Parenting

How to host a virtual baby shower that people will enjoy

It can be just as much fun as the real thing.

A pregnant woman and man sitting at an outdoor patio table using the computre Credit: Getty Images / xavierarnau

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Baby showers are a great way to celebrate the mom-to-be and gift her with all of the necessities the new baby will need during the first year. But how do you host a baby shower during the middle of a pandemic? It’s a question many expectant parents are grappling with, including one of my closest friends who recently had to cancel her in-person baby shower.

With a little creativity—and the help of technology—hosting a virtual baby shower can be just as much fun as the real thing. Whether you’re expecting or just pitching in to help, we’ve put together a few ways to help you host a virtual baby shower.

What is a virtual baby shower?

Family video chat
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Friends and family near and far can attend a virtual baby shower.

A virtual baby shower isn’t much different than the real thing—and it even has some upsides. For starters, you can invite as many friends and family members as you want. This opens the door for more of your favorite people to attend, not just the ones that live within driving distance.

Another upside is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money or time on food, drinks, and decorations. While it’s a bummer you won’t be able to have your baby shower in person, remember that you’re doing your part to protect yourself, your baby, and your loved ones during the pandemic since the CDC is still recommending social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Who hosts a virtual baby shower?

There aren’t any hard or fast rules about who should host a virtual baby shower. Typically, a baby shower is hosted by a close friend or relative of the expectant mother. While there’s certainly no reason a mom-to-be can’t throw her own virtual shower, it’s best to delegate the task out to a trusted friend or family member. This way, she can kick back and relax without having to worry about planning or playing the role of host.

Throwing a virtual baby shower

Mom holds up sonogram
Credit: Getty Images / dolgachov

Since it's probably been a while since she's seen loved ones, she'll be eager to show off her growing baby.

1. Select a date and time

Like any successful celebration, the first step is to pick a date and time. However, there are a few things to keep in mind that you wouldn’t normally have to worry about such as:

  • Choosing the right time. A virtual shower means anyone can attend, no matter where they live. However, you don’t want to start too early—or start the party too late depending on their time zone.

  • Set an end time. If the celebration is still going strong, there’s no reason to shut it down, but it doesn’t need to be an all-day event either. One to two hours is plenty of time, and a hard end time lets guests know when it’s acceptable to bow out.

The Emily Post Institute suggests sending baby shower invitations out roughly three weeks before the event, so make sure the shower is planned for a few weeks after the invitation is sent. This also gives guests enough time to order a gift and account for any possible coronavirus-related shipping delays.

2. Create a guest list

Work with the mom-to-be (or both parents if it’s a coed shower) on a guest list. Since the invitation will be sent digitally, make sure to get the email addresses of each guest so you can begin compiling this information in a Google Docs spreadsheet or in Microsoft Excel.

It’s a good idea to have a ballpark estimate on how many people you’re inviting. Why? Well, certain video chatting platforms only accommodate a certain number of guests, which is why you’ll want to lock down prior to sending out the invitations. (More on that below.)

3. Choose a video chat platform

Video platform
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Make sure to choose an easy-to-use video platform that can accommodate the number of guests that are attending.

Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts are popular services for hosting video chats—and chances are your guests are familiar with them, too. Before deciding upon a service to use, consider how many people will be invited.

Each platform accommodates a different number of guests. For example, Zoom allows up to 100 guests per video call when using the company’s free, basic plan. But, under the free plan, you can only chat for 40 minutes, so you'll likely need to upgrade to add more time. Like Zoom, Skype allows up to 100 guests to join a video call at no cost for up to 4 hours. Google Hangouts restricts the number of video participants to 25 people per call but there's no time limit on how long the call can last. Google Meet, which usually requires a paid subscription, is free to use until Sept. 30 and can accommodate up to 250 people.

Here are a few other tech-related things to keep in mind:

  • To keep the virtual shower private, we recommend making the event password protected.

  • All three of these commonly used services work on iOS, Android, PC, or Mac devices. But if you’re in need of a new laptop with a snazzy camera, there are plenty of great options under $200.

  • With Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype, you can record the shower, so the mom-to-be can store it as a keepsake. Just make sure to give your guests a head’s up that they are being recorded.

Alternatively, you can try a hosting site like Web Baby Shower, which includes, invitations, games, a video chat planner, shower keepsake PDF, and more starting at $79.

4. Send virtual invitations

Virtual invitations have been around for a while, which means you’ve got options when it comes to selecting the perfect invite. If you’re hosting for a mom-to-be, ask her if she’d like to help choose the invitation or has any design thoughts. She may want you to handle it all, but it never hurts to ask.

Virtual invitation sites like Evite and Paperless Post have beautifully designed baby shower invitations for free. On the invitations, make sure to include the following important details:

  • Date and time
  • Link (and password) to join
  • Registry information

At the bottom of the invitation, include a line or two about any themes or colors you’d like guests to wear or have displayed in the background during the shower.

5. Registry information and giving gifts

Woman holds up baby onesie
Credit: Getty / dusanpetkovic

Just like at a traditional baby shower gathering, the mom-to-be can still show off all of the thoughtful gifts she's received.

Since guests won’t be physically present to bring gifts to the shower, the next best thing is delivery. Many registry sites like Target and Amazon allow gift givers to ship the item directly to the recipient.

Under normal circumstances, the mom-to-be would open up the baby’s gifts in front of everyone attending the shower, and there’s no reason that tradition can’t continue online. However, you may want to have her unbox everything in advance, so she’s not cutting through cardboard and packing tape during the shower.

The host (or someone else involved with planning the shower) should take notes on who sent what, so that there’s no confusion when it comes time for thank you notes.

6. Virtual games and other ways to keep guests entertained

Baby shower games are a good way to keep guests entertained—and keep the party on track. While a virtual baby shower does limit the types of fun games you can play, there are still a number of engaging games to pick from like:

  • Name that song: Create a playlist of 10 songs that contain the word “baby” in the song title. Play a short snippet from each song and have each guest write down the name of the song. The person with the most correct answers is the winner. However, you may want to have a back-up song or two ready to go in case of a tie.

  • Who’s that baby?: Have the mom-to-be share 10 photos with the host from various stages of her childhood. Hold them up during the video chat. Have each guest write down their answers on a sheet of paper. Whoever gets them all right wins a prize. (Have a spare picture handy to use in case of a tie.)

  • Guess How Many: Fill up a baby bottle (make sure it’s see-through) with small candies like M&Ms or Skittles. Show the bottle and let everyone guess how many candies are in the bottle. Whoever guesses the closest number to the total amount wins.

Winners typically receive a small gift, like a candle or picture frame. Since that’s not possible during a virtual shower, consider sending each winner a $10 e-gift card instead.

Tip: If you’ve participated in a video chat recently, then you already know how congested a call can get when people break off into side conversations. It’s best to have the host head up the games. Alternatively, the host can ask close friends and family members, like siblings, parents, and best friends, to spearhead a game during the shower. Delegating tasks like these helps others be part of the virtual planning process and keeps the baby shower organized.

These are just some of the ways you can host a virtual baby shower. Another fun alternative to a traditional baby shower in the age of social distancing iis to organize a drive-by shower—just like those drive-by birthday celebrations that keep popping up. Guests can leave gifts on the lawn or driveway, and safely admire Mama’s growing belly from six feet away.

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