The Unexpected Shower Gift

by admin on February 11, 2013

My father’s cousin “Grace” was pregnant with her first child (a boy). Most of the younger women in her family were in their mid to late 20′s, and didn’t yet have children of their own. My mother, me (16 years old at the time) and my sisters (10 year old twins) were invited to her baby shower.

A couple weeks before the the shower, my mother and I went to the drug store to pick up our present. My mother explained to me that she had bought a nice blue laundry basket and we were going to fill it with special baby products because many new mothers didn’t realize all of the things babies might need (shampoos, creams, fragrance free laundry detergent, pack of diapers, etc.). She showed me the brand of products we were going to buy and told me that she had used these products on my siblings and I when we were babies so she knew they were good products. I’m sure she spend a considerable amount of money on that gift when all was said and done. My mum was really proud of her gift, I think she thought of it as an older woman passing a little piece of child-rearing advice to a younger woman. Even though I was a teenager at the time, I understood that these practical gifts would be more useful then a million cute outfits the baby would outgrow in a couple months.

We couldn’t find any gift wrap or bag large enough to cover the laundry basket, so we put a big bow on top instead. When we got to the shower we put the basket on the gift table, where it was shortly covered up by other presents when other guests began coming in.

Grace began opening her presents, helped by her cousin “Mary”. Eventually I could see our laundry basket peeking through the pile, and I couldn’t wait for Grace to see it and understand the work that had gone into getting the gift basket together. The laundry basket ended up being the last present on the table. Mary looked at it, picked it up and looked at it again. She asked the entire room (of at least 40 women) if “this was supposed to be a present?” in a confused voice. My mother, looking like she was about to melt into the floor, explained that it was from her and that it had useful baby products inside (this was an open-top laundry basket, so they could clearly see what was inside anyway). Mary hands the basket to Grace, who also looks incredibly confused about my mother’s gift and gives my mum a half-hearted thank you.

I don’t remember if there was a registry for the shower or not. If there was, I suppose getting an unexpected gift was the cause of the confusion. The only other explanation I have is that as Grace and Mary didn’t have any children yet, they did not understand how essential the items my mother had given Grace were and how much they could end up costing a new mommy.

That said, I don’t think there’s any excuse for making a guest EXPLAIN their present to you. If you don’t like your present, put on a nice smile, and be thankful that you have family and friends who are trying to celebrate your special occasion with you and want to help you out with a gift.

I should also note that other than this somewhat upsetting incident, Grace and Mary are great people overall and I like them both. You can’t choose your family so its best to put things behind you and move on.    0128-13

{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

Iris February 11, 2013 at 4:32 am

I will say that someone gave me this exact gift when my first child was born. I hope I thanked them nicely and I certainly took the time to go through the basket and comment on the contents positively, but I will admit that on the inside I was thinking that it was a strange and not particularly good present. However I really, really grew to appreciate it over the next few weeks and the next time I saw the giver I mentioned how very useful it was and that I felt that I hadn’t thanked them enough. It honestly is the best present I got when my children were born. They took it in their stride so I wondered if they’d had the same reaction before. Maybe it’s just the kind of gift that you don’t appreciate until you are in the situation and using it.

That said, Mary and Grace were rude, I think. Even put on the spot by a present you are surprised by, by the time you are old enough to have children you should be old enough to receive any gift appropriately.

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Bint February 11, 2013 at 5:00 am

How. Rude. The OP nailed it – who cares if she didn’t understand it, want it or like it? It’s a present. They could see it was a present, it’s on the present table. Smile, say thank you as if you mean it, and act with some grace.

I pray that nobody here even attempts to say that Mary and Grace were somehow not rude.

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Sara February 11, 2013 at 5:52 am

Ugh, that is awful. As the mother of a 16-month-old, those useful gifts are so much more valuable and helpful than a cashmere onesie that the baby is either going to grow out of or spit up on in a matter of minutes. It sounds like the OP’s mom went to a great deal of trouble in putting together a fantastic gift, and the reaction was inexcusable; the only explanation (not excuse, but explanation) that I can think of is that when you’re pregnant with your first, you often don’t realize how much those everyday items will be total lifesavers OR how expensive they are to buy!
But I can’t understand why the mom-to-be would be confused about whether or not an item, placed on the gift table and with a bow on it, is supposed to be a gift, which leads me to believe that the question was not serious, but rather meant to shame or embarrass the giver, which is a horrible thing to do. If she doesn’t want it, she’s welcome to send it my way!

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Sabrina February 11, 2013 at 6:44 am

I received a basket like that as a wedding shower gift. Thought it was interesting at first but it came in handy. Loads of every day items in a laundry basket. They were all dollar store items but it was a lot of stuff and there’s nothing wrong with dollar store stuff. There were dishcloths, dish liquid, couple of nifty placemats, clothespins, soap, goo gone, and loads more I can’t remember. All in a laundry basket. I still use that laundry basket today. She should have made just as much fuss over the gift as everyone elses so that no one feels hurt. I made the fuss at the time and quickly figured it out as I was looking at it. It’s a fabulous idea I plan to use in the future.

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Lady L February 11, 2013 at 7:07 am

OP, tell your mom that she gave a WONDERFUL gift! I received a basket like that from a practical aunt at my baby shower. I too was confused at the time but after my daughter arrived I used everything in that basket and the basket too. Just write off the “response” as youthful ignorance and move on.

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The Elf February 11, 2013 at 7:44 am

Ouch! The first comment was a little harsh. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, let’s say the lack of wrapping paper confused her. But after it was revealed that yes it is a present, and especially after the explanation, the expectant mom should have gone overboard on the thanks to cover up for the initial harshness from the helper.

I don’t have kids, so I’m always at a little bit of a loss for baby gifts. When a friend got pregnant (second child), I asked what they needed. “Diapers”. No, seriously, I’d love to give you a gift to celebrate. What do you need? “Diapers.” My friend ended up explaining to me that when they are that young, the only thing they really need is warm clothes (which they had), a place to sleep (which they had), and food (courtesy of Mom). Everything else is bonus. Something like the laundry basket is going to get much more use than most of your other baby gear, which I’m sure Grace will figure out soon enough.

(I got him a blanket. And diapers.)

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Carol February 11, 2013 at 7:56 am

I’d love to know if Grace ever mentioned how much she found the basket useful after the baby was born, because I’m sure she wound up using evvery single item in it.

And why don’t people know how to say ‘thank you’ graciously any more.

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Sarah February 11, 2013 at 8:03 am

How crass! As a first time mom of a 3 month old, I can tell you how appreciated a gift like that would be. Not to mention that any gift should be accepted with grace and thanks. We did register for the shower at the request of my family, but there were many things I received that I did not think of and am thankful for everyday. When will people realize that a gift registry is a suggestion and not a shopping list?

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Sarah Jane February 11, 2013 at 8:14 am

OP, gift baskets like the one you describe were very frequently given around the time my friends and I were having babies, and they were very much appreciated.

Perhaps these girls were simply immature/inexperienced, as you mentioned. Let me also suggest that perhaps Mary was the one who set the tone for this. Based on Mary’s questioning the gift, Grace might have been embarrassed and wasn’t sure how to react. It’s very hard to stay focused when you have an audience of shower guests watching you.

Let me also say that I enjoyed reading your story simply for the fact that you are one of the few posters who don’t switch verb tenses in the middle of the story :)

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VanessaGA81 February 11, 2013 at 8:23 am

I will say that when I was expecting my first baby, I was more excited about the non-practical items. After the baby was born though, it was the practical stuff that I was so thrilled to have. Baby shampoo, diaper rash cream, baby wipes and diapers were the most useful and used items and it saved me lots of money and shopping time when I had a brand new baby. These are the items I give as gifts to my friends now. That said, even though I didn’t fully appreciate how terrific these gifts were when they were originally given, I certainly thanked their givers appropriately. No one owes you a gift and even if you don’t like it or have no idea how you will use it, you owe them a gracious thank you (along with a thank you note!).

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Shoegal February 11, 2013 at 8:50 am

I really don’t get how the gift is so confusing? What is confusing about it ???? – the fact that it wasn’t wrapped? Didn’t the bow tip anybody off that – Yes this was supposed to be a present. And in this day and age have registries completely taken over that an unexpected and thoughful gift confuses everyone?

For my sister’s wedding shower she received a laundry basket full of household items – and we all were really impressed by how thoughtful it was. My sister commented that she used nearly everything in that basket and duplicated the gift at another shower she attended.

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Victoria February 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

That’s my go-to gift for all baby showers. A laundry basket with tons of little things you’ll need and probably not remember to get until you’re running to the drugstore at 2 in the morning to find a thermometer and infant Tylenol and butt paste. Nose bulb, rubbing alcohol, infant q-tips, extra socks, bibs, cloth diapers to use as burp rags, etcetera. Infant fingernail clippers as well, cause those tiny little nails are like razor blades. I’ve never had anyone react like that though.

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Mary February 11, 2013 at 8:57 am

For baby showers I always give the same gift, an assortment of my favorite baby items (now a mom for 12 years). I also have a tag tied to each item explaining why I love the item so much. I have always received a great reaction from the new mom and usually an even greater reaction from the more experienced moms at the shower.

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michelle February 11, 2013 at 8:59 am

OP, I loved the part of your story when you’re shopping for these products with your mom. What a sweet, sweet lady and what a fun thing to do with her girls! A lot of thought went into her wonderful gift, and I’m so sorry that there was any false embarrassment attached to it at all. It (and your mom) both sound delightful to me.

If there was any confusion on the mother-to-be’s part, it should have last all of a split second, and that’s it. How awful to make your wonderful mother explain herself!

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8daysaweek February 11, 2013 at 9:01 am

Your mother’s gift sounds lovely and as a mother of two little ones, I’m sure everything in the basket got much use. I would have been very happy to receive such a gift – actually I did get one like that for my wedding shower, full of cleaning supplies, and it was one of my favorite gifts.
It’s too bad that Mary didn’t show more appreciation at the time but I’m sure she came to appreciate it greatly in the following months.

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Hannah2 February 11, 2013 at 9:13 am

Yea, sorry (bint) I will put in a good word for the two gals. While they do lack manners, tact, and maturity, I can see how they may be confused. Yes, as a guest I can see how the gift could have been construed as a table decoration, cleaning supplies of the host, even those game prizes given out when someone wins the party game. Asking I’d it’s a gift us fine, and if the receiver continues to seem confused, it has to be chalked up to immaturity of not understanding the gift. I recall during a wedding shower for me when I was much younger that I was given a big box of toilet paper for a gift. Everyone laughed and because if my young age and not understanding what a useful gift that would be, I was hurt and offended. I was, and no amount if telling me I shouldn’t have been will change the fact that I was. Only now can I see what a great gift that was. So the take home lessons might be that if you present a gift like this to a very young gal who is having a first baby it getting her first home, is to write out a detailed card explaining the gift and the offer to show get how to use the products. If she still doesn’t get it, smile to yourself full if the knowledge that she will be getting it very soon.

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Xena Xavier February 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

Am I the only one who’s reminded of the Friends episode that features Rachel’s baby shower? She fails to recognise every one of her gifts, and has to have them explained to her. (She even goes so far as to think a breast pump is a “beer bong for a baby”.)

That said, I agree with everyone else that Grace and Mary were discourteous with their reactions to the wonderful gift, but could their age have come into play? The OP doesn’t say, but they sound quite young. I wonder if Grace felt bad about her lack of gratitude after she found how invaluable the contents of the laundry basket were.

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mojo February 11, 2013 at 9:17 am

What a thoughtless reaction. One of the best house-warming presents I ever got was a plastic garden trug filled with cheap but useful gardening items – plant labels, twine, cotton gloves, dibber etc. I appreciated the fact that more thought than money had gone into putting the gift together.

Maybe the new Mum will come to realise this over time. Perhaps the giver should just smile quietly and wait. She’ll be using a laundry basket long after she’s thrown out the frilly gowns and baby hairbands!

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abf February 11, 2013 at 9:20 am

This reminds me of when I became engaged. I was in college and shared the news with the girls in one of my classes. One of those girls took me aside and prepared me. She explained that I would probably be given a shower and that I should open each gift with a smile and big thank you. She shared with me when she was a bride to be, she had been given as shower by the ladies in her church. As she opened one of the gifts, she sort of grimaced and then realized she shouldn’t have. But it was too late. The giver had witnessed it and it was caught on video. She was deeply regretful and encouraged me to learn from her lesson. Now, I think of her everytime I open a gift.

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WildIrishRose February 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

This gift is such a great idea that I’m stealing it for a baby shower I will be attending this week. The baby will be a girl, so I’ll throw in a cute girly thing of some sort, but what a great idea for a practical and thoughtful gift! I used cloth diapers on my kids and we used a diaper service, but things like wipes, baby lotion/shampoo/bath items, even a thermometer, were among the best gifts I received. Sometimes you just don’t think about stuff like that! I’m going to put Mary and Grace’s “rudeness” down to ignorance, and assume that as time went by and more babies came along, Grace figured out how useful that basket was!

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Teapot February 11, 2013 at 9:32 am

I gave the same gift at the last baby shower I attended. I have no children, but I’ve seen plenty of nurseries and know how much is needed to care for a newborn. I spent a lot of time in multiple stores buying a basket, which I lined with a small blanket, and lots of lotions, wipes, etc. Buying that way I didn’t keep a running total so when I put the basket together I realized I’d spent a lot more than if I’d just run into the mall and gotten one cute outfit. Not that I’m bragging or complaining. But one of the mother-to-be’s aunts was sitting at the same table and made a rude remark about the gift being cheap and not even gift-wrapped. Not too loud, but loud enough for me and the people around us to hear. Needless to say, I was offended. Fortunately, when I saw mom and baby a few months later, she thanked me again and said she had used everything in the basket and even asked where I had found some of the items. From now on, this is going to be my gift at any baby shower I attend.

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NotCinderell February 11, 2013 at 9:35 am

I’m wondering how clueless a person would have to be not to realize that they’d need baby shampoo, diaper cream, tylenol drops, etc. when their baby is very young. Seriously, speaking as someone who found herself at a CVS in the middle of a snow storm because of a teething baby who was in agony, I would have appreciated a gift like this.

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AnnaMontana February 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

This reminds me of my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. My then-boyfriend and I were (still are!) known for giving ‘generous’ gifts that are unusual and ‘quirky’. As this was my parents’ silver wedding anniversary, I debated long and hard with myself and decided to get them small, practical items they would use with some ‘treats and surprises’ hidden inside. I decided to make them a ‘gift hamper’. I included tinfoil, silver packets of polos, silver scourers (my mum constantly complains about not having enough), silver coloured washing powder, silver rubber gloved (mum cannot wash up without them!) etc. For their ‘surprises’ I had sourced some of my mum’s favourite chocolate and had it put into a silver box, found my dad’s favourite beer and had the packaging recoloured. I also found some ‘unusual items’ that my parents had wanted for years (a specific silver frame for their wedding photos, a certain type of jam (with the packaging ‘redone’), had my dad’s dogtags from his army days re-plated and re-engraved as M&D really wanted it doing, but hadn’t had the time etc) but they had never had time, money or been able to use a computer well enough to get these things. All-in-all, me and my (now) fiance spent around £150- £200 getting it sorted. I was still at uni, struggling on a minimum wage job and my fiance, although in a good position at work, was struggling financially.
Come the day of their party, my parents decided to ‘display’ their gifts for everyone to see. My nan walks in, takes one look at the basket and says ‘Who sent this?’ I told her it was my gift, at which point, my poor, etiquette-challenged Nanna said (loud enough for everyone to hear) “Why did you get that? Isn’t it a bit pointless? You’ll need all that stuff when you move.” Sure enough, my fiance and I moved the next week, but Nan’s thoughtless comment really stung.
Personally, I think the OP and her mum behaved with a great deal of dignity and decorum and should be applauded. But as for ‘Grace and Mary’, cast them deep into the pit, for not even attempting to be nice about it!
(Mum and Dad loved their present, especially once they had the chance to go through and use the stuff, these gifts really do ‘keep giving’)

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acr February 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

This is actually very similar to the gift I give! A laundry basket with diapers, wipes, and some chocolate for mom. However, I always put ribbons on the handles. I can see how they were confused – perhaps they thought somebody had accidentally left their grocery shopping on the table? OP, I do think your mom made a teeny error in not making the basket look more “gift-like” with a bow or ribbon. Also, sometimes a gift that’s outside of the norm needs a bit of explanation. I always say, “I know new moms get lots of cute baby clothes, so I got you a good laundry basket and lots of diapers! And some chocolate for mom!” Then they get it.

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Cami February 11, 2013 at 9:41 am

At my bridal shower, an elderly lady who was a family friend gave me a set of four steak knives. I thought it was an odd gift, but thanked her for it. Out of all the gifts I received at my bridal shower 30+ years ago, guess which gift I still use? Those steak knives. Which we usually daily and look as good as the day I opened the box. I was too young and/or ignorant to know that she had given me a very high quality set that would last a lifetime. I’ve often told that story to younger people to point out that sometimes the gift that seems so “eh, whatever” is actually the best gift of all.

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Patti February 11, 2013 at 9:45 am

Wow, That was a rude comment. Was the basket not with the other gifts. BUT was there not a gift
card with the basket??? She could have put some pretty netting around the gift.
I have 2 girls, and I received a baby tub filled with baby things for the baby. Really thoughtful.

I bet that new Mom used so much of those things later, hope she saw the baby later and got another thank you.

Someday I will do that for my future grandbabies.

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Shannon February 11, 2013 at 9:47 am

I think it was rude to be dismissive, but I don’t think Grace was being intentionally snotty. She was probably just a little confused and perhaps tired. I always do a cute little basket with some sort of small gift (a bib, toy or onesie), some travel-size baby toiletries, and a gift card to Target. The trick is that I make it look like a gift, by adding ribbons, a card, etc.

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AthenaC February 11, 2013 at 9:50 am

I appreciate the OP’s attitude of putting it behind her and appreciating the good qualities in these two because “you can’t choose your family,” but I do want to offer my validation that Mary and Grace were inexcusably out of line.

Several years ago, I attended a baby shower for a dear friend who was about to become a first-time mom. Since I had just had my second baby maybe a year before, and I was in college, I thought it would be nice to give her a small basket of “inexpensive things that you don’t want to send your husband running out for at 2 a.m.” I think my basket included some diaper rash cream, a bulb aspirator, a big bottle of the lavendar-scented Johnson’s baby wash (love that stuff! such a relaxing smell for a stressed mom) and a couple packages of baby socks (because you can never have enough of those!). At the shower, another mom had done something similar; thankfully our gifts didn’t overlap at all. As she opened my gift, she said, in reference to both me and the other lady, “These moms know what I need!”

That is how your relatives SHOULD have acted – appreciative that an experienced mom was helping her stock up on things she would be grateful to have on-hand when she needed them.

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Daisy February 11, 2013 at 10:01 am

That lovely basket is my standard baby shower gift. New mothers often have no idea how much baby shampoo costs, or how useful a plain, undecorated bib will be, or how nice it is to have an inexpensive receiving blanket over your shoulder when the baby is spitting up milk. They probably won’t realize, for a while anyway, that the baby will always need a fever thermometer and baby aspirin exactly two days before the next pay, when you’re digging pennies out of the sofa cushions. And as for the rudeness of not appreciating the gift – every new mother needs to learn how to say “Oh! How wonderful!” to the smallest of offerings. She’s going to be receiving crayon scrawls, sloppy tempera paintings, pencil drawings of mommy looking like a heroin addict, papier-mâché sculptures, and chipped plaster casts of grubby little hands for the next decade and a half, so she may as well start practicing now!

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LonelyHound February 11, 2013 at 10:05 am

OP, I hope you make this a continual gift for every new mother you go to a shower for. I do not know how many times I went to the drug store, grocery store or corner gas station to get baby items I needed, like teething gel, diaper cream, etc. Heck, I want the laundry basket too! I did not have one for a long time and trudging back and forth with armloads of laundry. I think that was an awesome gift. I sent my friend who had a baby girl about a year ago a cute onesie, a small toy, teething tablets and diaper cream. Her favorite gift? The diaper cream because the brand I chose was the only brand that helped clear the rash her daughter had. Mother wisdom is rarely passed along and when it is should be valued!!

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Elizabeth February 11, 2013 at 10:11 am

Grace is entirely lacking in grace (and judgement and social skills). I’m guessing that many in the room were taken aback by Grace’s behavior and quite sympathetic to your mom’s situation. The only person to be embarassed was Grace.

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Jane February 11, 2013 at 10:11 am

Kudos to the OP for moving on and still saying they’re nice people. When I moved into my first apartment, my mom gave me a gift bag of everyday items. I loved it, and it saved me a ton of money. I’ve thought about giving this as a gift, but after reading this, I’m not so sure… lol!

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Gee February 11, 2013 at 10:49 am

My in-laws gave us a similar basket when our first child was born. (He’s nearly six years old now). All the other cute outfits and such that we got from other people have long since been packed away, but the bath toys, washcloths, sippy cups, blankies, plastic bowls, etc are still being used.

The mom-to-be did put her foot in her mouth. Maybe she was genuinely confused, but the best thing to say would be, “Who’s this from?” If it turned out it wasn’t a gift, no harm, everyone might cuckle over it. But this way it would’ve saved anyone from embarrassed feelings because it was a gift. And there was a bow on it–that should have been a tip-off that it was a gift.

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Vickie February 11, 2013 at 10:54 am

Well, I wonder what they would have said about my favorite gift to give my close friends: the perineal care kit. A “sitz bath” filled with perineal cold packs, monster-sized maxipads, Dulcolax suppositories, Tucks, Colace pills, Preparation H, K-Y jelly, among other similar type items & an instruction sheet that covered each item. Hmmmm…. it always was a great conversation piece.

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Jess February 11, 2013 at 10:54 am

OP, your mum sounds exactly like my mum! I really feel like having a little cry for her because of how they made her feel and it brings back all the times my own mum was laughed at because she liked to be practical rather than showy.

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cmw February 11, 2013 at 10:55 am

acr, if you read the OP her mother DID put a large bow on the basket.

That being said, when my sister had her baby shower she was swamped with gifts that weren’t on her registry, baskets that had handmade blankets in all sizes and filled with small things like this. Now that I live with her and my dear niece, those things were the best things to have received. Even on my niece’s first birthday we got gifts of Tylenol and bigger blankets, which were our favorites out of all the other outfits and toys. And learning from this I’m planning on putting together baskets like this for all of my friends’ showers that are coming up.

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Ellen February 11, 2013 at 10:58 am

As many other posters have pointed out, you have seen in action the difference between an experienced and inexperienced mother. A gift like that is incredibly thoughtful. Many new moms can appreciate something like a gift card to Target – but they don’t realize the significance of not having to actually go do the shopping.

I do wonder, though, what kind of birthday and Christmas parties this young lady had as a child – did her parents not drill her in basic kindergarten manners? Open present, smile, say thank you. Any negative commentary is reserved till after the giver has left the building – and send a proper thank you note anyway.

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TJ February 11, 2013 at 11:02 am

I regularly buy all of the random things on people’s registries that no one wants to buy – rectal thermometers, nail clippers, breast pump supplies….these are things people need and no one wants to give because they aren’t the “cute little outfits” or big ticket items. As a mom of two I understand that as you’re recovering from childbirth, the last thing you want to do is run out for a nail clipper. I’m sure all the other mother’s in the room understood the value of that basket.

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MichelleP February 11, 2013 at 11:10 am

Love that idea as a baby gift! Grace and Mary are rude. I was taught that if someone gives you a decorated pile of poop as a gift, you act gracious.

@acr, the OP states clearly that there was a bow on the gift.

@Patti, why should she have put “pretty netting”, whatever that is, on a gift?

A friend of mine’s daughter got married. They were young, and went straight from their parents’ homes to their own. I was in that position with my husband when we first got married, so I knew what they needed. I filled a laundry basket with foil, paper towels, pot holders, utensils, shower liner, etc. I wasn’t there when it was opened, but got a gushing, nearly in tears with gratitude phone call later about how much it was appreciated.

No excuses for the rudeness, and I love all gifts and all these posts!

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Shalamar February 11, 2013 at 11:11 am

I’ve been to showers that have had such practical gifts, and everyone – including the recipient – has known to say “Awesome! Those will be so useful!” (which is a nice change from “Aww, how cute!”).

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Spuck February 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

I’m a little surprised that Grace and Mary were surprised by the gift basket of practical presents anyway. Isn’t that what baby showers are all about? When all my cousins had their baby showers (I think they are about the same age as Grace and Mary) all they expected was small particle items.

The only other problem I can imagine happening is gift overload. This happened to one of my cousin’s husbands, he was getting mad at all the gifts giving. Then again he also decided to hold a business baby shower before the family shower, but that is an entirely different etiquette problem.

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Library Diva February 11, 2013 at 11:18 am

I can imagine this submission written from the other perspective:

“Years ago, my cousin was pregnant. She was the first person in my age group to be expecting and we were all thrilled for her. I helped organize the baby shower, and on the day of the shower, my role was to pass the presents from the gift table to my cousin. As we got down to the end, the last thing on the table was a laundry basket that appeared to be filled with personal care items. I blurted out for the whole room to hear ‘Is this supposed to be a present?’ No sooner had I blurted this out than I noticed the bow affixed to the basket. Taking a closer look, they were clearly baby items! I was mortified as my aunt stammered out the purpose of the present, obvious to everyone except me. The worst part was that I threw off my cousin with my thoughtless comment and she was so confused by my confusion that she didn’t even thank our aunt properly! I’ve always wanted to apologize but I figured that bringing it up again would just make things worse. They are lovely people and I’ve always felt bad that I caused offense.”

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MaryT February 11, 2013 at 11:19 am

I have given this same type of baby gift many times. Usually, if it’s a first time Mommy, they do appear slightly confused but I have never had anyone ask me if it’s real gift. That’s terrible!
I think that most will realize at some point that yours is the most thoughtful and useful kind of gift they will ever receive.

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mahovolich February 11, 2013 at 11:25 am

I also gave a similar gift to a friend when her little one was born. Her registry was very limited & I also had a little one at the time and not a lot of time to go our shopping. This friend also had very specific and expensive tastes that I could not accomodate. She was thrilled with the gift in the end as I filled it with the things that saved my sanity the previous year as well as a couple of goodies for mom.

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VM February 11, 2013 at 11:28 am

I’m gathering from similar anecdotes in the comments that Grace’s confused and vaguely displeased initial reaction to the laundry basket of items is not uncommon. I’m also seeing that a number of commentators are inspired to give the same kind of gift in future. I hope that the latter doesn’t lead to more of the former…

Perhaps one might get some posterboard or such, cut it to the size of the laundry basket mouth for a top, and letter on it NEW MOMMY CARE PACKAGE – From One Who’s Been There. On the reverse one could itemize the contents and give a short explanation. Ribboning would hold it on and help with the presentation.

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k February 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

I don’t think they were that rude. While it’s a lovely shower gift, MTB may have been legitimately unsure of whether or not it was intended as a present to open at the shower – no wrapping and (it sounds like) no card. And she did thank your mother, even if you interpreted it as half-hearted.

Personally, while I’ve given sample sizes of things I’ve liked to use as part of a larger gift, I would not give an entire laundry basket of items. It’s too hard to know what someone’s preferences are, or allergies, or something else. I received a ton of baby-branded lotions and creams that I never used because the scents were too strong. So I think it was a very nice gesture on your mother’s part, I can see why someone wouldn’t necessarily gush.

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Lola February 11, 2013 at 11:37 am

Inexcusable. The snub was clearly intentional, as evidenced by the phrasing of the question (“Is this *supposed to be* a present?”) Ungrateful, entitled, and RUDE.

On another note, I would have been overjoyed to receive such a present. One can never have too many laundry baskets. And, having received similarly structured “baby bathtub filled with goodies” and “romantic picnic basket for the wedding couple” gifts, I can tell you, they are far from being a cheap gift, and take a lot of effort, thought, and skill to put together.

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Goldie February 11, 2013 at 11:40 am

Best gift that I received when my children were born was a giant pack of newborn-sized diapers! My childhood friend, who’d had her own two babies one year apart, gave them to me a month before my second baby was born, saying that I’d need them. I thanked her every day I used those tiny diapers! It’s been 17 years, the baby is now 6’3″ and my friend, sadly, died in a car accident ten years ago, and I still remember those diapers as if it was yesterday. OP, your Mom’s gift sounds amazing, very practical and thoughtful and I’ve got to add, sounds like it cost her quite a bit as well! Sorry, Grace and Mary don’t get a break from me. If it’s on the table with all the other gifts, looks expensive and purposely put together, and has a bow on it, then it’s a gift and the only proper response to it is “thank you”. I’m not buying it that they’d confused it with the host’s cleaning supplies — when has anyone last seen a box of cleaning supplies with a bow on top? what box of cleaning supplies would have things in it like diapers, baby cream, and baby shampoo? Besides, since Mary was helping open the gifts, doesn’t that mean she *was* the host, or one of the hosts?

Daisy, good point!

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gramma dishes February 11, 2013 at 11:40 am

I certainly agree that Mary and Grace were both rude.
I personally think the gift was wonderful, and the best part is that even after all the creams, shampoos and ointments had been used up and the other baby-specific items were no longer needed, she still had that laundry basket for the baby’s clothes to use for years and years and years.
That was a great gift. So sorry your Mom was treated in a way that embarrassed her. It was the new mother and her helper who should have been embarrassed.

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Surianne February 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

If they’re otherwise lovely people, as the OP states, I’m not sure why this is considered an insult or a dig. It sounds like they were genuinely confused because the present wasn’t wrapped the way the others were, and didn’t immediately look like a present.

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