Copy ‘n’ paste phrases for when you don’t need more baby crap

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Original photo by Steven Depolo, used by Creative Commons license.
Original photo by Steven Depolo, used by Creative Commons license.

We’ve gotten numerous questions from readers about how to communicate with friends and family about baby gifts. Specifically, how to let them know you don’t want any, are ok with used stuff, don’t want any before the baby’s born, etc.

I did a post about Copy ‘n’ Paste conflict resolution on Offbeat Bride years ago, and figured I’d try my hand at copy ‘n’ paste “thanks but no thanks.” These are written to be appropriate for showers, emails, or common conversation.

  • Thank you so much for thinking of us and the new baby! We’re working with pretty limited space, so we’re asking folks to contribute to the baby’s college fund rather than give gifts we don’t have room for in our house.
  • In an attempt to reduce the overwhelming amount of baby supplies, we’re asking for hand-me-downs, second-hand, and home-made gifts only! Peek in the attic, dig in the basement: we can’t wait to see what retro baby and toddler stuff you come up with! Can’t find any? No problem: your presence is the best present.
  • Please no gifts! If you simply can’t resist the temptation to buy cute baby stuff, we’ll be making a run to our local women shelter to donate all gifts that appear at the shower. They’re desperate for baby wipes, shampoo, diaper ointment, baby monitors, bottles, and toys — all things that we don’t need!
  • Pregnant mama is HUNGRY! Please, no baby gifts — FOOD ONLY. 🙂

We also love this reader favorite:

My line was, “I’m just happy we don’t *need* anything, except more space in the house!” and when people repeatedly asked what we needed, I told them we could use help paying for a storage unit “so the kid can sleep somewhere other than the dresser drawer.”

But now we’d love to open it up to commenters: how do you lovingly tell family that no really: you don’t need more baby stuff?

Comments on Copy ‘n’ paste phrases for when you don’t need more baby crap

  1. We listed places people could get gift cards to (or visa gift cards we could use for etsy and the like). We also put that we really appreciate used, antique things and got several gems.

    This worked out great. Getting money instead of stuff meant we were able to space out the ‘presents’ better. We were able to get clothing for his first year of life instead of being inundated with newborn stuff. I like the idea of making a contribution to a women’s shelter at the same time!

  2. My line was, “I’m just happy we don’t *need* anything, except more space in the house!” and when people repeatedly asked what we needed, I told them we could use help paying for a storage unit “so the kid can sleep somewhere other than the dresser drawer.”

  3. I tried…. I was quite clear that we didn’t need anything and that if they HAD to get us something to make a casserole or to get us a gift certificate to DO something like zoo passes or that sort of thing… they did not listen. I have a collection of baby items that just don’t fit with our parenting philosophy… thanks for the diapers and bottles but we are using cloth and breastfeeding! And I just can’t dress my child in that pastel blue outfit with the applique baby animals. But their intentions were great and the women’s shelter wil get a haul of stuff in the near future so I have been looking at it as baby’s first act of altruism!

  4. Sadly I know that even if I tried to make those request, nobody is going to listen except for maybe a select few, well just my sister. My friend is doing my shower and has very kindly agreed to pass on my request of nothing pink, yes I’m having a girl and no i don’t want pink crap to prove it, and she has already told me that she is getting chewed out about the request. I’m sure she has worded it nicely since my exact phrase was “I don’t want any pink shit”

    • No pink baby shower! Yay! People laugh at me when I say I’d implement that rule for any daughter I may have in the future, but any girl of mine is going to be just as comfortable in black or blue osh kosh b’gosh overalls as I was. There’s no need for frilly pink dresses, they just get in the way.

    • We did this, in fact we were quite adamant that we didn’t want any pink. I told all of my friends, family and grandmas especially that I didn’t want any pink for my daughter. I even gave them alternatives (purple and yellow were fine, and green was great) and the excuse that pink would clash with her red hair (her daddy has red hair and we were hoping for a ginger baby). We STILL got tons of pink clothes, blankets, baby gear and the like. No one listened. Since we were poor college students and couldn’t afford a whole new baby wardrobe on our own, we gave in and my little girl spent her first three months or so in almost entirely pink outfits.

    • Sort of along the lines of what Heather-Nicole said… I guess my thoughts on it (which have changed since our 12 week old Cadence arrived) are that when it comes down to it, they’re just clothes – pink or no – and we’re lucky to have so many family and friends that want to buy our little girl some outfits they think are cute. We certainly don’t PREFER pink. In fact, both my partner and I kind of hate most “girly” baby clothes. But she’s warm and comfortable, and there’s more money in our pockets to either buy other things she needs, or save for her. The days of people gifting clothes will start to thin out soon, and anyway, our baby isn’t a fashion accessory (though it is fun when I can dress her in something more along the lines of my/my partner’s tastes).

      • AGREED! I definitely don’t like all of the pink nonsense I got for my little one, but at the end of the day, she has clean clothes on! I’m a poor college student, so I’ll take anything for my daughter! Besides, her crazy hair gives her all of the character she needs! : )

    • I like this idea, and my niece had a request that if gifts be brought that they be natural fibers, and no plastic. It was an adventure for me to search out the gifts with family values in mind. Wooden toys, hand crocheted animals, tiny llama wool mittens… it was so much fun finding these and giving them knowing they were just what mom/dad/baby would like!

  5. The best thing we did was just set up a Babies R Us registry for things we did want. When people went off of the registry and did not include a gift receipt we returned it anyway. You see…BRU will take back just about anything as long as you have an active registry. I’m not really sure why, but they do. We were able to exchange a lot of “crap” for credit…and used it later to get things we did need along the way.

    We’re running into a similar problem with our daughter’s 2nd birthday though. I don’t want to do a wish list or registry…because we really don’t want anything else for her. She has far too many toys from Xmas, so honestly we would prefer that people contribute to her college fund or buy “experience” gifts. Wonder how that will go over ;D

    • For Aspen’s first birthday, we requested “not gifts but your presence”, and added that “if you really want to give her something, she would appreciate a gift to her college fund”. It worked out really well, we got almost nothing physical, and a few bucks for her bank account.

    • What we did for our daughters second birthday was put right in the invitation that Charlotte is “very blessed to have more toys than she needs, if you would like to bring a gift please bring a small cash donation for the local united way” most people still brought her something small like a book or puzzle, but we ended up raising over 200$. This is our new birthday tradition and I will contiue it through the years.

  6. I once threw a ‘diapers and dinners’ shower for a friend. The only things you were allowed to give was diapers, (and everyone pulled a size starting with 1 out of a hat, so there were still free diapers six months later) and a meal for the chest freezer that could be reheated, or a GC for a place that delivers for those who aren’t into cooking.

    It was a big hit.

  7. Thank you Ariel! I remember sending you a request asking for this!

    For all you Jewish mommies out there who are NOT having baby showers nor want anything before the baby is born, please feel free to supply some suggestions. People simply do NOT like to hear that you do not want anything before the baby is born. No one will throw me a shower for fear of offending me thank goodness, but the baby blankets, etc are already coming after I have said that due to religious reasons I don’t want anything. I appreciate the thought but still, nothing means nothing! Sigh. My poor mom’s garage!

      • Traditionally, it’s considered taboo to give baby gifts or get baby stuff before a child is born (said to be bad luck). Orthodox Jews sometimes won’t even say the name of the baby before s/he’s born for the same reason. More liberal Jews don’t really follow this custom. And it’s not really based on religious doctrine or anything, it’s just a traditional custom.

        • I have the opposite problem! My mom ascribes to the tradition, and I find it kind of morbid — for me, I need positive visualization, lots of nesting, and good luck thoughts! She’s come around and isn’t giving me a hard time about waiting to paint and set up the baby’s room, but it sure would be nice to have a baby shower for all the expensive stuff that can come with having a baby (primarily, for us, a cloth diapering suite).

          This tradition would be a really interesting essay topic for a future OBM post!

          • Party after the baby is born!!!! Lots of people do this – you still can plan something intimate and inexpensive, make it a potluck!

        • My mom’s family isn’t Jewish (Catholic Italians, in fact), and she didn’t have have a baby shower for me for the same reason. It’s bad luck pretty much because, until the baby is born, there’s always the chance that something can go wrong with the pregnancy(and apparently my grandmother has seen that happen). My mom instead asked for specific gifts whenever close family members or friends asked what they should get for the baby.

        • I dont know, we aren’t orthodox but follow the custom, as do most of the liberal Jews I know. I think its a personal decision, like not eating pork. But it seems pretty popular in Northern Califonia!

  8. We had a shower thrown for us, and we requested it be a book shower. The invitation wording made it very clear these were books to be read to the baby, and it worked great! We have a bunch of books, and everyone loved telling us about why they picked their choices.

    • I LOVE book showers. I’ve hosted a few for friends who had a bunch of baby stuff, but still wanted the celebration part of a shower. It was super fun to see the variety of books from board books to bigger novels (think Harry Potter) to be read to the kido when older.

  9. We were given two showers for our now 12 week-old baby, and at one of them, the invitation was worded to indicate that we were planning to cloth diaper (so, no ‘sposies, please!), to please give a small book with an inscription in place of cards, and that it was a display shower (so, no wrapping paper or silly “gift opening” tradition). We tries to keep it as green as possible, and most guests obliged to the no wrapping request! It was awesome! And, we had a registry set up at, so most of the things that were gifted were really things we wanted/needed for the baby (cloth diapers, wraps, etc.).

    Great topic! 🙂 P.S. I really like the suggestion of letting people know that any gifts will be donated to a shelter. When our little one gets a bit older, we’re going to establish a “one in, one out” rule, where for each new toy/game she receives, she has to pick one to donate to a child in need.

  10. for me a gift is a gift. and if i dont have need for it i donate it. but i’m selfconscious of asking for money instead, miss manners has repeatedly said its bad ettiquite.
    my sisters seem to enjoy buying my daughter stuff i dont really want to dress her in. they see my face. but i put it on her and take a photo. they really feel more part of her life and enjoy buying what they think is cute. i geuss i lost those kinds of ideals. i choose my battles. as i write this i have to listen to mickey scream “everybody dance now” thanks grandma! lol

  11. I’m in Europe and here too we don’t give gifts under after the baby is born because it’s considered bad luck. I recently lived in the NL where the six weeks after birth are considered the “kraamtijd”. Typically the parents welcome family to see the baby after birth and gifts are brought.

  12. We didn’t know the sex of our baby until she was born and NOW people are buying us TONS of stuff. Including people we’ve never met! Every time my husbands parents ask what we need for the baby I say, “NOTHING! Really, we are trying not to focus on STUFF and we have limited space. How about contributing to her college fund?” Hasn’t worked yet!

  13. This is exactly why we went with a Deposit a Gift registry! This way if people want to get us something – they can give us a cash donation. Not only can we can always find a use for money – but I don’t have to go to a store to return it. As a side perk, because it also allows for a free personalized baby website, we were able to communicate our thoughts and feelings towards gifts (as well as show pics of our baby)…and if any one asked us or are parents about gifts, we just referred them to the website.

  14. Thankyou for these phrases! We have been trying to word things nicely, about not buying us stuff, but people don’t seem to get it. They seem to think that the comment “but it was only five dollars” negates everything else we’ve said. It’s like people are just programmed to buy sh_t without thinking twice. Frustrating!

  15. I am having the issue that I have a sister who believes that children need “stuff”. She had twins, and is a stay at home Mum, and one of her daughters is difficult to entertain for long periods, so she needed lots of stuff. However, I have one child, who is in day care during the day, and we go out a lot on the weekend, also, she loves to play with certain toys. I have been struggling with the piles, and piles of clothes and the huge piles of toys that she keeps trying to give me.

  16. I requested strictly hand-me-downs at my first baby shower, so that people wouldn’t spend money on new things–there are too many new things in this country, especially for babies, but so many old things looking for new homes!–and so they could make their money go farther. Instead, I got a lot of people looking at me funny and giving me things like $10 gift cards to expensive baby places (where $10 gets you a pair of socks) and tons of brand new overpriced things. Maybe it makes me an unappreciative person, but I really wish more people could understand WHY shopping secondhand is important.

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