How To Throw A Beautiful Baby Shower On Your Budget

Being a great hostess doesn’t come naturally to all of us, but it’s a valuable skill that can be learned. As the woman of the house, taking pride in planning get-togethers and events is an enjoyable way to flex your hostess muscles.

By Gwen Farrell4 min read
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Shutterstock/Anne Ponomarenko

You might feel intimidated at the thought of planning something for a friend or family member, but anxiety about something is usually indicative that you care deeply about it. If a loved one is preparing to welcome a baby, throwing a baby shower for them is one of the best ways to celebrate them and their motherhood, and to supply them with everything they need for their little one’s arrival.

Choose a Theme

The theme of the shower you’re throwing will determine the invites, the decorations, and the overall tone for the day. If you’re planning it around the baby’s gender, you might choose to lean in heavily to baby blues or light pinks and blushes. According to the mom-to-be’s wishes, she might want a more gender-neutral theme if she’s leaning into neutral tones or waiting to find out the sex of the baby. Choosing a theme is fun! And once you have that decided, your vision for the rest of the shower should easily fall into place.

Determine Your Budget

Knowing how much money you have to spend will determine a lot about the shower you can throw. Your friend, sister, or whoever is having the baby might deserve the Rolls-Royce of baby showers, but you have to work with what you have. 

Throwing a shower that looks good and is memorable isn’t all that expensive, actually. The most significant costs will probably be the food, the decor you choose, and the gift you buy for the mom. It’s pretty easy to find gently used decor in your local Facebook neighborhood or mom group, or even on resale apps. The rest of the decorations can easily be crafted or DIY. Take inspiration from Instagram or Pinterest, and don’t buy the most expensive gift on the registry if you’re trying to throw an extravagant shower – unless it’s in your budget to do so. 

If you’re trying to cut costs as much as possible, be sneaky about it. Throw the shower at a friend’s house or your own home, or use your connections to find a nice venue. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a balloon arch that will be deflated in a day if you can’t afford to. If you buy tons of decorations and don’t have any other reason to use them afterward, resell them to get back some of your money. Make your own cake, cookies, or desserts, or ask women who’d like to host with you to help out with food and decorations.

Be Considerate About Food

If you know that your mom-to-be can’t stand spicy foods or is experiencing other pregnancy aversions, it’s probably best not to include them at her shower. Traditional pregnancy norms dictate that pregnant moms should stay away from alcohol and foods like sushi, deli meat, and other potential harbors of bad bacteria, so consider those aspects when you’re planning a menu. The last thing you need is mom rushing for Tums or throwing up at her own shower.

Again, when planning any event, food is an expense that can quickly rack up unexpected costs. If you’re co-hosting the event with a few other ladies (which is highly recommended), assign different hors d'oeuvres, desserts, drinks, and other dishes to them.

Decide on Your Guest List

The size of your guest list will be determined by your venue. Know the space you’re working with and have a good idea of how many people can easily be accommodated. The simplest way to go about making a guest list is to start with the most important people and work your way down. Following the mom-to-be, include her mom and mother-in-law or other maternal figures, sisters, in-laws, and the baby’s godmother, for example. Once you have blood relatives accounted for, you can include people like friends, sorority sisters, former roommates, or co-workers. (Check with the mom-to-be beforehand to see if your list has her seal of approval.) 

If your venue is already bursting at the seams, you probably don’t need to include her mom’s cousin’s sister’s friend or anyone like that. Though it’s not usually common for dads to be at showers, you might want to enlist his help for loading the car with gifts afterward or include him wherever you can.

Time It Right

There’s no right or wrong time to throw a shower, but a few weeks out from baby’s due date is ideal. You still want mom to be moving around easily and have her feel comfortable enough to enjoy everything (the sweet spot for most pregnant mothers is in the second trimester, if that helps you set a date). Send out invitations at least a month in advance, and make sure you have all your RSVPs in by a certain date. 

Encourage Organization

Becoming a mom is already stressful enough, but a shower can take off much of the pressure to get absolutely everything you need for your baby. When you’re throwing a shower, you’ll definitely need the parents-to-be’s baby registry (or registries) to send with the invitations. To take additional stress off mom, have her mark her much-needed or much-wanted items on it so guests know what she really wants as opposed to what’s nice for her to have. Most registries have ways to do this. If you know that she really wants a stroller, have her put that at the top of the list so she won’t be stuck with extra burp cloths or towels. If her most-wanted item is particularly expensive, split the cost between you and other guests. She’ll get the gift she really wants and needs for baby, but you won’t be footing the entire bill. When in doubt, diapers and wipes are always a need.

Plan the Shower Activities

Baby showers are usually a mix of socializing, eating, games, and presents. Decide how many games you want to play (I suggest a maximum of three) and what supplies you will need, including if there will be a small prize for the winners. There are many print-at-home games available for purchase on Etsy that are customizable and/or themed. You should also ask the mom-to-be if she wants to open her gifts at the party or do it later with her husband. While the former is the standard, if the mom-to-be doesn't like being the center of attention or you're expecting there to be a lot of gifts, it's okay to skip unwrapping at the shower.

Enlist Help

Because I grew up in the South I’m not entirely sure if this is a widespread practice everywhere, but it definitely is in Southern Living. If you want to throw the best shower possible but are limited by things like budget and space, enlist a few other hosts to help out, like the mom-to-be’s friends, sisters, aunts, cousins, etc. Make sure you put their names on the invitation as the hostesses and split all the tasks between you. One person can handle food, one person can handle the venue, and so on. Teamwork makes the dream work, and you definitely have the best chance of an enjoyable day if you’re recruiting other folks you work well and communicate with easily.

Closing Thoughts

If your day is well planned and well thought-out, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t go off without a hitch. Enjoy the day, and most of all, celebrate your mom-to-be. Dress up fancy, put on some heels or makeup, and look nice for the guest of honor. Use your best china or tea cups to have an added sense of elegance, and make sure you’re doing whatever you can to make her feel special and appreciated. Shower her with love, affection, gifts, and food, and take plenty of pictures to remember the day by. The only thing that will top the event is the arrival of the little one, and you’ll get to celebrate all over again. 

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