posted in Products & Prizes
Baby shower gifts are touchy, given during a particularly fraught period of a woman’s life, as she prepares to plunge through the veil that separates the childed from the child-free.
By the time her shower rolls around late in her pregnancy, she is likely to be round, uncomfortable, sweaty, and possibly suffering from swollen ankles, hemorrhoids, and acid indigestion. She’s also probably nervous, whether she’s having her first child or her third, about the exhaustion and emotional ups and downs soon to come her way. Into this toxic stew you drop a gift. Let it be one that won’t cause offense.
Now, if the mom in question asks for one of the following things, all bets are off. If she asks for it, she wants it. Full stop. Disregard our advice.
And it should go without saying but why not say it anyway: Anyone who receives a gift from anyone at any time, unless it’s the gift of a bucket o’ spiders or something, should just say “thank you,” because though some gifts are in poor taste, embarrassing their givers is so much more so. You can burn it with fire, chuck it in the trash, or donate it to the thrift shop tomorrow. Today you say thank you, even if you’re just thanking someone for loving you enough to get you this awful terrible no-good gift.
Speaking of which: If your shower-friend doesn’t ask for any of the following and you’re planning to go into the off-register area for kicks or reasons, or she demurred and said “Oh, just anything, or nothing, I just want you to come!” when asked what she wanted for a gift, the following 5 items are controversial. Here’s why.
1. Breastfeeding covers: Some moms plan to breastfeed. Some moms don’t. Some moms who breastfeed cover up. Other moms don’t want to or can’t. When you buy someone else a breastfeeding scarf or tent she didn’t ask for, you’re implying 1) she should breastfeed and 2) she should cover up while doing so. Could be neither message is welcome, and you want your gift to make your mom-loved-one feel happy, not vaguely ordered around.
2. Bottles: While this was an eminently practical thing to buy moms in the 1950s and ’60s, times have changed. Many moms plan to exclusively breastfeed, and can feel a bit insulted at receiving bottles, as if what she has isn’t “good enough.” Even if a mom plans to bottle-feed partially or exclusively, she may have a brand or type (glass? steel?) she wants to try. Bottles are also generally inexpensive and easy to buy, which are not attributes one often mentions when discussing thoughtfully chosen gifts.
3. Exercise equipment or classes: Did you want the recipient of your gift to feel as if she’s being urged to improve her physique? If the answer is yes, go right ahead and buy her that gift certificate to mommy bootcamp. If not, you can convert that exact same dollar amount into a gift certificate at a store she likes, or just a prepaid credit card with a sweet note urging her to buy anything she likes.
4. “Funny” or pink/blue/very gendered baby clothing: Baby shower veterans will tell you that at least half their guests bring clothing, particularly aunties and grandmas — it’s true, picking out adorable baby outfits is a blast, and it’s the one gift certain to make other party guests ooh and aah over your taste. But new parents are often very sensitive about what their infants wear, and your “funny” may be someone else’s “ugh.” Ironic t-shirts and onesies, unless they are of the extremely mild and positive sort, should therefore be on your “no” list. In addition, many modern parents don’t want their children judged by their gender, so would prefer to forego ruffles/pink/blue/camo/tools/trucks/embroidery that says “Daddy’s l’il princess.” No one’s gonna yell at you for buying it, but if you choose wrong, that baby’ll only wear it as long as it takes to get the thank-you card picture.
5. Judgmental baby books: A baby book seems like a natural gift for someone who just gave birth. They’re new to the job, why not give them a how-to? Because there is no how-to, not really; there are as many ways to raise a child as there are stars in the sky, and almost as many books that sternly tell new parents unless they do things this way, they’re doomed. Don’t buy other people stuff that makes them feel stressed out. If you like buying books as gifts, classic books to read to children is generally a more-appreciated choice.
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A look at how wrong baby-book-buying can go: the top 10 baby books that terrify new moms.
More on baby showers
* You won’t believe this greedy, gutsy baby shower invite
* Cruelest shower gift ever: The card that cries for 3 hours
* Stockpiling Baby Shower: 5 reasons you need one
* 14 of the worst baby shower gifts ever