Ever heard that it’s all about timing? It’s especially true when speaking of a baby shower planning timeline. This event is a right of passage. The shower is a portion of the whole pregnancy and childbirth experience, which places no small burden on the shoulders of the host.
- Make your guest list well in advance of the shower, so that you know exactly how much of a given item you'll need to buy.
- Don't wait too long to send invitations out.
- Prepare as much food as you can in advance of the day of the shower.
Baby Shower Planning – Getting Your Timeline On Track
Guest List: 6-8 Weeks Before the Shower
Once you know you are the host, or co-host, of the shower the first thing you’ll need is the guest list.
Why start there? Because knowing who is coming, in addition to whether mom wants her shower before or after the baby arrives, lets you know when you need to start planning.
Large guest lists mean more time is required if you want to have everything accomplished in time. More people demands more food, more prep, more chairs, and more time in general. Small showers with few attendees do not need as much time to pull off well, as they tend to be less fussy and more intimate.
Pick the Theme: 6-8 Weeks Before the Shower
When you know who is coming, the theme can be selected. Intricate themes will need more time and money. Large guest lists can be self-limiting, as the theme just costs too much to adequately incorporate with the added seats.
Picking the theme very early dictates pretty much everything else. The theme should be present on the invitation, as well as reflected in the colors and center pieces on the tables. Knowing the theme nice and early allows the hosts to be on the lookout for bargains and must-have knick-knacks in the weeks leading up to the party.
Set the Date
The date needs to be close to, but not crowding, mom’s due date. As far as the midwife and OB is concerned, mom is considered to be ‘full term’ at 37 weeks gestation.
Knowing this can help you set a baby shower date that does not run the risk of being bumped by the baby. To be really safe, pick a party date at least four weeks prior to the due date.
Games: 3 Weeks Before the Shower
Games are not a last minute item. Leaving everything to the last minute will grantee a crazy host who can’t enjoy the party. Getting the games ready early is easy, and can get one whole item off your list with a minimum of fuss and anxiety.
When getting the games ready early, remember the favors and prizes. You don't need to overdo it with games. One or two games is enough. You want to make sure guests have enough time to socialize! Make sure you select activities that the mom-to-be can partake in. Games that require a lot of movement are not a great idea.
Invitations in the Mail: 2 1/2 Weeks Before the Shower
The invitations can be created and addressed anytime after the guest list and dates are finalized. It is a great idea to get the invitation itself ready, including the stamp, but don’t mail it out too soon.
To get the party on your guest’s calendars, the invitations need to be in the mail no later than two weeks before the shower. Because the optimum time for invitation extension is two weeks before the party, it is best to allow for a few days in the mail. Doing so will ensure that the invitation is actually in the guest’s hands a full 14 days before the party.
Make sure to take any federal holidays into consideration when getting the invites into the mail. Federal holidays will slow down your invites, so you'll want to add one or two business days on to your ship time. Busy times of the year for the postal service, such as the holiday season, will also leave you needing to tack on a few extra days.
When sending out the invites, make sure to include a note asking about dietary restrictions. You need to know if any of your guests have allergies, insensitivities, or other food-related issues. By asking with the invitations, you'll hopefully get all of your answers well in advance of planning the menu.
The baby shower planning timeline starts right from the day you become host. Getting the items above completed early on paves the way, allowing you to have a life beyond baby shower planning in the last weeks before the event.
Baby Shower Planning – Part Two
The baby shower planning timeline for the last two weeks before party time is a bit busier, but staying on track will mean a calm moment to sit during the festivities and knowing that you are prepared before the first guest knocks on the door.
Décor: 2 Weeks Before the Shower
Setting up for the party can’t happen until the few days prior to the party itself, but having all the tablecloths, signs, centerpieces, and everything else right down to the perfectly pink or blue napkins, plates, cups, and utensils on-site and ready to deploy two weeks before the party is just good planning.
Getting them ready early will allow you time to notice any missing items.
Food Prep: 5 Days Before the Shower
When selecting the menu, don’t be tempted to let the taste buds do too much of the planning. A menu that is simple, but filled with unproven recipes that need to be tossed together at the last minute, is a recipe for disaster. Set a menu of proven dishes which can be made ahead. If other co-hosts will be helping with the meal, keep the ease of transporting foods in mind when selecting the meal plan.
Purchase the needed foods no later than five days ahead of time. Start cooking the make-ahead items on this same timeframe. You can get many items ready as much as two weeks ahead of time if it is a menu item that can be frozen. Drinks can be bought ahead of time, as can any pre-packaged menu items that don't need to be refrigerated.
When making the menu, make sure you account for any food allergies or other dietary restrictions. You want all of the guests to be able to partake in the food. Remember that the mom-to-be may have certain dietary restrictions stemming from her pregnancy. Consider avoiding alcohol, out of respect for the guest of honor's inability to drink it. If you do choose to have liquor, make it tasteful and limit each guest to one or two drinks.
Cleaning and Set up: 24 Hours Before the Shower
Cleaning needs to start one week before, and be maintained until the party is over, if you are having the shower in your own home. If you are having the shower in another location, arrive a couple of hours in advance to ensure you have time to clean if need be. Hopefully, the staff at the location you selected will have readied the room for you prior to your arrival.
Setting up the chairs and getting the decorations laid out can happen early, when the host’s home is available. If the hostess has a house full of young kids, setting up the day before is asking for trouble. Getting as much of the set up done as possible in the 24 hours prior to go-time is best.
Last Minute Items
While a centerpiece and napkins will spend the night happily on the table, ice and food will not. Food items should be readied on the day of the party, but kept cold or hot until needed. To this end, prepare cold dishes first, because the time in the fridge will not dry them out or over-cook them. Hot items should be cooked during the last hour before the party and kept warm until meal time.
To throw a great party without going crazy, stick to a detailed baby shower planning timeline. It will keep your efforts focused and on track.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©springfield / depositphotos.