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Follow this planning timeline for a successful baby shower.

Baby shower planning timeline

When friends or family announce they have a little one on the way, it may spur your party-planning mind on toward baby shower heaven. Before you dig into any projects, remember to scheme with simplicity in mind. Give your friend a shower that will send her off blissfully into motherhood. The planning timeline below should help you keep track of all the tasks and projects you will need to complete, and when you will need to complete them by:

After accepting the job – five months before
Once you know that you have been deemed host, ask the mom-to-be whether she wants to have the shower before her baby arrives or after. Let the mother know that a shower can be a great way to introduce the newborn to extended family, but that having the shower before the birth can offer the mother-to-be a chance to enjoy her friends and relatives one more time on her own. Another bonus is that having a party pre-birth will set up mom-to-be with any necessary baby supplies. At this time, you will also want to figure out a definitive guest list. If the lineup is extremely long, your planning may require more prepping, which can push your date back some. 

Eight to ten weeks out
You should now have a definitive date and location set for the party. At this time it is wise to pick a theme for the baby shower. Choose one that will suit both your budget and leave you enough time to execute it, while also giving a nod to the mother-to-be's style. It is OK to surprise the guest of honor with the theme, but she may appreciate a little bonding and do-it-yourself time with you and any other co-host and help prepare for the party. Once you know the theme, pick out and order your baby shower invitations.

Six weeks until the shower
Check the spelling, map and details on the invitations and send them on their way. Be sure to include your phone number on the cards so the guests can conveniently call in their RSVP. 

Get together with your party helpers and start to design your party decorations. If you are planning on purchasing most products, it is best to begin shopping now. If your party will feature DIY projects, start making them within the next week or so. At about this time, also think of menu ideas, and make a list of ingredients you will need to feed the guests. 

In the last month
Just before party time you want to follow up on any unknown RSVPs, as well as finish all decor or food errands you still have to run. Set up the decorations around your event space if it is at home, and make any of your goodie bags to night before or the morning of the celebration.

Don't forget to make sure the mom-to-be is included in any planning or decorating if she wants to be.

Check the birthday card etiquette list before sending out the invitations.

Birthday invitation etiquette

All successful birthday parties start with the invitation. Before any pinata bursting and candle blowing can occur, your guests will receive a little note asking them to attend your child's birthday party. The invitation is highly important - not only will it let guests know when to show up at the party site, but it will also inform them of formality, theme and rules regarding presents. Follow proper card etiquette rules with these tips:

The format
Email invitations are more than popular these days, but though they offer speed and simplicity, they are not the best choice. Emails can be sent to spam, opened and deleted by accident, or even read and forgotten. A physical card carries more weight for a child's birthday party. Friends will receive the notes in the mail or at school and enjoy the opportunity to open the envelope to gaze at the wonderful design. Parents can then take the card and tack it to the refrigerator, setting themselves and their child a daily reminder of when and where the party will be held. 

By mail or by hand
Handing out birthday invitations by hand can be fun for your child. Getting the opportunity to see his or her friends' faces light up as they read the note is one of the best ways to prepare for a party, but there are times when hand-delivery is the wrong choice. Send your cards by mail if your child is not inviting everyone from his or her class. Kids who don't receive a hand-delivered card could feel left out. Plus it could lead to parents calling to ask about the situation, forcing you to expand your birthday party to include those left out.

You also do not want to hand the invites out at school if the children are younger than the second grade. More often than not, the guests will forget the card at school or lose it while reading it on the bus. You may have to call all of the parents to check if everyone got a card, and that can waste time.

Birthday message
Young children may not be able to read the invitations or have difficulty understanding clever phrases. Your cards need to be age appropriate, so choose a sentiment that will appeal to a range of ages. If the guests are at an age where they can't read yet, choose an invite that is simply stated, with a picture standing at the forefront. For example, take a look at Pear Tree Greetings' Monster Mix in Purple birthday invitations. This card is brightly colored and features two spaces for a cute picture of the birthday boy or girl. If the kids are a little older, feel free to choose a card that focuses more on the words. Pear Tree's Searching for Superheroes cards use clever phrases like "report to duty" and "r.s.v.p. to headquarters." These are words a child can get excited about. 

After checking you have your invite count down to a tee, make sure that all of the spelling and information is correct on the cards. 

Send out movie night invitations for a cinematic birthday.

Throw your little girl a movie star birthday party

Many young children develop the optimistic view that they'll one day be famous. Watching all of her favorite movie stars walk the red carpets at premiers and the Oscars could drive her to take acting lessons or dress in dramatic outfits. Whether your daughter is starring in school plays, or just starring in your life, she deserves the fame and recognition a movie-star birthday party will give her. Here are some ways to host a bash perfect for your budding celebrity. 

Play acting
Discuss your daughter's favorite films and movie stars with her. Try and take inspiration from these famous faces and films for the party. It is best to organize the activities with her best-loved stars and films in mind so they will be all the more enjoyable. Lay out a list of the characters from these movies and use this list to play a game of charades. This way, the kids can get a chance to do a little acting.

Also, set aside costume details like sunglasses, feather boas or top hats at the party entrance that each guests can use for a dress up event, like walking down the red carpet. Don't forget to play your child's favorite film later in the evening.

Set design
When it comes to the decorations, look no further than these ideas. The essentials for creating that Hollywood look include a red carpet, which can be made with actual red carpet or even a red gymnastics mat. If neither of these are available, try using red yoga mats. Along the sides of the red carpet, you should set up a mock red velvet rope. You can make a rope with a velvet effect out of crepe paper. Hang this from the ceiling with string, or attach it to nearby walls. Add another great decoration by hanging a red paper fringe from the doorways to the party room for a classy entranceway. 

Every girl is famous
If you are a do-it-yourself mom, go ahead and build your own walk of stars. The simple format is to take squares of construction paper, any color, and glue another piece in the shape of a star on top. On each star, write the names of every guest, and have the stars laminated. These stars will be party favors at the end of the night. 

Don't forget your concession stand. Every movie theater has one, and your home can too. Design your dessert table as the concession stand, and give each guest coupons with which they can pay for treats. Keep the treats movie-oriented. Oreo's look similar to movie reels, popcorn is always acceptable, and your cake might feature the Hollywood sign.

Gather the stars
When it comes to birthday invitations, Pear Tree Greetings has the perfect option, the Admit One Movie Night Invitations. These cards tell the guests that your party night will include a movie showing. Instead of putting a movie title here, write that the feature will be your daughter's birthday party. Don't forget to include her age. These cards will make sure that your child and all her friends know that she is the star of the show.