Melissa Joan Hart: Inside Her Baby Shower
06/30/2012 AT 01:40 PM EDT
Melissa Joan Hart, who'll become a mom for the third time in the fall, says she and her husband and two sons want to keep the baby's sex a surprise.
"We always wanted the mystery the other two times around but the first time we gave into pressure from everyone and curiosity and the second time our ultrasound technician gave it away before we had a chance to stop them," Hart tells PEOPLE.
On Friday, the ABC Family star joined friends and family at The Little Door restaurant in Los Angeles for her baby shower.
"I'm anticipating meeting this baby more than the other two before," Hart, 36, says. "I can recognize every little movement this time and I'm already in love."
Guests including Hart's Melissa and Joey costar Taylor Spreitler, and actresses Kellie Martin, Yvette Nicole Brown and Soleil Moon Frye, dined on prosciutto and mozzarella, curried chicken salad and assorted tea sandwiches. Dessert was a selection of macaroons and triple berry shortbread.
Partygoers decorated teacups for Hart and also chose a stone with an inspirational word such as "loyalty" or "friendship" and spoke to the group about how that word described the mom-to-be.
Instead of gifts for herself, Hart requested that guests to bring an unwrapped infant toy or book to be donated to Operation Shower, a non-profit organization that provides baby showers to military families to ease the burden of deployment.
"After two precious babies and a successful career, I didn't want people to spend money on me and the baby," Hart says. "We wanted to help out families that needed a hand and decided to donate baby goods to military families."
And what do sons Mason, 6½, and Braydon, 4, think of the family's new addition?
"I've never seen kids more excited by the arrival of a new baby," Hart says. "It's been an incredible experience to share this as a whole family and I can't wait 'til we all get to know this little one and see his/her face."
Sharon Sacks Productions helped organize the event and Disney Baby provided more than 500 infant bodysuits to be donated to Operation Shower in lieu of party favors.