The origins of bridal showers can be traced back to the story of a young Dutch girl whose father refused to pay her dowry to a poor miller. The villagers came together to shower the couple with gifts and goods necessary to set up a new household.

Today, some couples have already accumulated the necessary items, but the tradition is still going strong. It’s a lovely way to help the bride take a break from wedding planning, make her feel special, and enjoy the company of her female friends and family members.

When it comes to bridal shower gift etiquette, the rules are constantly changing and it can be hard to keep up. We’ve compiled and answered 15 of the most popular questions when it comes to bridal shower gifts.

Who hosts the bridal shower?

Traditionally, the bride’s family was not allowed to host the party. Bu today, it’s considered acceptable for anyone to host a bridal shower—from the mother of the bride to the groom to the bridesmaids. The bride may also have requests or ideas for the shower, so it’s a good idea to discuss her wishes in advance.

Who should be invited to the shower?

The shower doesn’t need to be a preview of the wedding, so every female guest doesn’t have to be invited. Since gifts are expected, inviting everyone on the list could look like a gift grab rather than a celebration with close family and friends.The important thing here is to consult the bride about the guest list, since it’s expected that anyone invited to the shower will also be invited to the wedding.

Does the hostess traditionally get the bride a gift?

Bridal shower gifts are usually expected, even if you are hosting. If you’re concerned about finances, you could ask other bridesmaids or the mother of the bride to take on the role of co-host and share the financial responsibility. Another way to save on a gift is to coordinate the purchase of a major gift or to buy her something small but meaningful, such as a personalized bridal shower gift.

What if the bride is having more than one shower?

If this is the case, hosts should consult each other (and the bride) about the guest list, so there is no crossover. The exception should be for bridesmaids, who should be invited to both showers. Bridesmaids aren’t expected to bring a gift to each shower they attend, only to the first one.  

What are Jack and Jill showers?

Traditionally, bridal showers are reserved for female guests only. However, showers held for couples are becoming increasingly popular. These “Jack and Jill” showers tend to have more in common with a cocktail party or dinner than a customary shower. Gifts are still expected, but they are presented to both the bride and groom.

How do I coordinate the buying of a big gift?

Perhaps the bridesmaids want to chip in for a larger item for the bride, such as a new appliance. If it hasn’t naturally come up in conversation yet, you could pitch the idea to some or all of the guests. Make sure that everyone who contributes has the opportunity to sign the card (or at the very least, write their name on the card yourself).

If you have money leftover after purchasing the gift, include smaller related items such as a laundry basket or detergent if it’s a washer and dryer. One of the nice things about purchasing a big gift is that you can keep it a surprise, even if the shower isn’t.

What is the difference between a bridal shower gift and a wedding gift?

There’s no connection between shower gifts and wedding gifts. Even if you bring a gift to the shower, it’s still expected that you will also bring a gift to the wedding. Shower gifts are typically smaller than wedding gifts and there’s no set amount to spend on either.

How much should I budget for a bridal shower gift?

If you’re wondering how much to spend, you should consider both your personal finances and relationship with the couple. Don’t worry about covering the cost of your plate, just spend what you can afford and give from the heart.

When does she open gifts?

If you’re planning on having games, it’s nice to open gifts after the ice breakers. Otherwise, she can open them before or after food is served.

What’s the best way to track who gave what gifts?

Since you’ll be busy with hosting duties, you should assign someone to sit next to the bride and record the gifts. She can write down the name of the guest and their gift in a notebook, or alternately, gather the cards and write the gift down on the back of each card. This will be helpful when sending out thank you cards.

What kinds of gifts are appropriate?

While purchasing a gift from the bridal registry is a surefire way to gift something she’ll actually use, don’t be afraid to pick out something on your own that you feel suits the couple. Traditionally, items for the home are considered appropriate gifts, not only gifts for women.

Should my bride create a bridal registry?

Some brides may feel uncomfortable requesting gifts, but a bridal registry is in everyone’s best interest. It saves the guests from worrying about getting something she will like and it saves the bride time since there will be fewer returns to make. If the bride already has a kitchen full of brand-new equipment, she may opt for a more creative route such as a honeymoon registry.

How should I let guests know that they need to bring gifts?

Most guests are aware that a gift is expected when they attend a bridal shower, so you don’t have to spell it out for them. It is helpful and appropriate to include information about where the bride and groom are registered, so guests can purchase something from the registry if they desire. If a guest cannot attend, they do not have an obligation to send a gift, although they may choose to.

Do I need to play games at the party?

Games aren’t necessary, but they do help break the ice. The guest list is likely to include guests of all ages from different social circles, so classic bridal shower games like bridal shower bingo, purse scavenger hunt, and the newlywed game give guests a chance to get to know each other. Of course, the bride may have strong feelings about these kinds of activities, and you should honor her requests.

What is the ribbon “bow-quet”?

The ribbon bow-quet is a tradition of good luck. It is made while the bride unwraps the gifts and given to her to use at the rehearsal dinner. As the bride unwraps the gifts, have a designated (and preferably crafty) person take the bows from each gift and arrange them onto the paper plate. Keep adding ribbons and bows until you have a beautiful “bow-quet” for the bride to carry down the aisle.

Whether you choose to buy a more substantial gift from the registry or get creative by pairing a smaller registry item with something more unique, such as a customized bridal shower gift that commemorates the wedding day, your attendance at the bridal shower is a symbol of your love and support for the happy union. From traditional to modern, there are many ways to throw a bridal shower. The main thing is that you are all there to shower the bride with love, affection, and yes, gifts too.