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A baby shower is a way to celebrate the pending or recent birth of a child by presenting gifts to the parents at a party. The term "shower" is often assumed to mean that the expectant mother is "showered" with gifts. Although sometimes the shower is held after the baby is born.
Cake and finger foods are often served at baby showers, but sometimes people like to make the food more elaborate.
Traditionally, baby showers were given only for the family's first child, and only women were invited. The original intent was for women to share wisdom and lessons on the art of becoming a mother. Over time, it has become common to hold them for subsequent or adopted children. It is not uncommon for a parent to have more than one baby shower, such as one with friends and another with co-workers.
Baby showers are an alternative to other European celebrations of nativity such as Christenings or Baptisms. However, these can tend to be less materialistic as what is commonly known as a baby shower in the twenty-first century.
According to etiquette authority Miss Manners, because the party centers on gift-giving, the baby shower is typically arranged and hosted by a close friend rather than a member of the family, since it is considered rude for families to beg for gifts on behalf of their members. However, this custom varies by culture or region and in some it is expected and customary for a close female family member to host the baby shower, often the grandmother.
There is no set rule for when or where showers are to be held. The number of guests and style of entertainment are determined by the host. Most hosts invite only women to baby showers, although there is no firm rule requiring this. If the shower is held after the baby's birth, then the baby is usually brought, too. Showers typically include food but not a full meal.
Guests bring small or large gifts for the expectant mother. Typical gifts related to babies include diapers, baby bottles, clothes, and toys. It is common to open the gifts during the party.
Some hosts arrange baby-themed activities, such as games to taste baby foods or to guess the baby's birth date or gender.
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