but the stroller might still be in use by the older sibling. To fill in voids for baby you could host a “Sprinkle Shower” that is scaled back in both number of guests (strictly close friends and family), and items on the registry. Ask guests to bring just a few necessary items to welcome the new baby.
Hold an Open House – Hosted after the baby is born, when he or she is about 1 or 2 months old. By now, the parents have had time to adjust to a routine. The Southern "Sip and See" is a casual and celebratory open house event. Friends and family are invited to sip on beverages, feast on small bites, and meet the newborn during a designated party time. Your invitation should indicate whether or not to come with gifts. If they are welcome, please don’t open them until after all of the guests have departed.
Throw a Themed Luncheon – You might also consider hosting a themed luncheon or gathering. Still an intimate get-together, guests arrive with specific gift items–books for baby’s library, monogrammed silver pieces, or clothing from your sorority or college. This type of affair is more about personal charm and less about let's complete the registry.
Before planning anything, find out if the mother-to-be is comfortable having a party in her honor. You’ll be considered a thoughtful friend for running any plans by her before the invitations go out to guests.