Baby Shower Etiquette

sudiepavMarch 8, 2007

Here I am with a DIL/baby shower problem. My DIL is having 2 showers, both given by friends. I was invited to both, even though I can't come, as they're far away from here. I'm delighted, though, and am sending gifts so that I'll be there in spirit anyway. Here's the issue. I have regretted to both showers, and told my DIL that I'd be sending gifts anyhow. I mentioned that one of the gifts in the first package is handmade, although not by me, and how much fun I'd had shopping to get things ready. She e-mailed back "Did you even look at my baby registry before you shopped?" Actually, I had, but the assortment of onesies, diaper genies, baby monitors, didn't appeal to me, so I bought the handmade sweater, 2 bibs with baseballs, one says "I love my mommy" the other "I love my daddy", a sweet blue infant teddy bear and a copy of Goodnight Moon. My DIL implied that since I mentioned I wanted to buy an important gift, that she needed to know what it was so that her sisters could decide on big gifts to give at the shower. I told her that I would send her a check for $300 (did it yesterday) and she could select what she wanted. My questions need so much for a baby, is it imperative that I follow the registry? Also, is it proper to show up at a shower with a gift costing several hundred dollars, no matter how closely related you are, when everyone else has a $25 gift? I've been at showers where the mother of the mom-to- be showered her with major gifts and it made me uncomfortable. Last question...I still haven't purchased for the second shower. I was going to give a china Peter Rabbit cup, bowl and plate set, but maybe I should modify my gifts. I just feel sad, because I've had so much fun buying things I think I'd like for a new baby boy, and now I feel as though I'm being told what to buy. I might add that our DS and DIL are not poor by any means...they make more money than my husband and I do!

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I don't think you are wrong...I think if you want to give an "important gift" it shouldn't be at a shower. It should be.."just a gift"..
Don't let her intimidate you....this is your grand can buy what you can everyone else....and if she doesn't like what the other's have sent she can take it back!...But she is stuck with yours!
Put it down to the pregnancy hormone thing and buy what you want!
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 11:38AM
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Frankly, I think you have done more than enough for this baby, especially considering your DIL is coming across as an ungrateful, demanding (insert rude word meaning "not nice woman"). Your gifts are just that, gifts, and you can gift anything you d@mn well please. There is NEVER any requirement that you buy from a registry, and for a gift recipient to imply that there is, is beyond rude, IMHO. Actually, for her even to mention the registry's existence is poor manners, unless you specifically ask her if she has one.
I'd suggest that if the registry carp was so important to her, that she use the more than generous $300 cheque to buy them (that's if I didn't cancel the cheque).
As far as the "do you present major items at the shower" issue goes, I can't tell you the strict etiquette on that one but my gut feeling is, "No", for the reasons you have: it makes the other guests feel uncomfortable and more than a little upstaged. I think the time to make those sorts of gifts is at some other time.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 11:52AM
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You're not wrong in any case. A gift is always a gift and being told what to give makes it seem like not so much a gift, IMHO. I think it's odd she's even talking to you about gifts at this point.

I would though, in this case, just choose something from her registry for the shower in your price range....maybe a crib, bedding, outfits, diapers, whatever. The shower is suppose to help provide her with the necessities she needs, so I guess that's what she's looking for.

Then, after she has the baby, I would give her your special gifts that she maybe doesn't "need" but would like to have and you would like to give. It should hopefully make everyone happy.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Your Daughter in Law appears to be ungrateful (as colleen also indicated). I think a gift is a gift and when given with so much love and care is always appreciated.

Registries are highly commercialized and her enforcing you to follow that is outright disrespectful. If I did that to my mother in law it would not go over very well with my husband, not that I would ever do it. They are the elders and they care about their grandkids and have a lot of love for them. They can express them anwyay they want and buy things they like and I think it's disrespectful period to raise concerns and give curt responses like did you look at my registry.

It's your grandkid, do what makes you happy. I also don't think you should feel awkward sending an expensive gift at her shower when others bring 20-30 dollars worth of gifts.

I have been to many showers and hosted many for my large family and it's absolutely normal if a close family member gave you something expensive (it could be a gift card) or something expensive from a registry or something they really needed like a crib. I have had people pitch in and buy a crib for the mother to be. It's their brothers, sisters, inlaws etc and I don't see a big deal with that.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 1:35PM
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Oh my, poor you and poor DS, what a piece of work your DIL is.

You gifts are beautiful, traditional and generous. Registry's are meant to be helpful when deciding on gifts not a statement of what is acceptable and what is not.

Do what you want to do, give what you want t0o give!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 1:28PM
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I was going to say the same thing as lindac about chalking it up to hormones!

I'm hoping your DIL's remark about the registry didn't sound the way it sounds to us. Maybe she just meant you could look at it to get ideas, if perhaps you'd asked what they'd like.

But of course you don't have to buy off a registry (I am really starting to hate them). I think the gifts you've chosen sound lovely. Whether you want to buy them things they say they want or things you think they might enjoy but haven't considered is up to you. This is close family, after all! May you all live to give that child a zillion more gifts.

I also don't think you need to worry about upstaging guests, especially at a shower for your own grandchild. Of course a grandparent is going to give something bigger than neighbor. In fact, if I saw a grandparent or aunt/uncle give a "regular" gift like a sleeper or diaper bag at a shower, I'd probably assume -- if I gave it any thought at all -- that s/he was giving a large gift another time but wanted to participate in the shower. When I had a baby shower, I recall that my mom and MIL (both out of town, so not at the shower -- I'm not sure they were even invited) even sent a gift together, a little blanket, I believe (it was a while ago -- that "baby" turns 21 next week).

Congratulations to you, by the way! Is this your first grandchild? Lucky you! I can't wait....

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 2:31PM
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Please tell me that that "registry" did NOT come with the invitation!!
I think way too many young women these days look at a shower, baby or wedding as their due, not as a kindness by friends and relatives to honor the new mother or bride and an excuse for the guests to indulge themselves in buying baby things. Onesies and flannel blankets and everyday sleepers are not giftable, in my opinion. Proper shower gifts are darling embroidered sweaters, and Good Night Moon and a hand knit afghan, tiny baseball shoes not the utilitarian stuff.
Stand your ground, Grandma!
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:14PM
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lindac, this is a rare time when I disagree with you. I think utilitarian items like sleepers are very appropriate for showers, particularly for parents who need all the financial help they can get. After all, the point of a shower, at least originally, was to outfit a woman with the equipment that she needed for her new role as homemaker or mother (remember, we are talking about a long time ago! Don't flame me) -- that's why showers are customarily only given for first marriages and first babies (you do some other kind of celebration for subsequent marriages/babies). Anyway, the point is that the showers were to set you up with the things you'd need, so utilitarian items are, in my opinion, very appropriate. Special, handmade, and luxury items are nice, too, of course, for a couple that doesn't need help with the basics so much.
My favorite wedding shower gift is a tool kit -- how's that for utilitarian!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 10:57PM
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oh do i feel for you! in my case it was dd2! and yes i was very careful to "shop" off the list (i got off easy...bought the mattress for the "expensive" crib mil bought, her first grand, my 6th)

in your case, i would have made out the check to ds...not to be mean, but at least he'd see it...and that's more then enough for now...remember you'll have the expense of going to see dgs after he's born...

oh...dd2 is expecting again!! now we just have to wait and see what sex, lol...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 2:16PM
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You are not required to use the registry. I hate those registries. Most of the time, you can't find the items, there's no clerk to help you, and your eyes start glazing over searching. And most places, like deparment stores, target, etc., they don't keep track of who bought what very well. So it's a crapshoot as well as a headache.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 6:40PM
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Sorry, but I would NOT write the check for a shower out to your son. The shower is a party for your DIL, not him. I think it would be not only tacky to write the check out to him, but it may also seem like you are slapping her in the face, and not accepting her at all into your family.

Just because she doesn't have great manners, doesn't mean you should do the same.

Her e-mail comments did seem off but sometimes tone and such can't really be expressed correctly...maybe she truly just wanted to make sure you didn't waste time and money buying something for her that someone else was already getting. Sometimes it takes a few years before young adults really get the concept of registries and manners. She may just not understand how it goes with baby gifts and such, and may have just been trying to help you so you wouldn't have to go through any extra trouble tracking down special items. Sometimes it's worth it to give family members (especially pregnant ones) the benefit of the doubt.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 7:03PM
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Thanks, everybody, for your insights. My DIL can be a bit snappy at times, especially with e-mail, although she's basically a well-raised girl, and I think her mother would slap her if she was aware of some of her attitudes and comments. The registry did come with the shower invitation, which I find tacky, but I'm holding my ground and purchasing what I want. This couple has lots of money, and they're very good at managing it, so I'm not concerned that the baby will not have all he needs. I sent the check to them, along with some photos, so it's not to be part of the shower at all, and I made it out to her. I talked to my son on the phone yesterday, and he knows the check is arriving. For the next shower, I am sending another board book, a silver feeding spoon, a book of cheer and inspirational writings for a new mom, a bar of soap that has a little matchbox car embedded in it, and some more things I haven't bought yet...probably will get a pack of blue onesies to throw in with it. I've decided I'm buying what I want and ignoring her remarks, or at least taking them with a grain of salt. You're right, we've done a lot for this couple; in fact, we are renting a condo near their house for a week this summer so that we can help with the baby, and I have offered to go back late in August so that after her 12th week of maternity leave is up, I can stay with the baby for a week so that he won't have to go to the sitter. This will be our fourth grandchild but the first boy. Our second DIL is expecting another girl any day now, our third grandchild. THIS DIL used to be the DIL from h*ll, but since they live 4 blocks away, I've killed her with kindness and helped them out so much with babysitting, gifts (they're not nearly as well fixed as our youngest son) inviting them for dinner, etc. She has really come around, and last Mothers' Day, I got a card from her that said I was the best MIL ever! Talk about a 180 degree switch! It's harder to be so indispensible long distance, however.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 9:27AM
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I'm sure you realize...I doubt she's throwing the shower for herself...If the registry came with the invitation that's probably the host's faux pas, not hers.

And, I would bet the registry may have been included because that's the way the most of the stores suggest doing it nowadays (They even give you free invitations made by them--how can you refuse!)...You and I may know that's wrong, but when someone is registering for their first child and the "helper" tells them that that's how it's suppose to be done since it "helps" the gift giver, they may really not know better. Sort of reminds me of enclosing wedding response/RSVP cards...and how many of us have done those? Those aren't suppose to be included according to etiquette rules, but still almost everyone does it.

I'm sure she'll enjoy anything you get her. It really doesn't matter when you give what and your check is more than generous enough.

Gift giving can be nerve-racking ordeal. I have come to the conclusion over the years that sometimes I have to consider "what" the recipient really wants when giving a gift, not what I want to give. I absolutely hate giving gift cards, but finally after years of refusing to do it, I have given in and now that's what I get for my niece because that's truly what she wants. It kills me, but, right or wrong, I want to make her happy with her gift, not me. Saves me some time too. Sad, but a lot of people nowadys just don't seem to appreciate the more thoughtful type gifts.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 10:25AM
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I have only read a few of the responses to your original post. I will tell you that when I had my DD, there were no registries. It would have been nice, but just wasn't the case. I have, however, hosted baby showers over the years for moms who did register. It is a way for places like Babies R Us to force guests into buying gifts chosen by the mom to be. I don't like it, but it seems to be the way things are now done. I did not, however, accept the store's recommendation that I use their (the store's) invitations. I think it is tacky.

I personally never buy a gift off of the registry. I like to give something not so "cookie cutter", and give a gift of a Longerberger(sp) small lidded basket with the plastic liner. I put a disposible camera inside and the ceramic year marker that goes on the clasp. I usually include a note regarding what the basket is for - mom to take to the hospital on the day of the birth. The basket lid is the perfect size for the doc to put a "set of footprints" on the top of the lid of the basket. The camera is self-explanatory. I started this tradition with my SIL when she was pregnant with my godson. The docs/nurses are usually good sports about doing an extra set of footprints on the lid of the basket. It makes a nice gift for display in the nursery - it can hold keepsakes - lock of hair, first tooth over the years.

Its great if the gift giver wants to just pick up a gift from the registry, but I think it lacks creativity. I'd rather give something a little different.

As far as the larger gifts, my mom, and 2 MIL's took me out before my shower and we picked out things I would need for the baby, i.e.; highchair, swing, good car seat, etc.. Those gifts never came to the shower. I think it is unnecessary to bring the larger gifts to the shower. My point is - larger gifts from mom and MIL shouldn't be brought to the shower. They take up alot of room and then they have to be lugged away after the shower.

My mom and grandmother both gave me crocheted (sp?) sweater, hat and bootie sets which I loved, and meant more to me than any high ticket item. Back in the day you received at least 2-3 handmade blankets - either knitted or crocheted. I was also lucky enough to get a handmade quilt "Box of Tricks" from a friend who did quilting.

I love what you are giving your DIL. While I agree that your DIL needs to practice better manners, please do not make this an issue. Truth be told, she will ultimately decide the tone of the entire family relationship you have from here on out with this particular grandchild and any other children she may have.

I hope all goes well and your DIL learns something when she becomes a mother herself. Congrats on your new grandchild!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 1:35PM
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I may be showing my age, but I am disgusted with gift registries, both showers and weddings. They are so crass. "I am getting married/having a baby/moving into a new house, here's what I want, and here's where you buy it, by the way, come to the wedding/shower/. Sorry, it all just rubs me wrong. And lately, the lists are pages and pages long and contain everthing from toothbrushes to bedroom sets!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 1:10PM
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I have read alot of the posts and it seems that many of the members here are not fans of registries. I thought I might give another view that is slightly different. I wish I was one of those very creative people that can whip out the cutest gifts - (I swear it is like a secret super-power!) but alas, I am not. That is why I am very thankful for registries. I still have an opportunity to shop for just the 'right' gift and I know that it will be a wanted and used item. I think the gifts that you selected for your new grandbaby sound lovely. I would have appreciated receiving them regardless of whether or not they were on a registry list. To me the real question on the table is less about 'shower etiquette' and more about how to graciously accept a gift. It is something I try to teach my children - every birthday and holiday. ' When someone gives you a present, remember - they worked hard to pick something out just for you because they love you. So when you open it, remember to show your love back and say thank you for thinking about me.' I know it is cliche.. but it really is the thought that counts.. your DIL sounds like she maybe a little wrapped up in herself right now and may not be thinking of others.. but that will change when the baby comes.. Congratulations on your new grandbaby..

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 3:17PM
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I don't have a problem with registries per se, for the reasons you have given, Riken, but I do have a problem with people who seem to feel that only the gifts they have listed on their registries will be acceptable to them, and who supply this registry information unasked for. That attitude makes any event look like a gift grab rather than a celebration of a happy event.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 10:14PM
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I know this is OT, but what are y'alls thoughts on a baby shower for 2nd, 3rd and on up children? I've been invited to 3 showers this year (2007) - 2 for a 3rd child, and 1 for a 2nd child. Coincendentally, all of these children are "surprises". Their youngests (now) are all less than a year old, so they should still have the crib, highchair, etc.

You guys have all been so sweet offering your opinions, I thought you could tell me what you think of this. To me, it almost seems like the parents just want a way of getting free stuff.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 3:49PM
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Well, I'm sure they aren't having the babies just to get free stuff! But I don't think that's what you meant.

Many people say that a shower for each baby is fine, as each baby deserves equal celebration. On the other hand, the point of a shower is to help the parents acquire some of the mountain of equipment and clothes a baby requires, and you're right, most of it is reusable for subsequent children (although these days you still need to use a car seat for the older one(s)). It's nice to get SOME fresh clothes, bibs, blankies, etc., but people do give gifts without showers, too.

Anyway, with that in mind, I prefer to make some OTHER kind of fuss over subsequent babies. A nice lunch, party, tea, spa day, or whatever the mom/parents would enjoy most is just as lovely a celebration as a shower. Indeed, they might now prefer something that is NOT baby-themed! A mom of a toddler who can't remember the last time she wore makeup and anything but stained sweats might be particularly appreciative a grown-up night or day out - the hosts can arrange for a sitter. People who want to give gifts still can, probably when the baby is born, and for a second (etc.) baby, I might go for less practical items.

If it has been many years since the last baby, though, and the parents gave away all the basics, then I would go for a shower.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:01AM
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No, you're right. I didn't really mean they just want free stuff, but sometimes you have to wonder. And, I realize that most of the time, the people giving the shower are volunteering and the mother doesn't really expect one (but who's going to turn it down).

It just seems like here lately, I've had invitations every day in my mailbox for something - wedding shower, baby shower, even graduation, and I think to myself, "I'm going broke, buying gifts for all these people, some of which I wouldn't know if I met them on the street! When does it stop?" I guess I'm just being petty.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 3:49PM
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It can add up, can't it? Ah, the price of popularity! :-)

You can always skip things, especially graduations and showers for people you barely know. You don't have to send a gift. If you want to do something, I would send a contribution to a charity in the person's honor.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:40PM
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No mandy, I'm with you (and I would bet so is Miss Manners), and quite honestly it's not even the factor of having to fork out money for me. I'll probably spend that much on a baby gift after the child is born anyway, I just don't like the multiple shower concept.

I think showers for subsequent kids are just wrong. Why, mainly because once you open the door, you can't really discriminate based on subjective reasoning. Either every pregancy gets a shower or just the first one. The arbitrary reasoning people give for why some people get another one, while others don't can only lead to heartache for those that don't get a second and third shower when their sisters, college friends, and co-workers do.

And, IMHO it is asking too much of other people who really shouldn't have to take responsiblilty for the fact that your condom broke, your storage space was too limited to save items, or you really just want an updated diaper genie.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:34PM
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