I skipped my baby shower: how to save money when you’re buying your own baby supplies

Guest post by Andrea Karim


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.

Comments on I skipped my baby shower: how to save money when you’re buying your own baby supplies

  1. Thankfully I’m a second gen offbeat mom. My mom hates traditional showers as much as I do. For my wedding shower I came up with the idea of opening gifts as soon as the giver walked in. (thus giving the giver no obligation to stay for hours waiting to see me open their gift) We also had a huge buffet of food set up right from the get go, again no waiting. It was more of a….wedding shower open house. I’m aiming for the same deal for my baby shower.

    • I didn’t do a bridal shower, but some ladies bought gifts to my hens do, which I opened as they arrived. It was a great way to welcome them in, with excitement and extra thanks…
      Baby shower open house… good thinking…

  2. I’m in the midst of planning a baby shower for my younger sister (or I was until my older sister swooped in) and doing this makes me want forgo the whole thing if and when I get pregnant. It has been an annoying process. Thanks for this article!

  3. My sister’s two showers specified that used or hand-me-down items were preferred.

    I do have to make one point from the article. The author mentioned not buying a car seat used because she won’t be able to return it in case of a recall. I second this! PLEASE do not buy a used car seat from a yard sale or Craigslist. I’d only recommend a used car seat if you know the original owner and you’d trust them with your child’s life. I’m a nationally certified child passenger safety technician, and I am constantly pointing out expired or damaged car seats at yard sales. If you don’t know the entire history of a car seat, don’t use it.

  4. Just found out last weekend I’m knocked up. Didn’t expect this after only getting hitched 4 months ago, but we’re cool with it! But after a generous bridal shower only 6 months ago, one of our first post-positive-preg-test conversations involved whether or not to do a shower and the answer was unanimously no. Even though we won’t go public about Creature for a few months, we don’t feel right hitting people up for more cash and prizes when they were so generous to us only months ago. And from what I’ve heard, shower gifts almost always end up with wasteful purchases. My SIL still has BAGS of unopened/tags-still-attached baby stuff from her shower and the kid is almost 2 years old.

    We plan on making a Facebook announcement similar to what was mentioned above: no running out and buying new baby stuff for us, but if you have anything second hand/left over you don’t mind passing along please do.

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