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The Diaper Card Goes Missing

In case it’s a regional thing, let me explain the event where this occurred. By some of the language and terminology I get the impression that many of the readers are in the UK, but I could be wrong. Diapers are what we call “nappies.” (please feel free to edit this part out if I am wrong)

Around these parts (rural Ohio, USA) instead of a baby shower, expecting parents opt to host what we call a “diaper party.” The attitude is very casual and it’s an all-family event as opposed to just the women at a shower. The understood message is “we don’t want or need gifts, but these are the brand of diapers & wipes we will use, so please bring a pack for us to use when the baby arrives.” No need to wrap since it’s not a surprise present, no guessing, no “will they like this,” and everyone wins.

I recently attended one of these parties hosted by a couple I know who is expecting. They are not “best friends” of mine, but we see each other often and they host many events where I am always invited and welcomed.

Seeing as they often host and I do not have the means to reciprocate (I live in an apartment with roommates) I try to compensate with my bringings to show my appreciation for the invitation. This party was no different. I was at our local warehouse store (Costco, Sams, BJ’s, that sort of thing) and picked up a box of diapers, about $45.00 USD for a box of 174. I found a cute card, taped it securely to the box, and attended the party.

When I arrived, there was the usual groups of guests – some were sitting in the family room watching a sporting event on TV, and the rest were outside playing yard games and enjoying the weather. I was told, “Go on and leave your gifts on the table over there, grab a bite to eat, and join the fun,” which I did. I met up with friends outside until it was time to go inside and open the gifts. I did mention before that it was all about the diapers, but some close friends did bring onesies, toys, and other personal things. Also the couple was able to thank everyone in a group setting as they saw who brought what. Again, very casual.

The gifts were opened, people ooh’ed and ahh’d over the outfits, and guests were thanked as their diaper boxes were seen. I heard my name called, and “Hey, thank you for bringing these! Good to see you again,” while the mother-to-be held up a 12-pack box with my card attached and waved at me. I smiled and responded appropriately, immediately realizing that someone had switched the cards on my box and a smaller one, and took credit for the very large package while leaving me with the smaller one. I did not see who was thanked for my box, so I don’t know who did the switch.

This was several months ago, and for some reason it bugged me again today. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, the family still has the same amount of diapers to use, I won’t be unfriended either in real life or on social media, and the world will continue to turn. I wasn’t expecting the family to pick me up and carry me around the room and cheer for my generosity. However, it was very irritating to know that I made a generous purchase for my friends and someone else took credit for it.

What should I have done in this situation to make things right? I didn’t want to make a scene or otherwise ruin the parents’ special day. Too much time has passed and it would be silly to ever bring it up. However, if I were to ever experience this sort of thing again, how should it be handled? Or do you just smile knowing that the recipient has a gift to enjoy regardless of who it was from, and go on enjoying the party?   0402-17

For all you know, your card fell off the package of diapers and someone reattached it to whatever box of diapers appeared to be cardless.   I’m not sure there is any gracious way to point out that the diapers you are being thanked for are not the ones you bought. I suggest taping the card using a very distinctive tape or use duct tape which comes in all kinds of colors and patterns.   Better yet, make a diaper “cake”!

{ 39 comments }
{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Dee March 22, 2018, 11:19 am

    I’m just left wondering why anyone would play into this gift grab. If a person has enough disposable income that they want to throw it away on disposable diapers then all power to them (although the environment and public health would say different) but I don’t need to finance that. Invite me to a shower that’s not a gift grab and makes me feel like a much-wanted guest and I’m good to go. But I don’t find any pleasure buying people expensive packs of paper and plastic that will be filled with sewage and then thrown into the garbage. Yuck.

    • Aleko March 24, 2018, 5:24 am

      I’m right with you on the non-giftness of nappies/diapers. The whole point of giving physical presents is that the thing given is a concrete symbol of the giver’s affection. You might not like the vase Aunt Ada gave you as a wedding present, but at least there it is, reminding you that she cared enough to buy this monstrosity for you. The same by extension goes for giving ‘experiences’ – if someone gives you tickets for the theatre or pays for your visit to Paris, hopefully your memories of that experience will always be associated with the generosity of the giver. But a gift of a household consumable like nappies/diapers is no gift at all: it’s more in the nature of a charitable donation, which should neither be solicited nor given unless there is actual need.

      That said, I don’t see this as a gift grab: actually just the opposite. I suspect the new parents may have wanted to *prevent* their friends digging deep into their pockets – and also to avert a cascade of unwanted stuff (multiple bibs and baby grows, more soft toys than any child could ever love or even find names for, et cetera). It seems to me from across the pond that it is now an iron law in the USA that you CANNOT celebrate any life event or welcome a baby without a material gift, so they knew that their guests would be preparing to pony up, and even if they said outright “no gifts please!” that wouldn’t stop them. So they hit on the notion of asking everyone to bring just a pack of diapers/wipes, so that their guests could feel comfortable that they had done the proper thing.

      BTW, you’ll note that not only OP but a number of other guests had deliberately thwarted the couple’s kindly intention by splashing out on bigger gifts !

    • Rinme March 25, 2018, 8:04 am

      Every shower is a “gift grab”, that’s the entire concept of a shower.

    • TracyX March 26, 2018, 10:41 am

      Thank you for the insults to a large portion of the population.

    • Ergala March 26, 2018, 1:14 pm

      What a very interesting and judgemental assumption.

  • staceyizme March 22, 2018, 11:51 am

    Something as plain as “Oddly enough, my gift tag was switched for someone else’s at the shower. Anyway- the one was from me, even if my tag went MIA… Or you can relate it humorously under “Awkward Surprises that happened to me…” and correct the record that way. This falls under “allowable quirks”, more so since you are known as a conscientious, considerate and generous guest. Saying a (little) something will give you the satisfaction of having set the record straight and sometimes these small satisfactions help us along in life.

    • staceyizme March 22, 2018, 11:54 am

      the bracketed “brand/ volume” verbiage was edited out after “Anyway-” (by software, I think)- but might help the comment make more sense, so is hereby awkwardly resubmitted.

  • NostalgicGal March 22, 2018, 11:58 am

    That is the best suggestion, if you bought a huge box of diapers, make a diaper cake, then it would be obvious on where that batch came from. It can be galling if accident or on purpose your card got mixed around but you’re going to have to let it go… as there’s little to do at this time short of producing the receipt and making a production of it. Which isn’t a good thing.

    • Ria March 25, 2018, 7:58 pm

      If the diapers are still in the original package, then they can usually be exchanged for a different size or brand if the baby outgrows them, is allergic to a certain brand, or just manages to leak horribly in that brand.

      • NostalgicGal March 27, 2018, 7:09 am

        That is true, but if one is met with that dilemma from a diaper cake, donate the diapers to a place that can use them. Or you may have a friend with an infant that CAN use them. It does sort of seem counter if the baby can’t use them but such things do happen.

  • lakey March 22, 2018, 11:58 am

    I agree with Administrator. I’ve seen a lot of situations where cards and gift tags came off packages. Anyway, if someone was so pathetic and desperate for attention that they took your card off the package and put theirs on, you should just feel sorry for them.

  • Devin March 22, 2018, 12:07 pm

    Since you didn’t see someone else get thanked for your big box, I think the admin might be correct that the cards weren’t swapped maliciously. This happened to a friend of mine at a baby shower, she was thanked for a gift she didn’t give (think breast pads and nipple cream) instead of the bib set she bought. My friend who didn’t have kids blushed and had to ask another guest what those were. When the bibs were unwrapped and one of the older relatives were thanked, they told her about the card mix up.
    I also had a friend have someone try to claim part of her multi-box gift during a bridal shower. she had wrapped all the boxes in matching paper, stacked them, and tied them with a big bow. When the gift was set down she realized a box was missing, ask the bride to hold on, walked over to the gift table, ripped the new card off her box, and the handed it to the bride. I’m hind sight, she thought she should have let the other person try to claim the gift as her own since that part of a gift was a reference to a running joke they had from decades before (an ugly mug they kept passing back and forth).

    • NostalgicGal March 26, 2018, 2:24 am

      That was a lot of brass for someone to try to knype a box from a set of gift boxes that were obviously a set. It would have been squirmy to let the other person try to repurpose an obviously not from them gift, but I think this was the better approach, just to reunite the set. There may have been a crumb of wrapping paper or even the paper pattern picked up on the tape so it would have been clear who tried it anyways.

  • rindlrad March 22, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Oh, OP, I feel for you. However, I think Admin is correct. You really don’t know that someone deliberately switched cards – it could have been an accident. In addition, I really don’t think there is any way you can “let it be known” without making things awkward. I’m imagining you explaining the situation to your friends and them saying, “Ohhhkaaay. I’m sorry that happened. Thank you.?.” See, awkward. They’re just happy to have the diapers – not interested in the drama. Let it go and be comforted in the knowledge of your generosity.

    Another idea for the future – writing directly on the box with pretty, glittery ink pens (or even a Sharpie) and adding cute baby-type stickers instead of the card. Won’t fall off, can’t be exchanged for someone else’s gift.

  • Kimberly March 22, 2018, 1:32 pm

    At the moment you could have looked puzzled and said no my gift was a package of 174. You could have called later and said Hey I was caught off guard at the party but there must have been an accidental switch up because I gave a package of 174 diapers.

  • remi March 22, 2018, 4:16 pm

    “Whoops, seems to be a mistake, those aren’t the diapers I brought! That box over there is the one I brought.” I’m not sure how this is ungracious – you aren’t blaming anyone for underhanded doings or making a fuss, you’re just stating something true. It probably WAS a case of “the card fell off and got put back on the closest uncarded diaper box” in which case there’s no harm in pointing at “your” box. It would be weird to bring this up after the fact, but as an in-the-moment reaction would this really be rude?

  • doodlemor March 22, 2018, 7:17 pm

    Maybe next time you could write a few congratulatory lines on the box with a Sharpie, and sign your name. Write big. Put your official name tag beside this.

  • Rebecca March 23, 2018, 12:54 am

    It would bug me too, not because I want everyone to see what a generous gift I made, but….it would just bug me. Especially if I had received a lot of hospitality from this couple, I maybe wouldn’t want them to think I only brought a 12-pack. I mean, I doubt they think less of you. It sounds as though you always show them your appreciation. But….it would still bug me.

    I’d probably just be surprised and say, “Oh!! That’s not the one I brought you! Wasn’t there another one, a 172 pack? Oh good, I thought for a sec that it had gone missing!!”

    Or just let it go. But that is super irritating. Who does that?

  • A different Tracy March 23, 2018, 7:56 am

    If it happens again, you have to address it in the moment. “Oh, that’s weird – that’s not the package I brought. I brought this one.” {points to larger box} Right now, it would be weird to do anything about it. And there *is* a chance it was an accidental switch.

    (I have to dispute “better yet, make a diaper cake.” Diaper cakes are cute, but not a convenient way to store diapers. Unless you’re making the centerpiece for a shower, please just leave the diapers in the package.)

    • babs March 27, 2018, 2:25 pm

      My thoughts also about the diaper cake.

  • Julia March 23, 2018, 8:53 am

    Seems to me you’re looking for someone to validate your feelings here, and I am happy to do so. It doesn’t matter if it were an accident or on purpose. You did something nice to a level of, say, an eight, and you got credit for a four. That stinks. We have so few opportunities to be generous to friends in socially acceptable ways, and baby showers (or whatever you call them) are great because it’s for the baby, and the baby cannot be condemned as “greedy” or a “drama queen” (even though the parents sometimes can). So here you did something with joy, only to have it unfairly soured. It would bother me too.
    Unfortunately, there really was and is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes life’s just a jerk. Still, we reading this know you did a nice thing, and you’re a nice person.

  • JD March 23, 2018, 10:03 am

    I know for sure I would have said right then, “Oh, but that’s not the present I brought. The cards must have fallen off and been mixed up,” because I’ve done that before. I assumed in my case that the cards had become separated from the gifts, because I’ve seen that happen too many times.

    However, if Mom-t0-be was thanking people in person, and she thanked someone for that huge pack and that person didn’t say anything, then either they switched cards on purpose, or if it was an accidental switch by someone else, this person decided to grab the credit, knowing it wasn’t his or her actual gift. Since you said it was taped securely, I would have some doubt that it just fell off, too.I don’t blame you for feeling put out, but you didn’t do anything wrong. Just tell them, in a lighthearted manner, that the cards were somehow mixed up. You don’t have to voice your suspicions — treat it as an accident.

    One other innocent scenario that I can think of. The wife of an attending couple brought the small pack. She’s outside when Mom-to-be holds up the large pack and thanks wife’s husband for the gift. He has no clue what size gift they brought — he didn’t even carry it in, so he says, “You’re welcome” and carries on partying. It’s far-fetched, but it could happen.

  • mark March 23, 2018, 10:25 am

    To add on to what admin said, I usually follow this “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” This is commonly referred to as Hanlon’s Razor. People aren’t out to get you or slight you or anything like that. They just make mistakes etc. Applying this principle basically means assume someone made a mistake before you assume they are deliberately out to get you. Once I started doing this, I found myself getting less angry (a lot less), and I stressed less. And the very few cases left where the conclusion of malice was inescapable could be handled more rationally and calmly.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

  • DaDancingPsych March 23, 2018, 11:14 am

    I am not sure if Madame would agree with me, but I might have said, “Oh, that is not the box that I brought. Someone’s card must have fallen off that box!” I may still not get credit for my box, but at least it would give the real giver of that box to possibly claim it (as the card may have really fallen off.)

  • AS March 23, 2018, 11:33 am

    I always put a card *inside* the gift, or for unpacked gifts, write with a sharpie / permanent marker on the gift. I had learned how mean people can be when I had attended one of my best friend’s little brother’s party as a 12 year old. It was mostly their family and cousins, but I was invited because I was sort of an older sister to him. The gift I gave, while not expensive, was carefully chosen and I had used my savings to buy it. At some point, I saw some black writing on my gift-tag and saw that someone had written two different names with thick sharpie, totally overshadowing my name. I called my friend and showed her, and she didn’t know what to say when I said that it was a gift that *I* had given. These cousin’s parents hadn’t bothered to buy a gift, so they chose the “outsider’s” gift from the pile of gifts and wrote their own children’s names!

    • staceyizme March 26, 2018, 1:17 pm

      It’s a shame that you had to have this particular experience, but I love that you’ve found a solution going forward! Something like that would bother anyone, but to have deliberately stolen a gift from a child is just revolting (even if it was stolen in name only, in this instance).

  • Princess Buttercup March 23, 2018, 2:04 pm

    I would have said something like: “oh, my card must have fallen off the box I brought. I’m not sure who brought those.”
    You are leaving it as an accident, which it may have been, but also being honest about what gift you brought.

  • essie March 23, 2018, 5:00 pm

    (A) Attach the card with packing tape.
    (B) Use a press-on label.
    (C) Write on the box itself with a permanent marker.

    • admin March 24, 2018, 1:09 am

      Oooh, I like the idea of a press on label.

    • TracyX March 26, 2018, 10:40 am

      Open the box and write a few cute sayings on some of the diapers (this was done at our baby shower) or hide a few “you can do it cards” to help give them a pick me up when they’re using the diapers.

  • at work March 24, 2018, 11:57 am

    I can see why the OP is bugged by this, still. It would bug me, too. A card inside the gift is what I always do now. A stick-on label? A good idea! Am I the only one who feels sick at the idea of a diaper “cake?” Cake is a delicious dessert. Diapers are made to hold poop and stuff. I can’t get past using “diaper” as a modifier for “cake!” Yuck.

    • Lerah99 March 26, 2018, 4:27 pm

      It gets even worse if you get trapped at a shower where everyone’s SUPER excited to play the “Which candy bar did we melt in the diaper” game? Which involves people sniffing and looking at the lumpy brown smears in the diapers to identify “Hey, are those peanuts? I bet this was a Snickers bar!”

      It is, by far, my least favorite shower game.

    • Aleko March 27, 2018, 2:59 am

      I’m with you there 100%.

      It must also be a very inconvenient and annoying format for actual use. Can you leave it in cake form and just peel one off when you need it? If not, you’re going to have to dismantle the whole thing and find a suitable box to re-pack them in.

    • staceyizme March 27, 2018, 7:23 am

      I see where you’re coming from, but maybe diapers are one of those quasi-expensive necessities that make this translation possible? Every pack that is gifted is one less that must be purchased. The celebratory nature of the cake might be the point, after all.

  • Redd March 26, 2018, 8:30 am

    I agree that perhaps next time a stick-on label along with using a glittery pen or Sharpie to write directly on the box. I would like to think I’d have spoken up right then and there to give a politely quizzical, “Oh my! That’s not the gift I brought; the tags must have been mixed up.” but in the moment I’m not sure I would have done so.

    I DEFINITELY disagree with the Admin to have made a diaper cake. I absolutely loathe these things. No idea why such a silly thing generates such strong feels for me, but seriously…I hate them. I think they’re unsanitary and disgusting. I don’t want anyone pawing all through the diapers doing on my baby’s tush just to transform them into a “cake”. If you’re specifically charged with making a centerpiece, then…I guess. (I say this extremely begrudgingly.) But otherwise, don’t make one. They’re a horrible way to transport and then store the diapers for a mother. And I’ve also seen some people make them where the included diapers are alllllllll difference sizes. So incredibly inconvenient to take them apart and group them together, then corral loose diapers into storage. Unsanitary. Yuck. No.

    • mark March 26, 2018, 3:48 pm

      They are going to be a lot less sanitary when the baby is done with them. 😉

    • staceyizme March 27, 2018, 7:26 am

      diaper cake
      do not bake
      do not serve
      simply take
      piece by piece
      into piles
      strewn abroad
      many miles
      some will grin
      some will grown
      reactions, well
      to each their own…

  • NicoleK March 26, 2018, 10:17 pm

    I guess if it happens again, a puzzled look and “Oh, that’s not mine, the card must have fallen off” or something.

  • Kat March 29, 2018, 7:25 pm

    I would have said “Oh, actually, that one’s mine,” and not speculated on how the mixup happened 🙂

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