General Etiquette > Family and Children

Gift question about BBQ/shower

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My sister is having a baby this fall. Rather than a baby shower, she wants to hold a co-ed barbecue for friends and family. She is not registering for baby stuff, but she suspects that people will want to give her and her husband presents for their impending newborn. She mentioned that she does not want to open the gifts at the party.

I'm pretty inexperienced with showers of all types, but my understanding is that gifts are usually opened during the party. Is the etiquette different for more laidback showers? Does it not matter as long as thank you notes are sent?

It would be weird to me to go to a shower and not see presents opened.  I'm not sure who's throwing the party, but whoever that is should probably not call it a shower.  It can always be just a party.  Alternatively, they can have a welcome baby party after the baby is here. 

I'm in the same boat as you are....I've been asked to host a baby shower for a 'laid back' family member. It'll be a co-ed party with a long guest list. They want to have 'craft activities' to make something for the baby and I've had to remind them that they will be expected to open presents- which given their guest list could take over an hour. Yes, I know watching someone open gifts is mind numblingly boring but it's an opportunity to show gratitude to the gift giver and give them a chance to feel connected to the new family member. I think to not open presents during a shower would be bad form.

I think the issue here is that she's not having a 'baby shower', she's throwing a barbecue for friends and family before the baby comes.  Just because she's pregnant and having a party does not make it a baby shower.  Therefore, if anyone brings a present for the baby, it should be put away and opened after the baby arrives/when the nursery is being finalised.

Just don't mention the baby on the invites, and that way if anyone tries to turn it into a specifically baby-orientated party, just take the gifts and say "How lovely of you to bring this, we'll put it in the nursery for when the baby comes.  Now, have you had enough to eat/spoken to Auntie/beandip."

What is this non-shower BBQ being called? What are you inviting people to attend? Is this a "Come celebrate that George and Martha are having a baby! BBQ at 5," or "Martha's having a baby and we're having a party!"?

If it is not a shower, don't call it a shower. The problem comes that there really isn't a simple term for a party to celebrate a pregnancy without gifts that everyone will be familiar with. I would be very careful with the wording on the invitation to make sure people realize that it isn't a shower. And I'd be very careful about how the party was talked about--no hint or mention of shower, gentle reminders that the Guest of Honor doesn't want gifts, telling people who ask about a registry that the GOH didn't register on purpose because she doesn't want gifts, etc.

I think that if you don't call the party a shower, then you are technically in the clear about opening any gifts that might show up after the party and not in front of the guests. Only at showers, and children's birthday parties,  is the gift opening the main event, so to speak. Everyone involved should do a lot of talking about the party, "Oh, Sue and Sam don't want a shower. But they do want to celebrate! So they are having a non-shower-type party--everyone's invited!" Just because someone brings a gift to a party does not mean that the gift has to be opened at the party--just as a hostess gift of food or drink at a dinner party does not mean that the food or drink must be served at that meal.

This doesn't mean that people won't bring gifts. And some of them may be upset that their gift wasn't opened in front of everyone. But if they were told the party wasn't a shower, then they need to deal with their upsetness by themselves.

But it might be easier, in terms of gifts, to wait until after the baby is born and then have a "Welcome the Baby" party. Because I think a lot of people are going to hear "party to celebrate a pregnancy" and think "shower" and "I guess I have to bring a gift."


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