Isabel Spellman's Guide to Etiquette

Now Available!

Wondering what Isabel thinks about such topics as: eating, e-mail, dating, weddings, driving, umbrellas (and more)? Coming on May 28, her behavioral manifesto: Isabel Spellman's Guide to Etiquette: What is Wrong with You People will answer these and other common etiquette questions.

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If you're having a baby shower, that means you're either pregnant or have just given birth. Mazel tov. I don't know anything at all about hosting this kind of event, but I think it's important to address a subject that many mothers-to-be either know or knew at one point in their lives: Baby showers kind of suck. So, if you're going to throw a traditional baby shower and force your guests to endure the torturous hours-long gift-opening performance and ask them to feign enthusiasm over the fifth pink or powder blue onesie you unveil, please make sure these are good, good friends. Do not invite a casual acquaintance to your baby shower unless you think that casual acquaintance will be offended if she does not get an invite.

Some suggestions for making a baby shower better:

  • Invite males.
  • Serve booze and barbecue.
  • If you can spare the guests the gift-opening ceremony, they will be eternally grateful.

Keep in mind the kind of friends you have. If they like playing strange games like baby bingo, baby twister, or "Don't call me 'baby,'"1 then go for the traditional shower. I, for one, think vodka tastes better out of a glass than a baby bottle. But to each his own. There are actually books on how to throw a baby shower2 so you can check one of those out. Otherwise, you can have a more normal party (maybe with classier food options and during the daytime). See the above chapter "Hostessing."

Thank-you Cards

If someone came to your baby shower, she or he really, really likes you. Make sure you write them a thank-you card. This is one of those rare occasions when I think an old tradition remains untouchable. Don't even think of e-mail or a text message.


1. This has something to do with diaper pins and slipping up and saying the word baby. Sounds like a recipe for puncture wounds, if you ask me.

2. I assume. Haven’t ever looked for one.