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 }

Flora June 29, 2011 at 9:13 am

I’m with the ehelldame on this one. Your brother can’t control his mother-in-law. I’d also like to know if this is her (mother-in-law’s) first grandchild. Because it sounds like she just got a little over excited. And, to be honest, as far as grandparent fau-paux, this one strikes me as pretty minor.

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DGS June 29, 2011 at 9:15 am

Quite frankly, I don’t see where SIL committed any kind of a faux pas, and it sounds like the OP is very angry and perhaps, a bit jealous, at both the SIL’s closeness with her parents (what’s the big deal about talking on the phone to your parents several times a day? In certain cultures, that constitutes appropriate closeness, not enmeshment, provided that the parents do not violate boundaries and vice versa) and also at the fact that the SIL got all the gifts that she had registered for, even if it were from her parents. Was this a first grandchild for SIL’s parents? Perhaps, they were just enthusiastic about the baby and went a bit overboard with spoiling their future granddaughter or grandson. Did anyone make fun/diminish/act inappropriately toward the OP and the other SIL and their gift? The brother does not sound like he handled that well; he should have simply said ‘thank you’ and returned the travel system quietly for store credit, but this certainly does not warranty de-gifting, huffiness and general in-family pot-stirring!

And so what if there is nothing on the registry? A pack of diapers and a set of receiving blankets or gowns or onesies or bibs, or a picture frame for a photo of the new arrival, or a giftcard to a baby store, or some children’s books, or a basket of bath accoutrements for the expectant Mom all make great shower gifts, whether they are or are not on the registry.

And finally, the whole “I’m going to think long and hard about getting them any presents in the future” statement is a bit out of line – they do not sound like gimme pigs, and why would you punish a niece or a nephew that has not yet even been born because you think the child’s maternal grandparents are a bit excessive? Methinks, OP needs to work a bit on the animosity towards her brother and SIL and SIL’s parents.

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acr June 29, 2011 at 9:16 am

“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.”

That’s where the brother was wrong. He should have graciously thanked them for the gift, even if he had 6 of them at home!

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Lizajane June 29, 2011 at 9:23 am

Your family should prepare yourselves, especially your parents. You will never be able to buy this child anything he/she doesn’t already have without EXTREME creativity and secrecy. All the hot toys for Christmas will be bought by this grandmother. The Easter baskets will be like a red carpet swag bag. We have one of these in our family and actually, the rest of us think she makes a fool of herself, as do her now grown grandchildren.

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Saucygirl June 29, 2011 at 9:23 am

I agree with admin. It isn’t your brothers fault what someone else did. And shouldn’t the reason you buy an “expensive plane ticket” be because you want to see your mom, brother and sister on laws? Not because you want them to heap praise on you for spending a couple hundred dollars on a gift?

I will say though, that since it seems that the expectant parents were aware of what her parents did (since they had already received the stroller) they could have added a few more items to the registry as a courtesy. My mil did the same thing – wiped out my registry the day before my family and friends baby shower. She didn’t realize my coworkers were throwing me another shower a few weeks later. A few mentioned the “problem” to me and I added more stuff. Not to sound like a gimme pig, but there is always stuff to add for a baby.

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Lizza June 29, 2011 at 9:43 am

I agree with the admin here – it’s not their fault the mother went out and bought everything. In the future, I would suggest they do two registries or give out two separate lists: one for mom, one for everyone else with different/more stuff on it. That’s what my family does at Christmas, to avoid duplicate gifts. I would hope that your brother and SIL were gracious about saying they already had the carseat, though, and weren’t just like, “Nope, already got one, give us something else!”

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Ticia June 29, 2011 at 9:53 am

“My mom told my brother to open the stroller/carseat first, but he said, no, we can’t because we already have one.”

I’m assuming that this is after the stroller/carseat has been unwrapped. I think mom wanted the brother to take the stroller/carseat out of the box, which would have made it harder to return. So brother *had* to explain why he couldn’t open the box?

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whiskeytangofoxtrot June 29, 2011 at 9:53 am

I’d just return the gift and give them a gift certificate instead. They’ll always need diapers, etc. later, anyway.

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Stepmomster June 29, 2011 at 9:55 am

Why didn’t you just let them keep the gift and exchange it for something they needed later? With a baby Extra is never enough. Also, you didn’t buy the gift a month ago, you bought it a few days before…that seems really short notice to be this upset.

I’m sorry, this sounds like extreme disappointment that your gift didn’t take center stage for importance. The level of bitterness seems really weird to me. Had I been in that situation I would have said something like “Wow that’s wonderful! guess we both have the same taste” and leave it at that. No mention of exchanges, discussions about cost of the item or anything. You could have used that as a bonding moment between you and the rest of the family for your similar tastes.

Lets be blunt here. That baby is going to grow so fast that there will be many items the child doesn’t even get to use, due to extras, wrong size, or just plain forgot about it in the bottom drawer. Once that parent gets the gift, its theirs to do with what they wish. You never know, new mommy could be thrilled that she can exchange a stroller later for a bunch of formula, diapers or clothing for herself due to her changing body. Also… That is why there is a registry, why didn’t SIL check that off the list and call momma to tell her she got the gift? My sister/Mom/Aunts all talk before we buy things, so we don’t overlap in the same family.

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Enna June 29, 2011 at 9:57 am

OP, I do think Admin is right here. Your B and SIL have no control over B’s MIL’s actions. I wouldn’t punish them, they weren’t being gimmie pigs or gift grabby. Maybe have a word with your B and SIL that you were surprsied and confsued at MIL’s actions – is it MIL’s first grandchild?

Maybe she’s just had FGS – Future Grandparet Shock and went on a spending spree. After all a knew addition to the family can be very stressful. MIL has brought up her children years ago and might be a bit out of touch when it comes to new baby stuff, e.g new toys, new guidence, new health etc etc things that change from generation to geneation. It might be a strange way of her showing love for her future grandchild. She may not understand the principal of the registry – e.g. if’s it on the internet and sometimes the older generation can get confused with it. A couple of computer lessons and computer ettiqute lessons might turn MIL from computer blunder to sliver surfer. You can make the point that clearing the list AFTER the Shower would be more efficent.

Hopefully if you have a loving chat with your brother and SIL, they will be able to have a chat with MIL that some people maybe planning on buying things CLOSER to the date e.g. saving up money, waiting for pay day etc and if gifts get duplicated it can be embrassing for the recipant as well as the gift giver. If you were in your brother’s poisiton would you like it if a sibling diecided not to bother because of a parent-in-law’s actions? If MIL doesn’t change her behaviour and insists on spoling her grandchild then ask you Brother and SIL to leave of gifts from the list in future so other family members get a chance.

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Enna June 29, 2011 at 10:03 am

I think if I had duplicated a gift to someone, e.g giving them what they already had, I’d much rather they be honest and say they already have one and want to change it: I could get it exchanged or if they exchanged it for something else then at least I know they would have got something. It does depend on tone and manners. Maybe the Brother is just under pressure a bit with an expectant wife – I don’t think he wanted to embrasse or be rude to anyone.

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The Elf June 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

Brother’s comment was a little tacky, though. It would have been better just to have thanked them for the present, say it is just what they wanted (since it was on their registry, that’s a true statement), and quietly returned it later.

If Mom asked him to open it, he could have deferred, saying they don’t want to assemble something in the middle of the party. Only if he was continued to be pressured (which is another problem), then should he have said that someone already had given them one and they assembled it already and I guess there was a mixup on the registry but thank you very much for thinking of us in that way. Always turn it back to the thanks.

I’m kinda puzzled about SIL’s mom buying everything on the registry a week before. Seems pre-emptive, but whatever. I guess she was just over-excited. It’s not really a faux-pas as much as just weird. And the talking multiple times a day? Eh, whatever works for them, but I do find it oddly close. There isn’t anyone I call five times a day, even my husband. When we’re separated on business trips or whatever, we usually call each other once in the evening to chat and maybe once during the day if something we need something or the cats did something exceptionally cute. I mean, I just don’t see how the minutia of life needs to be discussed, but that might be just me.

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Snowy June 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

By saying you wouldn’t pay to see them open a gift they already have, YOU are making it all about the gifts. The highest priority in a shower *should* be to celebrate the pending baby, and while finding out your present was redundant would be a disappointment, it shouldn’t prevent you from being a part of the celebration.

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Hemi Halliwell June 29, 2011 at 10:06 am

I have to agree with admin- I would not punish brother & SIL (or niece or nephew) because MIL & FIL jumped the gun about the registry.
I do not understand why the MIL & FIL thought every single item on the registry had to be purchased or their daughter would feel slighted? If she was going to feel slighted because she did not get every item registered for, that sounds like an entitlement issue.
I think a fair number of people wait until a few days before the event to purchase registery items. If they wanted her to get all items she registered for, why not wait until after the shower to see what things had been purchased?

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Quieas June 29, 2011 at 10:15 am

I don’t have anything to write about the entry besides it being extremely thoughtless.

I do want to write that Admin’s gift is simply adorable! :)

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Lizajane June 29, 2011 at 10:16 am

Lizza,
Half of the point of a registry is so that you don’t get duplicates. So because the grandmother to be can’t control herself, you’re suggesting they do two registries and not tell her about one? That may be the only solution for the future, but it still irritates.

I realize that my own experience is coloring my attitude here, but what this grandmother may have effectively done is say, “I don’t trust anyone else (not even my grandchild’s other grandmother) to buy a suitable gift for my grandchild.” Feelings are bound to be hurt. I only hope it is just exhuberance for a new grandchild and not a life long pattern. This alone will probably be hard for the OPs mother to ever forget.

And yes, the brother was rude.

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Hemi Halliwell June 29, 2011 at 10:23 am

Admin- your gift is very creative and cute! Thanks for including the instructions! One of the ladies I work with and her husband are avid motorcycle enthusiasts and this would be a perfect gift idea for their shower.

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Serenity June 29, 2011 at 10:24 am

I agree with Admin. OP sounds quite young and immature. She should not blame SIL1 or her brother for someone else’s actions. I am sure the grandmother did not intend to make others feel slighted, but was just over-excited about her new grandchild as well. I do agree that OP’s brother could have handled the situation more tactfully though.

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Just trying June 29, 2011 at 10:27 am

This story illustrates what I consider to be a problem with extensive registries. There was a time when people registered only for Expensive Things That Come In Sets (wedding china, eg). The gift-giver could (1) purchase off the registry to help complete the set, (2) buy something else or (3) give cash.

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.

The OP in this story was put in an awkward situation, I agree. However, there is no need to withold gifts from the baby / toddler/ child / teenager in the future. Just buy something you think the Little Darling might enjoy and forget about competing with Grandma.

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Timelady June 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

I wonder if it’s perhaps the tone in which the refusal was given? It sounds like OP’s brother brushed it off as not important. “We don’t want that – we already have one so nyeh”. (Okay, perhaps the ‘nyeh’ might be a bit over-the-top but I can’t find a better way of phrasing over text)

If this is the case, surely he could have phrased it better? “Thank you ever so much! But I’m really sorry, we’ve been given one of those already. Would it be possible to exchange it for XYZ item(s) instead?”

Maybe I’m being too British about it…

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Teapot June 29, 2011 at 10:41 am

@Lizajane–
You’re so right about the MIL always having to outdo everyone else. My brother’s MIL is the same way. I always feel so bad for my mother, who was actually called “other grandma” by my nephew when he was about 3. Christmas is especially tough. When we all get together for Thanksgiving, she brags that all of her shopping is done and wrapped and acts shocked that my mom hasn’t even begun. (After 25+ years of this, it’s getting old!) What she fails to mention is that she hands my SIL a check, tells her to get the kids the things they want the most, buy them and WRAP them and write her name on the gift tags.

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J's Mama June 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

The only faux pas from this story, that I can see, is the brother mentioning that they already had one at home. He should have thanked the gift givers, and then quietly returned the item. We had a similar situation where we got two swings and bouncy seats. I returned the duplicates, and then used the store credit for things I know I would need like diapers, formula, wipes, baby soap etc.

Honestly, I don’t get why people get bent out of shape about baby shower gifts. They’re for the baby – not mom and dad. If all else fails get the baby a cute book, picture frame, or something engraved with the baby’s name. Some of the best gifts I received, did not come from my registry, but rather from the heart. I appreciated that they thought so highly of our baby that they wanted to find a gift just for him.

And last, a registry should be used for IDEAS. They are not the be all end of giving a gift.

Ehelldame, that baby shower gift is adorable!

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Wink-n-Smile June 29, 2011 at 10:52 am

I’m boring – I just give a big package of diapers. Sometimes I get them in newborn size, and sometimes a size or two larger, because they grow so quickly. But babies *always* need more diapers.

Oddly enough, the mothers have always been thrilled to receive them, whether or not they were cute, or even wrapped. Maybe I just have more polite friends.

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BB-VA June 29, 2011 at 11:01 am

Would this couple welcome an off-registry gift? There are some who get highly offended if they receive gifts of that sort, and I have a feeling this couple might be one of them.

That said, when I buy for baby showers, I try to get things for an older baby. Everybody gets the tiny things, but they get outgrown WAY too fast (my daughter never got to wear some of the clothing she was given). I tend to look at larger, off-season garments, and also diapers and other expendables.

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Butterfly June 29, 2011 at 11:12 am

Yeah, this is exactly why I knit for babies. You can never have too many cotton washcloths or clean blankets for a baby (and if I get rude responses to my handmade gift, it just helps me pare down my “knitworthy” list).

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Aje June 29, 2011 at 11:13 am

I like everyone’s comments here, and I appreciate it. I myself am young and single, and would probably feel the same way as OP because I don’t know what it is to have children… I don’t know that extra is always good or that an exchange for baby diapers and formula is super… or that maybe they’ll end up having twins and it’ll be perfect! This is why I love this site. I’m young and I don’t know all the particulars of weddings and such. Now I’m prepared for the future!

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Louise June 29, 2011 at 11:13 am

“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.”

OP, is this an exact quote, or did you paraphrase? If the brother responded this tersely, I would say that’s rude just because of the abrupt tone in response to a gift; however, if he really said, “No, mom, we can’t open this stroller because we already have one fully assembled at home. We got it a week ago,” I don’t think that’s rude. I assume he wouldn’t want to assemble the stroller you gave because he plans to return it.

I see a lot of behaviour here I don’t understand, but I don’t see any rudeness. It isn’t rude to live in your mother’s neighbourhood and call her five times a day. I don’t think it’s rude to buy up the remaining items on the registry a week before a shower — and if it is, it’s not rude for brother and SIL to accept those gifts. It’s not rude to want to return a gift you already have.

OP, I’m sorry that your gift was rejected. I’m sure you were looking forward to hearing about your family’s excitement and wanted to get them something they would really appreciate. I would have felt disappointed, too. But please don’t let that colour your relationship with your brother and SIL; they can’t help what MIL does.

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Bint June 29, 2011 at 11:15 am

A registry for a baby? Good lord. This story is just mad on so many levels – being angry at having the registry wiped out, having one to start with, the GPs wiping it out, people suggesting you add even more stuff to it.

Babies don’t need tons of stuff.

What a circus. Although I love the motorbike present and yes, I think the OP is being bonkers to blame the couple for her parents’ over-enthusiasm.

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Ashley June 29, 2011 at 11:22 am

I don’t understand why Brother and SIL should be punished for something her mother did. Not their fault that mom went out and bought everything. The ONLY faux-pas I see here is that brother should have accepted the stroller graciously and not mentioned already having one, then returned it at a later date. These things happen, sometimes you wind up with multiples of a gift if things are not taken off the registry properly or if someone doesn’t double check the registry before buying. And as for what to buy babies and saying “oh, there is nothing left on the registry” for those late shoppers? Trust me, babies are NOT that hard to buy for. You can NEVER have enough burp cloths or onsies, and you KNOW that baby is going to grow and need clothes in the future, so you could even go out and buy outfits for quite a few months down the line.

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SV June 29, 2011 at 11:30 am

I don’t tend to buy off registries because I frankly find the idea of someone else is tellng me what to get and how much money to spend a little tacky. I can understand the OP’s disappointment about choosing an expensive and elaborate gift and having it dismissed, but it doesn’t sound like it was the brother’s fault. Perhaps he sounded terse because he was annoyed at his mother in law for buying the entire registry and he did not want to discuss it in public. Regardless, there’s not much to do here but accept the fact that gift giving for your new neice or nephew is going to take some creative thinking in the future!

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Pixie June 29, 2011 at 11:33 am

I don’t understand why she is so upset. Yes, it is a little embarrassing, but it happens. No one did anything wrong. And who cares that she is that close to her mother. None of your business, OP. If her husband takes issue with the relationship between his wife and her mother then that is something that should be addressed between themselves behind closed doors. It doesn’t involve you or the rest of the story.

I am more curious as to why the registry wasn’t updated after the SIL’s mom bought everything. It sounds like this is an issue that needs to be taken up with whoever the registry is through, not your SIL and her mother. And in case you didn’t know, it is not uncommon for expecting Grandparents to want to do a great deal of splurging for their future grandchild.

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A June 29, 2011 at 11:45 am

I agree that SIL1 didn’t commit any faux paux. Also, it sounds like SIL2 purchased the stroller/car seat AFTER the grandparents bought the remaining gifts on the registry. Why didn’t she check the registry before buying it? If she could see that the item was purchased then that’s her mistake.

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Doris Day June 29, 2011 at 11:52 am

sounds to me that this a cleear case of gramma wanting not only the spotlight, but the entire stage.people love to think that thier gift is the best one and gramma went ahead to assure that the gifts were all about her and her alone.someone is an attention glutton.

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Yvaine June 29, 2011 at 11:53 am

Bint,

How is it wrong to have a registry for a baby shower?

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Lisa June 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

@Bint – A baby registry isn’t at all unusual. And babies DO need tons of stuff.

The Grandma does sound a little over-enthusiastic but it isn’t the fault of the parents-to-be. Threatening to never buy them a gift ever again seems a little OTT. So they got a duplicate gift… give them the receipt and let them exchange it. And in the future, nothing says you HAVE to buy from the registry. There are tons of other gift options!

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Jillybean June 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm

@ Bint – babies don’t need tons of stuff?! Since when? They might not need tons of toys or fancy crap, but they need tons of basics.

@ Butterfly – I think homemade gifts are the best. I was recently helping a friend make a diaper wreathe for her husband’s brother and SIL. The husband’s mother (my friend’s MIL) said she was making them a knit blanket. She showed it to me and it was DEVINE! But…during a conversation the DIL’s mother said to her, “All you’re giving them is a blanket?” Ugh! She was so offended.

@Admin – adorable bike. I love making gifts like that so that they can be unassembled and useful. I also love taking one item from a registry (when I use them at all) and building a gift basket or such around a theme.

As for the story, well, I think everyone else has pretty much covered my thoughts, and while the brother probably shouldn’t have mentioned it, my guess is they said thank you when they unwrapped it and only commented further when they were encouraged to open the box (which – why would you do that at a shower anyway?). But my question is this – if the registry was wiped out a week before, how did the OP end up buying something that was already purchased? Did she not check the registry immediately before buying? I’m confused on that aspect.

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--Lia June 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm

My favorite meaningful gift for a baby is a home made quilt, but those are special and require planning. My 2nd favorite meaningful gift for a baby, and one that’s unlikely to be duplicated: Hardcover books of children’s classics, ones that are way over the baby’s reading and comprehension level. Get a full set of Harry Potter or Grimm’s Fairy Tales or something you loved as a child. The books sit on the shelf. Maybe the parent tries reading them to the kid when they’re too young to understand. And then someday 10 years later, your gift gets pulled down and changes the child’s life.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson June 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Gifts don’t have to be expensive or off the registry. The last shower I was invited to, I was a bit strapped for cash so I bought a set of matching lavender baby toiletries (it’s supposed to help them sleep), put them in a lovely box with lavender tissue paper, and instead of using crumpled paper to pack it all in, used dried lavender buds out of my own garden. It was greatly appreciated by the mom-to-be.

And yes, there was a ‘diaper cake’ centerpiece. But there’s something about making little sculptures out of diapers — even adorable little sculptures like Madam Admin’s — that creeps me out. Everyone is going to be touching and poking at it to try and figure out how it’s made, and they’ll have been eating finger foods at the party. And then you’re going to wrap that around a newborn baby’s tenderest parts? Shudder…

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Jay June 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Don’t registry places track what’s been bought? It certainly seems that way, since Neighbor1 said that there was nothing left on the registry to buy. So… that means that SIL2 bought them an expensive stroller that had already been marked “bought” on the registry. I’m not sure there should’ve been a lot of surprise that they already had the same item at home! Self-inflicted drama.

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Xtina June 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm

That is kind of odd that the grandparents-to-be went out and bought every single remaining thing off the registry–I’d say that’s just a case of over-excited grandparents. If they wanted to do a big sweep of getting the grandchild everything that was left, they should have done so after the shower was over to pick up any items that they still needed.

I think the OP is being a little over-dramatic complaining about this–yes, it’s weird, but that’s about all I’d call it; hardly a massive faux pas, and to blame SIL and brother for the actions of someone else is wrong, even if you think that the relationship between the aforementioned parties is weird (and it sounds like the OP has a bit of a problem with that, too). I’d hardly make that a reason to consider crossing them off my gift list in the future.

My brother’s parents-in-law are the overbuying type, too, and it drives my parents crazy, because there is nothing left for them to give their grandchild as a gift since the PILs have already bought everything under the sun. Plus, the more they spoil that child, the less she seems to appreciate anything that anyone else gives her.

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Miss Raven June 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I’m kind of torn on this one. I agree that Brother could have handled things better but that he and SIL shouldn’t be punished for her parents being nutty. That said, SIL’s parents ARE, in fact, nutty. A week before the shower?? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve realised I only have a few days to get a gift for something like this and run to the store… there’s nothing inherently rude about accidentally waiting until the last minute. No one has to know but you.

Unless an overzealous control-freak runs out and buys every single item off the registry. First of all, it shows an alarming lack of trust in the other people in your daughter’s life. Second of all, it robs others of the opportunity to get the mom-to-be exactly what she wants. Third of all, it may rob some (like the OP and her family) of the warm fuzzies you get when a recipient opens your gift and love-love-loves it. And fourth, it’s sort of disgusting in a material sense. Each person at the shower brought a gift and a pack of diapers, while Grandma brought… literally every other item on the registry. Ew. It’s almost obscene.

I agree with others that the OP is going to have to get MAD creative for upcoming gift-giving occasions in the life of little Niecephew. His other Grandma is going to get in first and buy everything s/he specifically wants because she doesn’t want her little darling to have to go without one single thing and she’s too much of a control freak to leave it up to the other loving people in his life. I would definitely talk to SIL (who very well could have been blindsided by the whole thing) and gently tell her your feelings. She may have some insight or be able to say something to her mom. But definitely wait until a calm moment! She may not have a lot of them to spare what with the business or bringing a baby into the world.

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Library Diva June 29, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I also don’t get the tone of outrage here from the OP. Maybe what her in-laws did was a little unusual, and certainly presented a headache for last-minute gift purchasers, but it’s not her brother and SIL’s fault. They can’t control what other people do. To say that they didn’t appreciate the gift and that she’s never ever buying them or the child anything ever again is a bit much, to say the least. It’s unfortunate that someone else purchased the same thing you did, but they didn’t do it just to hurt you. Your brother could have been a little classier, but maybe your mom and SIL could have also been, too. “Open this one first?” Who does that? I can’t believe I’m suggesting this, but if you take this much offense to the way your gifts are received, maybe in the future, it would be better if you stuck to cash, always useful, always welcome, and doesn’t matter if someone else gives it too.

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Mary June 29, 2011 at 12:50 pm

“OP, I do think Admin is right here. Your B and SIL have no control over B’s MIL’s actions. I wouldn’t punish them, they weren’t being gimmie pigs or gift grabby.”

I agree with this theory. They didn’t do anything wrong.

I never buy off baby registries. Every person who has a baby gets the same gift from me. A Halo Sleep Sack (my all time favorite baby product) and a copy of my favorite children’s book.

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karma June 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I can understand the frustration of the OP as she and SIL2 put out time and money to buy a super-nice gift off the registry. What I don’t understand is how the registry got “cleaned out” yet was not marked as being cleaned out. When you buy registry items and go through the checkout, cashiers can use the scanner to deduct the items from the inventory wishlist on the registry. That makes me think that either MIL and FIL didn’t have their purchases scanned out of the registry (but then the neighbor would have found lots of open items still on the list), or the OP and her SIL2 didn’t check the updated registry and perhaps used an older printout.
This is indeed one reason I hate registries. It forces people like me to only buy from the store the recipient is registered at (knowing I could buy it for less at Amazon AND ship it for free). If I don’t buy it there and have it marked as purchased, I’m screwing up the wishlist inventory for others and duplicates will occur.
I don’t think any etiquette violation occurred in this story. I just think the Evil Registry fairy has struck again.

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Monica June 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm

“Well SIL2 was coming from out of town so didn’t pick up the stroller/carseat until a few days before the shower.”

Sorry if I missed this somewhere, but why didn’t SIL2 check the registry when buying this item? It would have shown that it was already purchased, yes? If she didn’t check off the registry when buying the stroller, wouldn’t she run the risk of having someone else buy it after her as well? Or was there a problem with the registry? Seems like you’re running a duplicate risk no matter what the situation if you don’t check the registry with the store staff as you make your purchase.

In other news, I’m loving the bike gift! Too cute!

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SHOEGAL June 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Well – I have to say that knowing that they already had a stroller/ car seat combo is a little off putting – and would take the wind out of your sails. Perhaps the OP was very excited to give her gift – something she knows they wanted and would use – only to be told that they already have one. It doesn’t justify not wanting to give them gifts in the future. That is too harsh. The mother should have restrained herself and waited before buying every available item on the reigistry – makes it harder on all the last minute gift givers.

I personally think that we should do away with registries – it has gotten out of hand. We have to tell the gift giver – that yes – I would like this, but in this color and at this price – get this “ice pick” (or whatever) with the blue handle and this particular brand. I’m not even sure it works out properly for the receiver of the gifts. Personally, I went ahead and registered for my wedding against my better judgement and went walking around the store scanning things I didn’t necessarily want but it was what was in the store at the time. (frankly, I didn’t know what I needed – now having been married for 3 years I could pick out some things I really need) I would never pay that amount for the item and wouldn’t buy it there. I was criticized for choosing a stainless steel trash can for $100 – hey, I didn’t set the price and didn’t really want that particular trash can – but it was the only one that store had!!! The place I would buy it doesn’t have registries. I think we should just be grateful that someone wants to buy us a gift – instead of stipulating what it is.

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noph June 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm

I’m with our fearless leader on this one. I don’t care for showers, baby or wedding. For baby showers I do not buy from the registry. I almost always give the same gift with slight variations – books. Goodnight Moon, Pat the Bunny, Hungry Catepillar or Where the Wild Things Are. I then add some sort of baby blanket, maybe a bib or in one case, a small book light. I sincerely believe I did well at reading in school because my parents read to me so much from the beginning.

I’m also not very good at making lovely creative things like the Admin, nor do my wrapped presents look very professional. Books are easy to box/wrap/ship. I started this habit in my teens when my first peer had a baby shower. On a teen’s part time income I could not afford any of the many very expensive things she’d “registered” for and my mother was not willing to give me money as she felt it would appear she advocated teen pregnancy (she was the one that suggested the baby books so I can’t complain that she didn’t try to help me figure it out!) I continued this into my twenties and post college as I often still am invited to showers of women I went to highschool with (that I haven’t seen since graduation. As I am not a particularly social creature by nature anyway, nor do I ever plan to give birth myself, I find baby showers extremely uncomfortable, especially those thrown by people from my (conservative) Mississippi home town. I assume since I barely know these women they are really just sending gift invoices and a mailed gift with a small note congradulating them and apologizing for having pre existing conflicting plans at the day/time of the shower is ok.
I’m facing a real doozy next month I may need to write in for help on tho where I don’t think my book gift will work. =< I’m so thankful for this site so I can deal with the up coming situation as gracefully as possible!

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karma June 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I do want to add a comment. I notice a lot of people used the phrase “not punishing” or “don’t punish” a baby/teen/kid/couple/parents for someone else’s behavior.

I find this an odd viewpoint. When did opting not to give a gift become a *punishment*? That seems like a really extreme way to paint a person’s lack of giving or lack of intent to give in the future. It almost seems to imply that people deserve presents simply by the virtue of being in existence.
Heck, I had relatives that never sent me anything for holidays, birthdays, or graduation. I certainly didn’t feel “punished”.

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Calli Arcale June 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Bint — babies really do need tons of stuff. Maybe you haven’t had one of your own yet, but there’s a reason why baby showers are traditional; you seriously do need to make some significant capital expenditures, shall we say. But most of these things (apart from the consumables, like diapers) can often be used by more than one baby, which is why showers are generally only traditional for the first baby (unless the second pregnancy ends up being multiples or there are some other special circumstances; I’ve known people who had showers for their second for very good reasons, like OMG! it’s triplets, and we’ve just emigrated to the US, what do we do?).

Mostly, they’re going to need clothes, diapers, pins if they’re going with cloth diapers, a diaper pail otherwise, burp rags (far more than a new parent tends to expect — I ended up buying cloth diapers for this purpose), wipes, washcloths, towels, baby soap, a tub for when they’re not big enough for the real tub yet, more clothes since they’re growing like weeds, pacifiers, blankets, outerwear, q-tips, baby powder, socks, booties, baby food once the kid gets old enough, formula if the mom’s not nursing (and a breast pump otherwise, though that’s really not a shower gift; that’s way too personal), hats, toys, stroller, a car seat or two, a high chair, a bouncer or swing….. And extra swings aren’t a bad thing unless they have a small house. Seriously, that baby swing saved my sanity with my first, who was colicky.

It’s a lot of stuff. Most of it’s not individually expensive, but it adds up fast. Yes, babies really do need tons of stuff.

And a registry is helpful. I look at a registry as a source of ideas. Any gift should be graciously accepted, and if one cannot find something on the registry, then one should not take it personally but should instead be happy for the recipient’s good fortune at getting so many of these needs taken care of for them. In my view, the main value of a baby registry is to gently signal whether to get disposable or cloth diapers, whether it’s expected to be a boy or a girl, and whether or not the mother intends to nurse (which determines whether or not they’ll appreciate getting formula and bottles). Many parents, especially new ones determined to get it right, have strong feelings about various child products, and the registry can be a discreet way of signaling those feelings. But a registry should NEVER be considered mandatory, and any gift should be graciously accepted — even if the mom is a member of La Leche League and has just been given a 12-pack of Enfamil. Smile, thank the person, and donate it to a crisis nursery or something. And if you’re the giver and can’t find anything on the registry within your budget or tastes, you can always get them something else, because there is always something babies need. Bibs, onesies, and washcloths were what I was always running out of.

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The Elf June 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I LOVE your baby motorcycle gift! I’m copying it. We’re bikers, so this is just perfect to give and all the stuff is useful. I’ll just substitute the colors and use a stuffed animal instead of a doll.

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