One of my SIL's go-to gift for a baby shower is a big honking basket filled with baby 'maintenance and husbandry' items. Laundry soap. Shampoo and bath gel. Wash clothes. Nose syringe. Spit clothes. Some diaper pins. A monitor. A thermometer. Medicine measuring spoon. Baby nail clippers and emery boards (paw prints!) I'm blanking on what she puts in those baskets, but the last one I saw had to have a good 20 items in it, all of them highly useful things to have at hand. None of them will expire as the baby grows, and all of them are items the mom will want to have for the baby at some point.
My go-to gift is a good baby book, with good calming advice. I'm the book auntie once the children are older.
Your friend's go-to gift is similar to mine. I get a laundry basket and pack it with:
-2 or 3 small bottles of different types of baby shampoo/baby wash
-travel sized packages of several different brands of baby wipes
-A package of cloth diapers (they make great spit cloths if mom uses disposables, but if she's using cloth then she has extras)
-A package of plain wash cloths (baby sized)
-Small bottle of baby laundry soap
-Breast pads (even if mom is bottle feeding, there will still be some leakage while she dries out)
-Roll of aluminum foil
-roll of plastic wrap
-1 box each of quart and gallon sized ziploc bags
-Small bottle of dish detergent
-Small container of dishwasher detergent if I know mom has a dishwasher
-Small bottle of regular adult detergent
-Box of trash bags
-Bottle of spray cleaner
-Toothpaste and toothbrushes for mom and dad
-Any other "emergency" items I feel like throwing in.
I call it the first 6 weeks survival kit. I basically throw in everything I can think of that mom and dad might run out of or not realize they need until it's 3am and they have a screaming newborn on their hands. The cleaning items are for getting them through a day or so until they can get to a store. The hygiene items for mom and dad usually get funny looks, but eventually mom comes to me and says something like "I can't believe I was so tired I dropped my toothbrush in the toilet/on the floor/etc., but then I remembered I had a new one from the basket you gave me and I was happy I didn't have to go buy a new one!"