Who Should Host a Baby Shower? And Other Must-Know Shower Etiquette

Etiquette experts have rules when deciding who should host a baby shower.

Baby showers are joy-filled parties where friends and family celebrate the new family addition. This tradition has different names in different cultures, dating back to ancient civilizations, but each celebrates the new life entering the world. Whether held before the baby is born, soon after, or just a "sprinkle," as is typical for any child after the first-born, there is no denying that baby showers have been a family tradition for centuries. But before you get down to setting a date, planning a menu, and sending out invitations, one question needs to be answered: Who hosts the party?

The concept of a baby shower is a relatively modern American invention. In 1937, high society author and manners guru Emily Post briefly described "stork showers" in her book Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage.

In the 1922 original publication or her 1927 enlarged edition, no mention of baby showers is in either, so historians date the baby shower to the 1930s era. In the 1937 edition, Post wrote, "…A stork shower is always given in the early afternoon, and only intimate girl and women friends of the mother invited." She elaborated, "presents given at a stork shower include everything for a new baby." By the post-World War II era, the baby shower was an established social tradition for all expectant mothers.

Baby Shower Hosting Etiquette

Who Hosts the Baby Shower?

Traditionally, close friends, cousins, aunts, sisters-in-law, and coworkers of the parents-to-be have been the appropriate hosts for baby shower parties.

Who Shouldn't Host a Baby Shower?

Things get a little hairier when it comes to whether or not it's proper for the immediate family of the parents-to-be to throw the party. Initially, Emily Post frowned on the immediate family of the parents-to-be hosting the party. She felt that because gifts are a primary reason for throwing showers, it appears somewhat self-serving for the grandparents-to-be to throw a party for their child.

Another etiquette expert, Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, agrees—a bit more aggressively, we might add—has stated repeatedly that "…relatives are not supposed to be the host of showers." She even went so far as to say, "There should be token presents only—which is what a proper shower meant before the outrageous expectation that outfitting the nursery is not the responsibility of the parents but of their friends."

Has Baby Shower Etiquette Changed?

Of course, a lot has changed since the 1930s, and over the years, the Emily Post Institute has softened its views on who should or should not host a baby shower. They feel that, along with close friends, cousins, and coworkers, it is now appropriate for anyone, grandparents-to-be included, to host a baby shower as long as there's a good reason.

What are Some Exceptions to Traditional Baby Showers?

Some expectant parents live far from their hometowns, and their immediate families host a shower so that old neighborhood friends can attend. A military couple may suddenly get orders to transfer, so the parents or in-laws throw an impromptu baby shower before the move. For couples adopting, the grandparents-to-be may wish to host a shower, or a later sip-and-see, to welcome the baby to the family and ensure that the adoptive parents have everything they need to bring their addition home.

What Hasn't Changed About Traditional Baby Showers?

One thing hasn't changed over the past century regarding baby shower etiquette. Some still consider it unusual and even unfashionable for parents-to-be to host their baby shower.

Ultimately, baby showers surround parents-to-be with love and support—and a few packs of diapers—ahead of their new arrival. As long as that's the intention behind the celebration, in our view, there's no such thing as an unacceptable host.

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