Pre-emptive Registry Clean Up

by admin on June 29, 2011

This is the story of my sister-in-law’s (SIL1) baby shower which happened this past weekend. I live halfway across the country and wasn’t able to attend. My other sister-in-law (SIL2) who was attending and I went in together to purchase a rather expensive gift—a stroller/carseat combo.

Well, along comes the day of the shower, and it turns out that a week prior, SIL1’s mother and father went out and bought EVERYTHING on the registry that hadn’t been purchased yet. Every single item. A week BEFORE the shower. Now, we’ve always known that SIL1 and her mother had a disturbingly close relationship (SIL1 and brother bought a house in the same neighborhood as her parents, SIL1 calls her mom 5 times a day, etc.) but apparently “grandma” started to get nervous as the date of the shower approached and there were still things not purchased and decided to remedy the situation lest her daughter feel any sort of slight. Well SIL2 was coming from out of town so didn’t pick up the stroller/carseat until a few days before the shower. Neighbor1 was running behind and didn’t make it to the store until a day before the shower—only to find that there was nothing left on the registry to purchase. Now the etiquette of registries is a tricky one, but who ever heard of the future grandparents going out a week before the first baby shower and cleaning it up? I could understand going out after the shower and getting what hadn’t been gotten, but before?

So, SIL2 and my mom head off to the shower, not knowing about what the other side had done, bringing our fairly expensive present. My mom told my brother to open the stroller/carseat first, but he said, no, we can’t because we already have one. Fully assembled at home. Got it a week ago. Mom and SIL2 were gobsmacked and didn’t know what to do. Frankly, it was a good thing I wasn’t there because I would have de-gifted and told them I’d return it to the store and get them something they didn’t have—which would have been nothing. I know I am going to think long and hard about getting them any presents in the future—and I am especially glad I didn’t purchase expensive plane tickets just to go and see them open a present they already had and certainly didn’t need or appreciate. It made the whole thing seem sordid and tacky and like a money grab. 0626-11

Why would you punish your brother and his wife for something your sister-in-law’s mother did?  It’s not like they can graciously decline to accept the offered gifts.   It sounds like your brother’s mother-in-law put him in an awkward situation with his family and friends.

Addendum….I almost never buy from registries for this reason (among others).  Instead, buy a creative gift you know is very unlikely anyone will also give.  My daughter is expecting my first granddaughter in a few weeks and her friends are hosting a baby shower soon.  This is one of the items I’m giving as a gift.

It’s a twist from the typical diaper “cake”.  Super easy to make (took me at most 45 minutes to assemble) and unique enough that no one will give the same thing.   The diaper bike consists of the following:

Newborn disposable diapers as the tires
2 rolled receiving blankets as the chassis/axles and handle bars
2 bibs as the fenders
1 burp cloth as the seat
1 4-oz. plastic bottle for the headlight
1 pair of frilly socks for the handlebar grips
1 pink bowed headband for the part above the light
1 doll, although this one in the photo is not to scale..didn’t want granddaughter with a huge doll

All sitting on a 14 inch cake round.  The most difficult part was figuring out how to assemble the diapers into a round spiral for the tires.  Problem solved by using an 8 or 9 inch springform pan.  I made a single tube using one diaper with a rubber band for the axle, stood it in the middle of the pan and added all the rest of the diapers in a tight spiral around it. Wrap a large rubber band to secure them all in place and cover with a 2 inch wide ribbon to hide the rubber band.

I cannot take credit for designing this.  I found photos on the web and figured it out myself.   Other gifts include a handmade, heirloom quality, crocheted baby afghan.

{ 99 comments… read them below or add one }

The Elf June 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Oh, and congratulations on becoming a Grandmother! Woot!

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danielle June 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I get where OP is coming from (though I realize it this isn’t a popular stand here). I find it extremely strange that an entire week before the shower the gps bought everything on the list. I also am having trouble with the actual time the gift was purchased because it sort of seems like SIL2 had ordered/payed for/ the item and just waited until a few days before the event to pick it up which again makes perfect sense to me.

A few years ago when my cousin and his wife were expecting their first child the day before the shower my aunt went and bought the rest of the necessary item because cousin had waited until after all the shower stuff was done to buy anything big. So with the exception of a few small things cousin got everything necessary for baby.

And to the people who say babies don’t need a lot of stuff, do you have kids (or have had them recently). I am one in a huge family and I know that when my cousins have gotten pregnant there are always tons of things they need especially for a first-born.

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Kathryn June 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Baby shower registries are like wedding registries – it is getting so that people expect you to have one and will ask you about it and be perturbed if you don’t. That being said, I agree that it is very easy to go off-registry for babies: diapers, bibs, clothes, toys, receiving blankets, bottles, and anything else that you know they will need more than one of work nicely. I always think receiving blankets are a nice gift because when I had my first baby I remember thinking that I had too many blankets because I had four or five… and then ran out to the store the third day home to buy more. It turns out new babies like to be swaddled/wrapped up in blankets, but they pee on them or spit up frequently…and it is handy to have extras! Plus you end up using them as burp clothes and to wipe up spills, or to lay on a bed to change them etc.

And Bint – not sure it is true that babies don’t need a lot of stuff! They don’t need a lot of toys and not too many clothes as long as you have 4 or 5 changes of clothes in each size, but they do have a lot equipment and necessities. Just off the top of my head: high chair, crib, diapers, bottles, bibs, blankets, stroller or carrier or both, carseat(s), change table, wipes, baby bathtub (not absolutely necessary but extremely helpful), baby spoons, baby monitors, baby soap, baby lotion, baby proofing items (gates, playpen, socket plugs, cupboard door closers…). And while not necessary, extremely helpful to have toys, a seat of some kind (bouncy chair or some such), a mobile, etc. I read that the average cost to have a baby in the first year is $10,000. We didn’t spend that much because a lot was given to us or purchased second hand, but I can see how it easily would be that.

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LeeLee88 June 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I think I might understand a bit why the OP was upset, although I don’t really think it was her right to be upset, exactly. I can understand that the gift-giver would have been upset to go to the trouble of getting the stroller, having it held, picking it up, wrapping it, etc., etc., only to find that the happy parents already have that same exact stroller in their possession. After all, if they already had it, the gift-giver could have simply put that money towards a gift certificate or clothes for when the baby grows, etc. But she bought the stroller because she wanted to give a nice gift, and it was on the registry. I can especially understand her embarrassment over the situation when we add the father of the baby telling her outright that they already have one right there at the party. You say “thank you” and then return it quietly, as others have said.

That being said, I can also see how there was a double if the gift-giver didn’t take that stroller off the registry when she bought it or if grandma didn’t take it off the registry when she bought it. Those electronic registries are for the purpose of not getting doubles, and if a lot of people didn’t think to tick off the little box, I can see how grandma might have gotten worried and then went and did shopping on top of her shopping to fill out the amount of gifts her daughter would be getting for the baby. Over-zealous, yes, but I can see why she did it

All in all, I think the father was rude to blurt out the happy parents already had that same stroller assembled at home, but I agree that he was probably trying to find a way to tell the gift-giver why he couldn’t open it. Or he could have just let his personal observation slip out his mouth, either or. I don’t believe that the happy parents should be “punished” here, and in fact, I don’t think anyone should be “punished” at all.

It seems to me that this was just numerous cases of excitement and mistaken communications that wound up being blown a bit out of proportion. After all, the gift-giver could have also taken the incentive to realize it was all just a misunderstanding and return her gift for a gift certificate or any number of small, ever-needed baby things. I think the OP’s idea of giving nothing because of this is a gross over-reaction. But I can only say that because I’m on the outside, looking in, and I don’t know anything more about this family’s dynamics than what has been revealed to me through this story.

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Coralreef June 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I also lean toward the future grandmother going overboard in her happiness with no hidden agenda of being mean or wanting to upstage anyone.

Was the MIL too quick to jump into the buying spree? Yes for most of us, no in her own way of thinking (they need everything NOW!). Maybe it’s a first grandchild, maybe she’s got a bit of an anxious personnality, who knows?

Was brother rude (if the response was as presented by the OP)? Yes, he could have said “Thank you, this is so kind of you.” Have the doubles returned for store credit or refunds.

Should the OP blame the brother or SIL? No, they are not responsible for the actions of the grandmother-to-be. And this may be a one time only event. The grandmother may realize that she doesn’t need to do something similar in the future. We do learn from our mistakes at any age.

Side note : I have a hard time with registeries. It’s never been in the general culture here, althought it is changing. Not sure if it’s a good thing. I’ve been to weddings where the HC got two steam irons and three kettles. They survived, the gift givers congratulated each other on their good taste in gifts and no-one was offended.

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livvy June 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I personally would have been excited to see that everything on the registry was purchased, as then I wouldn’t feel bad about going off-registry, to get things that would either not be immediately useful (such as clothing in sizes for 6, 9 or 12 months), something for the mom (a massage!), or something very fanciful or beautiful but not nescessarily useful (a tiffany rattle or little containers for first hair/tooth). Also, there are ALWAYS things that the new mom and dad don’t even realize they need – an didn’t think to register for. Look at it as an opportunity to put a special touch on it.

I agree with others who said the only possibly objectionable thing was the brother’s response. You can’t possibly blame SIL1 for the sins of her mother. Can you imagine being blamed for the failings or even the generosity (or lack thereof) of one of your own relatives?? As a faithful reader of this site, I imagine many of us would be absolutely terrified of such a possibility!

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Meh June 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I tend to think that everyone secretly wants money anyway so I save myself the trouble and put money in card for every wedding and shower. Call me unsentimental, but what’s wrong with giving people what they want? [And even if you disagree that everyone wants it, there sure isn’t anyone who can’t use it.] Stress and drama free!

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Jen June 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

@ Butterfly – As a fellow knitter, I couldn’t agree with you more!

I’m a bit confused about how the duplication happened to begin with. If you plan on purchasing anything off of a registry, you print off the registry in the store, find the item you want to purchase and hand the printout to the cashier when you go to pay for your items. This is supposed to prevent duplication. Of course, the only time I’ve ever bought anything off of a baby registry is when I’ve gone in on a gift with other people. Other than that, I’ll knit something for the baby (sweater, hat, blanket) and/or make up a basket of the little things (lotions, baby shampoo, etc.).

The other thing I was think while reading this was, why can’t the grandparents hold onto the stroller/car seat combo they purchased and keep it at their house? I’ve learned from friends and relatives that having more than one carseat comes in very handy.

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kudeebee June 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm

While it wasn’t rude of the sil1’s mother to buy up all the gifts, it is kind of selfish in my book. She could have left the shower occur and then purchased the rest.

As to the duplicate stroller, I think brother had to tell them they already had one if sil2 and op’s mom wanted him to take it out and assemble it. They would have found out that they already had one anyway. If the grandma had purchased it already–she would have said “Oh I already bought them that.”

I am wondering why it didn’t already show up as purchased? I know registries aren’t perfect, but there should have been plenty of time for it to be recorded.

Sounds like this baby will need to have gift cards or other type gifts in the future as the “other grandma” will more than likely take all the gifts that are on the list–unless you can get sil to make two lists, one for each side of the family.

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WrenskiBaby June 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I guess I’m a curmudgeon. I dislike wedding and baby showers, find gift registries offensive, and thought the doll on the diaper motorcycle was bizarre. As for brother and his wife, if I were the gift-giver I’d cheerily tell them, “Well, now you have two stroller-car seat combos! I hope you can make use of both of them.”

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AS June 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I agree with the admin and other posters – I don’t see much of a faux pas, except for the brother’s curt reply (if it is the exact one). If OP’s mother told the brother to open the gift and assemble it, it makes sense for him to say that he would not. It might be sad for the gift giver, but come on… who needs 2 strollers for 1 baby? If he actually said as blatantly as the OP states, he could have been a bit more polite.

I don’t see anything wrong with the SIL1’s parent’s actions. It seems like over-excited grandparents. There is no restriction to how many gifts someone can give from a registry. It is sad when you buy something off the registry only to realize that someone else bought it. Though, I don’t understand why OP or SIL’s parents, whoever bought first, did not check the items purchased off the registry.

“I am especially glad I didn’t purchase expensive plane tickets just to go and see them open a present they already had and certainly didn’t need or appreciate. “
I thought you’d go to meet your family, and not to see SIL1 open her gifts. Bro’ and SIL did not say you cannot meet them.

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Sharon June 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm

There are so many babies who come into this world with no one excited over them and no one to celebrate them. The fact that this child is so wanted and cared for is wonderful.

Every baby should be so wanted.

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Jillybean June 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Oh and Admin – congrats on the impending arrival of your first granddaughter! :-)

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Daisy June 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I never, ever buy from a registry. I try to give a gift from my heart to theirs, and if they’re ruffled because I didn’t buy the silver snuffbox or the sterling grape scissors, then they need to be grateful they have no larger problems to worry about. The Admin’s diaper bike is brilliant, and will soon be seen at showers coast to coast!

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Lily G June 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm

What a darling diaper bike! I’m impressed-I usually wuss out with my favorite children’s books, a couple of freezer to oven casseroles for mommy or a pretty utilitarian basket full of boring but necessary stuff: nail clippers or scissors, burp cloths, hooded towels, ipecac, etc.
My stepmother made every single grandchild a beautiful heirloom quality baby quilt, the size of a decently large throw. My kids are 20 and 15 and I treasure them (the quilts, but I guess I treasure the kids as well…) ;7)

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June June 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm

All these off-registry gift ideas are marvelous!

Like Aje, I haven’t had kids yet. For baby showers I usually go the diaper route, but I also sometimes give an off-registry gift for the parents. One of my college friends enjoyed bubble baths, so I made up a basket of fancy soaps and such. A caffeine-addict coworker received some packets of high-quality coffee.
New parents don’t get a lot of time for themselves, so I like to help with that.

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Angel June 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm

“Now it seems that people register for everything they could possible imagine and the expectation is that you either buy a gift off the registry or give cash. The option of just buying something you think is cute and believe the recipient will enjoy no longer exists.”

Yes, actually, it does exist. You are always free to buy whatever gift you like. Just because someone has a registry does not mean you can’t buy anything else.

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Orwellian June 29, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Heck, I’m a pretty manly man and I think it’s about fourteen kinds of adorable. :-)

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Tiffany June 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Argh, this letter exemplifies why I am not a fan of gift registries.

I would not say what the MIL did is a faux-pas necessarily. Definitely a little strange, but as many people pointed out, she may have just been overeager. What does strike me as inconsiderate is that she didn’t inform the store that the things she was buying were from that registry so they could check them off, because, correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t that usually how it works? You bring your purchases to the check-out and tell the cashier that they’re items from whatever registry, so they take them off the list. That’s how I’ve always seen it work. If the MIL had done that, then the OP would have known not to buy the gifts she did, and could have gone with something off the registry.

Incidentally, Wink-n-Smile, I would say a package of diapers is ALWAYS an appropriate gift for a baby shower, and not boring at all. When my best friend and I were shopping for a co-worker of ours, years ago, we bought a few small things from her registry, a pack of diapers, and a set of plain onesies, one of which I decorated with a little cartoon portrait of the family. Easy, useful, and a bit personalized.

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jen a. June 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Congrats admin on your future grandchild! What an exciting time.

I’m not a big fan of registries, especially since many of the items were put there to conserve space. I like admin’s idea of providing items that are definitely needed. Any ideas for a wedding shower/present equivalent?

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maggieprincess June 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Maybe someone’s mentioned this, sorry if it’s a repeat (too many comments to read thru!)

couldn’t someone other than grandma had purchased all the items? I mean, you know it was grandma in this case, (I guess), but couldn’t it have just as easily been all the other people buying everything on the registry? Isn’t there always the possibility that the item you were going to buy would have already been bought by someone else? And in that case, don’t you have a back up gift from the registry picked out? (Maybe I’m clueless about how registries work)

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kingshearte June 29, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I don’t think registries are the problem. People are the problem. I find registries quite useful (although as some have pointed out, in the case of babies, many of the things they need are things that they can’t possibly end up with too many of, so it’s less of an issue), especially in the case of, say, family members that you may not know well enough to know what they would like or need.

The problem arises when people decide that only items from their registries are acceptable gifts, and I guess there are enough of those that people have started to assume that everyone feels that way. And I really think that’s too bad, because it gives a bad rap to what should be simply a useful guide.

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saucygirl June 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm

i would like to add one more thing about registries, as so many people seem to dislike them and the fact that “everything” is on them. please realize that most stores give the expectant parents a discount on items “left” on your registry. so when you have a lot of necessities for a first baby – diapers, bottles, pacifers, bibs, clothes, blankets, bath tubs, etc – it is real nice to get a discount that can quickly add up to serious savings. so for me and many of my friends, we weren’t putting tons of items on our lists because we wanted to dictate every gift we received. we were doing it for the savings we would receive when we purchased these items ourselves.

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Liz June 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm

It’s not SIL1’s fault… but understand why the OP wouldn’t be happy. I also note that the OP was not rude to her family about the situation, I read the post as what she was thinking, and we’re allowed our own thoughts.

I always put a bit thought into my gift giving, even if it is just something of the registry. I try to consider what the person will need most, what they use/treasure the most, then I wrap it as beautifully as possible.

However registries in my experience have been nothing but trouble. Of the four weddings I have been to, 2 had registries, both have multiple purchases of the one thing -I don’t mean double up because maybe people bought things on the same day… I mean 4 or 5 of the same thing because the store just didn’t do it properly! So I’ve wasted time and effort on getting the gift, the couple then feels bad about returning things that people have spent money and time on. Can I damn a store to etiquette hell for being lazy?!

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babs June 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I usually do something from the registry for bridal showers, because I really want the new couple to have what they’ve picked out. But baby showers – I just love picking out baby clothes. And socks! I just love those little socks! I’m on the side of those thinking it didn’t make sense to buy up all of the registry gifts. So many people (I’m one) are busy with life and wait until right before the shower to buy. Whether the mom was afraid that her daughter wasn’t going to get everything she wanted, or she was just an over enthusiastic new grandma, she should have waited until after the shower to see what was purchased and and then they could have had a fun shopping day together, and used up gift cards to fill in what was still needed. Also, you have to ask the store to take the gift off of the registry. Looks like mom is the one who didn’t do that!

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Mary June 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm

“They don’t need a lot of toys and not too many clothes as long as you have 4 or 5 changes of clothes in each size,”

Have to disagree with this one. There were days with my kids where they went through 3 or 4 outfits! And you don’t always have the opportunity to do laundry every day with a baby. I say one needs at least 15 outfits in each size.
Of course, no one seemed to figure out when giving me gifts that giving me a 3-6 month outfit (with no gift receipt) for my 4 month old was not going to work. Most 4 month old babies are already in a 6-9 month size. At one point I counted and I had thirty eight 3-6 month outfits, none of which I purchased and at least one third were given when she was too big for them. Fortunately next child was also a girl also and we got to use all of those outfits!

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C.J. June 29, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Personally, I don’t mind registries. I’m 21, and trying to decide what to get anyone under 3 is a little daunting. I manage if there isn’t a registry, but if there is one, I use it. I will be using one when I have my first, but I will definitely pour back over these archives before I write my invites and choose what’s on my registry. On the other hand, registering seems so easy to mess up. If you put things on there that are too cheap, you look like you don’t trust people to get you a nice gift. If you put things on that are too expensive, you look like you expect people to spend a ton of money. If you put too little on, people won’t know what to get you. If you put too much on, you look greedy again. From reading the comments, I think anything can be perceived as rude, and it’s up to a person to follow their manners compass.

As far as the OP goes, it’s really hard to say who was rude. I highly doubt Daddy to be was rude when he explained the registry mixup. It seems more likely that people took his sheepishness the wrong way. And it seems a little petty to refuse future presents based on one faux pas, no matter who was at fault.

It’s really interesting how many different views on the subject of baby registries this post has brought out!

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stephanie June 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I think a lot of people have bought into the marketing from the profit driven baby industry.
Infants don’t require many things and I have two children.
I bought a sling and then a baby carrier when my infant was a couple of months old.
I breastfeed so don’t need to worry about bottles and so forth.
I bought second hand baby clothing.
I bought cloth nappies which I was able to use for two children. I use face washers as wipes. I found a standard backpack to be the best nappy (diaper) bag.
Safe co-sleeping means I don’t have to worry about a bed for my child until they’re ready for it. And that bed will last from pre-school age to teenager.
I bought two baby sleeping bags for newborn to 18 months of age.
An old towel on the floor makes a safe and practical change table.
My biggest expenses are on children’s books and quality toys which can be handed down.
All of this saves money but also lessens my impact on the environment.

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Sarah Jane June 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I think the OP blames her brother and his wife as part of her taking issue with their “disturbingly close” relationship to his in-laws. (Many people have the sort of relationship she describes with their parents/in-laws, and while I agree that it’s not for everyone, I wouldn’t characterize it as “disturbing”.)

If those were brother’s exact words in response to the gift, he should be ashamed of himself.

Yes, grandma went overboard, but as MaggiePrincess pointed out, any combination of people could have wiped out the registry before the shower with the same result. Something fell through with the system, and someone didn’t mark the stroller as already purchased.

OP, your gift to them was the stroller. You should be graciously thanked. Now let them decide what to do with it, whether they decide to exchange it, keep it as a spare (this happens), or re-gift it (this happens, too.)

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tara June 29, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Clearly MIL is wacko. My sister has a wacky MIL who does stuff like this but you have to realize that you have no control over it so you just let it go. Brother needs his head examined if that was his response to an expensive gift.

As for the suggestion to get something from your heart. This drives me CRAZY. I always buy from a registry because I would always rather get someone a gift they want. Unless you’re handing down a family heirloom, there’s really no reason to purchase anything else. In absence of this I would have purchased a gift card from somewhere that makes sense (ie. somewhere they can buy diapers or formula or bottles or oil for their car…who cares).

I almost certainly guarantee that what most people will give me, I will not like. I assume the same of everyone else. The thought is what counts, but if you really care about getting them something they will find useful (and isn’t that the point of a baby shower) don’t go off the reservation. I gave more tag on clothing, blankets, toys, etc to the goodwill because people don’t use good common sense.

If you don’t like the commercial nature of a shower, then write a heartfelt note to the mother to be and don’t give a gift at all.

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Bint June 30, 2011 at 3:14 am

@Jillybean and Lisa: nope, in my experience babies don’t need tons of stuff. I use cloth nappies, I breastfeed etc -Stephanie’s earlier post explained it better. If you *want* to buy tons of stuff fine, but *need* is different. Otherwise how would millions of people who are dirt poor manage to raise happy, healthy children without any help? YMMV but amongst my family and friends with children it’s not thought that babies need a lot, no.

@Yvaine: I didn’t say it was wrong. Please re-read. I said it was mad and to me it is just bonkers. I’m from a different country and whilst I understand the American idea of baby showers is entirely positive, I think it’s a whole new level of entitlement to make up a list of what you think people should buy your baby.

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The Elf June 30, 2011 at 6:18 am

For the record, I don’t like registries as a concept. The idea that someone is trying to tell me what to buy sets me teeth on edge. I do, however, find them useful. As I’ve gotten older and busier and far more likely to view picking out a present as a chore instead of something fun, buying off registry gives me a quick and easy way to give a gift. It’s also good for when the people in question are not my nearest and dearest, so I’m not sure what they want/need. Even if I have another plan, registries give me an idea of their taste and colors. So, I have a love/hate relationship with them.

But wedding/baby showers? Ugh. Not my favorite kinds of parties. I think they were more useful back in the day when those getting married and having their first child were likely to be young and just getting started in adult life. The idea of “showering” them with gifts made more sense. In my circle of friends, weddings and babies are happening to older people who can well afford their own stuff.

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JennJenn68 June 30, 2011 at 8:30 am

For people who don’t know what to buy for a newborn and dislike gift registries (as I do–half the stuff on them is completely unnecessary but the parents-to-be don’t know that yet because they haven’t actually had a child!) I have a suggestion–for the baby, “receiving blankets” by the gross (dear Lord, I needed them all over the house and went through them by the laundry load in record time!!!) and, for the parents, gift cards for pizza delivery places because there will be a LOT of times in the first few weeks when everyone will be too exhausted to cook and/or go pick up something from a takeout place. (Pizza can be eaten one-handed. VERY IMPORTANT! My son was twelve pounds at birth and grew at almost an exponential rate and was one of those babies that screamed unless walked and carried constantly. As it is, my left bicep is still markedly larger than my right even though I’m right-handed–and my son is now twelve.)

Gift registries used to be a boon for those that wanted to avoid giving twenty-five blenders, but they’ve spiralled out of control and become the last haven of gimme pigs. I ignore them now. Too bad; it was supposed to be a way to make life easier for those who want to be generous.

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majuba June 30, 2011 at 9:50 am

When one of my mum’s friends was having a baby my mum decided to be a little different and create a Daddy Pack. It was the friend’s second (she had a teenage boy from a first marriage) but her hubby’s first and mum figured that all the gifts would be focussed on on mum and bub. The new dad was absolutely thrilled about the impending arrival.

The Daddy Pack had funny items like;
* snorkel and goggles for nappy change time
* extra long BBQ tongs to carry those nasty nappys to the bin
* extra long plastic gloves for nappy time (my father was a vet – they’re the sort used for pregnancy testing cows and go right to the shoulder)
* bottle of scotch labelled “GRIPE WATER – for adult use only)
* Some of those candies shaped like a dummy (pacifier).
* Industrial earmuffs
* vouchers for babysitting service
* I added a voucher stating that we would ‘sit and listen to him boast about the baby for 1 hour without; falling asleep, begging for mercy, being ill or running screaming from the room’.

you can make it as silly or as serious as you like. He was delighted with the pack and she (mum-to-be) thought it was hysterical!!

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airlinepass June 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

@Sharon. Thank you for that sweet reminder. We sometimes forget how precious life is.

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Wink-n-Smile June 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

That’s a good point about the registries providing you with a discount, after the event. I’ve always been against registries, as I believe they bring out the greed-monster. However, I like lists, because I have a poor memory. Therefore, and because of the discount, I think the best thing to do is register for everything you need and want, and then just don’t tell anyone about it.

After your party is over, you can see what you have, delete those items from the registry, and then buy the rest at a discount. And you’re sure you got everything you planned for, because of the nice little checklist. Yay!

I rarely buy off a registry. If it’s a work-sponsored shower and I’m not really close to the person, but feel the need to attend, I either do the diaper/bib/cloths route (for babies) or the bath-basket route for brides, or else I shop off the registry. If I actually know the person well, and care about them, I care about the gift, too, and enjoy putting some thought into it.

I must admit, however, that when babies are involved, I really enjoy looking at all the cute little clothes, and cooing over imaginary babies in the cute little clothes, and sometimes I give clothes instead of diapers. It depends on the store layout. If I reach the diapers first, I grab them and go. If I hit the clothes first, I spend an hour cooing, grab a few, and then grab the diapers. Some parents just luck out that way.

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Chocobo June 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I agree with OP that this is really weird, but also with the Admin that it isn’t the gift recipients’ fault. Although from the wording in the story, the parents-to-be didn’t seem to be very gracious. They should have opened the gift, exclaimed over it, wrote their thank-you letters, and then returned it for something else.
I disagree with the use of baby registries. Wedding registries I think you could make a case for, because of the china and silver, etc. But for babies I don’t think the registry is necessary — it’s no big deal to get multiples of burps cloths, bibs, and onesies. You can never have too many.

I understand that baby furniture is expensive, but I feel that is really up to the parents to provide. I can’t help but feel irked that when someone has a child, the prevailing thought is that your friends and family should buy the pricey basics — cribs, tubs, changing tables, strollers. Parents should really be getting that themselves. Half of them aren’t even necessary. I was bathed as an infant in the kitchen sink, and the same buggy was used for all of my siblings. When I have children I will be fetching the crib I once slept in from my mothers’ attic.

I realize not all babies are planned and sometimes parents aren’t financially prepared when Little Moppet comes along, but still… other people should not be expected to buy the nursery. It takes away from the generosity of it all when Great-Grandma shows up with a beautiful new rocking chair if you expected to get it from her.

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ladycrim June 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Miss Jeanne, the baby motorcycle is adorable! Congratulations on your impending grandmotherhood!

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Enna July 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

I just wonder what Bint meant by “tons” of stuff. If she meant in the same way that some wedding registeries are too expensive or too extragagante or too demarnding or too long and then the couple get upset that they don’t get EVERYTHING on the list. I don’t have children myself but I could imgine they need more then a few but less then lots and lots – somewhere nicely in the middle.

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Echo July 1, 2011 at 11:36 pm

I dont’t understand why living in the same neighbourhood as your mother and talking to her several times a day counts as ‘disturbingly close’.

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Cat July 2, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I am with the anti-registry folks. I never give anyone a present that they will someday discard unless they are male and then it’s always food.( You get something from me and you’ll be hauling it around every time you move.) For babies: baby books. Tiffany rattles, Tiffany toddler sets of china. For men: something he will eat like steaks/barbeque ribs/etc. from a prime meat butcher (unless he’s a vegetarian). For ladies: sterling silver/semiprecious stones jewelry. For little girls: jewelry box that plays music, and then jewelry like cultured pearls on chains. Boys: day trips to local theme parks.

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Jillybean July 3, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Cat – but your assumption that people will haul your gifts from move to move for the rest of their lives is based on your tastes and how great you think the gift is. I’m sure you give lovely gifts, but take your Tiffany toddler china for instance, as lovely as it is, a) I would view that as a huge waste of money (though if you were my friend and gifted that to me, I would accept it graciously and thank you kindly for it), and b) assuming it didn’t get broken at some point, I still don’t see myself keeping it for life, though out of guilt at your expense, I might, but it would likely end up in some box never to be seen again. I don’t have china for myself (don’t care for it), so china for my toddler (to me) seems absurd.

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Enna July 4, 2011 at 5:03 am

@ Danielle, I think most people do sympathise with the OP about the MIL clearing the resgistery but not blaming it on her brother and SIL.

As for those who critise the OP about mentioning how SIL is “disgustingly close” to her MIL, we don’t know the way in which the two behave to each other. I had one firend at secondary school who was very high maintaince (needless to say we drifted apart) because she was very immature for her age, her parents and brought her up to be a constant 5 year old. She was hard work e.g. screaming at silly things like a little girl and this was at the ages of 14 and 15. It could be useful to know what the OP means by “disgustingly close”.

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Meh July 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I’m glad the mom to be found it funny but I would have found the Daddy Pack a bit sexist. I know it’s a cute gag but, if I can be humourless for a moment: I’m trying not to cultivate different expectations for my husband and myself as first time parents to be. He needs a snorkel to change a diaper and I should just suck it up? No thanks.

It would have been cute as a ‘parent pack’!

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Kai July 16, 2011 at 10:28 am

I’m normally not one of those posters who question the OP’s motives and speculate that they are the problem, but in this case I will speculate.

I get the impression that the OP just really does not like her SIL and will find anything she can to pick on her SIL. The snotty comment about the SIL being ‘disturbingly close’ to her mother is what started it for me. Really, why is it this woman’s business what someone else’s relationship with their mother is? Is it somehow wrong for a person to talk regularly to their mother? Is it somehow wrong to decide to live in the same neighbourhood as her mother? Going by that logic, the OP must not care about her family for her to choose to move halfway across the country from them? Really it is ridiculous and the OP has no business criticizing her SIL for apparently having a great relationship with her mum.

Nor should she criticize her SIL for what her mother did. Again the snotty little comment that the mother did it because she was worried that her daughter wouldn’t get enough shows the OP will instantly turn this into a criticism of her SIL rather than criticizing the mother.

I also don’t think it’s fair to assume the mother did this to show anyone up or to make sure her little darling is spoilt. I suspect she is a little excitable and over reacted over her first grandchild. Hopefully she will grow out of this and not spoil the kid rotten or annoy others with her behaviour. I would put it down for now as just over excitement.

Now if my feeling on the OP is correct, then maybe her brother wasn’t quite as rude as she makes out (afterall, remember she heard what her brother said second hand as well). Maybe his mother was being pushy about opening up the gift (afterall, if SIL’s mother is pushy, it’s not unreasonable to ask if maybe the other mother is too?) and he ended up admitting why he wouldn’t. He may even have been embarrassed and annoyed with his MIL and let that show through by the slipped out comment.

As others have pointed out, if the OP were only going to buy expensive plane tickets to watch her SIL open a present, then she has her priorities wrong. You go see your family because you love and care for them.

Another poster pointed out not giving a gift shouldn’t be classed as punishment because gifts should be freely given, which I agree with. I think the ‘punishment’ here is that the OP has chosen to think negatively of her SIL (and possibly the poor niece/nephew) because of what the mother did.

Now OP if I am genuinely wrong here, then I’m sorry because I know how tough family can be and how much of a pain it can be to have a childish family member. But the way you have written your letter does make it sound like you just dislike her, so maybe next time give more examples of the problematic behaviour other than just that she is close to her mother.

As for the admin, congratulations on your first grandchild! And that little diaper-bike is adorable =)

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See August 7, 2011 at 2:33 am

I went to a babyshower unexpectedly and bought what I could get off the registry. I was told the day before I was going by a friend who didn’t want to go alone and I had spent money already so I didn’t have much funds. I didn’t mind going because I knew the mom to be and when my friend tried to use me as an excuse not to go they said to bring me along lol.

I’m the only one who got her anything off the list and the shower was a disaster from beginning to end. Yeah my friends pregnant and I hope to (cross fingers) throw her a shower where these same people will probably be invited. I hope to show them how to enjoy a shower without the drama. Yeah it was drama from begining to end. I ended up with two cheap prizes because someone who wasn’t even invited showed up and won a game after me. She took the prize intended for me and my game because I couldn’t get to it first and though i already had the other gift. It was a necklace and earring set with lip gloss. Yeah you buy that stuff at the dollar store and actually saw them there. I can’t wear earrings unless they’re real gold or silver because I’m allergic to most of the stuff in the cheap jewelry. My ears swell, turn red and puss filled. I shall hope uninvited guest (friends ex almost sister in law) doesn’t show up because I can’t stand her and there’s no way I’d invite her.

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Mary August 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm

As someone who recently got married, I do kind of understand why all of you guys are hating on registries. We were both professionals, we’ve owned our apartment for the last few years and we don’t have a lot of storage space (or a kitchen/dining room table). I also felt queasy asking people to buy me gifts, but now that I’m at the other end of things, it really makes it easy on everyone. You want to get people a gift, you know they’ll like whatever you give them because it’s something that they asked for and you don’t have to even go in a store, wrap or “meet” the gift if you don’t want to. If you don’t want to play along, cash is awesome and gift cards are also easy and welcome — even if you miss and get your vegan cousin a gift card to a steak shop, they’re all easy to sell or trade online these days.

We had a short registry (50 items) because I just couldn’t come up with things that I wanted, and we later had a post-wedding party thrown by my father-in-law and step-mother-in-law. We were kind of gifted out, so while we said we didn’t want anything and told anyone who insisted that we were planning on renovating our kitchen and would love cash to help, it didn’t really matter and we ended up with a lot of things that just made no sense to us. They were lovely and everyone got a thank you note within two days (that was our rule), but we seriously got 12 vases, a bunch of picture frames and a set of pocket watch shaped clocks. I wish I’d just made up a registry from some store that was easy to return things to. Instead, I ran around town for two weekends to a lot of fancy stores that generous old people like to frequent. Only one store had a terrible return policy (they needed to know the gifter’s name and the store where the item was purchased from for internal accounting issues. Ugh!), but really, I wanted to spend the first month of my married life being married and enjoying a break from all the wedding planning, not running errands or staring at a pile of boxes.

Now that I’m on the other side of things, while I understand that people want to make a splash and buy something amazing, a wedding or baby gift isn’t really about your relationship with the giftee the way a birthday present is. It’s about the community gathering around and supporting a new couple or a new baby. It’s lovely that you’re contributing, but your specific gift is likely to get lost in the haul. I know that we wrote all sorts of things like “We love our new skillet! I promise to think of you every time I use it!”, but I really don’t remember who gave me which skillet. I do remember who gave me the absolutely best things (cat shark sweater!) and who gave me the absolutely worst things (potentially racist painting!) and I remember the family drama, but mostly I just remember that even though I didn’t expect it or even want it, everyone pitched in and gave me a bunch of cool, useful stuff and enough cash money that we can redo our crappy, stick-on-tile kitchen.

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Sunshine April 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Why is it “disturbing” that they talk to each other five times a day. I live in another state and call my mother about as much.

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claire November 3, 2012 at 2:00 am

Actually I disagree with admin on this situation. I don’t believe that the daughter was unaware of what was going on, especially as their relationship was so close.

However, we are at one on the registry argument in that I too are not eager to buy from them. However, I do understand their role. However, I have been to two weddings recently where the bride and groom cut out all registry options except for gift certificates from the store.

To me, this is the same as asking for cash and I think asking for money is disrespectful. There are two exceptions; if you are giving to a family member or if there is a strong cultural expectation. Even in those cases though, I would not personally give money.

Those who argue that it is the only choice for those who have been married before or who have already set up house with their partner are absolutely wrong. There is a choice and that is what I did when I married after we had been living together for some time; and that choice should be worded on the invitation as follows:

“No gifts please; making it down is good enough”.

I think that it should be appreciated that going to a wedding or similar event is often expensive especially if it includes a hotel stay

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