/ Parenting

The British baby shower – will you give it a ‘wide-birth’?

Pregnant woman prepares for baby shower

Americans celebrate lots of occasions, including the arrival of a new child. Do you think there’s a place for baby showers in our British celebrations, or is the increase in baby shower gift lists just another commercial ploy?

A very close friend of mine is due to have a baby in the upcoming weeks.

Within a few months of her announcing her pregnancy a number of people asked whether we’d be throwing a baby shower for her.

Sheepishly we came forward to do the honours – a little nervous that we had a) not organised a baby shower before and b) not even been to one!

If you’re not familiar with the concept (I wasn’t until the weekend just gone) it’s essentially a small girl-only gathering for close friends and family to toast in the new arrival, spoil the mother-to-be and help kit out the new parents.

UK shops offer baby shower gift lists

Here comes the slightly controversial bit – do you organise a baby shower gift list? A number of outlets organise such lists, including Mamas & Papas, Mothercare and Toys R Us.

Sure, setting up an official list with a retailer can seem a little pretentious. But lots of people asked if they could buy something that would be really helpful for the parents-to-be; something they really needed.

So, rather than setting up an official list with a retailer, I asked the mother-to-be for a list of basics she needed – nappies, muslins etc. I then included a note on the invite so people could contact me if they wanted to buy something from this informal list.

Ticking off the present list

Now, this kind of concept only works if people tell you what they plan to buy so you can cross it off the list.

As it happened only two people did this, so I was none the wiser as to who had bought what. Of course, an ‘official list’ would solve this problem, but that might make your friends and family feel obliged to stick to the items on that list.

Would you be put off by an official gift list for a parents-to-be baby shower? Or would such a list make you feel happier that you were getting something they really needed?

Would you buy a gift off a baby shower list?

No, parents buy too much, we should encourage hand-me-downs (48%, 56 Votes)

No, I’d like my gift to be a surprise (25%, 29 Votes)

Yes, even if it is through an official retail outlet (15%, 17 Votes)

Yes, only if it’s an informal list (13%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 118

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Im due in a few weeks and had a few occasions organised for me by friends / colleagues for the purpose of spoiling me with gifts for the baby and me (yes its my first). They were low key. The colleagues one was a surprise lunch and included 2 males with no organised gift list, but a colleague did drop into conversation before hand – did I have everything / was there anything I needed to get. I received mothercare vouchers and individual gifts. I was really touched by the effort my work mates went to. The other event was a few close girlfriends who arranged a pamper evening with gifts and treatments for me. Again I was really touched. Neither were officially called a baby shower but there is no other term that we have in the UK (that im aware of) to call it. I didnt have an official gift list and I wouldnt have felt comfortable setting one up. Nothing wrong with vouchers to be put towards something we really need. I also wouldnt have felt comfortable asking someone to arrange an official baby shower for me (if thats whats meant to happen). I think someone needs to invent a UK version which differs from the USA version, and within which its ok to give bundles of second hand baby things. I was given lots of things second hand, and have bought a lot second hand, but I dont thing that would be considered to be the done thing at a baby shower as they stand.