When it comes to baby shower etiquette, there are very few hard-and-fast rules (besides the ones that govern good manners — like being gracious when you're opening gifts, no matter how impractical they are!).

Still, baby showers are such a tradition — that's how new parents can make a dent in the slew of stuff they'll need when the baby arrives, after all — that there are some guidelines to make it easier for the guest of honor (you) and the hosts to plan a memorable occasion.

Here are some tips to get the party started and help you feel more prepared, whether you're celebrating in person or virtually.

Who hosts a baby shower?

The point of a baby shower is for your community to "shower" you with gifts. Typically, a close friend or family member will throw your shower, but coworkers or another loved one can all host the party.

While every baby shower is unique, the host usually takes care of organizing everything — so you can sit back and enjoy being celebrated.

Can you throw your own baby shower

Typical baby shower etiquette dictates that the parents-to-be shouldn’t throw their own party since doing so could be perceived as asking for gifts. If you're worried that no one will offer to throw a baby shower for you (which is highly unlikely), talk to your best friend or a close relative and, if you're comfortable doing so, ask her to take the reins.

But again, there are no hard-and-fast rules — if no one is available, or you simply prefer to host the event yourself, feel free to do so.

Who should be invited to a baby shower?

Anyone can be invited to your baby shower. This includes as few or as many of your grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors and coworkers as you'd like, as well as those of your partner. (Just make sure to stay safe and follow COVID-19 health guidelines if you’re having an in-person event.)

Try to keep in mind your host's budget and comfort level when discussing the guest list with her so things don't get out of hand.

Where should you host a baby shower?

Baby showers are often held at someone's home, but other venue options include restaurants, country clubs, hotels and event spaces. You can also host a baby shower outdoors in a park or at the beach. Pick a place where you can fully enjoy the event.

If your baby shower is virtual, be sure that wherever you join in from has a strong WiFi signal so you don't lose the call and miss out on any moments.

How long should a baby shower be?

There's no set length of time for a baby shower. If you consider all that might be included — a meal or light refreshments, games and opening gifts — about two hours is a good guideline for in-person baby showers. You don't want to exhaust the expectant parent.

Virtual baby showers can be shorter, about a half hour to an hour, because Zoom fatigue can come on fast.

Who pays for a baby shower?

Most often, the host pays for the baby shower. This is not always one person. For example, several aunts and cousins might cover the full tab of a shower at a restaurant, or a group of coworkers may help coordinate all the decorations, food and fun.

What's expected of the parents-to-be at their baby shower?

Your only job at your baby shower is to be a gracious guest of honor and gift recipient. But you may want to give your host a break and pitch in with (or at least offer) the following:

  • Baby shower party favors. You don't have to offer these, but giving the guests a few small, inexpensive trinkets can be a nice thing to do. Some ideas include tasty treats (like chocolates or themed candy), pretty soap or small potted plants.
  • Refreshments. You don't want to be hungry at your own party, after all, so ask the host how you can help out with the food and drinks. If you're planning a more budget-friendly or casual party, you can suggest that each guest bring an appetizer or a dish to share.

Is it okay to have more than one baby shower?

Definitely! Friends, coworkers and family are as excited about your new baby as you are, and chances are they want to shower you with gifts. Since it's up to others to throw the shower, you can have as many or as few as you like.

Plus, since your inner (and outer) circle might be scattered all over the place, having multiple showers in different areas might be more convenient for some of your guests. For instance, you might have one baby shower during the work day with coworkers, another on a weekend with your relatives and a larger, more relaxed shower at a park with friends.

What about baby showers for subsequent pregnancies? Baby sprinkles, or baby showers for second- and third-time parents, have become more common only recently, so if your friends, family or coworkers want to throw showers for all your beautiful babes, why stop them? Keep in mind that it's particularly helpful to register for gifts for subsequent babies, because depending on when you had the first child, you may not need a load of supplies — only a mountain of diapers!

Want to skip the gifts this time? Just ask the friend throwing the party to indicate on the invitations that you want only the pleasure of their company.

Can I register for baby shower gifts?

Creating a baby registry is a great way to identify the items you'll need before your little one arrives. While some guests like to do their own thing and go off-list, many of your guests will likely appreciate the guidance and want to gift you items that you need. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating a registry:

  • Pick a reasonably priced store. If your guests want to spend more money, they'll take the initiative to upgrade or get more than one item, but you don't want to put guests in the position of spending more than they're comfortable with. And for their convenience, aim for an online venue or major chain store with an online registry so guests don't have to go out of their way to find a boutique baby shop.
  • Request mostly modest gifts. Register for onesies, bibs, socks, blankets and baby-care essentials, but you might opt to take care of the crib, car seat or other expensive baby gear yourself. Another option is to set big-ticket gear as a "group gift" on your online registry so guests can contribute as much or as little as they're comfortable spending.
  • Notify the guests on the invitation. Create your baby registry before invitations are sent out, and ask the shower host to include a note that tells guests where you're registered.

When should you send baby shower thank-you notes?

It's always a good idea to send thank-you notes in a timely manner if you can. For baby shower thank-you cards in particular, sooner rather than later is smart — you don't want to have the task hanging over you after your little one arrives!

While baby shower etiquette is not set in stone and you should always do what you are comfortable with, these tips can help you think through your options and feel more prepared for your shower. Hopefully, you'll be able to enjoy every minute while your loved ones celebrate you and baby.