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Baby Shower Blues

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

Ok, so I am about 7 months pregnant and my baby shower is 3 weeks away. My friend who wanted to throw me a baby shower oh-so-much has been… well, let’s just say less than helpful.

To start out with she wanted me find a place to have it. I didn’t mind doing this since I already knew that the reception hall at my church wasn’t booked for the date that had been picked. She then asked me to buy the invitations, address them all, and then buy the postage and mail them (with no help from her).

Although I don’t feel like it was my responsibility, I did it anyways. Then she told me that she had a cake picked out, but she wanted me or my mom to pay for it. I was offended, and suggested that she ask one of our other close friends if they could help out. Now she has decided that there should be sandwich platters, chips, and pop at the shower. I told her that this was not necessary especially when the shower starts at 1:00pm and everyone should have eaten lunch by that time. She is insisting that those things be at the shower just in case people are hungry, and wants me to pay for half.

I feel like I am throwing myself a baby shower, and I know that is not proper etiquette. If I had known this was going to happen I would have never agreed to let her “host” a shower for me, but I sent out the invitations before I knew things would turn out like this. I want to tell her that I am not paying for or planning anything else, but I’m afraid if I don’t my shower is going to end up being me and a bunch of guest (many coming from out of town/state) sitting around while I open gifts and then they leave. Then again, I don’t want people to think that I am throwing my own baby shower just so people will buy me things. I just don’t what to do at this point. Please help me!

-Baby Shower Blues

Wow. “Less than helpful?” Is that some kind of new slang for “appalling?” Because this is, indeed, absolutely APPALLING behavior. You do not, ever, under any circumstances, ask the mother-to-be to pay for anything at her own shower. You do not make her send out her own invitations. You do not do…well, pretty much anything that your friend has made you do. Asking for input on the location is one thing, but making you choose and (I’m presuming) call to book it yourself another. (And really, the hostess’ home remains the default, unless there is a geographic/space issue.) She’s just…going about this all wrong. ALL WRONG. ETIQUETTE FAIL.

I would love to give her the benefit of the doubt here and say that perhaps she is just really and truly that clueless, and doesn’t KNOW that she’s breaking every shower etiquette rule in the book. Baby showers are thrown FOR the mother-to-be, not WITH, not BY, but FOR. The guest of honor’s involvement should be limited to 1) helping select a date, 2) providing guest list information, and 3) showing up. Sometimes even those first two tasks actually fall to her mother or or spouse or other close relative. You know this, maybe she doesn’t. Maybe by not putting your foot down earlier on, you inadvertently set a bad precedent.

Here’s the problem with etiquette conundrums like this: no matter how “wrong” one person is, it’s also thumpingly bad etiquette for someone else to point their finger and scream “WRONG!!” at them. (Unless you are an advice columnist. Then you get to finger-wag ALL DAY LONG. It’s super sweet.) Etiquette guidelines exist to help us navigate complicated social waters and to feel comfortable when situations unfold in a polite, expected way. You have every right to feel offended by your friend. I would be HORRIFIED. But with only three weeks to go before the shower, you’ve kind of missed your window to finally send her a bunch of “super helpful shower-planning websites with lots of fun ideas yay!” and accidentally copy-and-paste one link that goes directly to the “hostess is responsible for paying” guideline. You can’t just tell her NOW that “oh, you are wrong wrong wrongy mcwrong and I’m not putting up with it anymore, pay for your own stupid sandwich platter.”

I mean, you totally CAN, but I sense you wouldn’t feel super-great about yourself afterward.

So, here are a couple possibilities:

Have your mother intervene. Have her tell your friend that the shower preparations are stressing you out, that you weren’t expecting to have to handle so many details, and that she’d rather your friend deal with HER instead of you. Set up a roadblock to at least prevent her from asking you for more money. Then your mother can decide whether she wants to take ownership of the shower and pay for things (I know, mothers are *technically* supposed to throw showers either, but it’s at least *more acceptable* than throwing your own)…or tell your friend where she can stuff her fundraising requests. Shower co-hosts don’t necessarily have to be best friends by the end of the affair, so it might help to enlist a heavy.

Appoint a second co-host. Similar to the first idea, but in case your mother can’t help out, do you have a close friend you could confide in? One of the friends you had in mind around the time of the cake fiasco? Someone who maybe made shower-hosting noises at one point before you granted the job to your other friend? Seriously, if I was your friend and knew about the behind-the-scenes goings on, I would RUSH to the shower-rescuing job, setting the other friend straight, eliminating your role in the planning, etc.

Don’t get me wrong: you are completely within your rights to SAY SOMETHING TO HER. To put your foot down and say, “Dude. I am not paying for my own shower. I am sorry. It’s just not the way I do things.” But…three weeks. And since you mention a fear that she’ll get all passive-aggressive and just…not plan the shower…I think you need to bring in a back-up host, just in case she does. Frame it as either 1) it’s too much for you, in your delicate state, or 2) clearly the shower has turned into something bigger than she’s comfortable hosting (avoid words like “money” and “afford”) so you’ve asked So-and-So to come help with the final details.

She may flip, of course, irrationally believing that you’re “taking the shower away” or something. Which is why I suggest your mom or someone else who is 100% On Your Side and willing to have the conversation about who-pays-for-baby-showers on your behalf. The hostesses’ priorities should be 1) making sure that the mother-to-be is comfortable and happy throughout the entire process, and 2) the guests’ enjoyment at the actual shower. Their own little preshus feelings and egos are last on the list.

If you can’t find a sympathetic third party, or aren’t sure about how to tactfully tell her about the New Baby Shower World Order, I’m afraid you may indeed just have to suck this one up and continue the planning under the misunderstanding that you are a co-hostess, complete with paying for more food. (I will side with your friend here, to a degree: light snacks and beverages are not be out of line at a 1 pm shower — finger sandwiches and veggies and dip, though, not big subs. If you have guests coming from more than 20 minutes away it’s reasonable to assume they may not have allowed time for a full lunch.) Your guests will never know who paid for what, and as long as you allow your friend to run the show on the day of, it’s unlikely that anyone will secretly accuse you of throwing yourself a shower in order to get gifts. Good luck.

Don’t forget to visit Amalah’s weekly Pregnancy Calendar. You won’t regret it.


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


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 Ama...

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 [email protected].

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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