Baby Showers

Miss Manners weighs in

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.

Anyway--url: http://living.msn.com/life-inspired/miss-manners-advice/what-if-you-dont-respect-your-spouse

And baby-shower text:

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.

GENTLE READER,

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. 

Re: Miss Manners weighs in

  • My family must use this logic as well...since they do not spend much on shower gifts (with a few exceptions of course).  I knew it would be silly to add crib, carseat, stroller, etc. on my registry since I would be buying them anyway.  Almost all of the more costly gifts came from my friends.  lol
  • I was curious on this as well, I made a registry because its fun and kind of part of the process but I dont expect my friends to buy me things. The registry is more of a way to get the discount after the baby shower. Things that aren't bought off the registry recieve a 20% discount (one time use of course) after the shower or after the baby comes, can't remember exactally. That was one of the main reasons I started mine. I think I will tell people who ask if there is a registry that yes we do have one, don't expect things off of it, but if they would like to buy us a gift for baby then we will appreciate it but its not necessary.
  • This is why people get clothes at a shower. My aunt, who was more than able to buy our entire registry, got me a 9 month designer footie outfit. She was horrified at the gift giving we are all used to now. While I was so appreciative of people's generosity, and I am the same, it just shows how much more people expect and feel obligated to give.
    Besides, no one had all the crap we do now back in the day. Half of it most babies don't even use.
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  • I like this generally, except . . . showers are a gift-giving event.  That's their sole purpose.  So, the idea that you would invite people to a shower and then say "no gifts" (setting aside that it's rude to say anything about gifts, expected or otherwise, on an invitation), is ridiculous.  If you don't want people to feel obligated to bring presents, don't call it a shower.
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