Baby Shower Expense: What to do when feeling present pressure during a recession

by EPI Staff on April 17, 2009

Q: A friend of mine (who is well off – despite the recession) is about to have her baby shower. When I looked at the gifts on her registry they were all too expensive for my budget. How do I deal with this?

A: A gift should be thoughtful, heartfelt and most importantly, fit within your budget. There’s no requirement that the gift must come from the registry or cost a certain amount. The purpose of a registry is to give guests a convenient way to select a gift, usually at a variety of price points. The choice of the gift and where to purchase it is completely up to you. A baby sized “onsie” from the mom’s or dad’s alma mater is a unique and affordable gift; and new parents can never have too many receiving blankets or baby washcloths. For new parents, there are many meaningful gifts that can’t be measured monetarily. A handmade baby blanket, a “gift-certificate” for a delivered home-cooked meal, coupons for baby sitting or an afternoon of house chores are all priceless gifts and they won’t cost you much more than your time.


For more on baby showers and registries check out: Emily Post’s Etiquette 17th Edition by Peggy Post.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Hilary May 16, 2009 at 8:39 pm

I do not agree with EPI’s answer. I think the reality is that most people can’t even afford giving out a delivered home-cooked meal, coupons for baby sitting or an afternoon of house chores. These items are costly for most people. I would say you simply make up an excuse and get off of the event if that friend is not even close to you and has never given you any baby shower gifts.

We had a similar situation in the neighborhood recently when someone suddenly thought of an idea to throw a surprise baby shower for a couple expecting twins as their 3rd and 4th children. Now it may seem pretty normal, but if you dig deeper, most of the ladies invited had children within the last two years but never had any shower thrown for them in the neighborhood. All of a sudden, everybody has to spend money on gifts even though they’ve never got any from the neighborhood. Even if I don’t want to go, I feel obligated to go as I was sent an invitation. Worse yet, the husband of the pregnant woman is one of those people who don’t want anything to do with most of the neighbors. He now feels obligated to open up to the neighborhood.

The point here is, if you don’t feel like your gift is going to be well appreciated and if you feel like not going, the best thing to do is to make up an excuse and get out of it. No gift is better than a bad gift. Human relationships are a bi-directional street. If you don’t feel that the person who receives the gift is going to appreciate it and you are tight on money, I say just make up something. If I were the person who receives the gift and later on gets to know your situation, I would feel very bad about the baby shower and your expense and would simply wish you had spent the money on more value-added items. God would want you to spend your money on things with higher priority. I’m sorry that a baby shower of a friend simply is not.

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Daniel Post Senning May 18, 2009 at 6:57 am

Unlike a wedding invitation, a shower invitation is usually not responded to with a gift unless someone attends the event. You are correct that one perfectly acceptable course of action would be to simply not attend. There is certainly no obligation to attend a party just because you are invited.

Thanks for your input. It is good to hear differing opinions about how to approach these situations.

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Hilary May 16, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Sorry, in the previous post, I meant to say I felt obligated to send a gift just because I got an invitation.

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Cecile Moorad June 24, 2009 at 7:41 am

My daughter lives out of state and is pregnant. I don’t think that anyone is planning a baby shower for her. Is it proper for me to do it?

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Daniel Post Senning June 24, 2009 at 9:14 am

Usually the role of shower host is left to someone outside the immediate family. Having said this, there are situations in today’s world where practical considerations make it appropriate to fudge this general rule. One of these situation may be like the one you describe, where the close friends and family who would like to have a shower are in one area and the honoree is new to her home in another and doesn’t have the same support there yet. You might want to talk to someone else close to your daughter about co-hosting. Good luck with your shower planning.

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Maria August 5, 2009 at 10:41 am

I have a similar situation where I am having a baby shower for my daughter-in-law, who lives out of state. Our son and daughter in law paid for their own wedding and handled their invite list. My question is this, would it be proper for me to invite some nieces and nephews, who were not invited to their wedding, to attend the baby shower? This is their first child and we are so excited about it and want to share in our happiness, however, do not wish to make people feel we are just asking for their gifts?

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Nancy August 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Is it appropriate to invite coworkers to a baby shower? The office is small and the mother to be is good friends with 2 of the co-workers but has a lot of interactions with the other 6 female coworkers where they have spent some time after working hours

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Daniel Post Senning August 10, 2009 at 1:48 pm

This is a question that is a bit of a judgment call. Showers are supposed to be small intimate affairs for close friends and family. While you don’t want the guest list to get out of control, your definition of “close friend” leaves some room for you to make a choice. If the whole group is close and you think that people might appreciate being invited or you want to avoid the appearance of playing favorites you certainly could invite everyone. If anyone doesn’t want to participate they can always decline the invitation. Good luck with the rest of your planning!

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Tina September 28, 2009 at 3:14 pm

so I get a baby shower invite and it is given by the parents-to-be, co-ed shower, invite says to bring beer, potluck dish and suggested diapers and two stores that they were registered at. I wonder what the parents-to-be are expensing? the backyard and bbq grill? Beer at a shower? men at a shower? I know I am old fashioned but please……

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Jenna January 27, 2010 at 7:17 am

My single adult son is currently unemployed and was recently invited to a “Baby Shower Party” that included couples and single friends of the “Dad To Be”. He indicated to the Dad to be that he was not financially able to buy a gift and that he would hopefully be able to buy something for the baby when she is born in several months. The Dad to be said please don’t let that prevent you from attending, “it’s understandable and gift is NOT expected from you.
3 days later . . .he received a text message from Dad to be stating that since you did not bring us a baby gift we thought you could come over a do some chores around the house free of charge!
How Obnoxious! How does one reply to that?

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Allyson May 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

Some friends of mine are throwing me a baby shower. I wanted to know if I am supposed to invite my husbands friends wives? When asking my husband if there was anyone else I needed to invite, he replied with their names. I see his friends wives on occasion and we see eachother randomly for events, however they are not close friends of mine. I was told that it is totally appropriate to invite them, but I don’t want anyone to feel weird.

please help me figure this out.

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Graceandhonor May 11, 2010 at 7:12 am

Of course you should invite wives of your husband’s close friends; your baby is his, too, and this is a way for his friends to share in his happiness. Make an effort to get to know these women and be especially welcoming to them at the shower! Best wishes to you, Allyson!

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Kim March 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I received a baby shower invitation for the daughter (who I’ve never met) of a distant cousin whom I haven’t seen in over 20 years. Occasionally we (the cousin and I) would exchange Christmas cards, but that’s about it . I know gifts aren’t obligatory, or they wouldn’t be gifts, but how does one respond? Do I send a gift to someone I don’t really know, or is a congratulatory card acceptable……?

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