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Baby Showers

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This is prompted by the latest post on the Home page, where it seems that everyone is (pleasantly) surprised by the no-gift shower idea.

In the UK, I think most of us would be horrified by the idea of work colleagues feeling obligated to buy individual gifts for someone you work with and may not even be friends with! The tradition in my office was there was a collection taken up for someone who was going on maternity leave, which was anonymous obviously, and a gift would be bought from everyone through that collection.

It is not usual either for friends or family to throw showers for the mama-to-be. Gifts are usually bought AFTER the baby is born, and usually are just tokens (maybe a baby outfit or a teddy bear) but certainly not a way to "kit out" the parents-to-be.

I am not knocking the tradition of showers as this is obviously an accepted and even treasured custom in the US, but in my experience it would be very unusual and slightly odd to have one over here. (I am aware that by posting this, many other UK E-Hellions will post saying they had one themselves, but I think most would agree that it is not the done thing to have one over here).

It may be a superstitious thing also; I personally would not buy a gift until after the baby is safely born. Although I must also add that after my daughter was born in January, it felt like Christmas for about 6 weeks after she was born - cards, gifts and flowers arriving every day! We felt quite sad when it all stopped and everyone else returned to their own lives!!

Even in Canada/US - there will be people who are opposed to a before-birth shower.  Either they feel that it's unlucky, or they feel that the purpose of the shower is to meet the baby.

I acknowledge the superstition-aspect and I can certainly understand the reluctance of a mother who had previously lost a baby to having a before-birth shower.  On the whole, however, I like them.  Really, the purpose of a shower is to give the woman small gifts that she will need in her new role.  A wedding shower - small, useful household items such as kitchen utensils.  Baby shower - basic items such as receiving blankets, onesies, baby bath items etc.  These are the things you need before the baby arrives, not a month later.  I will agree however that in Canada/US shower gifts have morphed beyond "basic" items.

IME workplace baby showers are fairly common (I had one (surprise) and attended one) but there's no pressure - it's just a blanket invitation and takes place at a nearby location shortly after the office closes.  Also for family parties - sometimes someone such as a grandmother hosts a "shower" for family members only, and naturally these might include more expensive presents than casual-friends might be likely to give.

I definitely think showers have changed a lot in the US (not sure about Canada). I am only 30 and I remember a time when showers usually were for the very close friends and female family members of the MTB. There were games, homemade foods and cake and the whole thing only lasted a couple of hours. Most of the gifts were baby essentials (diapers, bottles, thermometers, blankets, etc.)

Now, showers seem to be much larger, are often times co-ed, seem to be catered a lot more and feature a lot more extravagant gifts. I don't mean to knock those trends (although, I personally don't like all of them), just that the whole concept seems to have changed a lot in the last 15-20 years.

I often wonder what a baby shower in the US will look like 15-20 years from now. 

Also, I've been to a number of workplace baby showers, and I find that most of the time there is a collection and one large gift off the registry or a gift card is purchased with only the closest of the MTB's coworkers getting individual gifts. I've never seen a workplace shower where each person purchased an individual gift.

Baby showers have sprung up in Australia in the last ten to fifteen years. I think as an influence of American TV as there is no etiquette history behind it. From what I have experienced most women organise it themselves, or a family member does and they are done about 6 weeks before the baby is due. I have seen Jack and Jill ones which I think reflect how much more dads want to be involved so I tend to like them. These tend to be more of a BBQ style party and rarely have games.

Presents don't tend to be extravagant and I have never heard of anyone registering for a baby shower. The mother to be may leave a list of things with a friend but these are usually small items.

I'm in the UK and didn't really hear about people having baby showers until about five or so years ago. Even so, they are still very unusual here.

That said, I was amazed at just how much people bought for us before our first baby arrived. The pram was bought by may parents and the high chair was from my work colleagues. We were given an incredible amount of clothing and other baby items. The only things we bought were the cot and some of the bedding, a breast pump and bottles, nappies and some clothes (although we didn't even need to buy those, given the amount of things we were given, both new and second hand) DH's colleagues in particular were very kind and gave us a lovely set of baby clothes, and several ladies made hand-knitted items for him. We were given a lot of things before DS2 was born as well.

A good friend of mine (mother of four) warned me not to buy too much stuff before the baby arived, because we would be given a lot of things, and she was absolutely right. People were incredibly generous.


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