How to Plan a Baby Shower: Step by Step Checklist

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A baby shower isn’t hard to plan. But it also isn’t hard to forget a few things here and there simply because there’s so much to do!

If you find yourself panicking over how to plan a baby shower, what to do, and when to do it, this step by step checklist should help set you on the right track.

Here’s a quick baby shower checklist leading up to the big event. We’ll discuss these items in more detail below.

8 weeks before the shower

  • Create a guest list
  • Solidify a budget
  • Decide on a theme
  • Pick a venue, date, and time
  • Begin menu planning
  • Think about: weather, registries, other professional services needed

6 weeks before the shower

  • Order and prep invitations
  • Consider ordering matching Thank You cards
  • Confirm mom-to-be has completed registries
  • Make reservations for catering, entertainment, other professional services

1 month before the shower

  • Send out invitations
  • Buy decorations
  • Order the cake
  • Plan games and activities
  • Designate an official photographer for the day or reserve a professional
  • Verify reservations for catering, entertainment, etc.

2 weeks before the shower

  • Follow up on guests without an RSVP
  • Prep favors
  • Create an agenda for the day and make sure you have enough help
  • Open decorations and check to make sure they’re correct
  • Plan out the room
  • Designate someone to pick up the mom-to-be if needed
  • Order or make a diaper cake, if applicable

1 week before the shower

  • Prepare game and/or raffle prizes
  • Gather last minute supplies
  • Get a gift for the mom-to-be
  • Purchase any food that can be obtained in advance
  • Designate someone who can record gifts on the day of

2 days before the shower

  • Wash and prep everything needed for the party
  • Purchase last minute menu items and stock the bar as needed
  • Send out reminders for helpers on the day of
  • Clean up the space, if applicable
  • Consider poor weather alternatives, if needed
  • Coordinate with co-hosts/helpers to make sure all last minute details are covered

1 day before the shower

  • Pick up the cake
  • Prepare food items
  • Chill beverages
  • Prepare gift station and games
  • Decorate
  • Wrap gift

Day of the shower

  • Complete last minute decorations and games
  • Display food
  • Prepare beverages
  • Have fun!
baby shower food

Before Getting Started

As the host, you need to double check with the guest of honor on a few items so you know how to handle important shower details. You’ll need this information before beginning the shower checklist.

  1. If you’re offering to host, make sure she doesn’t want any other friends or family to help you. Some moms-to-be want their sisters or moms to be involved. There’s a lot of work, so even if she doesn’t have a preference, you may want to consider a co-host or a helper.
  2. Some expecting mothers are particular about when the shower is held. Many prefer to wait until the third trimester or even after the baby’s birth while others don’t want to hold off that long. Don’t make any assumptions.
  3. Does she want a shower for girls only or would she like a co-ed shower for spouses, fathers, brothers, etc.? It’s more and more common these days to have co-ed baby showers.
  4. Double check on the gender and make sure you’re very clear on whether or not she wants it to be a secret. Throwing a baby shower doesn’t have to be gender specific. Verify whether she is having a gender reveal party or if she would like the shower to serve both purposes.

8 Weeks Before the Shower

This is the perfect time to begin thinking about the guest list and the venue. You have plenty of time to make reservations at this point, so you can take your time coming up with a theme, checking the weather, and planning an appropriate menu.


With all of these things in mind, you can map out a budget, set some limits, and figure out how much it’s going to cost.

One of the most common mistakes is underestimating how much a baby shower costs, but there are ways to save money, like:

  • Having the shower at someone’s home rather than a venue
  • Make homemade food rather than ordering catering
  • Make the decorations instead of buying them


Having the shower at home saves money and makes it more personal, but depending on how large the guest list is, this may not be possible. If you do need to book a reservation, keep in mind that some places will require a deposit and 6 weeks advanced notice.

Choosing a date

You and the mom-to-be should have already discussed when she wants to have the shower. You know now whether she wants to have it before or after the baby is born, but that may still leave a range of dates open from which you can choose.

If you’re having it before the baby arrives, make sure it’s not too close to the due date or the guest of honor may not make it!

Conversely, if you have it after the baby is born, give her time to recover first.

Time of day

Afternoon is a common time for a baby shower, but make sure you do what’s convenient for the expecting mom. She may prefer breakfast or brunch.

While she may wear out more easily these days, do make sure you leave a big enough window of time that she can catch up with old friends and family in addition to opening gifts and playing games.

6 Weeks Before the Shower

Now that you’ve solidified details, now is a great time to order and prep the invitations. You definitely will want to consider purchasing matching Thank You cards to make it easier on the mother-to-be later.

You will also want to make sure she has completed or she is close to completing her registries. By the time guests get the invitations, they’ll want to go shopping!

Consider little extras like diaper raffles, advice for the new parents, or recipe cards. If you want your guests to prepare something in advance in addition to bringing a gift, those details should be sent with the invitations.

1 Month Before the Shower

Now is the time to start ordering things like cakes, decorations, games, activities, and more! You’ll also need to make or verify any reservations already made.

Buy decorations

Buying decorations now enables you to ensure they’re correct when they come. It gives you time to return or exchange them if something gets shipped incorrectly.

Consider items like a banner, a welcome sign, a centerpiece, and table confetti. Gifts also make great decorations so think about things like diaper or onesie cakes, baby rattles, booties, and anything that might make a cute centerpiece or tabletop decoration.

Order a cake

If you are planning on having a professional cake, order it now. If you’re doing a store bought cake, you have a bit more time.

A baby shower cake is an honored tradition in some families, while other people don’t care as much and could do without one altogether. Just make sure you know what the mom-to-be wants.

Verify reservations

If you’ve made reservations for entertainment, catering, a venue, a photographer, or any other professional services, now is the time to verify that you’re still on their calendar. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but mistakes happen.

Always confirm your reservations via phone or email. The time it takes to do this is well worth the time and panic you will save later when you find out they forgot to pencil you in.

Plan games and activities

This is another baby shower tradition. Plan out games and activities for your guests now so you have plenty of time to get the supplies you need.

While you may not be too keen on the same old baby shower games that everyone plays, guests usually expect something. Have fun with it and be creative. You don’t have to do what everyone else does.


The mom-to-be will definitely want pictures to remember her celebration. If you plan to hire a professional photographer, do that now.

However, it’s cheaper and could be more fun and personal to designate a friend to be in charge of taking pictures on that day.

Make sure that person has a list of photos that should be taken and knows where to send the pictures afterwards. That way no one has to worry about forgetting to capture the special day.

baby shower dessert

2 Weeks Before the Shower

It’s getting closer, so it’s time to get busy. Favors, food, and decorations all need to begin happening now. But first, follow up with any guests that haven’t responded yet. You want to make sure before you prepare anything that you know exactly how many people you can expect.

Prep food

If you’ve already booked and confirmed the caterer, this step may not be necessary for you. However, if you’re making the food, go back to the menu you created a few weeks ago and begin shopping for the items you can get ahead of time.

Prep favors

If you’re offering favors to your guests, put them together now. They’ll be done and out of the way. Buy the supplies and make sure you have enough for everyone. Homemade baby shower favors are affordable and informal, but personal.

Double check the decorations

If you haven’t already, make sure you have all the decorations you need. Two weeks gives you plenty of time to run out and get a few last minute items, replace something that’s broken, and make sure nothing is missing.

This is also a great opportunity to plan out the room and decide where all the decorations will go. If you find that you have too few decorations, you still have time to get more. Use this opportunity to figure out where gifts, favors, and the guest book will go as well.

Diaper cake

Whether you’re ordering or making a diaper cake, you can do that now. You can order custom diaper cakes already made, or you can find an online tutorial and make one yourself. It may take a bit of trial and error, so doing it now gives you time to make a few mistakes.

Other last minute considerations

I’ve made the mistake of ordering all the food and drinks and completely forgetting about the utensils we need to enjoy them. Don’t forget your plastic or paper plates, utensils, cups, napkins, and anything else you need to display and enjoy the food.

1 Week Before the Shower

You’re likely getting very excited and may be getting a bit nervous or anxious about all that’s left to do. However, you should have been preparing for months now, which will hopefully take some of the edge off.

Games and prizes

Use this time to set up games and prizes. You can print out game boards, coloring pages, or anything other free online items that you need. You could wait, but printers break, ink runs out, and any number of things could cause a hold up, so better to get it over with now while you still have time.

Last minute supplies

If there are still supplies you need to gather for food, games, favors, prizes, decorations, or anything else, don’t wait any longer. Again, don’t forget utensils, plates, napkins, cups, and anything else you need for the food.


Not only do you still need to purchase your gift for the mom-to-be, but you need to make sure you have someone willing to record gifts on the day of the shower. You can’t be expected to do it all yourself, and many guests will be willing to help out with such a simple task.

baby shower presents

2 Days Before the Shower

Now is the time to do everything you can to set up the party without setting out anything that will spoil.

Wash and prep

Make sure everything is clean. Wash plates, serving trays, or anything else you want to use. Make sure nothing is broken or needs to be replaced.

Get table runners and tablecloths ready. 

Clean the house, organize last minute items,and consider indoor alternatives to poor weather if necessary.

Send reminders

If you have helpers for the day, remind them of their duties. Make sure everyone is clear on what they need to do or bring the day of the shower. Make sure all last minute details that are someone else’s responsibility are covered.

1 Day Before the Shower

The shower is tomorrow! Hopefully you don’t feel like there’s still a lot to do. You’ve been preparing for this day for months and if you’ve been organized and done everything according to the plan, you should be ready.

Prepare food

You can begin preparing food now. If it requires cooking, make it now and put it in the refrigerator. That way all you have to do is warm it up before the shower tomorrow.

Chill beverages so they’ll be cold and ready. Pick up the cake you ordered so all you have to do tomorrow is set it out.

Set up gift station

Designate a place for guests to put their gifts. If you already ordered Thank You cards, make it easier on the mom-to-be by putting a stack of them on the gift table. As guests put their gifts down, they can address a card to themselves.


Your decorations are non-perishable, so you can begin decorating now. It’s one less thing you have to do tomorrow, and they will stay overnight. Centerpieces, props, favors, tables, confetti, banners, signs, and more can all go on display.

Wrap your gift

Everyone will have a gift tomorrow. Don’t forget to wrap yours and go ahead and put it on the gift table. It will give your guests a clue as to what to do with theirs and get it out of your way so you can focus on other things.

Day of the Shower

Congratulations! You made it. So far, you’ve done all you could to ensure you weren’t stressed and you could enjoy this day.

Last minute decorations

Put up any last minute decorations or games. A big part of this is making the venue obvious to visitors. Put balloons or decorations outside so everyone knows this is the place.

Display food

Everything should be prepped, but now you can set it out. Display it on everything you washed last week and make it beautiful.  If food items need to be warmed up, do that now and place anything that needs to be kept cool on ice or in the appropriate place for your guests.

If you’re having hot tea or coffee, set that up now. It’s not typical, but if you’re providing a bar for guests, stock it and set that up now, too.

Final Touches

If everything is set up, check the lighting in the room for optimal photography and check the temperature to make sure everyone will be comfortable.

Call the mom-to-be and make sure she’s feeling good and on her way. If there’s anything you can prepare for her before she arrives to make her more comfortable, get it set up and ready. That may be a comfortable chair, a drink, or a plate of food.

Put a trash can out where everyone can see it so they can dispose of their used items appropriately and make clean up easier for you.

Put on some good music and get ready!

Above all, have fun!

Sarah is a full-time freelance writer and mother of 4. She loves Jesus, cars, and coffee.