By: Makena P. Gordon
If you're planning a baby shower, you've probably already thought a lot about the physical details, like where the shower will be held, and the number of guests you will invite. You may also have considered the gift you're going to give and about setting up a baby shower registry, so the new mother gets the most useful and appreciative gifts and supplies. You've probably also thought about holding the baby shower either at your home or in a restaurant or ballroom.
Planning a baby shower is ultimately rewarding, but like so much else these days, its success relies heavily on scheduling. There are deadlines to meet, dates to secure, invitations to plan - it's a lot of time-sensitive work, and as in all things it helps to be organized. If you're super-busy, or simply want to share the hectic challenge and prestige of acting as baby shower hostess, you might also act as co-hostess with another friend or relative of the new mother. The two (or more) of you can divide up the responsibilities in a way that allows you to complement each other. For example, one of you might handle the food and drink aspects of the shower, while the other coordinates the decorations, supplies, invitations, and gift registry. The collaboration can sometimes by tricky, but can also pay off if you're both on the go.
This timeline is meant to break everything down into easy stages, so you don't have a lot of details to plan at once. It's flexible, of course, though for your own convenience you should definitely make the more concrete steps (reservations, mailing invitations, etc) no less than a month in advance.
Eight weeks before: Begin planning the guest list by asking the new mother whom she would like to invite. Determine your budget, discuss the time and place with the mother-to-be and your co-hosts, and also discuss where the baby shower will be held.
Seven weeks before: Compile the guest list, research baby shower registries, and research baby shower favors, gifts, and baby shower games.
Six weeks before: Decide on the shower's theme, and research theme decorations with the mother-to-be. Make any necessary reservations or arrangements for the baby shower's location with the chosen restaurant or facility. Order all favors and plan the gift-wrapping.
Five weeks before: Select and fill out the invitations, including directions to the event. Research bakeries to find a baby shower cake.
Four weeks before: Mail out all the invitations and begin the RSVP list. Begin planning the baby shower menu: either your own or collaborating with the restaurant/facility staff. Schedule your hairstyling appointment.
Three weeks before: Place the order for the cake. Order any decorations that will be used in the baby shower space. Arrange for any extra seating (tables and chairs) at the location. (Tip: if you're holding your shower at home, you can rent extra seating from Rent-All dealerships and from restaurant suppliers and caterers.)
Two weeks before: Purchase all the extra decorations, games and activities to be used. Make final arrangements with the bakery for the baby shower cake. If you're holding the shower in a restaurant or through a caterer, make final revisions to the menu.
One week before: Call all the invited guests who have yet to RSVP. Draft the final version of the guest list, and inform the restaurant or caterer if necessary. Wrap the favors and gifts. Begin printing out seating assignments, placecards, and the final menu.
Three days before: If you're hosting the shower at home, begin cleaning. If the baby shower will be held in a restaurant or facility, drop by to inspect its facilities and the space inside where the shower will be held.
Two days before: Buy your baby shower gift. If you're hosting the shower at home, buy all the groceries and drinks you'll need to prepare the meal and beverages.
One day before: Begin putting up decorations for the baby shower, including setting up all extra tables and chairs. Begin any cooking you can, as well. Set up the bar and drinks service. Make sure the cake is delivered. Get all the games and activities ready (make sure you have plenty of paper and sharpened pencils, etc). Make contact with the guest of honor, just to touch base and discuss the event.
The day of the baby shower: Arrive early at the baby shower location, so you can greet and escort guests as they arrive. Make sure all the decorations, favors, and incidentals like cups and ice are in place. Recruit volunteers to take pictures and video. Keep track of who gave what gift to the new mother. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the fruits of your months of hard work.
One day after: Turn the gift list over to the new mother, so she can send "thank you" notes. Supervise return of any extra tables and chairs to their proper place. Supervise cleanup of party space or the restaurant/facility.
One week to one month after: Finalize any bills or invoices, including any supplies or incidental charges. Keep all receipts for your records.
For further ideas, we also encourage you to see the companion article to this piece, "The 411 On Baby Shower Etiquette", located elsewhere on this site. We may also suggest using online resources as a time-saving tool. Many restaurants and facilities offer virtual tours of their dining areas and banquet rooms on their websites, and frequently post their party planning packages, as well. Directions sites such as mapquest.com are perfect for including directions with invitations, and there are any number of places to purchase baby shower gifts, favors, and games and activities.
Corner Stork Baby Gifts offers a wide selection of baby shower favors, baby shower gifts, baby shower games, and accessories to give your baby shower all the elegance and charm needed to create a truly special event. For a complete look at our catalog, including our vast selection of baby gifts and apparel, visit us online at www.cornerstorkbabygifts.com.