Q. I am invited to a baby shower for a friend who is pregnant with triplets. What is the proper gift giving etiquette? Do I purchase a gift for each baby or do I just bring one gift?
A. Triplets, oh my! Just because your friend is having three babies, it does not mean that you have to purchase three individual gifts. Consider purchasing an item or type of gift all three babies can use. For instance, a digital ear thermometer, a basket, bushel or aircraft hangar full of diapers (don't laugh, she'd really appreciate that many!), a trunk sized case of diaper wipes, or a selection of cute onesies. Whatever you decide to bring, after so much careful thought, I'm sure your friend will love it.
The Money Tree
Q. We are having our second child and have lots of stuff already. We really only need some big items that I think are too expensive for a single person to purchase. Is it improper to ask the guests to bring a cash gift for a money tree?
A. It is never appropriate to request money. Until recently it was even considered inappropriate to have a baby shower for any children after the first one. However, times have changed and with many more parents waiting several years in between children, or starting second families after a many years, second showers are becoming more and more common. Chances are, your guests will realize that many items will be reused from your first child, and will therefore pay much more attention to your gift registry. For larger items, two or more guests may purchase items together, or may decide on cash or gift cards instead so that you may select exactly what you need. Don't forget, close family and/or friends will often ask you to tell them what you need. In that case, be specific and let them decide how they'd like to pursue the gift.
Declining a shower offer
Q. We are so lucky to have so many friends excited about our pregnancy, but it has created a dilemma. I have several friends who have said they want to throw me a shower - the problem is - I wouldn't have enough guests to spread around to all of these showers. How do I tactfully decline such a generous offer(s)?
A. Once you accept an offer, simply say something such as, "That is so kind of you to offer! Betsy has already offered; maybe you could help her?" Showers can have co-hosts and/or helpers so several people can be involved. If someone still wants to do something big for you, maybe they could organize your friends to go in on big ticket items on your wish-list such as a crib, stroller, or carseat.
Asking a friend to host a shower
Q. Is it proper to ask someone to give you a baby shower?
A. No, it isn't considered proper to ask. A baby shower is a costly event. How can a friend say no without feeling bad? If a close friend or relative approaches you and she listed a shower as one of her offers, such as, "I'd love to do something for you - please tell me what you would prefer - a baby shower, help after the baby arrives, film the delivery, etc..." then it would be ok to request the baby shower. Otherwise, it could put a friend/relative in an awkward position.
One suggestion is to host a "Welcoming Party" yourself to introduce people to the baby after s/he arrives. If people want to "shower," they will. Also remember that many people will send a gift when they receive a birth announcement.
Q. Is it expected and/or appropriate for my mother to attend a baby shower that my husband's mother is hosting for me? The other shower invitees will all be people from her (my husband's) side of the family?
A. There is no hard and fast rule for this one, so it's not expected that your mother-in-law has to invite your mother. It is appropriate and a nice touch to invite her, however. If they do not get along, the invitation should probably not be made. Best to avoid family squabbles when possible! If your mother is invited and someone from your family hosts another shower, then your mother-in-law should be invited as a courtesy.
Baby's name on invitations
Q. In sending out invitations for a baby shower, is it appropriate to include the name of the baby to be if the sex is already known?
A. Absolutely - if mom-to-be is comforting telling people. Unless this is a surprise shower, ask mom-to-be if she has a preference. Some parents-to-be are shy in giving out baby's name before birth in order to avoid any gripes about the name. If mom-to-be is comfortable, then go for it. If she's not, you can always mention that the baby is a boy or a girl if that's known.
Q. Should you give a gift to the hostess of baby shower?
A. A mom-to-be isn't obligated to give her hostess a gift, but it's certainly a very nice thing to do. A lot of work goes into planning and hosting a baby shower so it's appropriate to acknowledge her. An expensive gift is certainly not expected or needed. Keep it simple and from the heart.
Throwing your own shower
Q. Is it okay to throw yourself a shower? I have several kids and am expecting triplets. I've never had a shower before.
A. It's true that "proper etiquette rules" have relaxed a great deal since Emily Post, especially for baby showers. However, in the world of baby shower etiquette, most people would consider it really tacky to host your own shower. Showers can be given by most anybody these days but are usually hosted by a girlfriend or a grandma-to-be. If you have enough friends and relatives to attend a shower, I bet someone among that group will throw one for you. If you don't hear of any plans, try dropping some subtle hints.
Invitations for adopted babies
Q. I'm throwing a baby shower for an adoptive mother. She would like the shower a week after the baby is born. How should I word the invitations if at the last minute, the adoption doesn't go through and there is no new baby?
A. If something happens at the last minute, it will be necessary to call everyone on your guest list to cancel the shower regardless of what the invitation says. Therefore, I suggest you not say anything about a possible cancellation on the invitation. Everyone on the guest list will know that the shower if for an adopted baby, and they'll know the possibility exists that something could happen even if something isn't on the invitation. Hope for the best and create beautiful invitations that just plan on everything going right! Then, if the worst happens and the adoption falls through, call everyone on your guest list. You may still want to have some type of gathering to "shower" your love and support on the mom-to-be who will be devastated.