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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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  • stephanie

    August 10, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Wow, your friend’s behavior is just ridiculous. I can only assume you are her first friend/family member to have a baby, because I just can’t believe how much she’s trying to put on you.
    As far as the food at 1pm, unless the invitations clearly said something to the effect of “dessert only,” I think most would assume 1pm meant it was a luncheon. It’s a different story if it was at 2 or 3pm, but 1pm is still lunchtime. You’ll probably have some very hungry guests on hand if you only serve cake, especially if they are driving a distance to the shower.

  • Austin

    August 10, 2009 at 11:50 am

    After reading this I sort of want to throw a big giant fit on your behalf! Plan your own shower?! PAY FOR YOUR OWN SHOWER?!?! That takes some nerve! I’d definitely enlist someone else to set your friend straight and rescue you from this mess. Moms are awesome at this type of thing, in my experience. Good luck! I hope everything works out (I am sure it will).

  • Fawn Amber

    August 10, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    OMG. If I knew you were in Arkansas, I’d take over and host your shower my damn self. What a jerk, your friend. You shouldn’t have to do anything except show up and smile. Bless your heart…I think I’d have to conveniently lose her number after the shower is over. Just sayin’.

  • marymuses

    August 10, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    That is simply ridiculous. Definitely enlist the help of a third party–do you have a mutual friend that could “innocently” ask questions about the shower and then set her straight on who is supposed to pay for and plan things? It sounds like your expectations are perfectly reasonable, and she just doesn’t get it.
    I had a very bad experience planning a baby shower for someone, but it was just the opposite issue–she asked me to throw the shower, then proceeded to tell me how to throw it and what we were going to eat (after I explained to her that I was broke and could only afford a cake/punch/presents shower) and how we were going to decorate (all on my dime, of course) and, wow, people can sure be rude. I hope that this experience turns out okay for you. It’s a bummer to be in the middle of a celebration only to have a ton of stress to accompany it.

  • Melissa

    August 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Everyone, including Amy, is right about enlisting someone else to be your heavy. You need a friend to call the “host” and tell her how its going to be. This friend will need to be willing to pick up the slack and should serve as a buffer between you and the so-called host. Everything now goes through this friend – not you. I had to do this for my sister when MY mother-in-law offered to host her shower and then bailed at the last minute. I emailed a friend of our family’s and asked if she wouldn’t mind taking over. She understood and was happy to help. I paid for the cake and helped her with guest lists and invitations and my sister was none the wiser. Pregnant women do not need to deal with this nonsense. I hope everything works out and that you end up enjoying your day – please let us know how it goes!

  • Charlotte

    August 10, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I have to say, I’m in England and to be honest, the baby shower thing is pretty rare over here. I know, like, two people that have ever had one, and they were very different affairs as no one knew what was expected of them and what was going on and just ARRRGGGHH hehe!
    But the general message we got that it was like throwing someone a party. And even we know you don’t ask someone to send the invites, pay for a cake etc if you’re throwing someone a party. Its a present to them..why would you then ask them to pay for said present?! Craziness.
    This “friend” sounds very rude, I can’t believe her attitude. My apologies you have this stress at what should be a happy and exciting time!!

  • Natalie

    August 10, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I had a similar situation with my baby shower and my sister in law and my mother. Only my mom was just as bad as my SIL. they decided to throw me a shower together but both were too busy for invites, which I did, and to get the cake, which I did and somehow the venue ended up being my house, which I had to rent chairs for, and decorate with the decorations my SIL had picked out. (deep breath) the day of my mom showed up with some bread and lunchmeat because she decided we were going to have little finger food sandwichs.
    I had 50 people show up because they both wanted to invite their friends and family (who I am not close to), there were no activities planned, everyone sat around not eating the little gross looking wilted sandwiches and because more than half of the guests didn’t know me well I ended up with a butt load of silly usless infant clothing.
    I confronted my SIL and my mom and they both blamed eachother. With my mom we are fine because moms and daughters and what not, but with my SIL things have never really been repaired.
    I agree with Amalah about getting a heavy but that will only put a bandaid on the issue, in the long run I think you might end up distancing the friend no matter what you do, unless you just keep quiet and go with it at this point. But if the friend is this inconsiderate on other issues, it might not be the biggest loss ever you know?

  • Ashley F

    August 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    This is why showers always make me SO antsy. I hate asking people for stuff, even when they offer it and then when stuff like this happens… ugh *hides head*.
    That being said, your friend is hopefully just a moron instead of an insensitive b***. Hopefully. Regardless, DEFINITELY get your mom or a friend to help you… Mom’s are AWESOME at this kind of stuff. SO are good friends… in fact, I would LOVE to be the person who acts all shocked and appalled that this person would even THINK of asking you to do all that… hehehehehe. A little playacting goes a long way and hopefully your “heavy” is good at it. At the end of the day, seriously consider whether or not this is a one time thing that this person has done, or if there are other instances where she has acted so b****y. If there are multiple instances… cut her loose.

  • Valerid

    August 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    cancel the shower. are you really going to get happy/loving/warm vibes from this situation? call your friends and cancel saying it isn’t coming together and you are too tired to put any more effort into it. if (when) another friend offers to help, try and lead her down the path to another date so you start fresh.
    one more thing. any chance the flaky friend REALLY cannot afford the shower and is just too embarassed to admit it? maybe a recent job loss?

  • Karen

    August 10, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Wow, what a be-otch!! That’s terrible. Where are you located – if you’re in Atlanta, I’m ON IT!! Some people have no manners at all. Definitely ask your mom or a friend or even a sympathetic woman you know. This is supposed to be a happy and wonderful time in your life, who needs such garbage?

  • class factotum

    August 10, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Inexcusable. I have no supporting anecdotes to offer except that when a few other women and I hosted the wedding shower for my friend Leigh, one woman took over, made all the food and $$ decisions without asking anyone, and then, on the day of the shower, kept insisting that the arriving guests not let her two obnoxious toy poodles outside as they were coming in.
    When we discovered the dogs had PEED ON THE PRESENTS, she still did nothing about them. It wasn’t until another co-host, tired of being jumped on by said dogs, snapped that Mace needed to put those f***ing dogs out that she acted. She put them in the bathroom, where they promptly pooped on the floor.
    Did I mention Mace was a psychologist?

  • Kayla

    August 10, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    I feel so sorry for you because I’ve been there. One of my aunts let me know about four months before my son was due that she and my other two aunts wanted to throw a shower for me. She even had the date picked out without asking for my input. I am in nursing school and I also work nights at a hospital so because of my crazy schedule, I was not available on the date she picked, nor any weekend up until his birth. Also, my husband and I had already decided that we wanted a shower/”meet the baby” party after he was born because I was busy and we wanted a party rather than a dainty, women-only shower.
    I told my aunt this and she was fine with it. Well, in the few weeks before he was due, I thought we should at least talk about some of the details for the party, but she never brought it up again. I, of course, didn’t want to ask because I thought that would be rude. I knew I should have never accepted her offer to throw a shower because my aunts have a track record of not doing what they say they are going to when it comes to me. They are selfish, negative people. They didn’t even show up to my bachelorette party because one went to a concert and the other two went to a football game.
    So, my son was born and I saw my aunts several times in the two weeks after he was born and not one of them ever mentioned a word about the party that they so badly wanted to throw. In the meantime, I was stressing out because I wanted a party. I wanted to bring together all of our friends and relatives that my husband and I rarely see so they could meet our first child. I must admit, I also wanted my son to get gifts. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t?
    It was so unfortunate that I had to experience this kind of stress when I should have felt nothing but love and warmth from ALL of my family. Thank god for my sister-in-law and my mom. They were so angry with my aunts that they just said screw it and planned the shower in a matter of days. It was at my sister-in-law’s house and tons of people showed up, even out-of-towners on only a week’s notice. The one aunt that originally wanted to throw the shower didn’t come because she had other plans with her husband’s family. The other two did show up, but one of them was a total b**** because she wasn’t the center of attention.
    I hope things work out for you.

  • Della

    August 11, 2009 at 12:28 am

    So, just as an aside to anyone that is hosting a shower and wanting tips on being useful… Please, PLEASE check with the mother ahead of time about what items (gifts) are actually NEEDED, and please communicate that to the guests.
    Although I know it’s tacky to gripe about gifts, the fact of the matter is it’s called a shower because the attendees plan to SHOWER the mother with gifts. A friend of mine threw a shower for my second baby, partly just for the party, but in part because we’re dead broke (hubs out of work 7 months at the time) and could use the “help” of the shower gifts.
    At my shower fiasco, the hostess…
    (1) suggested having the party at an expensive restaurant and splitting the bill 50-50 with my mom (who a. was not assisting with hosting the party since she lives in another state and was just coincidentally going to be in town that day and b. is a missionary and has no money)
    (2) asked me where i was registered, and when i did not respond within 6 hours, looked up stores where she thought i might be registered, and wrote the answer she came up with ON THE INVITATIONS. without waiting for me to get back to her. thus, she told everyone i was registered at target (i was… for my first baby… the old registry still existed) and did not mention i was registered at babies r us (where i had registered for some items that we actually really need)
    (3) i made a point to tell her to please communicate to everyone NOT to buy us one particular itam (onesies) because we literally have two dozen in each size. she not only did not pass this info along, for her own gift, she went on to buy us… you guessed it… two fancy onesies in each size range. and didn’t include a gift receipt. so when i went to return them for what i really did need, the store (expectedly) gave me credit for “the most recent sale price” which was LITERALLY 10% of the original price, and i was able to exchange all 8 items for…. ONE clothing item.
    So, BSB, I’m right there with you on the frustration. Thankfully, though, the party itself was a ton of fun for me and for everyone that came. Which covers a multitude of frustrations. 🙂

  • hope

    August 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Something similar just happened to a good friend of mine but with a bachelorette party. Her maid-of-honor invited everyone to the party, but then never planned it and went out of town.
    I don’t know much about baby shower etiquette, but I’m positive you’ve got friends and family members that would jump at the chance to help. Maybe you could give your friend a list of people who would be willing to help, and she could delegate tasks to them – if not her, then give your mother the list and SHE can delegate the tasks. It really doesn’t sound like your “friend” would be upset by someone else taking over. It almost sounds like that’s what she wants.

  • Sonya

    August 12, 2009 at 8:44 am

    I’m sorry but your friend is being very rude. If I were you, I would just ask someone else to take over and not even invite her to the shower!

  • Danielle

    August 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    The problem with someone else throwing your party is that it’s not going to be exactly what you want unless they ask for your input (and not your money). They bring their own idiosyncracies into it as well.
    For example, my brother’s wife’s half-sister is throwing their shower and made a point of saying that the shower is not a “gift-opening party” – um, isn’t that what a shower is about? If it’s not, then say “no gifts please” but instead she writes on the invite “you can bring a small gift.” So essentially it sounds like you need to have two gifts – one small one that my sister in law can open at the shower and another one that you’ll need to ship to them unless you want to appear like a cheapskate. Also, she sent invites to the entire family even though 95% of us live across the country. I just find the whole thing bizarre.
    I’m pregnant with my second and am glad that I don’t have to deal with anyone offering to throw me a shower.

  • Anonymous

    August 12, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Wow, this makes me feel a lot better about *my* upcoming shower.
    I was getting frustrated because of several things – I gave mom and a friend the invite list and then was informed it was ‘wrong’ and I had to redo it, mom insisted on inviting a dozen of her closest friends (most of whom I have never even MET), and friend insisted on having the registry store picked out and done a week after the shower was even first mentioned and then insisted on just including where she *thought* I would register when I failed to deliver a store name within a few days.
    I did redo the guest list to include several out of state relatives (who won’t be coming, just as I suspected), I gave in to my mom (I will enjoy time with my friends, and well, she can entertain her own friends), and my mom fixed the invitations (she handwrote the actual registry stores on the envelope flaps.)
    All in all, not such a bad thing given that it could be worse and they could have made me do my own shower. At least I am assured that the event itself will be pleasant and fun and that despite some quirks, they really do have my best interests at heart.

  • Charlotte

    August 12, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Danielle – I kind of get where ur sister’s in law’s sister is coming from. Like I said, we in England don’t generally do the shower thing – but the few that have had them haven’t been happy because of the “cheapskate” reason. Basically, all the showers were anonymous – so lots of presents were bought and oohed and ahhed over but the mums didn’t know who had got what.
    95% of the gifts were therefore very small and very inexpensive…this is absolutely fine..however it is not if you don’t plan on then getting the baby anything once it is born!
    For example…friend of a friend bought at least a nice teddy bear or something each time a baby was born. She gleefully used the anonymity to literally buy like a pounds worth of bibs (i don’t know the exchange…like two dollars?!) and then NOTHING else for her friends new babies. Everyone worked out it was her and it was just not good.
    So maybe thats what your sister’s shower thrower is trying to do? Maybe she wants to ensure she gets some little things to open at the shower and also some presents when the baby is actually born??

  • Meredith

    August 13, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    So, I had to play the “heavy” for a friend for her baby shower a few years ago.
    Another one of her friends, Jane, had offered to throw the shower and then didn’t do anything for months. Finally my friend asked if I would have a talk with Jane and offer, if necessary, to take things over. In talking to Jane, I found out that a) she was having a hard time dealing with our mutual friend’s pregnancy as it reminded her of some unhappiness in her life and b) she didn’t fully realize that her inactions were causing so much stress.
    There was a happy ending to this as Jane got it together and we both threw a great party for our friend. So…yes, get a “heavy” in there to talk to your friend. She might just need a wake up call about things. And if she is still a rude jerk, at least you know someone will be throwing you something in a way that makes you comfortable and happy.

  • TheMrs

    August 20, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I am so sorry! Almost this same exact thing happened to me, only with my sister-in law, who also made it a point that SHE was going to throw me a shower! I did all my invitations – picked them out, sent them out, received RSVP’s. I bought all the decorations. My mom was very upset about the whole thing and helped me buy the food and other misc. things. Luckily my best friend had ordered a wonderful cake that was the best part of the party. BUT one week before the shower my “host” says she leaving to go out of state for a funeral, but I can still use her house. This would normally be ok had she not told me that she had no desire to go… until she met some guy at a bar a few weeks prior! Then she calls me a few days before the shower and tells me that she wants to change the date of the shower because my husbands side of the family at the funeral (all of a sudden) wants to be there! I started laughing, my mom was NOT happy, so she called and politely said “NO, we will not change the date.” Afterall we had friends and family coming from out of town, cake ordered/paid etc. etc. Turns out that they made it anyways catching early flights. The “host” was tired from flying and at the end of the party when there were still some people left, she tells me that I need to “get rid of them” so that she can go to sleep! Ah! Just typing this gets me mad! If it weren’t for my wonderful mom, husband, and best friend, I probably would have been an 8month pregnant emotional disaster!! So, again, I am so sorry, this kind of thing should never ever happen to anyone, let alone Pregnant ladies!

  • Bummed

    August 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    At least someone wants to throw a shower for you.
    I moved across country over 2 years ago to be with then fiance now husband. Travel full time for work and haven’t made many friends here yet.
    Didn’t get a bridal shower or bachelorette party although several people said “You should have one” but nothing more. Now expecting our first baby and I’m all on my own.
    Even if I had to do it all myself, I would be thrilled to have a friend or someone who cared enough to just WANT to throw me a shower.

  • Liz

    September 8, 2013 at 12:02 am

    So, what brought me to this site, is that TMRW is my very first ever baby shower, and it is 11pm after a very long day of being part of an annual neighborhood-wide yardsale, and the main hostess of my baby shower JUST called me, and is having me bring ALL of he craft supplies needed for the baby scrapbook activity that is part of the shower tomorrow, which was her idea in the first place.  

    Also, i voluntarily designed the baby invites 9I’m an illustrator), but ended up paying for & sending all the stationary/invites, got chastised for not registering at “enough” place by my MIL 9 I registered at babies r us only), and am putting together the music playlist for the shower by myself.  

    Also, the one request i had for the shower is no games–I always feel awkward playing games, and wanted just music, food, and then the craft idea my friend brought up.  now I am organizing that craft, and my MIL is insisting that we play some baby shower related games, as well. UGH.  can’t wait for this to be over with.

    Oh yeah, and my MIL is already planning a 2nd shower for the SAME baby, just a month after this one–AND she wants me to invite all the same friends coming to this one. not happening.

  • hmegallery

    February 24, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    I have a problem similar to this topic. and I have had an answer by reading this post. I think time management is very important to get a baby shower celebration becomes more regular. thank you for answering the same question in my mind.