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FAQs About Grandmother Showers

Newly Popular Celebrations Come in Many Varieties

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Love them or hate, them, grandmother showers appear to be here to stay. Such celebrations can be both meaningful and fun for close female friends. Gifts should definitely be secondary.

1. What exactly is a grandmother shower?

A celebration to honor a woman's entry into grandmotherhood is sometimes called a grandmother shower. Usually they are given for the first grandchild, since the purpose is to celebrate the grandmother's rite of passage. Sometimes they may be given before the birth of later grandchildren if there are special circumstances involved. For example, a grandmother who will be providing child care might be given a shower to help her equip her house.

2. Who gives a grandmother shower?

Most frequently, the grandmother's closest female friend organizes the shower. Sometimes it is a group of friends. Showers may also be given by a group of co-workers, a Sunday school class or other religious group, or the members of a sorority, service club or social club.

3. Where are such showers held?

Most are held at an individual's home. A restaurant such as a cozy tea room is another popular choice. If those giving the shower are co-workers, sometimes the shower takes place at work.

4. Who attends a grandmother shower?

Grandmother showers are usually attended by the peers of the grandmother-to-be. The mother-to-be may be invited or not, depending how close by she lives, how close she is to the grandmothers' friends, and similar factors.

5. Are grandfathers ever included in grandparents' showers?

Sometimes couples who are going to become grandparents are feted with a couples celebration. In such cases, the venue and the gifts are likely to be a little different. A couples celebration, for example, might be a backyard party or a wine-tasting.

6. What do etiquette experts say about these events?

The more rigorous mavens of etiquette decry them, as Miss Manners did in this 2010 column, stating, "Baby showers are intended to be for friends who are actually having babies." But these are the same experts who say that showers should not be given by relatives, and that rule is widely disregarded. The more modern and flexible etiquette experts say that grandmother showers are here to stay and are inoffensive if given by a truly close group of friends and if the emphasis is kept on the celebration rather than on gift-giving.

7. Do expectant mothers feel slighted by grandparent showers?

Properly handled, a grandmother shower should not take attention away from the expectant mother. A grandmother's shower should not be given unless the expectant mother is having a baby shower of her own. Also, certain trappings of the traditional baby shower should be reserved for the mother's shower. For example, there should be no registry for a grandmother's shower, and gifts should be kept modest. Invitations are usually by word of mouth. Most grandmothers are happy to skip the baby shower games, although there are a few variations that are fun for grandmothers.

8. Should the mother-to-be be consulted about such a shower?

That depends. If the grandmother-to-be lives some distance away, it should not be an issue if her friends choose to fete her. If the two women involved live in the same area, it would be wise to at least let the mother-to-be know what is planned. If the gifts are to go to the parents' home rather than staying with the grandparents, the parents should be consulted, as they may have strong preferences, perhaps preferring cloth diapers or organic clothing.

9. What kind of gifts are given?

Gifts typically fall into one of several categories. These include:
  • Personal gifts to celebrate the grandmother's entry into a new phase of life. Examples: grandparenting books, photo albums
  • Gifts to help the grandmother accommodate the grandchild in her home. Examples: diapers, baby swing, baby monitor
  • Gifts for the baby intended to be passed on to the parents. Examples: Baby clothing and accessories
  • Novelty items. These could include joke gifts, charitable donations made in the grandmother's name and other non standard items.

10. Are used items appropriate for a grandmother's shower?

Some grandparents are very happy to receive handed-down cribs, strollers, high chairs and car seats, but these do not make the best shower gifts for several reasons. First, sometimes there are safety issues with used baby equipment. Second, it is hard for the grandmother-to-be to reject items that she does not want if they are presented as shower gifts. It's fine to offer such items, but it's best not to show up with them as shower gifts unless you know the items are wanted.

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