Getting the Baby Shower You Want
If your hostess's idea of a great party clashes with yours, with a little tact you can still get the shower and gifts you want.
The most uncomfortable baby shower Tina Haller remembers attending was one hosted by the expectant mother's mom.
"It was obvious the mom-to-be didn't want to play baby shower games and she kept saying, 'I told my mom I didn't want to this,'" says Haller, a mother in Nevada City, Calif. "It was bad form. It made everybody there not have fun because she wasn't having fun."
Baby showers have come a long way from the days of obligatory guessing games, blue or pink balloons, and women-only guest lists. According to The Everything Baby Book, by Sabrina Hill and Joni Russell, today's celebrations range from "American Idol"-themed events to Super "Bawl" Sunday showers to office "laptop" parties (where, says Hill, "everybody has fancy flavors in their coffee and chips in $5 for a gift").
With all the new possibilities to fit different tastes, budgets, and lifestyles, can an expectant mother expect to have some say in her own shower? And is there a way to let the hostess know what you'd like without being rude or hurting her feelings?
Baby Shower Etiquette: Is It OK to Ask for What You Want?
Not everyone agrees that the mother- or parents-to-be should speak their minds about their baby showers. Some experts and moms feel that's only OK if the host or hostess asks you what you'd like; others think you shouldn't even be asked.
"It's inappropriate," says Hill, who also runs an event planning service in California with Russell. "It should all be driven by the host or hostess."
"We feel a shower is a gift," adds Russell. "It's become like a fund-raising opportunity, where moms think they're entitled to have it a certain way. But the true purpose of a baby shower is community building."
Amanda McKinley, editor and blogger at Pregnancy and Newborn, disagrees. "It's definitely OK to expect the shower you want," she says. "Most women only have one really big baby shower. You don't want to come across as aggressive or ungrateful to the hostess, of course, but if it's going in a direction that makes you uncomfortable or unhappy, it's best to speak up."
While the experts disagree, many mothers-to-be just hope for the best -- and muddle through the embarrassing moments.
"The most terrifying thing I remember at the shower for my first baby was that one woman brought her baby and they all made me hold it," recalls Woman's Day "Momfidence" columnist Paula Spencer, now a seasoned mother of four. "I was mortified. It's almost like you're being judged as a parent and you haven't even seen the baby."
Yet Spencer and other mothers agree that these days, moms-to-be don't necessarily need to just grin and bear it. First of all, there are some areas of baby shower planning in which the expectant mother is traditionally consulted. In other areas, there are subtle and polite ways to try to make your wishes known.