Graciously Gritting One’s Teeth When The Shower Theme Is Not To One’s Liking

by admin on February 2, 2012

This is a situation that’s occurring right now.  My mother decided that she wants to throw a baby shower for me and asked me what I would like. I told her that I want something small and simple, since I have not had an easy pregnancy to date and do not want something complicated. I told her that I would love a tea party themed shower. Now, she then called my best friend up to ask for her input. My best friend also told her the above. I received a call from my mother, who had already booked a fairly upscale restaurant for an elaborate party. My mother spoke with my husband, telling him what she had planned to see if I would like it. DH explained to her that it was not a good idea, that a simple tea party would be best. She then decides to guilt trip both my husband and myself because she had already spent the money on this party, which I would rather she not do at all. She has decided to do what she wants, regardless of what we want. It has become a competition to her to upstage my SIL’s mother for what she had done for my SIL’s baby shower. Is there anyway to either get her to drop this elaborate party or drop hosting duty? Thanks for any input. 0201-12

Showers, whether they be for a wedding or a baby, are not supposed to be hosted by immediate family members. The reasoning for this is that it has the appearance of the family colluding to prevail upon others to provide the necessary items to either set up a house or equip a nursery they themselves are not willing to purchase.    Generosity begins at home, as they say, and the family should be the primary resource for acquiring these things.   Yes, I know there will be the usual dissenters who insist that a shower is to celebrate the birth of a baby but please, don’t go there.  If you want to celebrate a birth in the family, call it anything else except a “shower”, which the very name  carries a very implicit expectation that gifts are expected.

So, you’ve agreed to your mother hosting you a baby shower.  Having stepped onto the slippery slope of etiquette by condoning her inappropriate hosting of a shower, you are on there for the whole ride down, I’m afraid.  At this point, it would be very distasteful and rude to decline the shower on the grounds that the theme and location is not to your liking.   Hostesses can solicit ideas and preferences from the guest of honor but they are not bound to follow them.   Guests of honor must hope their friends and family will host something in keeping with their personal tastes but if that does not happen, the only alternative is to buck up, grit your teeth graciously and enjoy the shower.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Leanna February 7, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I disagree with EH’s reply of:

“Showers, whether they be for a wedding or a baby, are not supposed to be hosted by immediate family members. ”

Yes, yes, I know all about this old etiquette rule. But, really, I believe this rule needs to go out the window. A shower can be a very costly affair, and it seems more appropriate for family to take this on. I have co-hosted my sister’s bridal shower and I hosted my sister-in-law’s baby shower.

My sister-in-law has a large circle of friends and co-workers, but no one had stepped up to the plate. She was so relieved when I offered, and I was pleased to do this honor for her. I asked her for certain guidance on what she wanted, because I think if you’re going to give someone the gift of a shower, you want to know what they would enjoy!

So, unfortunately, the Mother of the OP is being pushy. But, well, as the OP said, she is Jewish, and believe me, I know all about Jewish Mothers! And if you too have a Jewish Mother, you know all about guilt. It’s never ending and frankly, you could be the most assertive person in the world, but would be no match for a Jewish Mother.

So, OP, here is my advice for you:

– Your Mother is throwing herself a large bash (of which the theme is her pregnant daughter, but really this is HER show.)

– The shower is going to occur when you are about 9 months.

So, a few things could happen:

a. You could give birth before the shower, and might be in the hospital and the shower will have to go on without you.
b. Some people feel better in the later stages of their pregnancy, so this good fortune could strike for you as well. In which case, a large party may not be quite as difficult for you.

Overall, I would say this – this is your Mother’s party. Go to it like you would any other party for her. You are just an excuse for her to throw a big shindig. If you need to lie down, leave etc., ask your best friend to be your stand-in and do whatever needs to be done (i.e. open presents, etc.) Sounds like you have a good best friend (thank goodness) who can help you survive this.

Best wishes in giving birth – may your birthing experience be better than your pregnancy has been & I wish you a happy, healthy, bundle of joy!

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Sugaryfun February 10, 2012 at 1:14 am

I can’t see anything wrong with an immediate family member hosting a baby shower. Sometimes I wonder if the rules about stuff like this are just different here in Australia. I don’t know. How the heck is anyone supposed to know what the ‘rules’ are about this stuff? Are they written somewhere?

My Mum offered to host my baby shower, as I didn’t have any female friends available to do it and my male friends just weren’t up for that sort of thing. For pregnant women in that position an immediate family member hosting seems like a kind thing to do (so her daughter doesn’t miss out on something the other mothers around her enjoy- not that I was desperate to have one, I didn’t ask for one, she was just looking out for me as she saw it) and not at all greedy. We certainly weren’t expecting people to furnish our nursery for us with brand new stuff (we did get quite a few hand me downs, which was great). As things turned out the party wasn’t organised in time and ended up being held a couple of weeks after the bub was born, which I preferred anyway since it was more of a celebration of the baby’s birth and meant that everyone could come and see the baby on the same day so we wouldn’t be constantly deluged with visitors while coping with a newborn.

I would consider having a baby shower for subsequent babies a bit tacky. I may have a fight on my hands since my Mum wants to hold another welcome party for my second baby and I don’t want people thinking we’re expecting gifts and really don’t like feeling obliged to show off the baby if I’m too tired or busy.

For those who don’t like the materialism of baby showers, a blessingway can be a good alternative. They’re not about gifts (which are not encouraged), just about wishing the new mum and her baby well.

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Christina February 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm

A couple of thoughts. . . first of all, the party at the nice restaurant is really not about the OP and her baby. It is about the future grandmother competing with another granny, and most likely, trying to collect for all the nice baby gifts she has given to her friends’ children/grandchildren over time. (I experienced this with my own MIL.)
Secondly, I had a difficult pregnancy, and had several showers. There was only one during my pregnancy, and provisions had been made to keep me comfortable. I spent the party in a very nice recliner with pillows, which kept me in a very comfortable state. That’s how I ate, and also how I opened presents. I think that the shower is just something that is going to have to be endured, but you should let your mom know that you will need special provisions made if you are going to be able to stay for any length of time.
You will need to take a firm stance with your mom, though. This shower is not the entire battle—it is a small skirmish. Issues will arise from here forward, so be prepared.

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Echo February 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Sugaryfun, I don’t think that there’s any set rules for baby showers in Oz, but I personally think we can get away with a bit more because we’re not so gift grabby about them. I’ve never even heard of someone over here having a registry for a baby shower, and I’ve also seen guests turn up without presents and it hasn’t been a problem. Of course, they’re still a bit new here so maybe that will change over time.

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Teddah July 14, 2012 at 1:25 am

I’ve done my own fair share of baby showers as an attendee since I’m currently childless and I’ve never seen a friend much less someone else step up to throw the shower. I’ve helped host showers where my sister was related but i was a guest. grandma to be agreed the shower could be at her house but she would not do anything. That includes greeting guests (I only knew about half), picking up food, doing any work, etc which would be fine if co-hosts didn’t both have to leave to pick up food. I forgot what happened but it couldn’t be avoided. Not the first I ended up hosting but certainly the most trying. Oh wait there was the shower for my sisters oldest. Next door neighbor said Oh I’ll host it. She only knew us and her mil and sil and there were about 15 of us. At least I knew everyone lol.

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