20-40-60 Etiquette: Who hosts baby shower — friends or family?
QUESTION: Is it still improper for family members to host a baby shower?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: Of course you can host a baby shower for a family member! As long as everyone involved is OK with it, I think that is very sweet.
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: This is not the first time we've had a similar question about this issue, so you aren't alone in wondering about it. Traditionally, immediate family members don't host baby showers as they might come across as self-serving solicitations in conjunction with the mother-to-be. However, as I've noted before, sometimes family members are in the same friend group of people who would host a shower. In that case, I say, jump in! Wanting to do something nice for a loved one like that is not a serious etiquette breach, and if you are the only one in a position to host such a shower, then please do so.
Keep in mind the purpose of a shower is to support the new mom and new baby. As a family member, you can look for other ways to do that beyond a shower. You could host a party to let friends meet the baby some time after the birth, for example. Or cook meals to put in the family freezer to use whenever they're needed. There are lots of ways to help — and celebrate — a new mom.
HELEN'S ANSWER: It is still proper for close friends, co-workers, aunts and cousins to give baby showers for the mother-to-be. Since gift giving is involved, it is better that mothers and sisters not ask for gifts for their own family.
There are always exceptions to the rule. A reader shared with me about a mother who hosted a baby shower for her daughter because all of her friends had many wedding showers. The mom invited these couples, plus others, for a great dinner and had a party and a baby shower for the parents-to-be. That way her friends didn't have to host another party in the daughter's honor. Everyone had a wonderful time.
Then there is the daughter who lives out of town, and the parents and grandparents-to-be want everyone to know a baby is coming. Sometimes an open house to “meet the baby” would work here. That way, longtime friends could bring gifts if they choose.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Christina Nihira, journalist and community volunteer: Traditional etiquette dictates that nonfamily members host the shower. According to Emily Post online guide, "gifts are central to showers; having a member of the honoree's (or husband's) immediate family host appeared self-serving."
To many people such a custom seems outdated. A close relative like a sister or mother-in-law should feel comfortable about planning a baby shower. Other appropriate hosts can include a relative, friend or co-worker.
Ultimately, it's important to remember the real purpose of the party. To “shower” the mother-to-be with lots of love and support besides celebrate a new bundle of joy.
Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.