Virtual Baby Shower Etiquette Tips to Help Your Party Run Smoothly
Virtual Baby Shower Etiquette Tips to Help Your Party Run Smoothly
February 7, 2021

Virtual Baby Shower Etiquette Tips to Help Your Party Run Smoothly

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Virtual Baby Shower Etiquette Tips to Help Your Party Run Smoothly

Virtual baby showers have been at the forefront of the baby scene since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and we’re thankful to have an option to celebrate new family members safely. But with a new trend comes new etiquette questions. Should a virtual shower last as long as a traditional one? Are the expecting parents allowed to record the party? What are hosts supposed to do about background noise and overly talkative guests?

We asked our nearly 400 thousand followers on Instagram to write in with their questions on virtual baby shower etiquette, and here are our honest answers to the 15 most common questions.

Who hosts a virtual baby shower? Can you throw your own?

Absolutely. This question comes up often for both virtual and traditional baby showers, and it’s a holdover from the decades-old “proper” etiquette rule that you can’t host your own baby shower. Traditional etiquette says a baby shower should be hosted by a close friend or family member of the expecting parents, but modern etiquette says anyone can host, even the parents themselves.

And the same goes for virtual baby showers. If you want to host your own, go for it! It’s a totally viable option for expecting parents who prefer more control over their party or for those who may not have anyone else willing or able to host. Alternatively, if you’d rather hand the responsibility over to someone else (you’ve got enough going on as it is), that’s totally fine too.

Who do I invite to a virtual baby shower?

The people on your virtual shower guest list are going to be the same ones you’d invite if you were having an in-person baby shower, plus any additional friends or family members who live too far away to attend an in-person shower.

Modern baby shower etiquette says to invite whoever you’re close to and who you’d count as part of your support system, whether that includes your parents, siblings, the people in your knitting circle, your great aunt or your brother-in-law. While some people may try to dictate who you have to invite, we stand firmly on the side of “it’s your party, invite the people you actually want to celebrate with.”

How many people do I invite to a virtual shower?

That really depends on your comfort level. If you feel like you can manage 20 or 30 people in one group video chat, more power to you! Or maybe you’d be more comfortable with a smaller group of 10 or fewer.

Think about the things you have planned for your party, too. If there are lots of games that everyone can participate in, that might help larger groups be entertained. But if you’re planning to have mostly casual, unstructured chat time, having lots of guests could make it difficult for everyone to get a chance to talk or feel heard.

If I plan to have an in-person, Covid-safe baby shower, should I still offer a virtual option? Are hybrid baby showers a thing?

Hybrid baby showers haven’t become a “thing” yet, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be! It makes sense to have a hybrid option—both during the Covid-19 pandemic and in general, non-pandemic times—especially if you have loved ones who can’t attend an in-person baby shower. We think it’s totally possible to combine an in-person baby shower with a virtual one, even with all guests attending at once.

You can set up a large screen that’s connected to a video service (some TVs allow you to cast Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger Rooms, etc. from your computer right onto the big screen) and a webcam and stream your virtual guests in front of all your in-person guests.

Are virtual baby shower invites okay? Or do guests still want physical invites for virtual events?

Virtual invitations are totally fine! And whether you send virtual invitations or physical ones, what you choose doesn’t depend on the type of baby shower you’re having.

Just like how it’s common (and completely acceptable) to send emailed invitations for an in-person shower, you could send them for a virtual shower, too. Sure, some guests might prefer to receive physical invites, but in the end it’s entirely up to you as the expecting parent.

What if guests don’t know each other? Will the party be awkward?

If you’re inviting a mixture of people who don’t really know each other, you might consider breaking your celebration up into smaller parties that are more manageable. This works especially well if you prefer smaller group sizes but have a large guest list.

It’s totally okay to separate your family and your friends into different parties, or to separate different circles of friends. That way, you know the people in the party are comfortable with each other, which makes virtual conversation a lot easier.

Don’t have the time or energy to throw more than one virtual baby shower? We totally get it. Invite your large guest list to a private Facebook event and have the entire party over Facebook live! That way you only have to manage yourself (and whoever is physically with you) on camera, and all your guests can communicate in the comments. This is also a great option for guests who don’t like Zoom or are just tired of participating in video calls (which we also totally understand).

Should there be a time limit to a virtual baby shower?

Definitely. It’s good to set a time limit for baby showers in general, but it’s even more important for virtual ones. One of the differences between an in-person shower and a virtual shower is that virtual showers don’t usually have the natural wind-down of events that an in-person shower has. Giving your guests an end time for a virtual party sets expectations, so it won’t seem abrupt when you suddenly start to say your farewells. Invitations will always have a start time, so it’s easiest to just include an end time along with it.

A typical in-person baby shower lasts about two to three hours, but a virtual shower should be shorter since there isn’t the usual opportunity for casually mingling with a plate of snacks in your hand. Aim for a time limit of one hour to an hour and a half. That should leave plenty of time for gifts, games and some conversation.

And when it’s time to wrap things up, it might feel a little bit awkward to announce the end of the party to your guests, but just like at an in-person party, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of simply saying “This was fun, thank you all for coming, I really appreciate you being here and I hope to see you all in person soon.”

Should I record the virtual party?

The short answer is yes, if you want to. But you should always let your guests know ahead of time if you plan to record your virtual baby shower.

Just like how you’d very likely take pictures at a physical baby shower to save memories down the road, plenty of expecting parents take screenshots or record the entire virtual shower so they can look back on it for years to come. But some guests may not be totally comfortable with that.

Whether it’s on the invitation or in a separate message, give the heads up as well as the option to opt out of being recorded. If one or more guests don’t want to be recorded, you basically have two options: don’t record the event at all, or give the guests the option to not attend. If they choose option two, you can always send them the recording of your shower so they can feel at least a little bit included.

What if guests don’t want to participate in the virtual baby shower or be on camera?

While it might be disappointing to hear this from the loved ones you’ve invited, this is another opportunity to do something like a Facebook or Instagram Live instead. That way you’re the only one on camera, you can show your gifts, do a nursery tour or just talk about preparing for baby, and guests can still feel included. You can even set up a private Facebook event and record a video just for those private guests.

Am I obligated to dress up for a virtual baby shower?

As the expecting parent, you might welcome the opportunity to dress up a little bit. If you’re pregnant, renting a nice maternity dress or blouse can dress up your bump just for your baby shower. But if you feel like you might not have the energy for it, that’s okay too. If all you can muster is a small amount of makeup, a hair brush and a nice top, your virtual guests will be none the wiser (but if you decide to stay in PJ pants, just remember not to stand up on camera).

If you’re hosting a virtual shower and you’re not the expecting parent, definitely dress up. You’re the one running the shindig, and it sets a good tone for the party if the host is spruced up in smart casual or business casual attire. You don’t have to do anything too fancy, but wear what you’d normally wear to a baby shower, whether that’s some slacks and a collared shirt or a springtime floral dress.

If you’re a guest at a virtual baby shower, the polite thing to do is dress up at least a little bit. Similarly to if you’re the expecting parent, just dressing up your top half is totally acceptable, just remember not to stand up on camera. Don’t try to out-dress the host or parent—a nice top and light jewelry and makeup are enough. Sure, it’s not an in-person baby shower, but if you’re on camera wearing a ratty T-shirt or looking like you just rolled out of bed, it appears the same as if you showed up that way to a traditional party.

Should I decorate my virtual background for the party?

This was a tough one for us to answer, so we asked our followers on Instagram. A whopping 87% responded “yes,” which tells us that everyone from expecting parents to baby shower guests to experience parents who’ve already had their virtual baby shower are probably expecting to see some kind of decor on camera.

If you have the time and energy to put up some balloons and streamers, especially if they fit your party’s theme, that’s perfect. Your camera will only show one small portion of your space, so you don’t have to decorate an entire room—just throw up some decor in the area that will show on screen.

Don’t feel like decorating? Virtual backgrounds are also an option, depending on what video service you’re using. If your virtual baby shower is a Zoom call, virtual backgrounds are super easy to incorporate. And there’s an endless amount of options for background images to fit whatever your shower’s theme is, and you don’t have to clean your house for your party!

Do I have to open my baby shower gifts on camera?

Not if you don’t want to! Since virtual showers typically don’t last as long as in-person showers, there isn’t as much time to open each individual gift and show it to your guests. You also just might not want all eyes on you as you fight with wrapping paper (or worse, if you open a gift you don’t particularly like).

Guests will probably want to see your gifts, especially the one(s) they got you, so you can always unwrap the gifts ahead of time. That way, you can show them off on camera without wasting time with unwrapping.

Can I mute virtual shower guests who have background noise or who won’t stop talking? Should I keep everyone muted?

Isn’t background noise the worst? Especially if you’re using a video service that only allows one sound source at a time, anyone who is talking over others or has background noise can override the host and/or expecting parent, and that’s both frustrating and annoying. So we say it’s absolutely okay to mute certain guests.

Rest assured that your guests likely aren’t making all that noise with bad intentions, but you should definitely let them know when and why you’re putting them on mute. Send a quick private message or text to tell them about their background noise or to inform them that only one person can talk at a time, and if they aren’t able to fix the issue, they’ll be on mute. They’ll still be able to use chat functions to communicate to the whole party.

Should I send party favors to virtual baby shower guests? Should I give prizes to virtual shower game winners?

It depends on how much effort you want to put into this. Since everything is virtual, it’s not like your guests can just grab their party favors of the table like they could if they were with you in person. One of the benefits of having a virtual baby shower is that you’re not expected to do all the things that are usually associated with a traditional shower, and giving out party favors is one of them. Guests should be totally fine with not getting any party favors at a virtual shower.

If you do want to give out party favors, you can ship or deliver non-perishable things to guests ahead of time. If guests live close to you, it’s easy to just drop party favors at their door before the party. If guests live far away or you can’t get out and about for deliveries, choose small favors that can be shipped at a low cost and try to have them arrive the day of the shower.

Prizes for games, on the other hand, is a different story. If you plan to play games at your virtual baby shower (which you don’t have to, but there are plenty of virtual-friendly options if you do), you should always have prizes to give to winners or else the games lose their friendly competitive edge. You can either ship/deliver physical prizes like candles, potted plants, throw blankets, etc., or you can virtually send digital gift cards.

Do I send food to my guests?

This falls into the same category as party favors. Unlike traditional baby showers, virtual baby showers aren’t expected to include food for guests. You can give guests the option to bring snacks to their screens if they want to munch during the party, or you can deliver food locally if your guests live close by. Some Babylist parents had great ideas for providing food for their virtual shower guests, which you can read about in our article on Real-Life Examples of Baby Showers During Covid-19.

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