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Self-Hosting a Joint Baby Shower: Yay or Nay?

Jun25

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Dear Amalah,

Here’s another baby shower question for you – with somewhat of a unique twist. My close college friend and I are pregnant (with boys!) at the same time – in fact, her due date is just 10 days before mine. We live relatively close to each other, but since our local friends and family don’t overlap that much, we are each having separate baby showers thrown by our sisters.

Our close group of college friends, however, is shared and lives almost exclusively out of town. Since the days of college weddings have dwindled over the past few years, our college friends have made a habit of traveling to baby showers as an excuse to see each other once or twice a year. Because of this, my friend and I would like to have a joint baby shower for our shared out-of-town friends. This way, our friends won’t have to travel twice or choose one shower over the other. Plus, this allows us to spend an entire weekend with these traveling friends without dividing our attention between them and the local friends and family who will attend our larger showers.

The catch is that none of our friends have offered to throw this baby shower for us. I’m not at all surprised by this as the showers we’ve travelled for in the past have been thrown by the mom-to-be’s sister. Our sisters are already graciously hosting our individual showers, and I certainly don’t want to ask them to do double duty. So my question is this: is it too tacky for my friend and I to host our own joint shower? On one hand, it would be totally normal for me to host a shower for her and vice versa, but does the joint aspect of the shower take us outside the bounds of etiquette?

Even an old-school etiquette dinosaur like me can admit that not everything is always black and white, and sometimes the shades of gray will trump the by-the-book etiquette rules regarding showers, invite wording, registries, etc. But hosting your own baby shower is, under pretty much any and all circumstances, going to raise some eyebrows and push you into the realm of tacky.

That’s not to say that your basic idea — one joint shower for shared, out-of-town friends — is a bad one. It’s actually quite excellent! And I’m sure there’s a way to make it cute and somewhat acceptable, with a goofy invite worded like “Jane is throwing Becky a baby shower! Becky is throwing Jane a baby shower! OH SNAP. IT’S DUELING BABY SHOWERS! YOU’RE INVITED TO THE THUNDERDOME! PLZ PLACE UR BETS & ALSO RSVP.”

But to be solidly inside the bounds of etiquette, it technically should be someone else’s idea, thrown on your behalf. Otherwise you run the risk of  giving the appearance/suggestion that the two of you simply cooked up a plan to get the most gifts from the most people. AGAIN, NOT SAYING THAT’S YOUR INTENTION. But that’s how it might be perceived by some people, and I would kinda hate anyone thinking anything like that about me, because I am twitchy like that. Especially old college friends who I might not still be super-close with, who might gossip amongst themselves, who might not see a self-sent invitation to travel far away with two baby gifts in hand as the thoughtful, more-convenient gesture you intended it to be.

(Though to be fair, if you guys invited me to a joint shower battle dome with the promise that a winner will be crowned via a pregnant lady dance-off, or something, I would probably not judge and would definitely attend.)

So. You and your friend have a couple options. One is to simply reach out to one of these friends — someone you think would make a prime shower hosting candidate — and subtly (or maybe even not-so-subtly) float the idea to her. Explain the separate family-hosted showers and how you both are aware that it’s a lot to ask of everybody, so maybe one special event for the whole gang would be more fun? What do you think? Could you help with that? And while I suppose it’s mildly tacky to straight-up ask someone to host a shower for you, it’s at least not tacky on a wider, public level. (I personally wouldn’t be offended if a friend asked me — I usually assume showers these days are being handled by family, and if I learned otherwise I would be happy to step up. But I’m not a mind reader! Just talk to me! Tell me! With words!)

If that friend doesn’t pick up on the hint or offer to host, however, I still see two other possibilities. First, talk to your sisters and pick shower dates the same weekend. Someone gets Saturday and the other takes Sunday, or something. Sure, it’ll be a super busy weekend for you two, and won’t give you the awesome girl-time bonding experience, but it will at least solve the traveling issue and take your shared out-of-town guests into consideration, which in and of itself is just good hosting/shower etiquette.

If the dates have already been chosen — or you guys really value the whole “getting the gang back together” thing and want the visit to be more about quality time together than shower games and gifts —  just invite everybody for a girls’ weekend. It doesn’t have to be about a shower at all, especially since you both are already having big showers with (I assume) plenty of gifts.

“Hey everybody, I know we always use baby showers as an excuse to get together, but Jane and I have been thinking: Our sisters are throwing separate showers on separate dates and we know that’s way too much to ask of everybody, plus family and other friends always mean we never get enough time together. So what we’d really love is to plan a non-shower girls weekend sometime in the month of X. Would the weekend of Y work for everybody? Seriously, no gifts or anything, we just want to see you guys before the babies get here and take over our lives and stuff.”

By simply removing the word “shower” (and thus the obligation to bring gifts) from the whole thing, you two are free to throw a great party or arrange a spa day or whatever you want and be completely within the bounds of proper etiquette. And let’s be honest, I bet a lot of your friends will still bring or send you a gift. I certainly would, because babies! Yay! But you’re in the clear as long as you make it clear that this isn’t a shower and you don’t expect gifts. Man, etiquette is kind of passive aggressive sometimes, when you really think about it.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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11 Responses to “Self-Hosting a Joint Baby Shower: Yay or Nay?”

  1. Amy A. Jun 25 at 4:21 pm Reply Reply

    Wow, the spa day sounds like a LOT more fun than a traditional shower with “guess which candy bar is melted in the diaper” and “can you taste the baby food and name the flavor without vomiting” games, anyway.  That is DEFINITELY what I would do.  And I think you should go to some fun location that is not in your hometown – because once those babies come you won’t be as mobile and you’ll be glad you took the opportunity to go somewhere fabulous and fun with your girlfriends!

  2. Beth Jun 25 at 5:23 pm Reply Reply

    The thought of a baby shower was so overwhelming to my Mom that she asked if I minded taking care of the invitations if she handled the venue/food part. So the guests recieved an invitation via email from me, (which at this point in my pregnancy, I don’t care about etiquette much!) with instructions to RSVP to my mother. I feel like if anyone is going to think rude things about me at least they will probably have the grace to do it behind my back, and my Mom was relieved to not have to design and address and mail all of the cutesy baby shower invites.

  3. Amy Jun 25 at 6:38 pm Reply Reply

    Girls weekend!! Friends will gift you anyway and it will be a lot more fun than a shower! But keep the thunder dome battle of the bellies as a theme, cause that’s just awesome!

  4. Myriam Jun 25 at 9:37 pm Reply Reply

    I say: know your audience. Will your friends be offended? If the answer is a categorical no, than go ahead. If it’s iffy, maybe go the Amalah route. The other option is to straight up ask a friend to “front” the event. You plan everything, but a friend (not the pregnant one), sends the invitation (that you wrote for her) and deals with the RSVP and gift related questions.

  5. Tiffany Jun 25 at 11:18 pm Reply Reply

    If you think people would respond best/travel for a shower, let me say I’m a BIG fan of the “stock the baby’s bookshelf” shower to reduce the tacky/grabby vibe. Little kid books are nice and inexpensive, and who doesn’t like revisiting their favorite books from childhood (or their own child’s favorites)?

  6. Rachel Jun 26 at 1:28 am Reply Reply

    So I’m very old-school etiquette on this one. It’s really old-fashioned, but I always feel uncomfortable about self-hosted showers or even showers hosted by a family member, especially an immediate family member. I guess the idea of a family asking for gifts just still makes me uneasy. I know that mothers/sisters host them now and that’s generally acceptable, but I am still really uncomfortable with the idea of self-hosting. You know your friends better than I do, though. It sounds like you are more interested in seeing your friends than in getting gifts from them, so I personally love the spa day idea. And if your friends find baby shower games as tedious as I do, they’d probably love the chance to see you for another type of get-together (to be honest, I didn’t know traveling to baby showers was even a thing; if I get invited to one that’s far away, I just mail a gift).

  7. Miki Jun 26 at 3:03 am Reply Reply

    Lets make new traditions and baby shower culture. A ton of showers are self hosted or hosted by family members. Why not? There all kinds of baby shower re-designs . You got gender reveals, sprinkle baby showers for moms that already have kids, You got your southern sip and see parties for after the baby is born. and many many more. I run a baby shower authority site and I can tell you that showers where only the mom-to-be’s friend can host the party is a thing of the past. Great post by the way!

    • IrishCream Jun 26 at 12:20 pm Reply Reply

      Why not? Because it is tacky and rude to ask people to give you gifts. End of story. And don’t get me started on gender reveal parties…

    • CoCo Jun 26 at 4:36 pm Reply Reply

      I agree! The bottom line is that friends and family come together to celebrate the upcoming arrival. Who cares who throws the party???

  8. judi Jun 26 at 11:31 am Reply Reply

    i’d totally go the ‘non-shower’ route, and put it exactly how amalah suggested, stating that your sisters are throwing you separate showers but you still want to get together for a girls’ weekend. i wouldn’t be surprised if your friends still bring you some gifts, and it’ll probably be nice to have a ‘real’ shower and just fun girl time w/o the pressure of an official party.

  9. Becky Jun 26 at 10:47 pm Reply Reply

    Once again, great advice from Amalah. Your close friends are going to buy or bring you a gift, shower or no, and will most likely appreciate the opportunity to spend real quality time with you and the other friends, absent the shower festivities and games. This is especially true if they’re traveling long distances – what a great opportunity to spend a day or weekend together rather than just a couple of hours at a shower.

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