Savvy Tips & Helpful Hints

Should a Baby Shower be a Surprise?

By Amy Cobb

You’re already an amazing (fill in the blank – friend, family member, co-worker, etc.)! After all, that is why you signed up to host this baby shower shindig in the first place. Right? Go, you! But while planning the perfect party, what if you decide to take the celebration in a slightly different direction?

Imagine family and friends gathered at the chosen venue and when the new mom arrives, you all yell, “SURPRISE!” Is a surprise baby shower the best idea you’ve ever had? Or should you skip the surprise shower? Maybe it could be better if you turn all that excitement and energy into the search and purchase of gifts such as plastic baby bottles, bamboo baby suction plates, or adorable knit blankets that the new mom-to-be may appreciate more? Let’s figure it out together!

Party Planning Private Investigator.

People typically either love surprises, or they hate ’em. So which camp does the Mom-to-be fall into? As the official party planner, it’s up to you to find out! How? Well, you could directly ask her how she feels about the topic. But then she may catch on to your plans, ruining the surprise.

Instead, put your super sleuthing skills to work and ask for input from the new dad or the soon-to-be grandparents. (Bonus: If someone else close to the expecting mom gives you the greenlight for a surprise party, then it’s not all on you if it turns out to be a bad idea!) You may also drop a few hints to gauge the new mom’s thoughts on surprise parties. Just be careful, you don’t want her to get suspicious!

Surprise Baby Shower Scenarios.

What are some circumstances that make throwing a surprise party ideal? For a Mom-to-be who already has multiple children, a baby shower may be the last thing she’d ever expect, much less a surprise party! A surprise shower thrown by co-workers for a working mama also makes sense, particularly if she’s already in the office on Baby Shower Day anyway.

In addition, perhaps the new mom may be experiencing extra difficulties that go beyond the typical pregnancy woes. For example, maybe her partner has been deployed. Or maybe with baby’s impending arrival, the happy couple is upsizing to a larger home, leaving less time (and funds!) for planning a shower. In these instances, a new mom may be overjoyed with the pick-me-up a surprise party will bring. Your thoughtfulness will definitely be appreciated!

Surprise Party Ahead!

If you’ve truly considered the new mom’s wishes and decided she’d love nothing more than a surprise baby shower, just remember, the happy mama is totally out of the baby shower planning loop. That means it’s up to you – the party planner – to choose her favorite things. So get busy, you have a lot of planning to do!

This starts with selecting a venue. Will something simple, like a park outing with the new mom’s closest family and friends, do? Or is her style a sleek high-rise overlooking the city with the more attendees the better? How about the menu – a picnic? A potluck? Or a catered five-course meal? Don’t forget the Mom-to-be’s favorite colors for the party theme when choosing a theme & décor (Hint: can deliver balloons and flowers right to the chosen venue). Oh, yes! And her fave games to play. Luckily for you, if you’re in charge of planning the shower, odds are you know this mom pretty well.

The best part? Since it is a surprise shower, the Mom-to-be is in for a treat. For her, there’s no agonizing for hours over picking the cutest decorations. Bears of giraffes? No flipping out over menu choices. And no fussing over the invitation list in the middle of the night. It really is a stress-free affair for the new mom – all she has to do is just show up for the surprise baby shower bash!

Surprise Party To-Do List.

Just like any other party, a surprise baby shower requires careful planning. In fact, maybe even more so to keep it a secret! So make sure you:

Pick a Date & Time (Be certain the Mom-to-be is free, or the surprise will be on you when she’s a no-show!)

Choose a Venue 

Plan the Invite List

Select a Theme & Décor 

Settle on a Menu

Organize Games (Hint: WebBabyShower has plenty to choose from, both printable & virtual!)

Delegate Duties – Just because it’s a surprise party, don’t go it alone!

Shhhh! Remind others that it’s a surprise shower!

Warning: Plan a Surprise Shower at Your Own Risk!

As we’ve discovered, planning a surprise baby shower definitely has some pros. But…it also has its cons. In fact, BabyCenter suggests you give it lots of thought before choosing to throw a surprise party, and says “If your guest of honor doesn’t like surprises or was really hoping for a specific type of event, you could put her in an awkward position. On the other hand, if you let the future parents in on the arrangements, you can be confident that they’ll be pleased with the outcome.”

Here are some reasons why you should skip the surprise and keep the Mom-to-be in the know:

It’s MY Party, and I’ll Plan it if I Want To!

Welcoming a new baby into the world is one of THE most joyous occasions a new mom will ever experience. There’s so much anticipation that precedes the blessed event, and many new moms want to experience it – ALL of it – the fun of choosing a special venue, bargain hunting for the best deals on shower décor, and yes, even the finger cramps that accompany hours of hand-writing the invitations. Some moms may be offended at being excluded from what they feel is a sort of rite of passage in planning a shower for their new little one. As the party planner, it’s up to you to be mindful of this and ask her to be involved as much – or as little – as she wants!

Personal Considerations.

Obviously, nobody knows how the new mama feels physically and emotionally throughout her pregnancy, other than her. You may plan a surprise shower for the second trimester when she still feels yucky and would have preferred to party in her third trimester instead. On the flipside, if you plan a month 7 or 8 surprise shower, the Mom-to-be may not be in the partying mood right before baby arrives.

Something else to consider – perhaps the new parents prefer to celebrate post-birth for a Sip and See party. The point is, since the shower is to celebrate the baby and pamper the new mom, you definitely want to consider her health AND her personal wishes. That may be more difficult to do with a surprise shower. 

Should I Have Dressed Up for This?

A surprise baby shower can be tricky – really tricky! That’s because the Mom-to-be wants to feel special on her special day. So what if she shows up to her baby shower dressed in sweaty work-out-gear because she thinks she’s meeting you for a casual girl’s day out after she leaves the gym? Or even worse, what if she’s really having an off day and shows up dressed in PJs for her own party? She’d likely be mortified! And you’d never hear the end of it, and rightfully so.

Not so long ago, Tubby Todd Bath Co. threw a surprise party for a team member. They offer this tip: “Give your special lady a reason to look good when she arrives. We like the idea of “family or team pictures” because it doesn’t give your guest of honor any reason to be suspicious, but it also ensures they won’t show up in their pjs.”

Furthermore, Today’s Parent did the research, and the findings were unanimous: “pregnant women and new moms just don’t enjoy surprise parties.” Their advice? “Let her in on the party from the beginning – she’ll be grateful you did.” It’s that simple!The Takeaway on Planning a Surprise Baby Shower? As with any shower, first and foremost, always consider the guest-of-honor’s wishes! After all, it is a celebration for the new mom and her baby, and you want her to feel extra special on her big day. So whether you decide to make it a surprise shower – or not – we here at WebBabyShower want to offer our support as you plan. Visit our website for more helpful baby shower articles and ideas!


  • Deanna Straub

    I agree. Baby showers can definitely be very tricky. I feel the decision should vary according to each new mom’s personality.

  • Jo D.

    My daughter had two baby showers, one planned and one surprise. The surprise was from the students in her class. They got her out of the classroom, decorated, made snacks and had tables set up for drinks and gifts. They also had a complete schedule for who will man which tables at what times. She was awestruck and really impressed with the grade 6 and 7 students.

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