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Heidi
8-16-11, 6:13pm
I have been invited again to a baby shower and a wedding shower. Out of principle I don't do showers anymore. DH and I politely declined wedding showers for us and later baby showers for our children. We had what we needed and were able to buy the few things that we wanted. I attended a few showers in my life time and I swore that I would not attend another one. There seems to be an incredible amount of waste, many useless items, too many outfits for newborns or wrong ones for that time of year. Let's not even talk about those silly games one is forced to play.
Are there any kindred souls here on the boards? How do you feel about showers?

kally
8-16-11, 6:14pm
hate em and avoid em at all costs.

puglogic
8-16-11, 6:52pm
I hate them, and will only go if it's a close-close-close friend, usually to help out! I think they're all married off and kidded now, so I could be off the hook forever ;)

redfox
8-16-11, 7:12pm
We're throwing a baby shower for a co-worker tomorrow evening. It's a simple potluck gathering and well-wishes event, with contributions towards a diaper fund as folks feel so inclined.

Tradd
8-16-11, 7:15pm
Single and childless me doesn't mind them - as long as there are none of those stupid, stupid, mindless games!

The ones I've been to in the past few years have been low key. Lots of good food and drink, good conversations, and no games! Gifts were modest and the guests were asked to bring their favorite recipes to put together a cookbook in a binder or other similar type thing.

Those showers, I like!

Gina
8-16-11, 8:49pm
There are good ones, and bad ones. If it's a fun party with people I like, I'll enjoy it. Heck, with a glass of wine, I even enjoy some of the games. If I'm invited just for my gift however, I'll decline.

IshbelRobertson
8-17-11, 2:32am
This is a foreign concept to me - but it seems to be making inroads over this side of the pond nowadays. Personally, I think it's a bit much. The pattern with many of the offspring of my friends seem to be:

Engagement party/announcement (Presents acceptable but not always expected)
Hen Night or Stag night (nowadays up to a week away, in places as far removed from their home town as possible, eg Dubai or Las Vegas - attendees expected to foot the bill and also chip in to pay for the Principal's costs!)
Wedding - present expected. Some I've been to recently have started on a Friday night with a dinner, usually at the very expensive hotel/castle/venue where the ceremony is to be held - or at least the reception. Usually entails at least 2 nights hotel costs - as well as the Friday night meal. Drinks after the free bar on the Saturday. Sunday: because many people have travelled a long way, there is an informal lunch, perhaps a hog roast or similar and then guests depart.

Later: pregnancy announcement - small gift sent. The newly introduced 'baby' shower. Presumably gifts expected, but I've never attended one. Baby born - gift. Christening: silver gift.

Thankfully, my children don't seem to want to follow that trend!

Kat
8-17-11, 4:22am
I'm not overly fond of them--even my own! My SIL really wanted to throw me a baby shower this summer. I agreed as long as she could keep it simple, and she did. She only invited close friends and family. No games, just cake and punch for refreshments. I did compromise by completing a gift registry (which I aboslutely hated doing). The results was a lovely celebration of the baby's arrival. People shared in our excitement and gave their best parenting stories/advice. A lot of people made gifts, too, and one even brought gently used items. That was really nice!

I usually do not attend showers unless I am a close friend of the bride or mama. I find them fun when I know the person. If I barely know the person, I feel uncomfortable and like I am just being used for a gift. I once turned down an invite for a baby shower for a classmate. Later found out she'd invited 70 (!) people. That's a bit much, IMO.

Miss Cellane
8-17-11, 6:43am
Every shower but one that I've been to has been a relatively low-key affair with a close group of family and/or friends. There's food, lots of conversation, and some gifts to get the new bride or mother started. And fortunately, I've been spared the games.

Wedding showers in my family tend to be for practical gifts--cookie sheets, a vacuum cleaner, measuring cups and spoons, maybe a blanket or set of sheets or towels, that sort of thing. The wedding present might be more elaborate--if the couple registered for china or crystal, that's when it would be given. Baby showers are heavily slanted towards cute bibs, lots of onesies and burp cloths, with a car seat or stroller thrown in as a group present.

They are intended to be a fun time for bonding with the other women in the family, not an occasion just for getting gifts. The tradition is that a woman gets one wedding shower and one baby shower, as a way of marking the transition between single and married and childless and parent. The new "tradition" of a baby shower per baby doesn't sit well with me--those showers do seem like out and out gift grabs.

The one shower I didn't like was huge--about 75 people, catered at a restaurant. I think I managed to say "Hello" to the bride and then didn't see her except from a distance again, until I said "Goodbye." I was too far away to see the gifts as she opened them, the tables were too crowded for comfort and it was just all too much. Give me my aunt's living room, a slice of cake, cousin Patty playing the piano, and someone counting all the ribbons the bride-to-be breaks (indicating the number of children she's going to have), and all is good.

But if you don't like showers, you are always free to decline the invitation.

What bothers me more is the bachelorette parties that are days long and involve expensive travel and still more gifts to the bride, and the weddings that now have three days of events and guests are expected to attend them all. Wedding guests are no longer just expected to show up for the wedding and reception and give a gift. They are expected to spend days celebrating the marriage and it all just seems to be too much. I get that the Happy Couple is excited about getting married, but I don't want to spend more than half a day celebrating with you. A long weekend is stealing too much of my time.

treehugger
8-17-11, 8:55am
Are there any kindred souls here on the boards? How do you feel about showers?

Yes, absolutely. I didn't allow anyone to throw me a bridal shower, and I don't have kids, so no baby showers. I have attended a few, but will only do so again for closecloseclose friends/family. I also hate the games, but what I really hate is that an event is made out of watching someone open gifts. Ugh, lets all sit around and pretend ooh and ahh and celebrate materialism/consumerism. No thanks!

Sure, I like a nice get together with friends to celebrate all kinds of things, weddings and babies included, (I even like birthday parties with close friends), but let's leave behind the gift grab part of the event, please!

Kara

Heidi
8-17-11, 10:32am
Thanks for all the replies. I don't get bridal/wedding showers. Aren't people getting enough presents already from the people attending the wedding? I had a friend, who at age 50, had never once used her fine china for 12 people that she received as a wedding gift. What a waste! The baby shower I am invited to (and I will have to decline pretty soon) both parents are professionals, who make more money than DH and I ever made. Why they want people to buy presents for their baby is beyond me. They certainly can afford everything they need. The wedding shower I am invited to, the couple have been living together for two years, the bride's mother paid for their small house, they have a two year old son already and now they want a big, fancy wedding. Greed at its worst.

Anne Lee
8-17-11, 11:29am
Showers were a good idea when young newly marrieds and parents didn't have much to start out with. I attended one recently and it was a 2nd marriage for both. I sprung for two new towels because I think it's nice to have some "ours" stuff going into a marriage.

I could do without the games though.

Miss Cellane
8-17-11, 11:48am
See, much though I like showers (if they are properly done), I wouldn't attend a shower for a second marriage. It's one wedding shower per person, not one per wedding.

Etiquette's pretty clear on showers. You get one--one wedding shower, one baby shower. (Although exceptions are made if completely different, non-overlapping groups give you showers, say a family shower and a buddies-from-work shower.) The guests invited should be the people who would probably want to celebrate the event with you and give you a gift even if you didn't have a shower at all. So the guest list should be small. And in my circle, many showers are surprise showers, so the guest of honor doesn't get a chance to refuse. And you never, ever throw a shower for yourself or any family member, because that just looks like you are asking for gifts. So the recipients of the gifts are not the ones asking for the gifts--the host of the party is the one doing the asking.

Showers are *supposed* to be given by a small circle of family and friends who genuinely want to celebrate your big life-changing event with you. The gifts aren't supposed to cost hundreds of dollars each. Showers are also about initiating the woman into a new phase of life--marriage or motherhood. The experienced women in the group are supposed to pass along gems of wisdom for dealing with husbands and babies along with the gifts. It's supposed to be a bonding time, as well as a time for giving gifts.

Every shower I've attended, I would have been buying a gift anyway. So a shower invitation doesn't strike me as just an other opportunity for someone to hit me up for a gift. All other showers, I just decline the invitation, and maybe send a nice card if I'm so inclined.

Yes, some people have distorted the original meaning of the shower. I'm frankly getting sick of hearing, "But we have to give her a second baby shower! Their first child is a girl and this second one is a boy! Everything they have is pink!" 1) The parents should have planned better and gotten unisex baby things the first time. 2) No baby deserves all new stuff, all the time. Reuse what you have, for pete's sake.

And showers with guest lists of 70 or 90 people are not showers. They are gift grabs. And the games. Please just stop the games.

redfox
8-17-11, 12:46pm
In the washer at this very moment is the cutest, handmade, all cotton baby quilt. Found at Goodwill. $3.99. In fantastic shape. My colleague is a super environmentalist recycler; he & his wife will be very happy that this gift is a recycled one. I'll wrap it in a recycled and reuseable bag for them, and it will outlast their baby as s/he grows, so they can pass it on too. WIN!

crunchycon
8-18-11, 5:54am
Don't like bridal showers...didn't enjoy my own particularly, as I didn't get much that I could actually use and being the absolute center of attention for a couple of hours wasn't fun. Full disclosure - for my second wedding, our grad school buddies threw us a big party - potluck with a few modest gifts and lots of well-wishes -- a lot more fun and meaningful.

For baby showers, I usually give a classic children's book as a gift - I'm childless, so I'm not schooled on what might be useful or helpful, but I am a librarian, so I know a bit about books and believe that every child should be read to from early days. I don't mind baby showers for the first child, as the people I know generally give gifts that are consumable or genuinely helpful. I do have a problem with a shower for second, third, fourth babies and I see lots of that around here.

leslieann
8-18-11, 7:42am
Shower "traditions" seem to be regional. When I lived in upstate NY (real upstate, near Albany) it seemed that the shower included every female on the wedding guest list, a large hall or hotel, and very substantial gifts. Oh, and the shower was given by the bridesmaids with substantial help from the bride's mother. So yes, an absolute gift grab. This was not the experience I had growing up in New England (of course there is a generational difference there, too).

Also the advent of the gift registry has made gift giving no fun at all. There is an entitlement feel to it: "Oh, I'm getting her her stroller, or her crib, or her what-ever..." and the "her" does not refer to the baby. Just like "she's having her shower..." as if it is a given. I guess I am from the school that Miss Celane described, in which the shower is a (nominal) surprise, the recipient is honoured and grateful and the gifts are small and maybe symbolic. That was a lot more fun. IMHO, of course. I really liked getting original or quirky gifts for people but now it seems like that's kind of, umm, unconventional. Doesn't stop me from doing it but I do think twice.

My youngest son just became engaged, and I have to say, though, that I am looking forward to the number of social get-togethers I might get to participate in...good reasons to get together, when we all live far apart. But then, they are my immediate family. I don't get many other shower invitations any more. I think it is my age and stage in life.

redfox
8-18-11, 12:10pm
When DH & I got married, we explicitly said no gifts, and only one person - my best friend - varied, and she had a wedding bowl made for us by another friend who is a potter, with our names & wedding date on it. It's my bread bowl. I forgave her for ignoring my request!

In order to channel folks' desires to give, we put together a website of our top 3 dozen fav non-profits, and suggested people donate in our name. We got many lovely cards from non-profits with sweet messages. It's a fabulous alternative registry.

pony mom
8-19-11, 9:16am
I don't like them. Most newlyweds live together and have all they need; the 'wants' are just stuff they think they should have---china, crystal, ice cream maker.

I'm not a kid-lover so luckily I don't go to many baby showers, mostly because I have a small circle of friends who are child-free.

Since I'm single and child-free at 45, I don't really expect a bridal shower if I do marry. Anyway, I don't feel right 'asking' for gifts on a registry. Asking for things, in general, makes me uncomfortable anyway (always hated trick-or-treating when I was little). However, supermarket and Home Depot gift cards would be welcome any time.

Tradd
8-19-11, 10:16am
My standard shower gifts are:

Wedding - Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson

Baby - if a very close friend, I will give cute hand drawn certificates on plain index cards for a certain number of meals when the baby comes (usually 3). Otherwise, I'll do consumables: a gift bag with a package of diapers, baby power, baby bath & lotion, etc. I usually buy the Aveeno Baby Naturals products, and always get great feedback.

Spartana
8-19-11, 11:41am
Most of the showers (wedding and baby) I have been invited to recently have all been co-ed (males and females attending). Don't know if this is common elsewhere but seems to be the norm here in SoCal. While I generally hate any kind of shower - especially the traditional ones where you play games and sip tea - I like the co-ed ones MUCH better. It's just a low key party of friends getting together to share a life experience - more like a birthday celebration than an old stodgy traditional affair. I don't have kids but would absolutely NOT have a shower if I did. Same with a wedding shower - didn't have one when I got married and liked it just fine. Although some of my ship crew members (was stationed on a ship in the Coast Guard when I got married) who were mostly all men, took me out on the town once I returned from my wedding and honeymoon. DH was stationed on a ship in another state and so we weren't together for awhile after we got married - eventually got stationed near each other.

Mrs-M
8-28-11, 7:04pm
Wedding showers I don't do, but baby showers I do. I try and approach baby shower events with the same excitement as the mother (who the shower is being put on for) is going through. I'd really hate to know I put a damper on that for anyone. Motherhood is an exciting time. I do agree that certain games are a little difficult to contend with, but overall (in our family) baby showers are fun and make for good solid entertainment. Having younger children attend baby showers is always enjoyable and without a dull moment.

Mrs-M
8-28-11, 7:07pm
To add, baby showers in our family are more about the celebration part of a new life (baby), rather than raking in gifts and things. Simply a chance for everyone to get together and enjoy everyone's company for the afternoon.

bookcrazy68
9-16-11, 10:43am
Eight years ago when I was pregnant with my second daughter, the ladies at my church absolutely insisted that I have a shower. I protested but they finally won the argument. Since we had always planned on having a second baby & this one was also a girl, we had saved lots of things from the first baby & had everything we needed. I told them we could do a diaper-and-casserole shower because both the diapers & the food were consumable. Nothing like a good frozen casserole baked by the hubby after having a c-section. It was great & everyone had a good time. Thank goodness there were no games!

Stella
9-16-11, 12:38pm
redox, that quilt sounds like a lovely gift!

Tradd, Home Comforts is one of my favourite books. That's a great idea for a wedding shower. Actually it would be a good graduation gift for someone too.

I get baby showers more than wedding showers. I'm getting you a wedding present. Why would I also get you a shower present? That seems like a bit much.

I had two baby showers with my first baby, both by different groups of people. One was thrown by my sister, the other by my MIL.

When I had James (#3 of 4) several friends talked about throwing me a baby shower, but it never materialized since he was a preemie. I was more than OK with that. The gifts I really appreciated with him were preemie clothes and diapers since I had not planned on that at all. I usually give Target gift cards. It's not personal, but it's useful.

bookcrazy, I love diapers and casseroles for baby gifts too. That's another thing I like to give people and I've loved getting them. I didn't buy Travis (baby #4) diapers until he was almost 4 months old, I had gotten so many and I don't think I cooked the first three weeks after I had him.

Karma
10-2-11, 7:45pm
I think they are a great idea, a time to celebrate a birth or wedding, fellowship with friends and family is a good thing. Gifts don't have to be expensive either. I do however really hate those games!

fidgiegirl
10-2-11, 7:56pm
Mrs. M, why baby showers but not wedding showers?

I dread the thought of the "stuff" that a baby seems to "need." Honestly. It seriously stresses me out, because though I know we wouldn't obtain a lot of stuff on our own if we decided to have one, people would give us all kinds of things and then we'd have to deal with them.

Also probably because my mother is a hoarder and when we were younger we would complain about her stuff and she'd just say "wait until you have kids." And so while I can now rationalize that this was just an excuse, because things have gotten WORSE since her kids have flown the nest, that oft-repeated comment sticks with me and scares the bejeezus out of me. But ya know what? That's a whole 'nother thread ;)

Mrs-M
10-4-11, 11:23am
Fidgiegirl. Wedding showers, IMO, seem more tuned towards a younger generation/crowd, whereas babies are an all age thing that people (no matter what age) never outgrow. Re: wedding showers, I was actually put-off by wedding showers a number of years ago. One particular wedding shower I attended (years back) resulted in the bride-to-be, breaking down and crying over some of the gifts they received. Apparently, she was upset over all the doubles and multiples of things, and the cheapness of the gifts themselves. That was the beginning of the end for me. (I guess when couples are spending $20,000 or more on a wedding, they expect fancy/expensive gifts).

Re: baby needs, you'd be surprised what little a mom/baby (actually) needs. It's called baby basics, and for some unknown reason (past 10-20 years), moms have forgotten about or moved away from baby basics.