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December 31, 2011 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Invitations for a (co-ed) baby shower.

I'm helping plan a baby shower for my wife. She has been very clear that she wants the shower to be co-ed, but having not been to very many co-ed baby showers ourselves we feel a little unsure of the proper protocol. Do we send an invitation to my single father? His unmarried brothers? My male cousins? As a couple we're as feminist as can be but this still seems a bit odd to us, and we know it will seem very odd to them.

More generally, what is the etiquette for inviting people to a baby shower who are very unlikely to attend? Some of these people live rather far away, and we'd be very surprised if they made the trip just for a shower -- but we'd like to invite them anyway just to let them know they're in our thoughts without leaving the impression that we're trolling for gifts.

Between the co-ed and the probably-won't-attends the list of possible invitations seems to be growing uncomfortably wedding-sized, which seems like it's much too much. How do we make decisions about who to include and who to exclude?

How have other people navigated this sort of thing? My wife's friends will be mailing the actual invitations, if that makes a difference in terms of how you think an invitation will be perceived. Thank you!
posted by gerryblog to Human Relations (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am male and attended a co-ed baby shower last month. The invitation list was not limited to couples only -- family, friends, co-workers, some single, some male. Invite whomever you think would like to share in your celebration. If they feel awkward, they won't come.
posted by modernnomad at 11:31 AM on December 31, 2011

(and they did the invite thing simply through evite so they could get a handle on numbers... family members contributed food, the father-to-be's sister organized some 'games', and everyone else brought a gift. they had a registry, but I found it it rather tasteless to request "gift cards to best buy" so I ignored it and bought them something baby-related).
posted by modernnomad at 11:32 AM on December 31, 2011

Does it have to be billed as a baby shower? If you're planning a co-ed party for friends and family, can't you just call it that? I'm assuming based on your description that you're not planning a traditional baby shower with insipid games and other stereotypical "girly" activities. Frankly, I'm female, and I skip baby showers unless it's clear from the invitation that they're just regular parties with people I like.

Invite the folks you want there, as well as your immediate family and any relatives you're especially close to. Call it a "party to celebrate our impending parenthood" or something like that. That way, people who might feel uncomfortable attending a traditional baby shower will know that they're not in for endless rounds of Pin-the-sperm-on-the-egg and are more likely to say yes.
posted by decathecting at 11:41 AM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

My husband and I called this same event the:


For real.

We indicated where we were registered, and we didn't play any silly baby shower games, and at some point, I opened gifts in front of people who were interested in watching and those who weren't engaged themselves otherwise.

Our party of this sort was more for our friends as my family and my husband's mother threw separate showers for relatives earlier, but I can see this working for a family, as well. Oh, and we served alcohol at that party. Just wine and beer, and I didn't drink any, but I think it helped to entice people to come.
posted by zizzle at 11:53 AM on December 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

decathecting, zizzle, I have to say I like the way you think.
posted by gerryblog at 11:58 AM on December 31, 2011

If you are going to have a co-ed baby shower I would absolutely invite your single dad, his brothers, and male cousins, if you'd like them to attend.

Due to geography, I ended up having two baby showers (one out of state closer to family and another locally was thrown for me by a friend), both of which were co-ed. An e-vite was used for the local shower. The nice thing about some of the e-vites is that you can see who else is attending, so men who are invited will see that there are also other males attending. Neither shower had any games and both had lots of delicious food (one was a brunch and the other was a cookout).

I have a number of friends who live across the country and abroad, but I mostly invited those that were within a reasonable driving distance. I avoided inviting people from far away so that they didn't feel obligated to send gifts. Also, putting up guests overnight can be stressful. If you want to let people know that you are thinking about them, sending them a birth announcement when your little one arrives should be sufficient. Odds are that people from far away would rather come visit you once the baby arrives instead of beforehand anyway (unless they don't like babies, of course).
posted by TheCavorter at 12:05 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been to a co-ed baby shower and it was as decathecting and describe zizzle, just a laid back party to celebrate the upcoming changes in the lives of the happy couple. We did bring presents but it didn't feel totally necessary, and all kinds of people were invited.

Also, as it was set up more as a fun family barbeque there was less pressure for people to travel, so that got around at least some of the awkwardness of inviting people you don't think will come. You should definitely still invite them, maybe add a note saying you realise they may not be able to make it but you're thinking of them anyway. I got a wedding invitation like this late last year and I appreciated it even though there's no way I could go to the wedding.
posted by shelleycat at 12:09 PM on December 31, 2011

We had a co-ed baby shower. We invited our single male friends, but we didn't invite family members that weren't local and that we weren't really close to because we knew they weren't coming and inviting them felt like fishing for presentes. We personally talked to my parents, letting them know they could come but that since they were coming up after the baby was born and they lived 2 plane rides away, we understood that it was unlikely. I think we sent an invite to my grandmother (who wouldn't come) because she'd want it to feel included and because there were very few great grandchildren in the family (this was the 2nd and the first was full of issues). We just made sure to specifically invite the male counterparts of the couples and stress in person or in email that it was co-ed because many just assumed it was women only. The whole women only thing always seemed stupid to me as most of my friends are male and I'm not sure why I couldn't celebrate with my guy friends too. Plus I could have my husband be there to and get to celebrate. We called it a baby shower, but we didn't use the super girly/cutesie invites so it felt more like a regular party as well.
posted by katers890 at 12:11 PM on December 31, 2011

I went to a co-ed baby shower a couple months ago as a single lady. It was an evite deal, and the email called it a co-ed baby barbecue (which sounded awesome, but rest assured, no babies were put on the grill :) ), and used some language like "join us for a casual afternoon barbecue," which to me meant not typical shower. I am friends with the husband (coworker). I think they invited all their family that lived close by and all their friends - male, female, single, not single. It was basically a really fun cookout. It was in the afternoon, so people brought their kids. There were no typical shower games or themed decorations. We brought gifts, but the mother-to-be did not open all of them at the party. I think at one point, her mom wanted her to open a few for pics, so she slipped inside the house for that. Most people stayed outside and participated in an all-ages soccer game. It was a really good time, and I wish most baby showers were exactly like this.
posted by bluefly at 12:29 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I concur with suggestions that you bill this as a pre-baby party and not a shower for the additional reason that it is traditionally considered inappropriate for the expectant parents to throw themselves a shower.
posted by bq at 12:41 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've thrown a co-ed shower and we called it a baby barbecue. We had a regular cookout where people just happened to bring baby gifts.
posted by chiababe at 12:47 PM on December 31, 2011

I concur with suggestions that you bill this as a pre-baby party and not a shower for the additional reason that it is traditionally considered inappropriate for the expectant parents to throw themselves a shower.
posted by bq at 12:41 PM

May I add that any family member throwing a shower is often seen as begging for gifts?
posted by Cranberry at 1:30 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

When we recently threw a shower for friends of ours, we simply said "you are invited to a baby shower for [mom's name] and [dad's name]," and that seemed to communicate co-ed attendance. We had a *much* harder time keeping kids away (which the couple had requested), despite the fact that the theme was "cocktails and cake," so I recommend being totally upfront about that, if it is an issue. We also included a "your presence is your gift" line which worked not even a little bit.
posted by obliquicity at 2:02 PM on December 31, 2011

(Oh, and I addressed the envelope to both members of each couple invited or copied them both on the email invite, where that applied.)
posted by obliquicity at 2:03 PM on December 31, 2011

I've only been to one "women's only baby shower" and that was like 10 years ago. The two I went to last year (I helped host one) were both co-ed. It was called a "baby shower" and the invitation said "significant others welcome." That was pretty much it - I'm talking three sentences for the whole invite, tops, and it didn't occur to any of us to emphasize that it was coed or that there wouldn't be any games (we're all in our late twenties, and this is the first baby in our circle of friends, so maybe we're just incredibly self-centered). Those invited were those who were deeply wanted to be there, which kept it small - parents, grandparents, close friends, siblings; invitations were not sent to those who it was certain could not attend.
posted by sm1tten at 2:25 PM on December 31, 2011

It's fun to open lots of little baby things; baby shoes, especially, make me swoon, but consider giving guests the opportunity to chip in on a great stroller or some other thing the family needs.
posted by theora55 at 3:55 PM on December 31, 2011

For our co-ed baby shower(s), we (I think?) put co-ed in the invitation and we did BBQ and beer/wine. We kept the baby shower games to a minimum, thanks jeebus.

In our friend circles, it would be more strange if the shower wasn't co-ed. So unless this is a big to-do for your friend group, don't stress about it too much.
posted by k8t at 4:00 PM on December 31, 2011

BTW, in my experience the "friends" party results in ironic and/or adorable clothes and books, but rarely the 'big' stuff that you need like a car seat. YMMV.
posted by k8t at 4:01 PM on December 31, 2011

We had a coed baby shower (it was also a double baby shower; a very good friend and I had babies at the same time). The invitation said, "This is not a women-only shower. It is an awesome-only shower" and envelopes were addressed to both members of couples. Similarly to k8t, it would have been weird not to invite the dudes.

It was a big party, and one thing that helped was having a couple of rooms. My friends are creative, so we had a space where people could go decorate onesies with sewing machines, screenprinting tools, puffy paint, fabric pens. People who wanted some quiet time went in there. We also got a few backpacks and filled them with sacks of flour, which people wore on their fronts for pregnant belly Twister. Mostly men ended up playing, and it was hilariously funny.
posted by linettasky at 5:38 PM on January 1, 2012

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