You have spent weeks planning your friend's baby shower, placed deposits on the party space and food, and researched fun games for everyone to play. Suddenly, oops! The baby came early! Now what do you do? Do not panic! There are endless ways to handle this situation with only a few small adjustments to be made.
First, you must realize that plenty of people actually plan to have the baby shower after the child is born, so many solutions are already in place. The easiest option is to simply hold the baby shower when and as planned. If the shower is held soon after the baby arrives, then most of the gifts will not be needed yet. As for games, just throw in a few changes, such as guessing the baby's first word instead of the name. The added bonus is that all of the guests will get to meet the baby, giving them another topic of conversation, and, perhaps, saving the new parents from a round of social niceties.
If continuing as planned is not an option, you have several other choices. You can combine the baby shower with the christening or brisk. This way, the new family will already have a party planned for such an important event and, most likely, the same guests would be invited to both celebrations. Of course, you would need to tweak the theme a bit, putting a more religious tone to the celebration. Also, you may need to consult with the new parents and their clergy person as to any special considerations which may need to be made.
Another option is a Meet the Baby party. This kind of celebration would need to be thrown after the parents have settled in back home from the hospital, but before too much time has passed. If guests have already purchased gifts meant to be used immediately, you should arrange for the presents to be delivered to the family early. The guests can then bring only a card to the party and may actually get to see the parents use the gift! If the new family needed to purchase items guests were planning on giving, then you can help the guests decide what else to bring. One idea sure to be appreciated is frozen meals. Parents of a newborn have very little time, so any already-made dinners and reheatable breakfasts will lift a burden off their shoulders. Another idea is giving gifts for the mother instead of the baby. Soothing foot lotions, sleepy time teas, and decadent chocolate can provide a small moment of sanity to such a huge life-change.
However you choose to handle the surprise arrival will definitely be welcome. Guests will understand the need to change plans, and the new family will appreciate all of the consideration and love you give them.