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Baby Shower Etiquette: How Many Can Mom-to-Be Have?

How many baby showers is it acceptable to have? One? Two? As many as the mom-to-be wants? And should a second (or third!) baby get a shower too? The opinions on this subject vary widely.

Only One Shower

Alison Minton, an event planner and hospitality consultant in New York City, says there should really only be one shower that everyone is invited to. “If there is more than one in a rare case, no one should be invited to more than one, because that is tacky and asking for multiple gifts,” she says.

Oliver Mims, an etiquette and manners expert, agrees. “Generally speaking, one baby shower per baby (in this case, twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc., are still one),” she says. However, she points out that if the mom-to-be lives somewhere other than where the majority of her family or close friends are and they are not able to come to her, it is OK to have a second one where they are—with the mom-to-be’s consent, of course. “In some instances, best friend No. 1 might be intent on throwing a shower and wants to do it alone. Best friend No. 2 and sister of mom-to-be may also want to do something. I say cheers to your popularity, but please consider your guests. To ask guests of one shower to attend a second is excessive.”

Two or More Showers

One to four showers is fine, Emily Miles Terry, coauthor of Nesting: It’s a Chick Thing and columnist for Disney’s Family.com, says, but it depends on several factors. “If you have friends/family spread out on either coast or in several different states (not within driving distance), you would want to plan a couple of showers based on these geographical considerations,” she says. “Also, some people like to have the family/friend shower and then a work colleague shower. You can also split the family and friends into two separate showers if one or both of those groups is too large. Also, some people really want their husbands in on it as well so they’ll have a co-ed shower with couples.”

Colleen A. Rickenbacher, a business etiquette expert and author of Be on Your Best Business Behavior, says it’s OK to have as many showers as friends and family are willing to give you, but to be careful of repeat invitations. “The mother or sisters can always attend, but it’s not necessary to give gifts each time,” she says. “There could be a shower given by close friends, another by office co-workers, another for the neighborhood, and even one from your aunts for their friends to attend. It varies but avoid inviting the same people to all of these showers. One is sufficient and at the most they would attend two. Insist that just them being there is all you need as a gift. When it is time to open your gifts be very clear that that particular friend was so generous with their gift that you have already received. There is always that comparison when gifts are [opened] and you never want anyone to feel that someone did not bring a gift.”

Another Baby, Another Shower?

“I grew up hearing from my mom that it was not proper to have a shower for your second baby,” says Dawn Sepaugh, a mother of three from Kirkwood, Missouri. “So when I was pregnant with my second child, my friends put together a luncheon for me at my favorite restaurant. They didn’t call it a shower, but it was basically the same thing. But it did not seem to offend my mother done this way. Go figure!”

Is a shower for only the first baby outdated, or is this still proper etiquette? Experts disagree on this answer. Alison Minton, an event planner and hospitality consultant in New York City, believes it is not an outdated concept. “It is still proper to have a shower only with the first baby,” she says. “Friends can still—and should—give baby gifts for the subsequent babies, but no shower.”

Generally most showers are given only for the first baby, but there are circumstances when they are given for the second child, Rickenbacher says. “These showers for the second baby are generally smaller and for your closer friends and family,” she says. “Other reasons could be that there is a considerable gap between your first and second baby and people want you to have new baby clothes and gifts. Or you could have just moved to a new area and none of these friends were a part of the first baby or any other showers. And lastly, your friends just love having baby showers and they want to give another for you.”

Terry, on the other hand, believes it is outdated. “However, if you had a baby two years ago and now you’re having another child of the same gender it would be nice to defer another shower,” she says. “If someone begs to throw you another one and really wants to celebrate, you could suggest some alternative type of girlfriend gathering (as you don’t really need a second Bugaboo stroller or baby monitor, do you?) like brunch or dinner out.”

“As if siblings don’t have enough to fight about,” Mims says. She feels that while baby showers are a wonderful opportunity to honor the mother, ultimately you are celebrating the upcoming birth of a child. “Every baby deserves a shower.”

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