Should guests have to pay to attend baby showers?

 Photo: JGI/Tom Grill

When baby showers first became a "thing", the norm was to go to the expectant mum's house. You'd enjoy a glass of champers or a cup of tea, partake in a few games and then eat your body weight in sugar. But, as with all things baby related, these once simple celebrations are getting bigger and bigger.

People are hiring coordinators, making gift registries at department stores and even sending out expensive invites. What's also becoming popular is the hosting of a baby shower somewhere other than home - a place that comes with a cost to the guests.

High teas, pampering days and elaborate dinners are amongst the most popular choices for baby showers, with guests invited to attend and pay their own way.

As far as attending as a paying guest, opinions are divided. While some invitees are comfortable with it, others feel like it's an expectation too far which results in excluding those who cannot afford to attend.

"I recently got invited to a baby shower which was going to cost me $70," says Katie Day. "I'm used to baby showers where I sit in someone's backyard, so the cost of attending plus a gift makes it a really expensive day."

"I think what bothers me most though is that it's pretty exclusive, as in, it's excluding the people who can't afford to attend. I know a few people who won't be going because they can't afford it, which is not only embarrassing for them, but it's upsetting that they can't join in on the celebration."

So, are we being too easily influenced by the likes of celebrities? And is it too much to expect people to pay?

Barny and Moo events owner, Claire Whelpton, says that paying for baby showers is just starting to trend. She attributes this to social media fuelling the desire for bigger and more elaborate affairs.

"In my experience, it isn't very common to ask your guests to pay for attending a shower. However, people have wish lists now or wishing wells so the cost of a shower is compensated that way," she says.


"Having said that, I've noticed it comes up on mums' forums from time to time, and people do get upset if they have to pay to attend an event. I can certainly see both sides, but think that every case is unique."

In the instance where someone does feel uncomfortable about paying to attend a baby shower, Whelpton suggests speaking with the host directly.

"See if you can arrange another time to see them or drop by before the party with a small gift," she says. "It's not an ideal situation, but I don't like to think anyone misses out because they can't afford to go to an event."

"Primarily, I think the responsibility rests on the host's shoulders. So, if she's making guests contribute by paying, she must understand that some guests may not be able to celebrate with her."

Some mums who host baby showers where guests pay their way, do not expect guests to also bring a gift.

"Before my daughter was born, four of us did a pamper day. Everyone paid for themselves, but I asked for no presents as it was more an excuse to get together before bub came," says Kerri Grainger.

"I asked a few friends and family if they were willing to do it before organising, so people didn't expect they had to come and only those who showed interest were invited."

It was a similar situation for Jo Stevenson when she was expecting her third baby.

"Some friends hosted a shower for me at the local Surfhouse and paid for all the finger food," she says. "But, similarly, I had no issues paying to attend another friend's baby shower. There are so many other events that we contribute towards, such as birthday lunches or work farewells, so why not a baby shower!"

But, not every expectant Mum has the same view. In fact, for Jocelyn Brewer asking guests to pay couldn't have been further from her mind.

"We had a pool party for all our friends and just put on beer, wine and a BBQ. We specifically requested people not buy us or the baby gifts, but instead donate to child health or refugee programs," she says. "A baby shower isn't something I'd ever ask anyone to pay for."