Not exactly a holiday gift guide, but more of an any-time-of-the-year guide, but we’re publishing it right before the holidays. And technically it’s probably more useful to friends and family of postpartum moms than to actual postpartum moms, but…whatever. IT’S TIMELY. AND EVERYBODY LIKES PRESENTS.
Option #1: Spa gift certificates
By far the most popular, most obvious choice for a tired, stressed-out new mother. Pampering! Send her to a spa! Done! Well…hang on there. How about a couple suggestions first.
1) Don’t buy for a specific service, i.e. a massage. She might not be comfortable stripping down for a masseuse or body scrub quite yet. A manicure probably won’t survive very long and could be an incredibly fleeting pleasure. Facials, hair care services and pedicures are better options, so go for a set dollar amount at a spa that offers as many services as possible.
2) If you do know exactly what service she’d prefer, make her an APPOINTMENT and pre-pay for it instead of a certificate (don’t forget the tip!). Arrange it with her partner for help picking a time when someone else (maybe even you) will stay with the baby and let her GO. After Noah was born Jason simply went and made me a spa day appointment and sent me on my way one morning — he’d taken a day off and arranged everything. This time, I’ve had a gift certificate languishing in my dresser drawer since last Christmas.
Option #2: Date nights
Give both them a night off with a restaurant and/or movie gift certificate…along with a promise to babysit. Know that some new parents may have trouble accepting your offer, though, either because they’ll feel strange asking or are just plain uncomfortable leaving their newborn, so you may need to be patient and remind them of your offer now and again.
Option #3: Practical services
I get a lot of Advice Smackdown questions from concerned long-distance friends about the lack of a local support network for their pregnant friends. Some ideas to provide some super-helpful day-to-day support could include gift cards for maid services, one of those make-and-take assembly kitchens or food delivery service (Take Out Taxi, for example) or a membership to a nanny/babysitter locating service like Sittercity.com. If you’re throwing her a shower, consider a group gift of money that could go towards hiring a postpartum doula. (I’d highly recommend this option for someone having her second or third or more child: she’s probably pretty well set for gear and clothing, but an extra set of capable, non-related-to-her hands to help after the birth would be absolutely priceless.)
Option #4: Actual Gifts of the Non-Gift-Card Variety
Nursing pajamas: I’ve mentioned these before, I KNOW, but by gum, I’m plugging them again. When you’re swollen, bleeding, leaking and other ENORMOUSLY FUN VERBS, there’s nothing better than comfy, supportive pajamas and nightgowns. I wore mine in the last weeks of pregnancy all the way up to…well, last night, actually. They’re very versatile. Check out nursinggowns.com.
Diaper bag: Yes, she probably already has one, but no matter. She’ll buy another, most likely. And then one more after that. The quest for the Perfect Diaper Bag is never-ending. A rookie mom will likely have bought a big behemoth of a bag with five frillion pockets and a giant bottomless pit. Treat her to something smaller and more purse-like for when she finally learns to streamline. I totally covet one of the Petunia Pickle Bottom Touring Totes for short outings and errands. (Or, if she’s already set with a gorgeous girly bag and you need a gift for him, I definitely think every couple also needs one unisex, utilitarian bag that can be traded off between parents during the day without making dad feel silly. We have a Diaper Dude and I gotta admit…it’s the best diaper bag I’ve ever owned. And I own a lot of them.) (Still doesn’t stop me from drooling over them at stores, though. It’s a SICKNESS.)
(If you’re looking to stay within a less-luxe budget, one of those diaper changing pod/station/mini-bags is a much more exciting option than you’d think. A friend gave us the JJ Cole version and hot damn, not a day goes by when I don’t mentally thank them for it. No more digging around in a bag for stuff stashed in three different places! No more lugging the whole bag into public restrooms for every single diaper change! I don’t know why I didn’t have one of these the first time around.)
Jewelry: Mama/baby jewelry has come a looooooong way from lockets or cheesy lumpy-person-shaped pendants. Thanks to Etsy, you can easily find affordable, custom jewelry for just about any taste. I love the simple stamped metal discs with baby’s name and birthdate, or the soldered photo pendants, or the “mama bird” nest designs…while other sellers do lovely stuff with birthstones and beads. For a breastfeeding mom, check out the nursing bracelets. Basically, whatever you dream up, there’s someone on Etsy who can make it. If the sheer volume of options makes you go a little deer-in-the-headlights, check out Cool Mom Picks first and go from there.
For a mom whose baby is in that “I want to rip off all your jewelry and shove it in my mouth” stage, there’s the stuff by SmartMom. I have one of their pendants and it’s BRILLIANT. I’d given up on wearing necklaces (even though I usually never leave the house without one) as Ezra still grabs and chews on everything within reach. At first glance, the pendants and bracelets look like they’re made of some kind of stone — it’s not until you actually touch them do you realize it’s actually a pliable teething material. Baby can yank and gnaw all he wants and do no damage.
Photo organizing: For new parents taking a bazillion new photos, there are a TON of useful options. Get them extra memory cards for their camera, an inexpensive photo printer, photo editing software, scrapbooking tools, albums, frames, a pro account at Flickr, etc. Make them a photo book or album using pictures you’ve taken or ones they’ve sent you. Load up iMovie or Windows Movie Maker and create a photo montage video set to her favorite song.
More Gift Guides!
– Holiday-Themed Gifts for Kids (2009)
– Holiday-Themed Gifts for Kids (2008)
– Great Stocking Stuffer Ideas (2009)
– Great Stocking Stuffer Ideas (2008)
– The Advice Smackdown Holiday Baby Gift Guide
– The Advice Smackdown Holiday Preschooler Gift Guide
– The Advice Smackdown Holiday Beauty Gift Guide
– Best Holiday Hostess Gifts 2008
– Unique Hostess Gifts (2007)
– Gifts for School-Aged Kids (2008)
– Gifts for Young Kids: our favorites (2008)
– Mother’s Day Gift Ideas
– Father’s Day Gift Ideas