|The shower invitations
It's a good idea to buy the shower invitations after you've figured out a theme-- if you choose to have one. Most likely you'll want to carry the theme into the style of the invitation as well. If the shower is planned to be very informal with only a few close friends and relatives, it's also OK to call and invite the guests over the phone. When calling, be sure to notify them of all the details (theme, gift selections, directions, etc.)
There are several options when it comes to purchasing the invitations. You can either buy pre-printed invitations from your local card store or stationery shop, or you may want to order personalized invitations through a catalog or other stationer. If you don't want to purchase the invitations, you could make them yourself. Whichever route you choose, make sure that you include all the important details of the shower with the invitation. This information should include at least the basics: the guest of honor's name, date and time of the shower, the shower's location, the hostess' name, the type/theme of the shower, and RSVP information, along with a deadline for RSVP's. The guests would appreciate a map to the shower location, and you may also add the couple's registry information along with the invitations as well. Be sure to list details if you want the gifts to coincide with the theme of the shower. Any other information and/or inserts pertaining to the shower should be included as well (i.e. for a recipe shower, be sure to insert a blank recipe card with each invitation.)
Invitations should be mailed out at least 2 weeks prior to the shower. If there will be guests invited from out of town (depending on how far away they live) you should mail their invitations 4-6 weeks before the shower in order to give them enough time to plan for travel.