In recent years, baby showers (much like weddings) have become increasingly posh events but many parents, family, and friends might not be able to throw an expensive shower. If you are looking for the best place to have a baby shower on a budget, where should you go?
The best places to have a cheap baby shower are at your home, parks, beaches or lakes, churches, community rec centers, farms, gardens, vineyards, breweries, and some restaurants. The location for a cheap baby shower will depend on how many people you plan to invite and the policies at your local facilities.
Read on to learn more about free or cheap baby shower venues, baby shower etiquette rules, baby shower alternatives, and important tips for having a successful and fun event.
The best cheap or free places to have a baby shower
Far from being restricted to conventional locations, today’s baby showers can be hosted just about anywhere that you can imagine. And when you’re on a budget, it is even more important to think outside the box.
No matter where you chose to host a baby shower, you’ll want to plan the event several months in advance if at all possible. Typically, the baby shower is scheduled for some time during the mother’s third and final trimester. At this time, most expecting parents know what gender their baby will be and have a better idea of what they will need.
Some budget-friendly tips include making DIY decorations, emailing your invitations, offering appetizers instead of a full meal, and dreaming up lots of free games and activities to enjoy. To save money on the event venue, considering hosting your baby shower at the following locations:
You can’t beat the convenience and value of hosting a baby shower at home. Whether it’s the home of the mom-to-be or that of a close female friend or relative, home is where the heart is. With a cozy baby shower at home, you don’t need to worry about time limits, paying extravagant per-person fees, or being potentially rained out of an outdoor venue. Best of all, if the shower is at mom’s house, there’s no need to transport all those presents home!
For another great free (unless you need to reserve a party pavilion) option, you can’t beat a baby shower hosted at your local park! Most parks have free spaces for parties that are available on a “first-come, first-served” basis and offer families a change of scenery from hosting a party at home. So if you live in a climate like California that doesn’t see much rain and has many days of sun, planning a free baby shower outdoors is the way to go.
Beaches or Lakes
Beach lovers unite! If you are lucky enough to live near a body of water, a small gathering at your local beach or lake can be a great way to celebrate the arrival of a new little one. Just like with parks, having your gathering outside at a public space (weather permitting) allows you great flexibility with your baby shower party size, budget and duration. And like parties at the park, most shorefronts offer plenty of free available space, unless you want to rent a party pavilion or BBQ grill.
When looking for a place to host a baby shower, don’t forget your local church! Most churches have meeting spaces that are perfect for any size gathering and even include the necessary tables and chairs. Best of all, church spaces can often be used for free or a very small donation, and you don’t necessarily have to be a member to rent one. Some churches can also offer access to amenities like a kitchen space.
Community Rec Centers
Whether it’s a clubhouse at your apartment building or a patio at your local senior center, don’t discount the value and convenience of local community spaces. Often these spaces come with folding chairs and tables, access to a kitchen area, and other things you may need to host a successful party. Typically, they will have both indoor and outdoor spaces to choose from. Some community centers even offer clean-up services! These venues can often be rented out for a few hours for $100 or less depending on your location and any additional add-on services you choose.
Farms or Barns
If you live in or near the countryside, a quaint barnhouse baby shower may be just the ticket for the mom-to-be. With the rise of “farmhouse chic” as a popular decorating style, many events are taking on this motif as well. These event spaces can often be rented for as little as $30-40 an hour depending on where you live. Just think of all the adorable photos you’ll get!
If an intimate tea party in a beautiful garden sounds like your ideal day, most cities have botanical gardens, arboretums and nature centers that are available for private bookings such as baby showers. Some of these gardens have on-site restaurants and dedicated event spaces that can be included in your rental fee. For example, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens has event spaces starting at just a few hundred dollars.
Vineyards or Breweries
For another fantastic outdoor option, consider hosting your baby shower at a local vineyard or brewery. While the mom-to-be obviously should not drink, her guests still can! Many of these facilities are eager to gain new business and are happy to open their gathering spaces to events such as baby showers. They typically have large outdoor patios with plenty of space to host the perfect event.
Restaurants or Tea Rooms
While restaurants can be a pricy place to host an event, especially if you want to rent out the entire place, a good deal can still be found. If you are having a small and quick baby shower, some restaurants will not even charge extra for the use of their patio space or event room as long as all guests are ordering meals. In fact, some restaurants may even offer discounts for large groups! Check with smaller, local restaurants and cafes that have plenty of extra space for a casual lingering meal.
Who should pay for a baby shower?
Ideally, the mom-to-be has a close female friend or family member such as a sister or mother-in-law who can host and pay for the baby shower for her.
Traditional rules dictate that the expecting parents should not host their own baby shower since that would be perceived as asking for gifts. Sometimes, a mother may receive more than one baby shower such as one thrown at work, school or church – and another thrown by family members. Traditionally, the hostess is the one who will pay for all aspects of the baby shower such as the venue, food and drinks, prizes for the games, decorations and other expenses.
It is important to note that cultural expectations and traditions change over time, so don’t feel bad if you don’t have anyone who can host a shower for you. Today, many new parents are even hosting their own baby showers. Most people would still be perfectly happy to celebrate the upcoming birth of a new child, regardless of who hosts and pays for the event.
What can I do instead of a baby shower?
In lieu of hosting a baby shower, some parents simply sign up for an online baby registry. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, many baby showers have gone virtual over platforms like Zoom or Google Meet.
In addition, many expecting parents choose to have a gathering, sometimes called a “sip and see”, after the baby is born. This is especially helpful when the parents are not finding out the baby’s sex beforehand and want to wait to receive gifts once their little one has been born and the gender has been revealed. Post-birth baby showers put the emphasis on allowing everyone to actually meet the new child, which gives them a very strong appeal for many families. Sometimes these gatherings happen by necessity, such as when a when a child is born early.
Another alternative called a “baby sprinkle” is essentially a shorter, more casual version of a baby shower. Baby sprinkles are especially common with parents who are having their second or third child and don’t necessarily need to receive any big-ticket items for gifts.
Is it rude not to open gifts at a baby shower?
You will find various answers to this question. Some people find it rude to open gifts at a baby shower, while others consider it rude not to open them.
To play it safe, you could open them towards the end of the baby shower after the cake has been cut so that your guests who want to see all the cute baby clothes can stick around while others can head out without feeling any pressure to stay. Alternatively, you could make a fun game out of the gift opening process where your guests could win prizes – such as a baby gift BINGO game. (A game will also help keep the attention off of you if you’re feeling shy!) Another alternative is to have an “eco-friendly” gift table where guests are encouraged to leave an unwrapped gift.
If you do choose not to open gifts at the shower, make sure to send personalized thank you notes as soon as possible so the gift-giver still feels appreciated. And whenever you decide to open them, it is usually a good idea to have a friend or family member documenting the process so you can remember who to thank for which gift later on!
How long should baby showers last?
While this answer will vary depending on your culture and your social circle, in general, a baby shower should last anywhere between 2-4 hours. Most baby showers include just enough time to have a meal or at least some appetizers, play some baby shower games, socialize, take pictures, mingle, and perhaps watch the new mom open her gifts.
However, in some cultures baby showers can be an all-day event that even includes men and children. If you are not a very structured family or just want to host a very open-ended event, you will probably have an easier time hosting your shower at your home or someone else’s home where you aren’t paying by the hour.
Is it weird to host your own baby shower?
While most etiquette guides would frown on the idea of expecting parents hosting their own baby shower, many people are finding these social rules increasingly outdated and old-fashioned. It is true that traditionally a baby shower is thrown by a friend or family member of the expecting mom, however, these days it is recognized that not everyone has someone living nearby who can fill this role for them. In some of these cases, a new mom’s church or place of employment will step in and host a small gathering for her.
But just like with the debate surrounding whether or not parents should host a baby shower for a second or third child, at the end of the day your family should do what feels right for you. Any child is a blessing that deserves to be celebrated – and hopefully your friends and family are just as excited as you are to welcome your new little one and shower them with gifts – even if you are the one hosting.
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