Thinking of planning a baby shower? Here’s what you need to know about the etiquette of organising the big day.

Who can throw a baby shower?

Although tradition states that a baby shower should a thrown by someone who isn’t a relative, the rules today are far more relaxed. Anyone who is close to the mum-to-be is welcome to do the honours, and that could be anybody from a sister or mother-in-law to a best friend or work colleague. However, if you aren’t a close family member it’s a good idea to check that no one else has made plans to celebrate the imminent arrival – you don’t want to accidentally step on grandma’s toes!

When to throw a shower

While there is no ‘golden date’ for throwing a baby shower, the best time is somewhere in the third trimester. Choosing a date between 7 and 8 months of pregnancy is ideal as the mum-to-be will starting to prepare for the baby’s arrival and will be able to plan her purchases around the gifts she receives.

Venue and budget

Before you get carried away with any big plans, make sure you work out what your maximum budget will be. If you will be fully funding the day yourself, don’t let anyone persuade you to spend more than you are comfortable with. The same is true if you are sharing the cost with other family members or friends – everyone should agree beforehand how much they are willing (and able) to chip in. Take into account all the extras, such as decorations, games, prizes, gifts and a cake.

Once the finances are in order, you can start to plan your venue and catering. For smaller budgets, a home venue with a home-made buffet is the obvious choice. To help get you started, we’ve put together some simple baby shower food and drink ideas. A few well-chosen decorations can make any venue look beautiful. We really like these baby shower themes.

For larger budgets, a hotel or favourite restaurant could be a good option. Orsett Hall, MaryGreen Manor, Sands Bistro, Greenwood Hotel, and Maison Talbooth are all popular suggestions local to Essex. Alternatively, you could opt for a home venue with outside catering. For instance, businesses such as Plum Fairy offer a vintage tea party package that includes vintage style china, silver cutlery, floral displays, as well as a classic afternoon tea menu.

Who should be invited?

Close family are usually top of the guest list, followed by best friends and any other key family members who would be insulted if they were left out. How many people you invite will depend on how much space there will be at your chosen venue, so keep it realistic.

If you are unsure about whether or not to invite a particular person, think about whether they are close enough to the mum-to-be to be expected to buy a gift, since shower presents are a customary part of the day. If you feel it isn’t appropriate to ask them to contribute, they may also not be expecting an invitation.

Finally, let the mum-to-be check the list before you send out the invites, so that she can ensure that no one important has been forgotten. This won’t be possible if you’re planning a surprise shower, so in that case you could consult a close family member instead.