From those who’ve thrown a successful baby shower to those who’ve had one thrown for them, three women and an expert in the field share their ultimate list of top tips; from fun things to do to who to invite

Baby showers are a fantastic way to celebrate the imminent arrival of a new child, and an opportunity for the expectant parent (or parents) to enjoy a relaxing few hours with their loved ones before the big day. But the perfect baby shower doesn’t have to be difficult to arrange or expensive for those bringing gifts.

Whether you’re a parent-to-be organising your own shower, or a friend or family member looking to surprise a loved one, we’ve got you covered. From keeping costs low to what to do on the day, we (and those who’ve been there) answer your most-searched questions and provide expert-approved tips for making the event as stress-free and memorable as possible.

When do you have a baby shower?

A baby shower is often held four to six weeks before the due date, so it really is a celebration of the closing of one chapter and the beginning of the next.

It’s an opportunity for close friends and family members to herald the upcoming arrival of the little one, which is why it happens so close to the arrival date, similar to a hen or stag do for weddings.

Who is supposed to organise a baby shower?

The answer is there is no right or wrong person. Traditionally, a friend or relative outside of the immediate family circle hosts the shower, which is supposed to stop it appearing as if the family are just playing for presents!

However, in reality, anyone can organise a baby shower. It may be baby shower etiquette for the parent(s)-to-be to sit back and let others organise everything for them, but if they’re keen to plan it themselves then there are no rules against it. On the flipside, if they’d rather entrust the job to their closest friends and family then that works well, too.

“My fave part was that I brought my Instax camera and got loads of pics – we wrote messages and gave them to her at the end of the day”

What are the steps to planning a baby shower?

1. Consider: the cost

Keeping costs low doesn’t mean you need to compromise on a perfect baby shower. Jess Martin, baby shower expert at Ginger Ray explains, “One of the easiest ways to keep your baby shower costs low is to host a party at home, in the park or at a friend’s house. This will not only cut out the cost of hiring a venue but it will make the occasion more personal.”

Pregnancy can be tiring, so hosting baby shower guests at home can help with the mum-to-be’s energy levels and also take some of the stress out of planning. “It makes it much easier to make affordable choices when it comes to planning the decor, food and everything that comes with it,” says Jess.

All you need is a balloon arch or a few thoughtful decorations. Add in some fun games to play and you can transform any venue into a special baby shower space.

If you’d rather not do something at home, there are plenty of options for planning a baby shower out and about. Flo says of organising her friend’s baby shower, “We organised it as a surprise. We went to a nail bar, before getting some mocktails and cocktails and playing a few games and quizzes. Her mum and sister joined us for dinner later as an extra surprise.”

Flo made it particularly special by getting the mum-to-be a balloon and sash and also came up with an original way to save money on gifts. “My fave part was that I brought my Instax camera and got loads of pics throughout the day. We all wrote messages and gave them to her at the end of the day, which was a lovely, inexpensive present because the day itself was quite spenny!”

Flo’s must-haves

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Camera

• Built-in selfie lens and mirror

• Built-in automatic exposure

• Available in six colours

Capture all the special moments with this portable, easy-to-use camera that prints out credit card-sized photographs to save as keepsakes.

No7 Matte Powder Blush

• Available in five shades

• Buildable colour

Infused with vitamin E, this powder blush creates the perfect pop of colour for a hit of baby shower beauty.

2. Think: how many guests should be invited?

The guest list is often the most stressful part of any event planning because where do you stop? Once upon a time it was just for the ladies in the parent-to-be’s life, but these days, it isn’t prescriptive at all. Obvious inclusions are the immediate family – parents, siblings and grandparents on both sides. Beyond that, it can start to get a bit trickier.

Ultimately, it’s really up to the parents-to-be as the guests of honour. Invite friends and family if it feels right, or keep the party more intimate – whatever they decide is the right move.

Imogen planned her own baby shower and says she found the guest list the most challenging part. “I tried to make my life as easy as possible by keeping the guest list to just my immediate family and some of my closest friends. That way, I didn’t feel guilty about missing anyone, or making it a massive affair – I was too tired for anything major!”

One thing that Imogen said was key to her really enjoying her own baby shower was to dress up for the day. “I love make-up and skincare, so I wasn’t missing an opportunity to really take time for myself before the shower.”

Imogen’s must-haves

Boots Ingredients Hyaluronic Acid Serum

• Size: 30ml

• Hydrates all skin types

• Vegan-friendly

Top up that pregnancy glow by keeping skin hydrated with this brightening and moisturising hyaluronic acid serum.

Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray for Sensitive Skin

• Size: 50ml

• Great for sensitive skin

• Soothing

• Hydrating

Keep skin feeling refreshed throughout the baby shower with this hydrating, soothing spray. Also perfect for cooling down flushed skin if you’re feeling a little warm.

“One idea is to host a nursery painting party”

3. Plan: what to do on the day

Baby showers can range from super casual get-togethers to more formal dinners and parties, but Jess has some fun suggestions – so you can tick off ‘activities’ from your baby shower checklist…

Her first idea is to host a nursery painting party. “This is a great opportunity for friends and family to get involved – just pick the paint colour in advance, buy a few paintbrushes and ask guests to wear clothes they don’t mind getting messy.

“Crank up the playlist and there’ll be a freshly-painted nursery in no time that friends and family can feel a part of,” says Jess.

Or if physical work doesn’t sound like your vibe, then how about a pamper party? Jess explains, “Whether you get a beauty therapist in to do some manicures in the comfort of your own home or you opt for a DIY version, this is a relaxing option that everyone can enjoy.” Top tip: make sure all products and treatments are pregnancy safe.

Alternatively, you could organise some fun baby shower games or a laid-back meal with only close friends and family that’s full of personal touches.

If the baby shower isn’t for a first child, it can make coming up with ideas a little harder. Sarah says, “For my sister’s second baby shower, we organised a small afternoon tea at home, with our nearest and dearest, and gave small gifts that we thought she’d love – not necessarily for the baby.” Taking the opportunity to spoil the parent-to-be ahead of the sleepless nights to come is certain to go down a treat.

Sarah’s must-haves

Bumble and Bumble Heat Shield Thermal Protection Mist

• Size: 60ml

• For fine, medium and coarse hair

• Conditions, smoothes and helps strengthen

• Cruelty-free

A small but useful little gift, this heat shield thermal protection mist comes in gorgeous gold packaging and is seriously easy to use – a valuable multitasker for any new parent.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Eau de Parfum

• Size: 100ml

• Fragrance family: amber chypre

Club together as a group and buy a truly special fragrance that they’ll forever associate with their baby shower. This perfume is not only beautiful, it’s glamorous and timeless.

What are the best gifts to buy for a baby shower?

There’s no need to go overboard when it comes to baby shower gifts, as long as they’re thoughtful and useful, that’s all that matters. Don’t forget about the expectant parent, too – a small present will go a long way. It could even be something as simple as offering to babysit once the baby arrives – they’ll be eternally grateful.

We've pulled together a few options to get you started.

aden + anais essentials Muslin Square 5 Pack - Safari Babies

• Suitable from birth

• Absorbent

• Contains five muslins

• 100% cotton

Breathable, snuggly and absorbent, these cute, safari-printed muslins will be a lifesaver for parents with a newborn.

My Little Coco The Stay Dry Bib

• Suitable for 6+ months

• Easy to get on and off

Not for newborns but something for the little one to grow into, this bib is easy to fold, and the perfect shield against mess for enthusiastic first eaters.

MAM Easy Start Bottle & Microwave Steriliser Set

• Contains six bottles and one microwave steam steriliser

• Compact design

A very thoughtful gift – most new parents will use bottles at some point and this kit makes cleaning and storing them easy peasy. Convenient and crucial, particularly for those early days, you’ll be winning serious brownie points with this one.

For new parents

Mama Mio Bloomin’ Lovely Pregnancy Gift Set

• Suitable for pregnant women

• Four-piece set

• Vegan-friendly

• Cruelty-free

This thoughtful gift set includes everything, pamper-wise, an expectant mum might want. Inside you’ll find Tummy Rub Butter (120ml), Lucky Legs Cooling Gel (125ml), hydrating Pregnancy Boob Tube (125ml) and a Megamama Shower Milk (50ml). See? This gift set has it all covered.  

MAC Squirt Plumping Gloss Stick

• Available in 10 shades

• Non-sticky

• Lightweight

Gift a little glam but in an easy, ‘I’ve just had a baby’ kind of way with this buildable, hydrating, simple to use lipstick. It’s glossy but balmy all rolled into one and it doesn’t need to be meticulously applied – wonderful for the time-strapped.

Shop more top baby buys in time for the little one’s arrival in our full range.