There could be any number of reasons why someone wouldn’t have a traditional baby shower — not living close to friends and family is a good one. Logistics may be another; pregnancy is tiring, and finding the time or energy to host a party can be impossible. Then there’s my personal reason for avoiding a baby shower: I just can’t stand the idea.
I’m practically allergic to the idea of hosting a party where people are forced to bring me gifts. I didn’t have a shower for my wedding, and now that I am gestating, I feel the same way about baby showers. The entire idea of obligational giving simply gives me hives; not that I terribly mind attending other people’s showers, just that I can’t fathom having one of my own.
I’m also incredibly, occasionally cripplingly shy, and hate being the center of attention. I ignore my own birthday every year, because I can’t fathom celebrating the day that I was born (yes, this might make me a very unpopular parent later if I carry the same sentiment into my child’s life).
A friend of mine (one who really dislikes children, mind you) offered to host an offbeat baby shower for me. A shower that, as she put it, “doesn’t suck.” But I’ve actually never heard anyone get excited about a baby shower. I’m not saying that it’s never happened, just that it’s never happened in my circle of friends or family. Whenever people talking about attending baby showers, I only hear the talk of resentment and dread; from the gifts, to the gift-opening, to the games.
I did briefly consider hosting a gift-free shower, and then realized that I would essentially be hosting a BBQ, not a shower, and to be honest, I’m too tired to organize anything right now. Cletus the Fetus (that’s what I’m calling my baby girl for now) is due at the end of October, and it’s pretty much all I can do right now to drag myself to and from work every day, and make some perfunctory attempts at laundry in the evenings or over the weekend. So no baby shower for me! This does leave a slight quandary, though — how to acquire everything that the baby needs when you can’t stand the idea of a regular baby shower? Well, there are ways, and you don’t have to spend a fortune. Here’s how I got started:
- Hand-me-downs: Jump on Facebook and ask if friends and family have old baby stuff that they don’t mind handing down to you. No need to feel bad about asking for free stuff — just explain that you want to be eco-conscious and re-use anything that can be re-used. My boss simply showed up one day at work with a Pack-n-Play for me. She explained that thrift stores won’t take them, and she had no use for it now that her kids were in school. Score!
- Craigslist: There are a couple of required infant items that I won’t buy used (car seat and stroller, mostly because I want to be able to return them should they be recalled). But other things, like a changing table? Yeah, if I can get that for $20 on Craigslist and paint it myself, then why not?
- eBay: I’ve already pretty much acquired the first six months of baby’s wardrobe for about $50 on eBay. I saved additional money by buying entire lots of used infant clothing for boys — I’m perfectly content with my baby girl being dressed in blue and green overalls with trucks on them. Infant boys’ clothing seems to sell at lower prices than infant girls’ clothing.
- Consignment shops: Baby consignment shops are a good place to score furniture and other accouterments at lower-than-retail prices. I have found that consignment shops outside of city centers have much better deals.
- Thrift stores: You can often find both new and used baby stuff at Goodwill and other thrift stores. You might need to make several trips, but if you don’t mind the treasure-hunt, then you might strike gold.
- Garage sales: This is such an obvious option that I hesitate to even mention it, but if you’re not already an avid garage sale shopper, be warned: baby stuff sells out first, so get up early to snag stuff.
OK, so let’s say that the idea of a baby shower doesn’t make you shudder, but you can’t tolerate a traditional shower format. Well, you can host an offbeat shower! Make it clear to attendees that you don’t want them to spend oodles of money on adorable gifts, but that you want to include them in your baby’s life in a meaningful way.