8 or 10 Weeks BeforeBaby Shower

□ Decide who will plan and host the baby shower. Will it be you, or do other family or friends want to help? If you are planning as a group, divvy up tasks.

□ Set a budget. Are you paying for it all, or are others contributing?

□ Consult with the mom-to-be if the shower is not a surprise.

□ Pick a date and time. Consult with the mom-to-be’s mother, sisters, and best friends—especially those who’ll be traveling long distances—to find a time when all can be present. Shoot for a month or two before the due date.

□ Choose the baby shower location. Your home? A park? Book a restaurant or other outside venue early.

□ Select a baby registery. Ask the honoree where she has registered for gifts. Offer to help in any way that’s needed.

□ Make a guest list. Some showers are still women-only, but many people throw a couple’s shower. E-mail the honoree’s closest family members and friends for a list of people they think should be invited (with phone numbers and mailing addresses, or e-mail addresses if you’ll be sending an e-mail invite). If children are welcome, consider hiring a babysitter.

6 or 8 Weeks Before

□ Choose a theme. It can be traditional (baby-related) or simple (tea party). Keep in mind the tastes of the expectant mother.

□ Address and send out invitations. Provide a map or directions to the location, baby registry information, and an RSVP deadline (usually a week or two before the shower).

□ Think about party favors. You can make your own or buy small tokens of thanks for the guests.

□ Think about decorations. Now that you have your theme, how will you decorate? Decide which items can be made and which need to be bought.

□ Stock up on printing and other DIY supplies. Buy everything you’ll need for printing invitations, decorations, favors, photos, etc.

□ Go shopping. For favors or other decoration items you can’t make yourself.

□ Choose the food and beverages. If you have a theme, the foods should reflect it. If you’ll be doing the cooking, try to choose dishes that can be made a week ahead and frozen, or at least the day before. A potluck is a good way to involve guests who would like to help in some way.

A Month Before

□ Ensure you have enough help. It’s not to late too ask for help with cooking, entertainment, or anything else.

□ Order the cake. Also, the flowers, rental chairs, etc. Anything from an outside vendor.

□ Prepare thank-you notes. Print out the invitation list, with complete addresses, to give to the honoree. Or address them for her. Give to her before the party so she doesn’t go out and buy her own (or after, if the party is a surprise).

□ Prepare some games. Stock up on whatever materials are needed to play games, such as print-outs and pencils. You can provide game prizes if you’d like.

A Week Before

□ Solidify the guest list. Follow up with anyone who hasn’t responded.

□ Print baby shower games. Now that you have a final guest count, print any baby shower games that require game sheets.

□ Put together the favor bags and wrap game prizes.

□ Assign a photographer. Ask a shutterbug attendee in advance if they can take photos or video.

□ Charge video recorder and camera batteries. Make sure you have memory cards and any other accessories you’ll need to document the shower.

□ Clean up. If the party is at your home, give it a thorough cleaning.

□ Shop and cook, if needed. If you’ll be doing the cooking, prepare as much as you can in advance.

Several Days Before

□ Complete the grocery shopping. Finish up the food preparations.

□ Check the forecast. Especially important if your shower is being held outdoors.

□ Review your checklist. And then review it one more time for good measure.

□ Create a shower schedule. Nothing fancy—just a timeline of how things will flow during the shower.

The Day Before

□ Do a quick cleaning sweep. Do an initial sweep of the baby shower venue if it’s being held in your or someone else’s home.

□ Set up the party space. Arrange the furniture. Put out the favors, prizes, and games, and check to make sure you have everything you need.

□ Set out trash bags where the gifts will be opened.

□ Decorate. This is the fun part! Create a special space to celebrate.

On the Party Day

□ Pick up the cake. Also, the balloons, flowers, and whatever is coming from another vendor that needs to be fresh.

□ Designate someone to record gifts. She’ll need to record the gifts and the givers.

□ Set out party favors. You can display them with a centerpiece or place them on the gift table.

□ Take lots of photos. In addition to designating a photographer, you can provide disposable cameras for the other guests.