By: Karie Smallwood

As you probably already know, a baby shower is a lovely time to get together with close friends and family members. For the mother, it can be a time to bask in their affection before the time-consuming hard work of motherhood officially begins. For the hostess, a baby shower presents a time to shower the new mother with gifts and warmth, creating a new wealth of memories.

Baby showers have become very popular in recent years, and every bit as elaborate. So much so, there's a common misconception about the amount of time and money needed to successfully stage a shower event. One party planning expert says that's simply not the case.

"A baby shower isn't about showing off how much you can afford," she says. "It's about getting people together, helping out the new mother with gifts and good times, and taking comfort and joy in the camaraderie."

The illusion that baby showers are by definition expensive affairs, she says, are largely a by-product of today's image-conscious culture.

"Unfortunately, there's too often a sense of one-upsmanship about these things," she says. "The idea that you have to have a party out of The Great Gatsby. Some of the best baby showers are the ones that keep everything simple, letting the emotion do the heavy lifting towards making the party a success."

For baby shower hostesses looking to stick to a budget, she recommends detailing and allocating your expenses in advance, building a little wiggle room but for the most part sticking to your guns.

"One helpful model is the old pie chart from science class. Figure out how much you can spend, and then divvy up the funds accordingly. If you're inviting a lot of people, the food should probably get the bulk of the resources.

If you're planning on a few people in an intimate restaurant, of course the money should go towards the rental there."
Other helpful ideas for the thrifty hostess include planning a baby shower at the home, then asking every guest to bring a dessert or appetizer. If the shower will include libations for the guests, asking them to bring their own liquor, it will also relieve budget crunches.

Decorations are another way to save funds - they don't have to be elaborate, and they don't have to necessarily follow a theme. "Simply presenting a warm and comfortable space, with a lot of places to sit, will usually suffice for an intimate baby shower," the expert says.

"If you like, you might arrange to have a pre-printed banner put up above the new mother's head. You can also use the pile of gifts as your centerpiec."

If the new mother or the hostess is dead set on having the shower at a restaurant, some banquet rooms are available at discounted rates during certain times. Restaurants are usually slowest early in the week – Mondays and Tuesdays, especially, and may bargain with you on their room rental rates. Similarly, they may offer discounts on catering the shower.

Ultimately, it comes down to mentally creating your idea and then honing down the details. "Figure out what you want, and what the new mother wants, and go from there. You can't go wrong with giving the guest of honor what she wants."