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Baby shower invitations are formal announcements which are issued to invite people to a baby shower. The invitations are distributed to the various guests so that they are alerted to the date, time, and location of the baby shower, allowing them to prepare for the event and to set aside time to attend it. There are a number of invitation styles which can be used for baby shower invitations, ranging from casual hand-written cards to printed announcements.
By tradition, a baby shower is held only for the first baby, and it is hosted by a friend of the expecting mother or couple. The friend is responsible for organizing the shower and providing invitations, which are usually distributed two weeks in advance to give people plenty of notice. While a family member can hold a shower and distribute invitations, this practice is sometimes frowned upon in the etiquette community due to concerns that a family host could be perceived as a plea from the family for baby supplies, while a host who is a friend could stress the fact that the shower is meant to be a fun celebration.
Several pieces of information should be conveyed in baby shower invitations. The first, and perhaps the most critical, is the name of the celebrant. The second is the date, time, and location of the event, with directions in the case of locations which might be obscure or hard to reach. A contact phone number for the host is also advisable, so that people can call if they have questions. A note about whether or not children, husbands, and extra guests are acceptable is also advisable, as is the specific inclusion of a note requesting no presents if presents are not desired. Baby shower invitations may also specify that the event is a potluck if that is the case, and commonly a time range for the event is included, such as “3:00 to 5:00 PM.”
Many people like to use baby themes in baby shower invitations, which is entirely appropriate, given the event that they commemorate. To avoid the resemblance with baby announcements, the invitations usually include the word “shower” in large lettering in a prominent location. Baby shower invitations can also have other themes, like plants, animals, and so forth, and they may be fun and casual, or more formal. Many people also include the sex of the baby on the invitations, if the sex is known.
Pre-printed invitations which just need to be filled out or run through a computer printer can be found at many stationery stores. It is also possible to make invites on the computer and to print them, or to use invitation templates to design baby shower invitations on the computer. Custom-printed baby shower invitations can also be ordered from printing companies, and people with calligraphy skills may choose to hand-write their invitations.
Printed invitations are generally preferred by etiquette experts, although some people use electronic invitations to reach a large group quickly. Asking guests to confirm whether or not they will attend can be a good idea, especially for hosts who plan to hand out party favors, or who are catering food for the party.
I have a friend who has cerebral palsy and whose handwriting is not great. She always prints her invitations on the computer and I don't know of anyone who has a problem with it. I've been known to do it since my handwriting is not copperplate, by any means.
I've heard of people getting their noses out of joint when they receive a computer-printed invitation, but good grief. Most people have busy lives, and I sure have better things to worry about than whether someone sent me an invitation that was printed on the computer rather than hand-written. Some rules of etiquette are not flexible, but this isn't one of them.
It's also a good idea to include an email address as well as a phone number for an RSVP. Some people are more apt to reply via email than they are by phone. That way, the host(ess) can be sure he or she has provided enough information for people to respond in whatever way is convenient for them.
If the mom is registered at a store, the person doing the invitations can also include that information so people can look to see what the parents have picked out, although that certainly doesn't obligate anyone to buy from the registry. It just gives guests an idea of what the parents like.
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