Baby, baby, how was I supposed to know
June 10, 2008 7:16 PM   Subscribe

My first baby shower is tomorrow... what do I do? How do these things work?

I've got three baby showers coming up (one for each workplace and one for friends) that other people asked to plan for me. My first is tomorrow and the organizer hasn't contacted me to give me any details other than the time and place. Here's the catch - I've never been to a baby shower before, and have no idea what actually goes on in them. I don't want to appear clueless in front of my coworkers!

I'm planning on bringing something like banana bread (it is supposed to be a potluck), but is there anything else I should be bringing? Or doing?

I am fairly reserved and actually really dislike getting gifts except from close friends (though I love giving them). It makes me feel very awkward, though I try to be gracious and enthusiastic. On top of that, I don't know many of these people's names (except for about 6 of them, we work in different buildings) and am afraid I won't be able to thank them properly, especially with everyone else looking on. Is it expected that you open your gifts at a baby shower, or is it okay if you set them aside to open in private? If you have to open them in front of people, what do you do if you get two of the same thing?

I will most likely be expected to give some sort of speech, at least at the work parties. I'm afraid I'll forget to say something really important. Is there anything I should absolutely not forget to say other than thanking the organizer and the attendees?

I'm sure there's stuff I've forgotten to ask simply because I don't know what to expect. Suggestions? Anecdotes? Please help me be gracious and confident!

And please also pardon the Britney Spears title reference... it won't happen again. -grin-
posted by GardenGal to Human Relations (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lots of cheesy games. They'll want to guess the measurements of your belly (no, really). You will be expected to open gifts in front of everyone. Actually, that's kind of what a baby shower is centered around. Also, make sure someone there is ready with a pen and paper to write down each gift and who gave it. This will make it easier to send out thank you notes later.
posted by Ugh at 7:22 PM on June 10, 2008

If you get two of something, don't sweat it. You can easily exchange one or save it to re-gift it later. I had a whole closet of baby things I didn't need that came in handy for future gifts. Relax and have fun!! This is your special time so enjoy it!!
posted by pearlybob at 7:34 PM on June 10, 2008

*You shouldn't have to bring anything at all to your own shower, though it's fine if you do.
*People want to see you open your gifts; the fun of going to a baby shower is looking at all the adorable tiny stuff, and saying "aw". Someone will usually volunteer to write down gifts and givers for you. If you get duplicates, don't worry! Many things given at baby showers are handy to have in duplicate-onesies, bottles, even beloved children's books (cause babies always eat one book). Sometimes you can use duplicates of bigger items, too-it's great to have two Boppy pillows so you don't have to lug one around, and can have one in the bedroom and one on the couch. An extra pak'n'play might be handy at Grandma' get the picture.
*Be prepared to answer the same questions over and over: how do you feel? Do you know the gender? Do you have a name picked out? People may want to tell you their birth stories. I believe it's perfectly acceptable to interrupt anyone telling you a horrible birth story where they almost died and ask them to save the story for after your baby is out on the other side.
*You might consider just standing up at the beginning and answering all the above questions all at one time.
*I loved it when folks wrote down the thing they most wished they'd known when they first had children-it was really a useful shower activity and lots of fun to read after.
*If you forget anyone's name, remember you can attribute anything to pregnancy brain right now and people will buy it.
*Enjoy yourself! Don't think of it as gifts for you-it's a party celebrating your baby, and a way our culture welcomes new ones to our tribe. People expect you to be nervous and insecure as a new mom, so don't worry about being confident-just laugh if you can and be thankful.

And congratulations!
posted by purenitrous at 7:38 PM on June 10, 2008

Ask the person who's writing down names and gifts to please get everyone to provide their address. (Some people get people to write addresses on envelopes, but it's kind of tacky.) If you get the addresses, you can make sure you send thank yous to the right place. You could ask the person just to get the addresses for the people you don't really know. I'm assuming you know where to send cards for the other people.

You open the gifts in front of everyone. Ooooh and aaaah over them. Look at the sizes and say, "Oh, that will be cute in summer/fall/winter/spring" or "Oh, it's so tiny!" Anything like that. Say you love the colour. Whatever. People go to ooooh at the gifts and talk about how cute everything is. Everything baby-sized is cute.

If you get two of the same thing, you don't need to anything. Check to see if the sizes are the same. They probably won't be. So it won't matter. You could say, "Oh, these are so cute and I'm lucky to have them in different sizes", if you really felt it necessary. But you can just point out how cute the things are. People will probably enclose a gift receipt, so you can return stuff. Or, if you know what store sells the item, you might be able to exchange it without a receipt or even get a refund. I've taken stuff I didn't need to Wal-Mart or wherever.

People may not play games. It depends on where you are.

The main thing is to oooh at the gifts, thank people, send out thank you cards, write all the gifts and senders in your baby book, and eat food.
posted by acoutu at 7:38 PM on June 10, 2008

If you get two of something, a popular line is "oh, great, one to keep at Grandma's house/in the car/at the sitter's..."

I just had my wedding shower, and am currently writing thank you notes. I found this to be helpful.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:40 PM on June 10, 2008

I know nothing about baby showers, but especially if you're uncomfortable in these kinds of situations, do you have a close friend or "point person" at each of these? If you don't, maybe ask the organizer if they mind if you bring someone, whether it's your mom, your partner or your coworker (make up something like "they have to carry the stuff" or "they're my ride" or something).

That way, you'll have someone with whom you can share pained glances, calm down in the car, vent, etc. "I can't beLIEVE they thought it was okay to kiss my stomach!" "It really upset me when Cheryl gave that long speech about how awful her delivery was..."

It's the same kind of thing as the maid of honor in a wedding, really: you'll have someone to serve as your advocate and help you be comfortable. Yes, it might be considered rude to invite someone who's not already on the guest list, but especially if it's someone like a trusted family member, just ask privately and politely -- after all, if you're happier and calmer at the party, everyone else will have a good time. And NOBODY wants to make moms-to-be unhappy. (Okay... on purpose, at least :P)

Congratulations, and good luck!
posted by Madamina at 7:55 PM on June 10, 2008

Been to many showers. Above answers are spot on -- opening gifts is expected, and games can vary but are usually touchy feely unless you explicitly say otherwise. Haven't seen too many speeches, though, except to say "thanks, everyone!"

That said, I was recently a baby shower "point person" for a shower-averse mom-to-be, so I think Madamina is definitely on to something with that suggestion.

I was able to quietly suggest to overly enthusiastic organizers of multiple office showers that no really, one shower was plenty, and that regardless of what games were played at Martha from HR's baby shower last month, the only appropriate games at this baby shower are games that do NOT involve touching the mom-to-be in any way. And then I was the one to write down who gave her what gift, made sure that gift cards didn't fall out of their envelopes, etc. Basically, if she was worried about something, before or during the shower, she came to me, and I dealt with it. She told me she was actually surprised at how much fun she had in the end.

If there is anyone that you can rely on in this way, don't hesitate to do it -- it's not any huge bother, and makes us feel super useful and important at a time when there's not a whole lot else we can do for you except coo over ultrasound pics. :-)
posted by somanyamys at 9:26 PM on June 10, 2008

Thanks so much, guys, knowing a little more about what to expect makes me not feel quite so nervous (I hate being the center of attention).

Ugh: Good idea about writing stuff down. Would have been awkward to forget!
purenitrous: yay, pregnancy brain! It has to be good for something.
Green Eyed Monster: That's a good line.
Madamina and Somanyamys: Unfortunately at this one there's no one to be "point person" at this one - I wish! At least at the other two my husband will be with me.

Another question: I don't know anybody's address, just where they work in each building. Is it not kosher to send thank-you notes to their work mailboxes, since that's where I know them from?

As for giving a speech, I'm specifically talking about today's office shower, not the other ones. Mini-speeches seem to be part of the expected structure of every one of this particular office's parties that I've been to in the last two years. Granted, those were mostly recognition and goodbye parties, so perhaps I'll be let off the hook.

Sounds like I'm going to have to bite the bullet and open the gifts there!
posted by GardenGal at 8:44 AM on June 11, 2008

You absolutely can send (real, paper) thank you notes to work mailboxes. The only risk here is that people won't check their work mailbox for weeks or months (lord knows I don't unless I am expecting something), so you might want to send a little email heads up to check it.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2008

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