When I graduated from college with my BA, I learned an important lesson: celebrate life whenever you can. At the time, I was a 29 year old nontraditional student. I was just happy to have a degree in hand. But my mother implored me to have a graduation party; especially since I was the first in the immediate family to finish college. So I shelled out $150 to rent a party room at Dave & Busters, spent perhaps another $125 on a buffet to feed 20 people. At the end of the night, after tallying all of the cash and check gifts received (most people invited didn’t come, but sent a card instead) I had about $900. So I didn’t come out half bad! 🙂
Of course parties and showers aren’t all about making money. But in all honesty, it’s an opportunity to have others contribute to you and your baby and have a fun time. When I look back at my shower, I am just amazed at how generous people were. The contributions of gifts and gift cards totaled into the thousands. It was such a stress reliever to know that we had all of the major purchases covered.
Of course, it takes money to throw a baby shower. But the cost can range from $50 – $5,000. So here is what I learned in regards to saving your hard-earned pennies.
Create Your Registry
Do this early. I only had two…one at Babies ‘R’ Us, and another at Amazon. Amazon offered better prices in almost all instances. But for family members who were not tech savvy, it was just easier for them to go into a Toys ‘R’ Us or Babies ‘R’ Us store and look up our registry. Most of the things on are registry were not purchased. However they were very important when coordinating big purchases through t he Grandparents. If it wasn’t for my registry, I would have had two cribs coming to my house!
Online registries make it easy to comparison shop and price match. For example, my Dad brought my son’s car seat. I had one on my Babies ‘R’ Us registry, but he wanted to buy it from Wal-Mart because he was also buying things for his younger kids. Wal-Mart didn’t have the exact same model available, but through comparing the features, it was very similar to what I picked.[notification type=”notification_warning”]Just a bit of shower etiquette; be sure to keep tabs on who gives you what gifts. I did not do this, and regretted it when it came time to write Thank You cards and perform returns![/notification]
Find A Venue
For us, this was a difficult and relatively expensive step. It does not have to be. For example, my BF’s sister in law had her baby shower in her churches social hall, and paid nothing for the venue…just the food and decorations. However I did not want to have the shower in a religious building (I’m Jewish and most of the baby’s family is not). Also none of us had homes that could accommodate more than 10-15 people comfortably. And finally the timing of the shower (it was in October) was such that the weather could not be counted on to be nice enough to have an outdoor event.
We really had no idea where to look. I discovered our fantastic venue via a discussion on Yelp. It was a bit over $300 to rent it for 6 hours. We split this charge 3 ways between myself, my sister and my Mom. This was the only expense from the baby shower that I had to pay myself.
If our families were smaller, we could have certainly nixed this cost altogether. Some key ways to minimize this expense are:
- Check with your place of worship, or where you (or family) live, or any association membership that you have. You may have access to a facility that will not even charge you a rental fee.
- Have the shower in someone’s home.
- If it is summer, or the right time during the spring or fall, you can have a picnic-style shower in a local park.
- Forgo any venue that is a restaurant, or that offers catering and/or service staff. That will get expensive very quickly.
Decide On A Theme
For my shower, the venue dictated the theme (which was a barnyard theme). In order to save money in this area, shy away from character specific themes (like Baby Mickey and Minnie Mouse) or themes that will limit your options in regards to decorations (i.e. you’ve ordered deep maroon and white baby shower invitations; therefore all of your decorations need to bee maroon and white and you can only find one vendor that sells maroon color baby shower decorations!).
When it came to the big name providers, like Minted and Vistaprint, I found that the price of invitations was about $2.00 a piece. We thought that we could purchase some designs on clipart on Etsy (which we did for $10 or so; we ended up using the graphics for the Facebook event invite cover photo and the custom water bottle labels). However to design the invitations, get them printed, purchase the envelopes, etc., the savings wasn’t all that great. Instead I found a place a little further down in the search results, called Candles and Favors. They had a lot of designs and only charged $1.49 per invitation.
I wanted to order 30, but my mother suggested to order 50. The RSVP rate was only 1/2…perhaps even less than that. However for people who could not come, quite a few sent gifts in the mail. And since I did not have a formal pregnancy announcement, the baby shower invitations served a double-duty there. The postage was covered by my Grandmother; who always keeps books of stamps at home because she still uses snail mail for everything!
Online baby shower invitations are a low cost (even free) option as well. It is not really an option if you have a lot of older people attending (which is why I did not do it). Try sites like Punchbowl or Greenvelope (who charges $1 per invitation, but offer a really cool online RSVP and planning interface).
Oriental Trading is your friend here for decorations and party favors. Their selection is amazing and their prices a way lower than what you would find at your local brick and mortar party store.
Take the DIY route wherever you can. With some creativity and some arts and crafts, you can have a Pinterest-worthy celebration. For example, my sisters found little milk jars for $1.00 each (they purchased them locally, but you can get them online at Cheap Favor Shop). With some ribbon and some chalk, we had a hit!
Do not waste your money on buying a diaper cake (centerpiece) online. All the ones that I saw were $50 or more. Instead make your own. My sister’s best friend has made dozens of them. Thankfully she made mine as well (she’s fantastic).
You can’t tell by the picture, but she actually used a combination of baby blankets and diapers to make the diaper cake. There are more ideas and tutorials here if you are a newbie.
Go potluck style. This will greatly minimize, if not totally eliminate your food budget. My shower had a huge selection and amount of food…all brought by the attendees. Of course you have to coordinate a bit among people and be flexible with the menu. My main meats were fried chicken and spicy Italian (turkey) sausage. Other contributions were two salads, macaroni and cheese, spinach dip, buffalo chicken dip, two types of casseroles, homemade cookies and chocolate covered pretzels, and cocktail sandwiches.
Since we didn’t buy any of the food, we did splurge on the cake. The local baker charged about $70 for the cake and cupcakes. Not cheap, but again, not bad since that was really all (my sister) came out of pocket for the food budget.
I only wore maternity clothes towards the end of my pregnancy. My job is business casual, so my uniform was pretty much skirts with elastic waists and a coordinating top that still covered my belly. I had all of this in my wardrobe already. The only thing that I need to purchase that was specifically maternity were pants.
I certainly didn’t have anything in my wardrobe that was baby shower worthy though. However I had previously purchased maternity pants from ThredUp for incredibly low prices. I checked them out for maternity dresses and snagged my dress for a mere $14 (after coupon code)!
Including the price of the venue (which was our biggest expense) I would say that my baby shower cost around $600. In terms of gifts, we received the crib, stroller, car seat and video baby monitor (all of which came to about $800 combined). I also received everything necessary for baby’s bath…a slew of blankets…several cases of diapers and a case of wipes…to the extent where I really did not need to buy these when the baby was born. I also received a lot of clothes. And thankfully they ranged in size from newborn (which he needed at birth, but grew out of quickly) to 12 months.
There are articles online that give guidance on how to reduce your baby shower costs even more. However their suggestions call for more basic gatherings where you have chips and dip, and cake at home. My suggestion is that you can have something with a bit more ‘wow’ factor and not go broke. My most important piece of advice to those out there who are planning are to spread expenses out among several people. Task each person with a significant expense (i.e. this person gets the cake, another person pays for the invitations, another person gets the decorations, etc.); and a fancier baby shower becomes more feasible.
And finally, whatever you do, do not stress over it! Your main job is to take care of yourself and your baby. Stress undermines that. A baby shower is all about pampering you and your future bundle of joy. Remember that always to keep things in perspective 😉 .