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The Long-Distance Baby Shower

Sep24

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesHi Amy,

I’m in the process of planning a baby shower for a friend who lives out of town. Specifically, lives a three-hour plane ride away. She and her husband just relocated, so all of their family and friends are here, meaning this will be their big baby shower. It is obviously totally unrealistic/not very helpful to expect them to transport all the wonderful goodies you get at a baby shower from here to their home all the way on the other end of the country. I was hoping to include something in the invitation about shipping gifts directly to their home, and bringing maybe a picture of the gift to the shower? I have two questions:

1- is this unforgivably rude? I really, really hate to tell people how to give gifts. It seems tactless and ungrateful. Unfortunately, like I said above, I don’t see any way for the couple to get everything home without major headaches. And if it IS okay, any thoughts on how to phrase that?

2- if there’s a way to say this nicely, is there a way to make things more fun? I mean, I know watching someone open gifts can be mind-numbing, but the gifts you get at a baby shower are usually cute enough that gift-opening is a fun part of the festivities. My only idea, as I mentioned above, is to bring a picture/print-out of the gift you’ve bought, which seems…lame.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts-
Kathy

Okay, let’s get the first bit out of the way, even though already I know the comments on this post will be divided between the Old Schoolian Etiquette People and the Who Cares As Long As Everybody Has Fun People:

To answer point one: Yes. Not only is it rude to put anything in the invitation that asks for gifts, or assume people will bring gifts, or put any kind of limitation or suggestion as to what SORT of gift will be considered acceptable…it is indeed also rude to ask guests to pay extra to ship those gifts. You might think, “Oh, everybody buys online anyway, they won’t mind shipping to one address versus another,” but this simply isn’t true – especially if the guest list includes older relatives who may not be so technologically savvy, or people who prefer to make handmade gifts, or are on a super-tight recession budget and are watching every penny. So THEN, not only are you asking people to pay for shipping, you’re also potentially adding a trip to the post office to your guests’ pre-party obligation. Bad idea jeans, man. Don’t do it.

And onto point two: You’re totally right. A baby shower without gifts – and the accompanying oohing and ahhing and squeeing — is kind of lame. It’s one thing to skip the gifts at a wedding shower (“Oh wow, measuring spoons!”), but…people bringing photos or pages from a catalog? No. I don’t like the sound of that very much. The point of gifts at a baby shower is to make the mother-to-be feel loved and special — not for the guests to compare and take notes over who brought what and spent what and etc.

What you need to do here is get some quotes on shipping prices — honestly, both USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate and UPS Ground are really very reasonable — and factor a rough estimate into your hosting costs. I’m guessing, since the mother-to-be will be FLYING, that the shower isn’t going to be held crazy-late in her pregnancy or super-close to her due date. There’s no need to overnight the stuff. Just get it on a truck and it’ll get to her when it gets there.

Then, after the shower, spend some time with the mother-to-be and the gifts, sorting out the small, easily packable things like clothes and gift cards and such for her to carry back. (Provided this isn’t a surprise shower, she can plan ahead and pack lightly in a bigger-than-she-needs suitcase.) Toss out packaging and boxes and condense what you can into as few shipments as possible. (Start saving any big boxes you have now, or order some large Flat Rate boxes to have on hand and start loading them up.) Baby gear may sometimes be awkward and oddly shaped, but unless people are splurging on strollers and big-ticket items, you’ll find that most shower gifts are things that people can easily wrap and carry themselves. As in, not huge or heavy or made of priceless Waterford crystal.

If she does get things like a Pack n’ Play or exersaucer, you ship them yourself using the most economical option possible. And while I know you can never underestimate the obliviousness of some people, I DO think that 99% of your guests are already aware that the guest of honor lives a plane ride away, and that large gifts may pose a logistical problem. They may call and ask you what the mother-to-be prefers, at which point you can suggest the shipping-directly option, or even (if they are very close friends or family) mention that you’re planning to ship gifts afterwards and that pitching into the postage fund would be super-appreciated.

If this means fewer decorations or a cheaper cake, so be it. This is just going to be part of your hosting duties, and one that you really cannot foist off on your guests – at least not without ruffling quite a few rudeness-alert feathers.

__________________________________________________________________
If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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42 Responses to “The Long-Distance Baby Shower”

  1. Leslie Sep 24 at 12:54 pm Reply Reply

    My sister-in-law lives in Tucson and we recently hosted a shower for her in our hometown in Arkansas.  She and my brother tucked an empty, HUGE duffle bag in their luggage.  After the shower, they went through all the gifts and took everything they knew they wanted to keep out of its packaging and managed to get almost everything in the clothing/blankets/towels/stuffed animals category into that bag.  They only had to pay the $35 airline fee to check it.  The few bigger items they received they simply returned to the Target or Babies R Us in Arkansas, got a gift card, and planned to re-buy it back in Tucson.  For the most part, people knew they were traveling and brought lots of packable items and gift cards.  

  2. Hey You Sep 24 at 1:07 pm Reply Reply

    Finally a post where I have something to add above what has already been said! I DID THIS! I had long distance shower for someone, and it was awesome because of SKYPE! The mom and dad (and baby since she was early) had a very small shower at their apartment, I shipped cupcake toppers and a few decorations that matched what I had here and then we hooked the laptop to our big tv and put webcam where it could see most of the room. I then had all of her local friends family at my house and it really was like one big party! As far a shipping, she only registered places like Amazon where stuff could be shipped to her directly. We saw her open gifts that we had bought online. Now this may not work if you have a ton of older or less than web savy folks, but it worked great for us. in fact I think I even blogged about it. : http://www.thehuckablog.com/2009/08/13/dotty/

  3. Sheila Sep 24 at 1:12 pm Reply Reply

    I like the suggestion of the hostess shipping things herself and budgeting for it, but I’m surprised at the absoluteness of the first point. I agree it could be considered rude to ask people to pay extra for shipping, but I wouldn’t think any mention of gifts at ALL in the invite is rude, at least not for a baby shower. Isn’t the point of a shower to “shower” the mother-to-be with gifts? And since it’s not thrown by the person receiving the gifts, that makes it less rude to offer specifics like where she is registered? I guess I have always heard/read that the ban on registry info in wedding invites, for example, just doesn’t apply to showers. But I know everyone has a different tolerance level for etiquite issues, so not a big deal.

  4. Stephanie Sep 24 at 1:21 pm Reply Reply

    I think this is great advice.  Bringing photos of the gifts would just not be as much fun; however, there will probably be some who do this knowing that the mom-to-be lives so far away.  I think, though, that clothes and small items could be easily packed and those are usually what solicits the most oohs and aahhs anyway.

    Okay all this to say, this is good advice.  I don’t, however, think there is anything wrong with including some registry info for a shower, since as the previous commenter said, the whole purpose of the shower is to shower the guest of honor with gifts.

  5. Rayne of Terror Sep 24 at 1:30 pm Reply Reply

    We were moving immediately after my baby shower, so my sister & closest friends came over after the shower and packed everything in moving boxes. I appreciated it SO much.

    You really can fit a lot in the USPS flat rate big box.

  6. KB Sep 24 at 1:31 pm Reply Reply

    The purpose of a shower is to give gifts — it is fine to mention gift-related information on the invitation. Even Amy admits that a baby shower without gifts is lame, so there’s no need to pretend this topic is off-limits for invites, etc. I do agree that it goes a little too far to ask guests that gifts be shipped, since that may be an obstacle for them or just not their preference.

    I think it will work out fine — most people will put two and two together and not bring huge gifts, if they can avoid it. I’ve been to a shower for a woman in this situation, and most people brought along something small/packable, and many also had a gift sent to her home and noted that in the card. Everyone had a lovely time! Offering to help with shipping I’m sure would be greatly appreciated.

  7. katie Sep 24 at 1:38 pm Reply Reply

    I second the suggestions above – particularly since most people will know she’s traveling. I especially second the idea that she can return any large/heavy/expensive to ship items for a gift card/store credit and rebuy them when she gets back home whenever possible. I’m having my first in a few months and this is exactly what I’d do.

    In regard to the absoluteness of not mentioning gifts on the invite – social custom says a shower is for showering with gifts and/or wisdom, but including information about it on the invite is considered tacky (though less so now than it used to be) because it’s seen as more demanding by saying not only get us gifts, but get us only *these* things.

  8. RS Sep 24 at 2:03 pm Reply Reply

    Yep. Amy’s advice is good. This doesn’t have to be a big thing. We were recently in the same situation and the mom and dad-to-be were able to pack quite a bit in their suitcases, and we just shipped them the rest. The downside is that they didn’t receive many of their big ticket items because the guests did consider that shipping would be a hassle (and also my family is cheap).

  9. tasterspoon Sep 24 at 2:15 pm Reply Reply

    I bet she’s going to get a ton of gift cards. We had a long distance (wedding) shower and even the older generations knew enough to give us gift cards (plus something small to open). I also like the return-and-rebuy at home solution – if the mom-to-be’s trip is short and the hostess can handle the returns, so much the better.

    But also, I’ve been to several showers within the past year where gifts weren’t opened, and it didn’t bother me as a guest, because the parties were awesome, the people were fun, and we did all the games. Then again, I’m the guest who sends the boring but necessary stuff off their registry right to the baby’s home so I didn’t much care whether my case of diapers was opened.

  10. Kailee Sep 24 at 2:22 pm Reply Reply

    In regards to the photo idea, I did something sort of similar for one of my bridal showers. My mother’s friends threw a shower for me, and my hometown is a 4 hour plane ride away. Some of her friends did buy online, the others just went down to the local gift shop. I thought it a bit unfair that the online buyers wouldn’t have their gift oohed and aahed over, so I took a few pictures of those. I then left the stack of photos out on a table, and they were passed around. It wasn’t like a Price Is Right moment where you stand and point to the photo for all to see, more like Here, If You Want, Take A Look At Some Other Nice Things From My Registry That I Also Got.

    My mom then just eventually packed the gifts in boxes and shipped them via UPS over a few months. I think it’s sort of on the hostess and gift recipient to think about transportation of gifts.

    I would also suggest that the mother-to-be either bring or buy an extra suitcase. I know you have to pay for checked luggage now, but it’s a great way to get things back with her. And for $25 and up to 50 pounds, it’s sort of a good deal too.

  11. jami Sep 24 at 2:24 pm Reply Reply

    It can be fun to play gift bingo – make up bingo cards of all kinds of gift items they can get, and people cross them off as she open presents. I’m sure you know how bingo works :-) – but it can be a good distraction while watching people open gifts.

  12. tasterspoon Sep 24 at 2:24 pm Reply Reply

    Somewhat tangential, but as a recipient of many gift cards in the past year, my favorite ones are the ones where the giver says what they are meant for – “This is for wine glasses,” or “This is for a carseat.” Somehow it feels more like a gift than like cold hard cash and makes shopping for the gift more fun (because otherwise I might spend it on tortillas and toilet paper the next time I’m in Target, which is boring for everyone and not the intention of the giver at all.) It’s nice to be able to point to a specific item (bought with a gift card) and say, “This came from your Aunt Sarah.”

  13. Jaymee Sep 24 at 2:36 pm Reply Reply

    Amazing post, and amazing job answering the question, Amy!!! I totaly agree that the mention of gifts in an invitation is rude. Especialy considering that a baby shower is NOT to ‘shower’ the mother to be with gifts. It’s to ‘shower’ her with love and celebrate the pregnancy/baby! It is considered rude to expect people to buy gifts. You obviously know that people will buy gifts, but that doesn’t mean you can tell them how, where, when, and what to buy unless they ask. If you do, then you are being rude.

  14. Katie Sep 24 at 2:41 pm Reply Reply

    I had a similar challenge with one of my bridal showers and what we ended up doing worked out really well. Guests brought gifts, mostly from our registry, and I opened them there. We loaded them into the back of my mother’s car and took them, basically, straight to the mall, where we returned the vast majority. I got on the plane home with two huge gift cards (one for each of the places I’d registered). We then sent thank yous for each item (of course) but only rebought some of them immediately (we were in a relatively small NYC apartment). But we used that credit for many, many things we needed early in our marriage, some of which we’d never have thought to register for initially. 

    Is this perfect? No. Might there have been some folks who really wanted us to have *their* gift? Sure. But it seemed to be the best scenario for us given the distance constraints (and there were a lot of huuuge, heavy items that would have cost a fortune to ship) and it hasn’t had any negative consequences that I’m aware of in the decade since we were married. :)

  15. Elizabeth Sep 24 at 2:51 pm Reply Reply

    I had this issue when we went to my homestage – a 3 hour flight way – for a baby shower.

    Our solution worked well: I packed up whatever was small enough for my suitcase. My mom then returned everything else to Babies R Us. This wasn’t an issue since it was registry stuff. She got a gift card with the credit for everything, went home and re-ordered it from our registry to have it shipped. Shipping was free since the order was so large.

    So the caveat with this plan is you need someone willing to go through this for the mom-to-be. Sorry, my mom is spoken for.

  16. Therese Sep 24 at 3:06 pm Reply Reply

    Very interesting issue. A few years ago, I was invited to a shower just like you’re describing. The mother to be lived a plane ride away and the shower was in her hometown while she visited over the holidays. I don’t remember the exact wording on the invitation (wish I did to give you a better idea). Anyway, the general point of the wording emphasized that the bride would be flying and that the theme of the shower was beloved baby/children’s books. This encouraged folks to bring a cherished book (knowing that the mother to be could easily pack those in a suitcase) and then most people used common sense to go hey, I’ll also get her something bigger and just ship it direct (i.e., from the Babies R Us or Target website). I think I put a note or card in the children’s book that mentioned another surprise would be waiting for her when she arrived home. Point being, the hostess was very creative in how she planned the shower and did the invites so that the theme encouraged people to bring a gift that could easily be packed home. I’ll also just add that I don’t like to mention registries and gifts when I am the hostess and sending invites. However, I have had numerous occassions where the guests asked me why I didn’t just include that info in the invite so it was easier for them…My thinking is they can ask when they RSVP — we all know how well the RSVP thing goes these days though! :) Good Luck on your planning. Your friend is lucky to have such a thoughtful and kind person in her life.

  17. Laura Sep 24 at 3:33 pm Reply Reply

    My friend did something like what Elizabeth suggested.  She had a registry at Target, and the day after the shower they returned all the large gifts that came from there, then purchased them again in their hometown.
    Bonus perk 1: sales tax was about 1% higher in the state the shower was held in than her home state, so when she finished returning/buying she had extra gift card money left over from tax.
    Bonus perk 2: Target has a registry completion discount, so anything she held off on buying till after the baby was born, she got 10% off on, meaning she had even MORE extra gift card money left over. 

  18. Courtney Sep 24 at 5:07 pm Reply Reply

    Reiterating what’s already been said: My sweet aunts and cousins threw a baby shower for me at a family reunion a few states over. Hubby and I just packed an extra suitcase and were able to fill it with the gifts for the airplane ride home. It wasn’t a hassle at all to plan for the extra bag, and everyone gave clothes and small gifts that were easy to pack. Totally doable!

  19. FSMom Sep 24 at 6:15 pm Reply Reply

    I have been guest of honor, hostess, and guest at MANY baby showers like the poster asks about. I am a Foreign Service Officer (work at a U.S. Embassy overseas), and people realize that long-distance showers require flexibility on all parts. Sometimes the baby being celebrated will be born in a different country than where the family currently lives or sometimes the mail is just too slow. As hostess, I’ve chosen to handle it this way: I don’t mention registry on the invitation but do ask the guests to rsvp to my e-mail. When they do, I include in my reply: “I’m coordinating a group gift off of Sally’s registry, so let me know if you’re interested in contributing.” Most people are excited to contribute to a stroller, high chair, bedding set, or other large gift (I’ve seen contributions from $10 to $100 and never mention a particular amount and have been able to get moms some really nice gifts), I match the amount to a registry gift shipped to the mom’s address of choice and put any extra on a gift card, I get a card for everyone to sign, and sometimes people bring a small gift to the party. And I follow up with people who haven’t rsvp’d to make sure I get the word out and account for almost everyone who will show up to the party. The parties are still plenty of fun (my favorite activity is to print baby pictures of the guests and have people try to match them), even without mountains of tiny clothes to coo over. And everyone feels good about celebrating a friend without causing unintended complications.

  20. JCF Sep 24 at 6:24 pm Reply Reply

    I hosted a bridal shower for my sister-in-law who lived out of state. As many others stated, she packed what she could, and then she returned and rebought anything that she couldn’t fit or was breakable (not too likely at a baby shower). It worked out really well, and most people did buy things that were easily packable (linens, flatware, etc.). If I were invited to a baby shower along these lines, I’d either ship directly, or I’d buy something off of the registry like receiving blankets, clothes, etc.

  21. JenVegas Sep 24 at 6:34 pm Reply Reply

    My mom and aunt just threw me a baby shower back home (I have lived 1/2 the country away for about 10 years now.) Strike one against our etiquettes for having my relatives host, I guess. My mom put my registry info on the invites. Strike two. And she also indicated that it would be easier to order off of the registry and have gifts shipped to my home & bring a picture to the shower than it would be to have me try and get any gifts home. Three strikes? She also provided pre-paid USPS boxes so if anyone did bring gifts to the party (and they did) everything would be ready to ship as soon as the party was over.
    But, you know what? No one cared. All of the invitees were my closest friends and family and they were all grown ups. If they weren’t intending on buying me a gift they didn’t and I didn’t say anything about it. Those who did bring gifts/shipped gifts will get thank you cards. We had tons of fun playing the games my cousin thought up, catching up and eating our faces off full of the desserts my friend made for the occasion.
    I’ve tried for years to go by the etiquette rules in the books but no one seems to mind when I don’t so I’ve stopped making myself crazy over it.

    • emilie Feb 24 at 9:33 pm Reply Reply

      Amen!  I’m about to be the mom-to-be in the same situation and while it may not be in line with ancient etiquette rules, it is SO much more practical to request that guests either send gift cards or ship the gifts to my home address 1400 miles away (almost all stores ship free for orders of $50+ and my average shower gift budget is always $50 or so as a rule of thumb)… and if the items total less than $50, the guest still saves money on not having to giftwrap an item and that can cover the shipping cost.  I think the point is to get together, have fun with people you care about, and help new parents-to-be to welcome their baby with some of their needs and wants.  I really don’t read anything more into it than that.

  22. colleen Sep 24 at 7:13 pm Reply Reply

    this is very good advice. i didn’t read all the other comments, so sorry if this was already mentioned. on my registry, gift cards are listed. maybe she can register for the gift cards and small items, leaving off the super big items. that way she can use the gift cards when she gets home. i bet she’ll end up with cloths and gift cards!

  23. Shanna Sep 24 at 7:23 pm Reply Reply

    My MIL threw me a large shower in her home town (2 hr flight). My husband and I flew up with the max no. of empty LARGE duffel bags that we could check in. And we managed to get almost all of it home on the flight. (Like Amy said, get rid of the boxes and paper.) I think maybe we shipped one box. People who wanted to give us larger items give us gift cards with what they hoped we would use it for. (No one needed to be told we were flying – it is common knowledge we don’t live there!) Also, some of the toys we left with the future grandparents because we knew we’d be visiting a lot. Returning and rebuying wasn’t an option since MIL lives in a sales tax-free state while we definitely do not! It all worked out fine and wasn’t really a worry.

  24. Jay Sep 24 at 7:39 pm Reply Reply

    I did what has already been suggested. The smallish items I brought back in my suitcase; the larger items we returned and I rebought when I got home. As has also been mentioned, a shower is to give gifts, so I don’t see any problem with mentioning on the invitation something like “If you’re ordering a gift, consider shipping it directly to Honroee’s house.” That doesn’t obligate anyone but it acts as a suggestion in case someone hadn’t thought about it–and I do think Amy is wrong that people will think about it. If they’re anyting like my relatives who seem to have thought that putting china in a checked bag would be a good idea, that is.

  25. NinaN Sep 24 at 8:32 pm Reply Reply

    I didn’t see this idea mentioned (but I may have missed it). A lot of the larger chains that offer gift registries have it set up for situations like this. You can purchase from their registry and they can pick that item up from their local store. No shipping costs involved. No gift to open at the shower, but if you wanted to splurge on a larger item, you wouldn’t have to worry about them shipping it home. And if you are kind enough to buy them a crib or a stroller, I think a picture would be and knowing it is waiting for them at home would be more than enough :)

  26. Amy Sep 24 at 8:41 pm Reply Reply

    I haven’t read the comments so this may be a repeat, but assuming that someone buys the mom-to-be something huge, there’s no reason why she can’t return the huge item to the local Babies R Us and then buy the identical item at her local Babies R Us when she gets home.

    Unless they’ve like monogrammed the fabric on the travel system, and no one does that, no one will ever know.

  27. Michele Sep 24 at 9:23 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with Amy (and others)…. when my sister and mom hosted my shower in May, we planned to return anything that was big to the local Babies R Us and get gift cards and buy them here. That being said, everyone who got one of the big gifts had it shipped directly. If you go through Amazon, Babies R Us, Target, or other stores like that for the registry, they ship direct to the registrant unless you specifically request a different address.

    As for everything else, we packed an additional empty bag and used our new diaper bag as a carry on. That fit everything we received without issue.

  28. Jenny Sep 24 at 11:55 pm Reply Reply

    I hosted a long-distance baby shower a couple of years ago. I was ready to ship stuff for her, but I didn’t have to. She packed an extra dufflebag. But a lot of people shipped directly to her. And there were a lot of giftcards.

    People aren’t stupid and will likely realize that the big gifts are not the most practical thing.

  29. Cristina Sep 25 at 7:16 am Reply Reply

    Nthing the suggestion to register at a store convenient to the new parents’ hometown and the shower locale, keeping careful track of who gave what for thank-you cards, and returning/rebuying. In fact, that works well even when it’s not a long-distance situation: you won’t need a lot of this stuff for months, why store it in your home in the meantime?

    And on the question of gift info on invites, at this point I almost think it’s rude not to include it. Look, a gift will be purchased, so why not make it clear what’s most wanted or needed? It doesn’t obligate anyone to do anything, just makes it easier and more comfortable for all (which is the point of etiquette after all, yes?)

  30. Emily Sep 25 at 5:29 pm Reply Reply

    We just drove 12 hours to get to our baby shower :) but if you can’t drive, then I like Amy’s suggestion about shipping. And I don’t like registry information on shower invites. The shower is about celebrating the baby and the new mommy, gifts are not expected, but appreciated.

  31. Kerry Sep 25 at 6:27 pm Reply Reply

    Amy, you are so right!!! Just as it’s a bridesmaid’s job to make sure all the gifts are transported from the wedding site to the couple’s home, it’s the host’s job to take care of gifts for the guest of honor- whether that means carrying them out to her car or shipping them across the country. To me, it’s not a baby shower without opening gifts (and eating cake).

  32. lindswing Sep 27 at 12:27 am Reply Reply

    She is probably thinking ahead, as well, so definitely consort with her on the matter once you’ve determined your own plan of action.  We had a baby shower out of state, and most people purposefully gave us smaller items or gift cards/cash and we brought an extra duffel bag that we didn’t actually even need.  There were a couple of bulky items that we returned there and repurchased back home with the resulting gift card.  Easy Breezy.  

  33. Katie Sep 27 at 11:33 am Reply Reply

    I had a baby shower exactly like this… we recently moved across the country, far away from all family and friends. I had a big shower in my home state. Neither the hostess or I did anything specific to address the gift issue. Some people decided on their own to ship gifts (especially something like a stroller) to my new home address (which is on the registry). Others brought gifts to the shower, which everyone did enjoy oohing and ahhing over. Some others asked me or the hostess what they should do… I always said they should do whatever worked best for them. At the end of it all, I packed up a couple of big boxes and mailed most of the stuff back to my house. I arranged and paid for this myself, and I did not mind doing that one bit. If I got invited to a shower like this, I think I would buy a gift card and something really cute but tiny/light to open at the shower. I loved spending gift cards months after the baby was born, but opening cutesy stuff is also so fun for the new mom. :)

  34. Erin S Sep 27 at 10:29 pm Reply Reply

    You can also pack large boxes and drop them at a local Amtrak dept – the prices are much more reasonable than UPS or USPS. It’s about as fast as ground shipping (maybe a touch slower, depending on distance). We shipped most of our wedding gifts this way and ended up sending the rest UPS Ground: the UPS box ended up smashed while the Amtrak boxes came through without a scratch. Cost is by weight and there aren’t surcharges for oversized boxes (I think it’s ~$65 for the first 100 lbs and 55 cents for each additional pound).

  35. sharon Sep 28 at 12:18 am Reply Reply

    This happened to me for my son’s baby shower a few years back. My husband and I live in the Northwest and his mother insisted on hosting a (drama-filled) shower for me in Los Angeles. I made it very clear to my MIL that I had no intention of opening gifts at the party, there were 70+ people in attendance and once her friends got wind of this many of them went ahead and just ordered off the registry and shipped gifts. I must say, and this sounds caddy, but I know many of them bought us ‘lesser’ gifts because they knew they would not be on display in front of others…no one upping other people’s gifts in front of each other.

    In hind sight, I would have just let people bring gifts, then return them all myself after the party and rebuy them with the store credit/gift cards when I got back home.

  36. Tracy Sep 28 at 9:27 am Reply Reply

    A shower is the one time when it IS polite to assume people are bringing gifts. At least that was the opinion of an etiquette board I used to frequent. Even the sticklers for old school etiquette.

  37. Lawgirl1982 Oct 05 at 10:45 am Reply Reply

    I agree with Tracy and my mom had so many questions about shipping and stuff with my shower (held in TX but I live in MD) that she basically told everyone gift cards were the way to go. So we got a ton of cute onesies and gift cards and purchased most of the stuff back home. Opening gifts wasnt a hallmark of the shower, we had all sorts of other games instead that were way more fun and included stories and naming ideas and stuff from other people who had just become new moms or whose “babies” were in their 30s. It was blast. A shower really doesn’t have to have the opening all the gifts part, its totally fun, but not necessary to be the centerpiece to the day….

  38. Name (required) Jun 01 at 2:11 pm Reply Reply

    It makes me mad to think that people believe this is rude… We moved from Michigan to Tucson and had a long- distance wedding 10 months ago and begged people NOT to bring gifts! They still did, but because they had to travel for the wedding almost everyone shipped the gifts so they didn’t have to pay extra for checked luggage (had no problems with it) and of course, since we didn’t have a registry everything was totally up to them so we got a lot of crazy items. For the baby, our family is begging us to have a baby shower. All our family is in Michigan so of course it will be there. It is costing us $1000 in flight tix, $1000 in missed work just to come to the shower. If I also, in my 48 hours there have to spend my time at FedEx all day (which is the cheapest way to ship many big items – not as paying for extra luggage on the airlines) as opposed to spending my time visiting family I will not be happy. It is costing us more to have this shower than just going out and buying the items ourselves. Which is honestly, what my husband and I would prefer to do. I just wish people would realize this and meet us halfway – bring a gift card, ship a cheaper present than you would usually buy or just show up for the shower empty handed (no one will know!) – that is fine. But to get upset over something that most people have no idea about makes me so mad.

  39. CH Jun 23 at 12:11 am Reply Reply

    I have always read on etiquette columns and books that while it is tacky to include registry info on wedding invitations, it is perfectly acceptable to include them in baby and wedding showers. Everyone knows the point of a shower – to shower with gifts to help the new couple or family get set up. 

  40. Amy Aug 11 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    I totally disagree with the author.  I think the suggested etiquette is outdated and goes against what the baby shower is really for.

    Baby showers are not only intended to help bring friends and family together to celebrate but also help the mother-to-be by giving needed gifts.  But it shouldn’t cause more stress for the mother-to-be or for the host who has graciously offered to throw the event.  Also close friends and family members are the ones attending the baby showers so I can’t imagine they would be judging the host for wanting to make things easier for the mother-to-be. And as others have stated, it’s no secret that guests bring gifts to these events so why not mention the registry and provide the address where gifts can be shipped.  As someone mentioned, you just factor the shipping cost when searching for a gift so at that you end up spending the same amount as if you were to wrap and bring a gift.

    I attended a close friend’s baby shower and although I forgot how the host worded it, she basically requested that large gifts be sent to the mother-to-be and that we bring a picture of the item to the shower. I wasn’t offended by it and I totally understood why.

  41. JuMarCh Sep 28 at 1:03 pm Reply Reply

    I am expecting my first in 3 months and both my mom and mother in law are asking about hosting a shower. They live in MI, but I live in NYC.

    As you can imagine, all NYC apartments are TINY, so I am planning on being a very minimalist mom. I don’t want a lot of ‘little’ things that could be put in a suitcase as mentioned above, so the few things I would like to register for are the ‘big’ items. We don’t have/need a car living in NYC, so it isn’t an option for us to pick up these items at a local store. Delivery to our doorstep is the only reasonable option for us.

    I LOVE the idea posted above of having an all Amazon.com registry and then having the guests print a picture or buy a gift card and put it inside a children’s book. We can then all ooh and ahhh over the books while appreciating the ‘bigger’ item that will arrive back at my apartment.

    Throw in some games and a brunch and it will be a fun time for sure.

    Thanks for the ideas ladies! Good luck!

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