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The Etiquette of Baby Shower Guest Lists

By Amalah

Dear Amy,

I am trying to figure out how many baby showers I need to have. My husband and I have our first baby due early in fall. Early in my pregnancy, my mom and I had planned a small shower for close family and friends a little more than a month before the baby is due. When we discussed it with my mother-in-law, she asked if it would be alright to hold her own shower right after the baby is born. Mom and I have no problem with this idea, it’s Jewish tradition to wait until after the baby is born to have the shower and it’s not as though she and my mom have so many friends in common that there will be a problem with overlap. So, two showers and both seemed totally reasonable.

The problem is my husband. He’s in politics (local and not big name or money), and a lot of people have asked him (some have asked me as well) when the shower is happening. It would be hard to add a bunch of his friends and colleagues to the shower at my mother’s house — her house is rather small and she’s frankly not that interested hosting a bunch of people. My husband would like to invite those people to his mother’s shower; she would probably be less reluctant to host a bunch of people. The problem is, I really don’t want that. I’m a pretty anxious person and I don’t want a lot of people touching my newborn. Also, I really don’t want to feel obligated to entertain a lot of people right after I’ve given birth. To be honest, I am really opposed to this idea. I feel like it would be awful.

So, what should I do about my husband’s many friends? To be honest, I had assumed that people would be relieved not to be invited to a gift-giving party for someone they didn’t know very well, but it appears I was not correct. The ideal solution would be if someone from one of the organizations he works with would offer to host one, but nobody has offered so far (and I may have messed it up by saying my mother was hosting one, oops…). Should we try to host some sort of co-ed something? Do people asking when the shower is really want to be invited to a baby shower? How do we invite these people without seeming like we’re grasping for presents from them? What can I do to include these people and not make myself miserable?

You are under no obligation to invite anybody to anything. Think of this as no different than your wedding — did you simply invite every single person under the sun? Was anybody who found out you were engaged and politely asked about your wedding plans automatically added to the guest list? Of course not. Were there people who you had to cut for space/financial reasons who maybe still wished they’d been invited? Probably.

Same deal here. Unless your mom is willing to change venues for the first shower (like moving it from her home to a restaurant’s party room or other rental space), you’re going to have to limit the guest list for space. And your husband can tell his work connections the truth — your mom is hosting a very small shower with a very small guest list. If he feels like he can’t do that, he can pitch in on the shower planning and help find/pay for a larger venue. You could also approach another close friend/family member about co-hosting with your mom to help offset the stress of the larger-than-planned shower.

Note that it’s POSSIBLE all these people don’t really care about attending the actual shower, but are instead trying to awkwardly fish for registry details so they can get you guys something you actually need, or maybe even coordinate to have a larger group gift sent to the shower. (I attended a small shower where that exact thing happened — the husband’s “work friends” weren’t in attendance but all chipped in on buying a stroller. It was nice!)

What would make the most sense, like you mentioned, would be for the work colleagues to have their own little celebration right at the office. Maybe someone will step up and organize something like that once they’re told (honestly) that your “official” shower is going to be super small with a limited guest list. You said your mom would be hosting one but didn’t have the details then, so hey, turns out it’s just going to be at her very small house and mostly family and your best friends. Anyone with an ounce of social graces should understand that the mom-to-be’s close friends will take precedence over people who only know her through her husband (and even then, only through his work).

If moving the first shower is a no-go and your husband is weird/reluctant about sacking up and just telling all these people that he’s not in charge of the guest list and can’t force his MIL to pack guests into her house like sardines, then sure, host your own no-gifts co-ed party/open house thing. (If you feel up to it, that is.)

What’s NOT going to happen, though, is your husband pressuring you to add all these people to the post-birth shower. Your opposition to that idea is perfectly reasonable and the LAST THING ON EARTH you should be dreading or feel anxious about is your own baby shower. Even if he thinks your concerns are silly or you’ll change your mind and be fine with it later, WHATEVER. This is the part where this veers from the wedding comparison: You’re not being a bridezilla cutting your husband from the planning. You’re the pregnant lady and guess what! YOU GET TO HAVE THINGS YOUR WAY RIGHT NOW.


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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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