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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.

Baby Shower Planning: The Mom-to-Be's Involvement

Nearly everyone agrees that mothers-to-be are generally involved in at least three issues.

•    The date of the baby shower.

A hostess will almost always ask the expectant mother to pick some convenient dates for her baby shower. To ensure that you won't be in early labor and miss your party, offer dates five to eight weeks before the baby is due. "The baby shower should be held when the mother is pregnant enough to look pregnant, but comfortable enough to enjoy it," says Hill.

•    The baby shower guest list.

When it comes to guests, a good rule of thumb is: You get to say who you'd like to invite, but the hostess determines how many people to invite -- based on the venue, her budget, and what size party she's comfortable hosting.

If your hostess asks you for a guest list, ask her how many people she'd like to have and don't press for more. What if she's planning on something big? Some women or couples like big baby showers, with families and children in attendance, while others think that can take the focus off the mother-to-be. If you'd like yours on the small side, this is the time to ask for something more intimate.

"Surround yourself with the people you enjoy and want to be part of the children's life," says McKinley. "That can be as intimate as a gathering with three of your best friends, if that's what you want."

This is also an opportunity to decide whether or not you want to mix people from different areas of your life (such as family, friends, and co-workers) at one event. While some women feel more comfortable in a group of people who know each other, others say that games or other activities that encourage mixing can break the ice in any group.

•    Baby gift registration.

Though you shouldn't expect everyone to buy the items you register for, registering for the baby gifts you want is one way to communicate your taste and needs to those who want to know them or who may not know you well. Most hostesses will include this information with baby shower invitations.

"Before I had a baby, I never purchased off the gift registry, but now I always do," says Meghan Crimmins, a Washington, D.C. mother. "Having a baby is an expensive undertaking, and it's very helpful to get practical things that you need."

Karen Zuercher, a mother of a toddler and a baby in San Francisco, says that registering for baby gear is especially smart for first-time parents. "It's a good idea to bring a friend who has a child to advise you when you register," she suggests. "You'll have to do less returning. After a wedding, you have more time to return gifts, but you don't want to be doing that with a new baby."

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