Baby Wants This

by admin on October 3, 2012

Yeesh! Please help! My brother and his wife are having a baby soon enough and my sister is hosting a baby shower for her. My SIL told me that she only wants bigger items, like furniture, stroller, etc. (Basically she wants everyone else to purchase the expensive stuff so that her and my brother don’t have to.) She said that if people don’t want to pool together for bigger items, then they’re asking for gift cards. Um, help? She wants to put the registry information in the invite too. I’m just concerned because when people go to showers, they usually gift the expecting parents with clothes, diapers, smaller items like that. VERY few people are going to pool together for large items. My SIL is one to make comments out loud too if she is gifted with something she doesn’t want. Any way to diffuse this all before it gets so worthy of E Hell that I have to make another entry after the shower? 0925-12

Whenever I hear such stories, I never understand why the family just doesn’t step up and provide the necessary big items for the new parents.  When my daughter became pregnant with the first grandchild on both sides of the family, she and I went to a huge children’s consignment sale and I bought her many of those large items at a reduced price.  Her MIL provided the nice but used bassinet and crib.  At her shower, friends gave her lovely outfits and diapers and other small items.   I view it as shameful to pass off to outsiders the burden of providing the large items such as cribs, high chairs, car seats, swing and strollers.   Are we as a family so poor we cannot take care of our own and have to expect that others will be more generous?   Hmmmm….

I don’t see where you have much say in this matter seeing that you are not the hostess of the shower but rather your sister is.   But your sister taking on the role of shower hostess is merely window dressing while your sister-in-law basically is running the show behind the scenes.  That is why family hosted showers are considered tacky or at best questionable because the temptation is quite strong for the recipient/guest of honor to manipulate the shower dynamics to get exactly what they want out of it while the hostess is nothing more than a willing puppet.

It is common and acceptable to put registry information on a shower invitation but the fact that the mother-to-be is the one insisting it be there does reveal that she has invested far too much interest in making sure shower guests get her exactly what she wants.

Your best action is to excuse yourself from any further hostessing duties associated with the shower, personally decline to pass on Mom’s wishes to others and get her what you feel the baby needs, not what Mom wants.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Lightning October 3, 2012 at 5:32 am

Sorry Admin, I disagree. It is never ok or acceptable to put registry info on or in a shower invite.


Green123 October 3, 2012 at 5:49 am

“Whenever I hear such stories, I never understand why the family just doesn’t step up and provide the necessary big items for the new parents.”

Y’know, whenever I hear such stories I never understand why the pregnant woman and her partner don’t buy the darned items themselves. If you can’t afford a stroller or a crib you probably can’t afford to have the child in the first place. Oh, and parents? Your new baby doesn’t need correspondingly brand new stuff. Second hand and hand-me-downs is Just Fine!


admin October 3, 2012 at 7:19 am

The default IS that the soon-to-be parents take responsibility to provide the necessary baby equipment for their own children. Barring that, the next sphere of responsibility is the family. When you have to go begging to friends and co-workers to supply the basic needs of baby care, there is something profoundly wrong in priorities and maybe the couple should not be having children at a time when they clearly cannot afford them.


Bint October 3, 2012 at 5:59 am

“I never understand why the family just doesn’t step up and provide the necessary big items for the new parents.”

I never understand why the new parents don’t at least try to provide them themselves, which should be the default.

OP – stay out of this. Any faux pas will be your SIL’s and brother’s, not yours. The whole thing sounds like a horrible greedy gift-grab, so sit back and hope if SIL does sound off, someone puts her right.


KarenK October 3, 2012 at 6:39 am

Yep, there’s nothing the OP can really do about this situation.

I love registries. I like knowing that the recipient really wants and needs my gift. In this case, I’d probably just give them a gift card for the amount I would have spent, but I wouldn’t like it.

Should the OP’s SIL be so crass as to comment unfavorably on someone’s gift, remember, it is no reflection on you or your sister. She will just make a whole roomful of people decide to never give her anything again. I know I wouldn’t.


o_gal October 3, 2012 at 6:42 am

Please do not put a burden on the family by stating that they should “step up and provide the necessary big items”. Some families are not in the position to do this, and some families are toxic. While it is a nice gesture for the grandparents-to-be to spring for a crib, bassinet, car seat, pack-n-play, etc. they should not be held accountable if they cannot do this, or if the parents-to-be do not want them to do this. It is not “shameful to pass off to outsiders”. The parents-to-be, unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances, should be financially responsible enough at this point to obtain the necessary large items if they are not given at the shower.


koolchicken October 3, 2012 at 6:49 am

I’m curious as to why this woman won’t simply outfit the nursery herself. The OP writes that her SIL is married. My take on it is if she’s old enough to be married, she’s old enough to buy her own furniture, for the baby she’s old enough to have. I’m pregnant myself right now and I’ve bought all my furniture, stroller, carseat, and toys myself (although I have been gifted with many outfits). I did not have a shower, I refuse to take part in these gift grabs.

OP if you’re really so worried your SIL will be an embarrassment why not just speak to her? She sounds like a total gimmie pig. And the admin’s suggestion is great, but this isn’t the family’s responsibility (unless this girl is a teen Mum and you all feel obligated to help). Quite frankly I think the family caving to her demands and buying all of this stuff for her so she doesn’t embarrass everyone is a mistake. It sends the message to this woman that she can demand things for her child and others will just giver her what she wants. Give in now and you’ll be paying for everything this kid needs from now till college.


Lo October 3, 2012 at 6:49 am

Yikes. I’d just be grateful I wasn’t pressured to host the thing. Hope your sister is up to the task.

If I were a guest at this shower and knew the sister were the type to comment on getting gifts she didn’t want, I’d definitely get a gift card. Actually, if she’s only registered for large items I can see her getting a lot of gift cards.

I don’t think there’s much you can do here besides getting what you feel comfortable getting for her then enjoying the party. Sorry about that.

I really hate when I’m told what sort of gift I have to get for someone. If it’s off the registry, fine, but any further direction is like, seriously? Is this a gift or tribute?


L October 3, 2012 at 6:58 am

Why don’t you just correct her, but frame it in terms of not wanting her to be disappointed in the shower. You could say that you’re worried she’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t get the big gifts, but you think that most people think it’s more appropriate for non-family members to bring something that is reasonably priced and not showy to a shower. In other words, attribute your own beliefs (and mine too, FYI) to “most people.”

Option #2: set her straight. Remind her that gifts, while expected nowadays, are absolutely not required and are representations of the generosity and love of the gift-givers rather than the price of admission into your party. Or you could do this more subtly by telling her that if they’re concerned about finances, you’d be happy to mention to the invitees that she really “needs necessities to get them through.” Being genuinely concerned about providing basic necessities for a baby is the only excusable reason I can see for dictating what people should buy. A registry is simply an idea list. Her selfishness is not a reason for you to lower your standards of etiquette.

Or you could really mess with her and put “your presence is your present” on the bottom of the invitation. Or perhaps even better- ask all of the partygoers to contribute to buying just one big item from the whole group. She’ll get her way along with a lesson. Only kidding, but if only…


The Elf October 3, 2012 at 7:01 am

Ugh. This is one reason why I dislike registries. Some people don’t know to spread the items around to include both high dollar and low dollar ones.

If you don’t want to go the gift card route, just buy normal baby stuff that you normally would. Maybe check the registry for hints as to theme or colors. If they don’t like that you (oh no!) bought them a gift that wasn’t exactly to their specifications, they can deal.

One nitpick: Admin, it’s great that you and her MIL bought your daughter the big stuff. But, especially in this economy, not everyone is so lucky to be able to afford everything. You’re implying that they should. I agree that the burden of the purchases should not be pushed off to outsiders, but it isn’t the extended family’s burden either. The burden for the necessary items is ultimately on the parents who, presumably, chose to get pregnant in the first place. In the USA, considering we have good access to reliable birth control, pregnancy is a choice more often than not. Throw abortion and adoption in there and raising a child is definitely a choice. So don’t choose to have a child if you can’t afford one. The “big items” in the registry are nothing compared to the cost of raising a child over 18 years!


T October 3, 2012 at 7:05 am

Just because someone decides to have a baby doesn’t mean their family should just automatically step up to purchase the big items. If they can & do, that’s wonderful, but it’s rude and tacky to expect it. If you can’t afford to purchase what you need for a new baby (I say need b/c most if the big items aren’t really “needed”), don’t get pregnant. When you do get pregnant, don’t expect money and gifts, of any kind from anyone (even family). Be gracious and thankful for any gift that is given.


Kara October 3, 2012 at 7:17 am

“Whenever I hear such stories, I never understand why the family just doesn’t step up and provide the necessary big items for the new parents.”

I gotta say, I disagree with the admin here. It is the job of the new parents to ensure that they have everything that they need for the new baby, not the extended family of the new parents. If their families want to get them the “necessary big items”, great. But there shouldn’t be any expectation or obligation.

When my brother and SIL were expecting, I got a them some classic children’s books for their library. If they had said that they only wanted big items, furniture, stroller, etc, … then I would have gotten them a heartfelt card and nothing else. If you basically tell me ahead of time that what I am going to give you is unacceptable, then I won’t get you anything at all. Why bother? The SIL in the OP sounds very greedy and ungrateful.

OP, frankly I would distance yourself from this impending disaster as much as possible. Buy your brother and SIL what you want, don’t let them pressure you into getting something more than you can afford. And if your SIL makes loud comments about the “inferior” quality of the gifts at her shower… so what? Let her make a fool out of herself. It is not your problem.


Angela October 3, 2012 at 7:24 am

This is going to be a very exciting shower as the mother-to-be opens endless gift cards. Will she circulate them the way that one circulates cute baby items?


SS October 3, 2012 at 7:31 am

Just some resources to aid in the shower registry question… both Miss Manners and Emily Post say not to put the baby shower registry in the invitation, though they do conflict about whether to have a registry is considered poor taste.


Lexie October 3, 2012 at 7:57 am

“I never understand why the family just doesn’t step up and provide the necessary big items for the new parents.”

Sorry Admin, but I disagree. The parents-to-be are the only ones on the hook for big-ticket items. Craigslist, eBay etc have some great bargains. No parent-to-be should expect any friend or relative to provide furnishings for baby. Children are expensive. If you can’t afford a crib and you’re already pregnant, then you need to make some lifestyle changes, stat.

Personally, the point of baby showers in modern day is lost on me; it seems to be just a giant gift grab.

OP, smile politely, buy whatever gift you feel is appropriate and don’t say a word. I would make a point of buying an object rather than a giftcard because of her attitude.


Marketeer October 3, 2012 at 7:58 am

One of my husband’s best friends and his wife had an $1,800 crib on their registry. $1,800! My entire bedroom set didn’t cost that much. Apparently, they thought people would club together and buy it for them and complained when it wasn’t forthcoming. I used to joke to my husband that the baby would be sleeping in a dresser drawer or a laundry basket when she arrived.


Olivia October 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

This reminds me of the episode of The Office when Michael throws a baby shower for his ex-girlfriend Jan. The party is awkward, of course, so they go right to opening gifts, but there is only one gift because everyone pooled their money to buy a stroller. Does your SIL really want a shower where there is only one gift? Granted a stroller or crib would be great but then what is the point of having a shower. And what if it’s not the stroller or crib that she wants? I wouldn’t want people to buy me the big items because I’m much pickier with those types of things than I am with clothes and diapers.


L October 3, 2012 at 8:07 am

We need a nickname for people like this, though I guess it’s just the adult version of having “the gimmes.” Maybe someone can gift her a few Berenstein Bears books with the book about the gimmes on the top of the stack.

Wish I could do now what my sister did as a child. After reading that book, she loved to point out (in a whisper, fortunately) children we saw with the gimmes when we ran errands.


Twik October 3, 2012 at 8:32 am

The extended family is not morally, legally or by etiquette bound to provide necessities for new parents. However, the friends and neighbours of the extended family are even less obligated. So, throwing a shower with the intent that “the parents can’t afford these things, and we can’t afford these things, but hey, those even further afield from us will want to do so,” is entitlement at its best.

I recall a story on the website about a woman who threw her own shower. She explained that she *had* to do so, since she had no money for necessities, and no one would host for her – and then detailed the expensive preparations she had made for the event. She ended up quite angry with her friends, who did not give her a good return on her investment. She was, I remember, unhappy with the suggestion that she should have simply spent that money to buy her own stuff, and skipped the shower.

In the situation in this story, it appears that SIL and Sister both expect that other people will buy the big ticket items. Perhaps the money for the shower would be better spent on these things directly, and, if they want a shower, an afternoon in someone’s living room with punch and cookies, with gifts of diapers and such, would be more enjoyable for all concerned.


TJ October 3, 2012 at 8:37 am

This woman is clearly a gimme pig. She should prepare for disappointment because most people like to buy cute little outfits and useless teething rings.

That said, I believe people should put everything they need on the registry and it’s up to those invited to either purchase or not. This obviously assumes they have enough good sense to pepper the registry with a variety of items. I’m not sure how it works elsewhere but in my area it’s common for someone to have multiple showers – their family, their spouses family, their work, etc. It’s necessary to have quite a variety of items on there or people get upset. I think most attendees, when they can’t find a gift in an appropriate price range, go off registry. For everyones consideration – a good reason to put all items you need, including car seats and high chairs, on your registry is for the completion discount. If your family doesn’t pull together many baby stores will give you a 10%+ discount on items you purchase yourself to “complete” your registry.


Stacey Frith-Smith October 3, 2012 at 8:46 am

Expectations for gifts on special occasions seem to be rising to celebrity levels. The whole idea that others “should” provide gifts at all is nauseating to consider, but add in the idea that specific gifts are expected, grand gifts are expected, cash and cards that convert to cash are expected, and all delivered in an atmosphere dressed up to resemble a party is truly stupefying. I suppose it’s the fault of the consumerist mentality we apply indiscriminately to relationships, programs, and every object or service in existence. If you see these behaviors in those around you, simply don’t feed the gimme pigs. Who really wants to go to a shower or wedding just to be “shaken down” for the maximum amount of money and durable goods that can be had without being sent into bankruptcy? So we’ve moved from name brand toys and designer clothes to furniture, money and specialty equipment, have we? It’s the same scenario in my mind as when guests you have invited to your home offer their list of expectations for the event you are kindly hosting with an open ended list of requirements which must be met before they will be able to sit down to a meal with you (who is coming? what are you serving? why don’t you…?) Registries are a short cut, one that has become acceptable but to which are still attached the stigma (and rightfully so) that discussing which gifts are preferred is not quite nice. (That’s not to say it has no practical value, it’s just not quite nice.) The reason people want to know that their gift is going to be acceptable before purchasing it has somewhat to do with their esteem of the guest of honor and somewhat to do with a desire not to waste a considerable of time and money on something that will be unappreciated. They might even have their gift spurned publicly and be ridiculed or snubbed. Why do we enthrone those who are getting married, having babies, graduations and birthdays? I think we do it for love and with good intentions- that of taking the time to honor those we are close to. The difficulty arises when the guest, who was once lead to a seat of honor at the table and given what attention, gifts and favors attendees deemed appropriate, began to “make it easy on” others by ordering from a mental menu of preferred gifts. Then we crossed from preferred gifts (already on quicksand in terms of etiquette) to acceptable (demanded and specific) gifts. Family members, friends and the larger community are left to muddle through the process of how to satisfy the gimme pig so as to avert any wrath. Why? If you accept the awful once and hope it won’t show up again, guess what? That same soul who held you hostage to her good graces for a shower or wedding gift will think nothing of doing so for a second shower, second wedding or renewal of vows, and every other occasion. Deal with it the first time by sending your regrets and don’t attend. Or do attend but on your terms in the giving of gifts and cash. No one owes presents to friends and family. Stinginess is a fault, yes, but demanding that others furnish your home, feed your guests, pay for your marriage and lavish goods and cash on you IS a form of stinginess- it says that you have other plans for whatever funds and resources you have accrued and don’t mind robbing these from others through the medium of soliciting gifts under threat of complaint if others fail to comply. Perhaps as families and society, we should put our collective foot down.


o_gal October 3, 2012 at 8:49 am

Admin, I still disagree that the “next sphere of responsibility is the family”. Family is not responsible to provide anything for the child of another member of the family. It is wonderful if they can, but you cannot put this burden on them just because they share some DNA.

And showers are not “begging” for necessities. The OP is describing a situation where the mom-to-be is just being an all-out gimme pig on what she wants people to buy; she’s not hitting everyone up for diapers and formula.


Laura October 3, 2012 at 9:17 am

Wow. I usually agree whole heartily with much of your advice but this one…oh my. Instead of the onus being on the extended family to purchase the large items needed for baby I believe it to be the responsibility of the actual parents of said baby. In fact, showers are lovely but when push comes to shove all the babies needs are responsibilities of the parents. You know, the ones who are actually having the baby?


Jays October 3, 2012 at 9:17 am

I don’t think registries are a bad thing … IF the items on them are spread around the price range and they’re presented as an option, not a requirement. My friends and family were the ones who requested I have a registry. We had stuff from $1 to $70 on it, though, most in the lower ranges.

That said, we bought most of the big stuff (crib, main stroller, car seat, etc.) ourselves. Our respective parents bought a few of those things at their request. I do think that with most *non-toxic* families, the admin is correct … family does step up to help, and even expects to do so. When did we start assuming families are all toxic? 😛 (Finances, of course, are also an issue.)

Another note: Second-hand is NOT a good idea for many baby items. At least not without a good deal of research first.


The Elf October 3, 2012 at 9:25 am

“The default IS that the soon-to-be parents take responsibility to provide the necessary baby equipment for their own children. Barring that, the next sphere of responsibility is the family.”

That still isn’t quite clear enough – your statement is still implying the extended family has some responsibility to provide necessary baby equipment. They don’t. It’s really nice if they do, but they don’t have a *responsibility* to do it. There’s no obligation there. The responsibility is 100% that of the parents to be.


sv October 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

I have three children, and I was very poor when each of them were born ( especially the first one. ) I did not expect my family to buy me the big expensive items – I did that myself, by saving and purchasing second hand. I did receive two large gifts, of which I was very grateful, but I certainly never expected my family or friends to do this. The fact remains that even if my family could have afforded it (which is a big assumption – yes, many families ARE that poor) this was MY pregnancy, MY baby, and MY responsibility. I no more would expect my family to fund my child than I would expect them to raise my child.


siamesecat 2965 October 3, 2012 at 9:31 am

I also disagree that the parents-to-be’s family step up and purchase the big items. If they offer, fabulous, but if not, having a child also means you can PAY for everything that goes along with it, including crib, stroller, car seat etc. I don’t have a problem with those items being on a registry, in case someone feels like purchasing them, so you get what you would like, but in this case, the SIL needs to tone it down a notch and be grateful for what she gets, and not be so demanding or entitled.

I also think the OP should stay out of it. If SIL has a history of whining out loud about gifts she doesn’t care for, that will just make HER look bad in front of everyone. I say leave it alone and let her make her own bed. And if I were invited to this shower, or any other where the registry only had the big ticket items, I’d simply purchase something I thought woudl be useful or helpful, wihtin my budget, and leave it at that. and if the GOH had issues with MY gift, well, then, that’s the last she’d ever see from me.


Cat October 3, 2012 at 9:35 am

I read nothing that said the lady and her husband could not afford to buy what she wanted, only that they did not want to pay for them. I do not feel that, if my relative decides to have a baby, it is my financial responsibility to buy whatever the future parents select.
The only people I know who would combine to purchase a gift would be either an office staff who work with one of the parents or a close-knit group of friends who want to make a group gift. I would not combine with a bunch of people I barely know to buy something expensive.
This is not the celebration of a coming child, but is rather a shake-down party in which one should expect to be insulted if the mother-to-be is not pleased with ones gift. “We are not amused!” said the Queen.
In brief, you cannot choose your relatives and your brother chose this one. Buy what you want, don’t point out the correct behaviors one expects in this situation since your SIL has made it clear she is not concerned about etiquette, but is very concerned about having her demands met, and stay out of it as much as you can.


FLChicka08 October 3, 2012 at 9:49 am

Long time reader, first time commenter… I had a “friend” (I use that term very loosely) who has a similar attitude as the OP’s SIL. When she got pregnant, it was a happy accident and they were unprepared for how much a baby would cost. Their house was furnished with hand-me-downs and amazing bargains, but when it came to the baby, she wanted no expense spared, as long as she and her husband weren’t paying for it! She registered for all of the big things, $1,000 crib, $700 dresser, $500 stroller, etc… and was truly upset by her shower date that none of the big items had been purchased off the registry. My co-host and I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t anybody’s responsibility to furnish the baby’s room except for her. She pouted and made snide comments throughout the shower and the only person it reflected on was her. When we were thanking people for coming, we would apologize for her behavior and the guests would apologize right back! Everyone recognized her as a gimme-pig and distanced themselves greatly from her. We now have occasional contact and she hasn’t learned from her first experience, at all. She’s just moved onto another set of friends to use.

Registries can be useful, especially in the case of babies. There are so many options in bottles, pacifiers, diapers, etc… that it would truly be a hassle if you received several different brands. Think about it for bottles alone. Each manufacturer/system is different. What fits one doesn’t fit another. Returning and/or exchanging items if received with out a gift receipt can be impossible. If you have mismatched sets, it could get very expensive with keeping up with all of the different system parts. They’re also good with giving ideas when it comes to the decor of the nursery. That being said, they should be a guide. No one is required to give a gift. If all you are willing to give is a hearty congratulations and a smile, then that’s what they get.


Rap October 3, 2012 at 9:54 am

Yeah, sorry, I still disagree with Admin on this as well. Extended family is not obligated to provide funding/material goods for the raising of a child they had no part in bringing into the world and get no say in raising. I got my sister one of the “big items” at her shower because I wanted to… not because I am obligated to provide for her child lest the family shamefully not provide.

Having a child is a major monetary decision made by two people. I choose not to have children because I feel. amongst other reasons, that I can’t have the life I want and afford to raise a child the way I would like. I wasn’t included in the decision making process of anyone else’s child making decisions, I don’t see why *I* am shameful for not coughing up cash every time my idiot cousin has another baby with a different boyfriend.


WillyNilly October 3, 2012 at 9:57 am

Well. First off I agree with the Admin that registry info on a *shower* invite is fine. Its actually in my opinion presumptuous and rude to leave it off (if there is a registry). After all the primary purpose of a shower is to shower the guest of honor with gifts. Leaving off gift info is on par IMO to leaving off information that would hint towards the formality or if a meal is being served or if the event was to be outdoors or a surprise. This is necessary info for the guest’s ease in attending. A registry, like the invitation itself is not a summons, it is merely informational. Guests can take the info or leave it as they see fit.

I think the OP though has some big issues with her brother and SIL and that’s the real issue. I mean how on earth does OP know what people will or will not pool together for? Does the OP know each and every one of her brothers and SIL’s friends, neighbors and SIL’s side of the family, and their financial and gift giving positions? Maybe OP knows her side won’t pool together, but I doubt she knows with much authority about all of someone else’s family and social circle! Plus to even just make the general statement “when people go to showers, they usually gift the expecting parents with clothes, diapers, smaller items like that” – what?!?!? I know at my BBF’s shower her husband’s best friend for 20+ years and a car enthusiast bought the couple a really nice car seat. Was it expensive? Probably. But it was important to the giver and he gave it with an open heart. I bought them all their crib accessories (mattress, sheets, wall clings, mobile, etc) – again big and expensive but that’s my best friend’s baby! I wanted to go overboard! I once went to a shower (years ago before online registries had worked out all their kinks) where the MTB received 4 strollers! (And one was from me and another friend who had – gasp! – pooled together.)

Sounds to me more the OP has a chip on her shoulder about the whole impending baby or her SIL in general and is just picking away looking for criticisms.


hakayama October 3, 2012 at 9:57 am

The Elf and koolchicken are definitely my heroes. Showers which, in my not so humble opinion, have morphed into an ugly “grab/demand fest” have no reason to exist in a developed country, bad economy notwithstanding. Together with the “desecrating” of Halloween, they are one of the ugliest phenomena in the U.S.A.


Jenny October 3, 2012 at 9:59 am

No one is responsible for buying large ticket items for parents-to-be except for the parents-to-be. Sure, it would be nice if family members were able and willing to help out, but if you can’t afford to have a child then why is it my responsibility to pay for your choices? I don’t agree with SIL’s gimmee-pig attitude at all, but I admit I was flummoxed by admin’s response.


Shoegal October 3, 2012 at 10:04 am

As for registry info on the shower invite – I believe in this day and age it is, in fact, acceptable but I also think it acceptable to leave that off as well. If you really want to know where or if the new mother is registered and want that info – then contact the hostess. Offering suggestions on what to buy by providing the registry information I think is fine and is a help to the guests. On the flip side – It is not okay to put the info on a wedding invitation – which implies that you were invited only to get the couple a gift.

I believe that if you make the decision to have a baby then you better be able to afford all of it including all big ticket items, clothing, food , etc., etc. All of the responsibility of a new child is surely the parents – if someone wants to step up to the plate and help out – SUPER but I don’t think anyone else, including relatives, are somehow by default responsible if the parents can’t or won’t provide.

As for the sister-in-law – I think there is a way to politely tell her that she should just be grateful anybody wants to give her anything. Nobody can or should be told how to give a gift and if that if she persists in trying then it would be in everyone’s best interest not to have a shower at all.


egl October 3, 2012 at 10:17 am

“Second hand and hand-me-downs is Just Fine!”

Not always. Safety standards have changed over the years, and not everyone notices that items have had recalls. One definitely needs to do some homework before passing on the bigger items.

Hate to think how SIL is going to react when she realizes how fast the cost of the little items is going to add up. I imagine she’s going to quickly regret not encouraging the guests to give her a bunch of diapers and little clothes the kid’s going to quickly outgrow.


Jewel October 3, 2012 at 10:19 am

I see that the OP’s sister is hosting the shower for the “puppet master” Sister-In-Law. I thought family members were not supposed to host baby showers. The shameful implication of a shower hosted by a family member is that the family is shunting off their “responsibility” of providing for their own (whether it really is anyone’s responsibility other than the new parents is another argument) onto the public. I thought that was just.not.done. Am I behind the times?


Jarrett October 3, 2012 at 10:26 am

If I were told exactly what to get someone, especially if it was a large/pricey item, I think I would politely decline the invitation to the party and send a card in lieu.
This reminds me of an incident that happened a few years ago when I was working as receptionist in a small office (20 people). One of the girls from the office (who had been there about 1 year) had gone on sick leave at the 5 month mark of her pregnancy until she was close enough to her due date to roll to maternity leave, so needless to say, no one had had any contact with her for the last 4 months. One day I received a call at the reception desk from J’s mother, the conversation went like this; “Good morning Me speaking how can I help you?”, “Hi, this is J’s mom, I just wanted to let you guys know that J had a baby boy this morning. She wanted me to call and let you all know that she wants a jogging stroller, but not a double one because big sister doesn’t like to ride in strollers”… I think all I could manage at that point was to pick my jaw off the floor and stammer out a “k, thanks bye”. Babies and weddings are not money/gift grabs people!


Lerah99 October 3, 2012 at 10:27 am

This story makes me so grateful for my sister in law.

Her baby is due any day now. During the summer I shipped many small items for the baby to her: cute outfits, stuffed animals, bottles, diapers, etc… Things are financially tight, so my mom and I couldn’t send anything too extravagant. My mom did send one of the bullion spoons from her grandmother’s silver set. It was by far the most expensive thing we were able to provide. My sister in law and brother never once even hinted that they expected something big from us. Instead my sister-in-law called to gush ever time she received one of the small gifts we sent.

I think the admin is right. The first repsonsibility to provide for the baby is the parents. If the parents are unable to provide everything, then the family is the fall back. I don’t think the admin was suggesting “if the parents can’t afford that $2,000 stroller they want, then the family should buy it.” I think she was saying, if the parents legitimately are unable to scrape together the basics (crib, carseat, stroller) then traditionally family will come together to help aquire these things. And that expecting friends and coworkers to provide these high dollar items is really beyond the pale.


SJ October 3, 2012 at 10:46 am

I think the Admin is the type, like most parents/grandparents who can’t help but want to give these kinds of gifts. From that perspective, I understand. Even if her daughter was completely financially capable, she’d want to give her a nice gift when baby came along.

Although, I do agree with most comments that if you can’t afford the “big stuff,” you likely can’t afford a child!


coralreef October 3, 2012 at 11:09 am

OP. If someone is to make a fool of herself, it will be the mother-to-be, specially if she decides to diss out the gifts she’s receiving or complain out loud about not getting what she wants. Stay away from the drama. Keep calm and carry on.

Parents-to-be should be the ones that supply the large items themselves. You can get nice quality and safe crib, stroller and carseat for a reasonable price.

Showers have always been a strange concept to me and my family. We’ve never had baby or wedding showers that I can remember, and I’m 51 and from a largish family. Yes the parents/baby get gifts, but they are usually small useful items or clothes when people come over to visit.

When I had my first little one, most of the stuff I had was hand-me-downs and we bought the carseat ourselves. The only new item was a stroller from the people at the office, which surprised the stuffing out of me. At most, I expected a little get together over lunch with sandwiches with the crust cut-off. The baby didn’t care about the second-hand items and neither did we.


Joni October 3, 2012 at 11:14 am

OP: bring a jumbo sized box of diapers. Your SIL may turn up her nose at it *now,* but I guarantee she’ll appreciate it when it saves her a middle-of-the-night drugstore run when Baby has blown out of her last diaper.


Nan October 3, 2012 at 11:23 am

If it’s poor form to include registry information in the baby shower invitation, what is the proper method for letting people know about the registry? Of the baby/bridal showers I’ve been to, most have included a note about the registry in the invite, and it seems like that’s the most convenient way for both the sender and the invitee.


Daisy October 3, 2012 at 11:29 am

When I receive an invitation with gift registry information in it, I do what one should always do when someone makes a huge error in manners: I pretend I didn’t see it. It must be an error, since no well-mannered person would be so gauche as to hint for gifts!


Silverlily October 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

The one and only “sphere of responsibility” for providing baby necessities lies with the parents. If you can’t afford to properly outfit your baby, then don’t have one.

I loathe showers in general because they’re parties thrown for the express purpose of receiving gifts, which I think is quite greedy. If I want to give someone something to celebrate an event, then I’ll do it, without the guiding force of a shower.

OP: Unless you want to witness a great deal of rudeness on the part of, and discomfort brought on by, your SIL, I’d suggest you skip this shower. Leave the drama behind and do something relaxing for yourself instead.


DGS October 3, 2012 at 11:49 am

Ugh, what a gimme pig! I get so hot under the collar when I hear of people like that! First things first, it is not anyone’s responsibility to provide for the baby-to-come but the baby’s parents, and if they are able to do so financially and are so inclined, the baby’s extended family. If the Gimme Pig Mom and her husband are struggling financially (and putting aside the possibility that if they can’t afford to have kids, they shouldn’t have them in the first place), they can find some gently used items at consignment stores, on ebay, Craigslist, etc., or they can clip coupons to big box baby stores and use those to get 20% off new items. This smacks of the worst kind of grubbiness and entitlement – what’s next, will the Gimme Pig Mom’s friends and family members be expected to contribute to baby’s first birthday, baby’s college fund, etc.?

Further, what kind of an entitled, ungrateful brat makes comments when she doesn’t get what she wants (and a Pack n Play may be nice, but let me tell you, diapers, bottles, wipes and other small items add up, too)? If I were the OP, I’d have nothing to do with the shower, and if she absolutely must contribute, send a giftcard for the amount that she was hoping to spend.

My son is now almost thirteen months, a welcome and much wanted baby after several torturous years of fertility treatments and losing a set of twins late into my first pregnancy and then, more fertility treatments and a difficult, high-risk pregnancy. For religious (we are Jewish, and Jews do not typically do baby showers) and personal superstitious reasons, my husband and I politely demurred when friends and family members offered to throw a shower for us. We purchased almost everything, from crib and stroller and rocking chair to bottles and diaper bag ourselves, although our parents surprised us with some lovely big-ticket gifts close to the delivery date (my Dad bought the infant carseat and the Pack and Play; my Mom and Stepdad and my in-laws gave us substantial gift cards), but the gifts were a surprise, not a begging/grubbing from us. What’s more, any and all gifts that we have received were promptly responded to with personal and hand-written thank-you notes and if possible, in-person and telephone thank-yous, including when I was in the hospital recuperating from the delivery.

I would be tempted to be vicious and come to the shower of someone like this with a very small gift – a sock monkey, a single blanket, etc., just to get the rise out of the GimmePig. What an unbelievable brat!


Ashley October 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

I am currenlty pregnant and the ONLY things going on our registry are diapers, wipes, and baby wash.. Everything else DH and I are buying along the way. We found out the gender at 17 weeks so that gives us 23 weeks to preparte for our son’s arrival.


Anonymous October 3, 2012 at 11:55 am

I’d compromise by collaborating with friends and family members to provide a library of books for the new baby, once he or she gets old enough to enjoy being read to. Each person would provide one or more favourite books from their own childhood (handed down if the book is in good condition, bought for the occasion if the original book is a bit too well-loved to gift), to contribute to said library, and this way, it’d achieve both ends–everyone would get to give the child a gift that was from their heart, nobody would have to spend more than they were able or willing to, and it’d still technically comply with the mom-to-be’s request for people to “go in on bigger items.”


Lesley B October 3, 2012 at 11:55 am

When my husband and I brought our son home we had spent well over $20 000 on (unsuccessful) fertility treatments and adoption costs. When we got home we rocked him to sleep in the rocker we bought, put him to sleep in the crib we bought, fed him in the high chair we bought and drove him around in the car seats we bought. It was our baby, and our responsibility. We got one used gift, a stroller from a workmate of my husband whose son had outgrown it, and we used it until our son too outgrew it. If family can (and wants to) buy big gifts, that is great, but part of planning a family is planning on how to take care of the child! A majority of his clothes were bought at consignment shops, because young kids outgrow clothes before they wear them out!
One caveat about used items though, especially cribs, make sure they meet current safety standards. Cribs need proper spaces between the bars, not drop side, unless fixed by company recall kit, and a mattress that fits snugly into the crib with no gaps for baby to get trapped in.


DGS October 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm

What a grubby gimme pig this SIL is! People like that get me enraged. It is not anyone’s responsibility but the parents to provide for a baby, and if grandparents or uncles and aunts are so inlined and in financial position to do so, they certainly could do so, too (although as a Mom of a toddler, I love my Pack and Play, but I loved having my Mom stay with us for two weeks after my son was born to help, so I could catch a nap – that was a gift that kept on giving!) If the OP’s brother and SIL are in a terrible financial position (they should have used contraception and prevented themselves from becoming pregnant, which is easy enough to do, but that’s beside the point), they ought to be grateful for any baby gift that comes their way. If they are grubby gimme pigs that like to live off other people, they are simply parasites who are not worth time, attention, effort or a present.

It’s pretty expensive to have a baby, but it is a choice, and it is entirely possible to purchase all the necessities and even some vanity items gently used at consignment shops, off ebay, Craigslist or from friends who have older children and are done procreating. It is also possible to budget, clip coupons and purchase things at big box stores on clearance sales with great discounts (a 2011 stroller model is usually significantly discounted compared to a 2012 stroller model, while the differences between the strollers are superficial). One area where a brand-new item is worthwhile is carseats, since they expire every five years, and since it is impossible to guarantee that a carseat has not been in an accident when one buys it used, but it is possible to buy it with a coupon or on sale.

After several torturous years of fertility treatments, a late-term pregnancy loss (24 weeks) of twins and almost losing my life, more fertility treatments and a high-risk pregnancy, I gave birth to my son a little over a year ago. My DH and I bought everything but one or two items for him ourselves (and the items we did not by were unexpected gifts from our parents, whom we immediately and profusely thanked). Granted, our financial situation is comfortable, but we did create a budget and stuck to it, and friends and family members who are not as comfortably off have also provided for their babies themselves (we are Jewish, and in Jewish culture, baby showers are not typically done. There are gifts brought to the naming ceremony or the bris, but they are usually small gifts, and in our case, the giftgivers were immediately thanked in person, on the phone and with written thank-you notes). It can be done, on almost any budget. And if someone is so hard up financially that they cannot afford anything for the baby, wouldn’t it then, behoove that person to be grateful for anything that they might be provided with? If I were the OP, I’d try to stay as far away from this SIL and this baby shower as possible, and what’s more, not be surprised when the SIL starts coming around looking for elaborate holiday and birthday gifts, contributions to the child’s college fund, etc.


June First October 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm

OP, I agree with the idea of taking the SIL aside beforehand and saying that you hope she isn’t disappointed if the gifts don’t meet expectations. Also, if she complains at the shower about a gift, you could say something like, “Oh, I’m sure you don’t realize how that sounds! Have you tried the bean dip?”
I used a version on my dad a few weeks ago. I did some chores for him, and he pointed out all the things I did “wrong” with them. I just sweetly said, “I love how many different ways you have to say ‘thank you’, Dad!”. He was suitably embarrassed.


Rae October 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I am also in disagreement about family providing the larger items. One should never expect anyone else to give/gift them something. Someday, if my sister has kids (hoping she does, so that I can have nieces and nephews to spoil), she will probably receive the baby shower from me (where I am from, it is extremely normal for a sibling to host showers), and some really nice handmade items, but probably not a crib or stroller. I like to give handmade gifts on occasion, but I am very particular about who I give them to since there is often a significant amount of time and labor that goes into it. I would like to hope that the recipient likes it and uses it, and the person that I give it to has to be very special if I am willing to make something for them.


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