I thought you ladies might be interested to know that Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, was recently asked a question about a baby shower. She is the foremost expert on American etiquette and is a National Humanities Medal recipient, not some "Dear Prudence" type journalist who's just giving personal opinions. I particularly like the part about presents being tokens of esteem, not setting up the nursery for you. It's a good answer to those who want a shower for a later child because they no longer have the stuff.
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
My husband and I are expecting our first child and our kind friend has offered to throw a baby shower for me. She asked for my input on the invitation wording.
The guest list includes several people who I know are low on funds right now, but I don't want to leave them out. Is there a wording I could use to make it obvious that presents are not required? Or that they don't need to buy something from the registry, if they would rather choose their own gifts?
I was thinking that calling the party a celebration might work, or asking people to bring the best bit of parenting advice they've heard for our scrapbook.
Yes, you might do either. But people are now so trained to think that every occasion requires presents, which is supported by the fact that you have created a gift registry, that they are still likely to feel obligated to buy something.
Miss Manners suggests asking your kind friend to put out the word informally that there should be token presents only-- which is what a proper shower meant before the outrageous expectation that outfitting the nursery is not the responsibility of the parents, but of their friends.