1. Talk to the bride about the guest list.
As the hostess, you get to determine the size of the party. Your budget concerns are paramount when planning a bridal shower, so if you can only accommodate 10 people in your apartment, so be it. However, you should ask the bride who she would like to invite. If it will be a smaller shower, it could be that she wants to divide up her friends, and have one with work friends and one with family.
2. Determine your budget and theme.
The time of day the shower is hosted will determine how much food you need to provide. If you don't want the expense of a full meal, make sure not to invite people at a time when they might expect one. If you would prefer to only serve light refreshments, host the bridal shower during the mid-afternoon.
You should also select a theme. Consider colors and styles the bride appreciates. As much as we admire the extravagant showers we see on bridal blogs, a simple color theme is absolutely fine. As you plan your budget, consider which details you want to spend your money on and plan accordingly.
3. Send out invitations and gather RSVPs.
Whether you send out online invites or traditional invitations through the mail, ask for a RSVP so that you can track your guest list and be properly prepared. While it is slightly more acceptable to print the registry on a bridal shower invitation, it is still traditionally frowned upon. Either enclose a card with the registry information, or be prepared for guests to ask when they RSVP.
4. Plan a simple menu.
When planning a bridal shower, you don't need to serve steak or create elaborate food stations. Classic appetizers, entrees, and/ or desserts will always do! Remember that some guests may have dietary restrictions, so have an alternative that will work for everyone. For example, serve a fruit salad alongside cupcakes so that vegans and gluten-intolerant friends can still enjoy a sweet treat.
5. Have a couple of "fallback" activities.
Those "dreaded" shower games are sometimes necessary to get a party started and conversation flowing. But sometimes a group does just fine entertaining themselves and mingling. If you want to have games, go right ahead! But otherwise, just have a couple of activities in your back pocket in case the party stalls.
6. Greet guests and be the hostess with the mostess!
Hostessing well is no simple feat. You're always "on" when you have guests gathered. Make sure to greet people with a smile, introduce yourself to anyone you may not know, point out the party necessities (like where to set the gifts or where the bathroom is), and generally just take care of people's needs. Being a cool hostess is also about reading the room. Pay extra attention to those guests that don't know as many people at the party and offer to take pictures of groups of friends.
7. Provide a handy gift list for the bride.
In all of the excitement, it is highly unlikely that the bride will remember which aunt gave her the cute apron, or what friend gifted her a night out on the town. Keep a list of who gave what so that the bride can write great thank you notes later. Bonus points if you also pre-address the envelopes for her!