I’ve kept my mouth shut about this for SO. LONG. But I just can’t keep it shut anymore. I consider it to be hazardous to my health to hold this in any further.
If, through the course of this, I in some way hurt your feelings, I wish I could apologize. But I can’t. Instead I’m going to say as nicely as possible: if, through the course of this, I in some way hurt your feelings, you should probably take a look at your behaviors and adjust them to display a little more class and decorum when it comes to your baby showers. Or, in short: sometimes the truth hurts.
There, I said it. I started the ball rolling; no stopping now. It’s time we get this out in the open, and just have the talk about baby showers.
I’ve been to a lot of baby showers, and parties about or for babies. Sometimes it feels as if this is a punishment we women in our 30s are given as some sort of universal, karmic retribution for our prior behavior. Every time I made out with my boyfriend while babysitting as a high schooler is paid back with a terrible, tacky, and – quite frankly – disgusting baby shower now.
Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating my friends and family and their new additions. But as with many things in life, there is a right and a wrong way to handle it.
Wrong Way: Not Enough Food
I guess I’m becoming the minority on this point, because it happens more often. Granted, I typically can’t eat the food at any of the baby showers (or other events in general) that I attend, because I eat gluten free and people still don’t seem to grasp the concept that more and more people have dietary restrictions.
But I’ve witnessed it. I’ve seen the rage in people’s eyes when they see they’ve come to a baby shower, bearing a gift hovering around a $100 value mark, to find there was nothing being offered. They’ve taken their Sunday afternoon or Saturday morning, when they could have been doing something else entirely, and brought that gift, dressed up in a flowery dress and high heels – and in return there wasn’t even a decent deviled egg or potato chip with ranch dip to be found.
I recently went to a baby shower where everyone was saying they were doing appetizer-type food. Pick-me-up food, so they could avoid having to set up the sit-down tables usually required when you serve a sit down meal. This way people could mingle – it would be spectacular! All anyone would talk about for the months preceding the shower were these fucking appetizers they’d be serving – it would be the appetizer party to end all appetizer parties.
Well then the mom-to-be’s friends all flaked out at the last minute, and it morphed into mostly a family party. Which she had no interest in. So no one gave a shit about the appetizer party anymore, or mingling for that matter; and it turned into a “give me presents and get the fuck out of my house” kind of event.
Oh, it was so tacky.
By the time eating the appetizers actually happened, people quickly realized that all they had was a small plate of Costco sandwiches, a small plate of vegetables, and approximately 7 deviled eggs. The guys in the other part of the house even had better food than the actual baby shower had, and fire shot from the eyes of the family members in attendance when this came to light. They weren’t even going to have a cake, until someone donated one – all in all, it was tasteless, tacky, and – quite frankly – transparent as to what the party was all about.
Right Way: Party Within Your Means
Now I get it, not everyone can afford to throw a huge party with the caviar on the side.
Can’t afford anything more than a cake? Then you need to have a gender reveal party in lieu of a baby shower so people don’t come expecting more. (And by expecting, I don’t mean people have particular expectations; I mean that’s the status quo so people will come hungry.) People will still bring you gifts out of the kindness of their heart, but they won’t be set up to get the impression that everything is about just collecting as many presents as you can.
Don’t have anywhere to throw the party comfortably with the number of people you want to invite? Well…move it to a restaurant, but only if you can afford to provide the meal.
Just yesterday I was invited to a baby shower that included both a copy of the registry, as well as the prix fix meal menu card with my bill.
Yes, that’s right. If I were to attend, I’d have to select what I wanted and send my check to pay for my meal ahead of time. I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised to hear that the registry items started at $200.
Honestly, if you are just interested in getting gifts, you shouldn’t have a party at all. Baby showers are supposed to be about a celebration, gifts are a side note – which is why the truly right way to handle a baby shower is to have one within your means, or don’t have one at all and just graciously tell people where you are registered if they ask about getting something for your new(est) little one.
Wrong Way: Being Gross
Everyone knows how you made the baby. We don’t need to talk about it.
Everyone knows baby diapers are gross and squishy. We don’t need to play games where you melt chocolate into diapers and make us taste it, as if we’re licking human feces out of an infant’s diaper.
And what is it with people’s more recent obsessions with talking about getting the baby out? I mean really. Everyone wants to talk about what their experience was squeezing their baby out of their v-hole. Baby cakes are now fashioned in the likeness of a woman birthing her baby, with words like “PUSH BABY PUSH” written in buttercream frosting around the trim.
And I think this giant vagina cake just says it all.
Right Way: Be Compassionate, Tactful, and Thankful
Babies are a really sensitive subject for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. I think a lot of people have forgotten that.
Babies are also a really exciting time, which is why it’s a delicate balance. The bottom line is that no matter how well you think you know someone, there’s still a good chance that there’s something you don’t know.
One of your good friends may not be attending your baby shower because she just had a miscarriage. One of your family members may be struggling with infertility, and have a hard time doing much more than just coming, having a slice of your giant vagina cake, wishing you congrats, and leaving before the gift opening begins. The right thing to do is to be understanding of other people’s circumstances, even if you don’t know what those are.
But it goes beyond that.
You should never invite your ex-girlfriend or ex-husband to your baby shower.
You should never tell all of your family and friends of child-bearing age that your party to celebrate your future child is going to be “kid-free.”
And – this is a big one many people will disagree with me on – you should never have multiple parties.
I get that people have different factions of family-, friend-, and work life. You have a work shower and a regular shower…I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about having so many different parties to celebrate your future child – a gender party, a baby shower for one side of the family, a baby shower for another side of the family, a work shower, an introduction of the new baby party… all of a sudden you’ve thrown four, five, maybe even six parties, crossed invites all over the place; and in all the hubbub, forgotten to invite people that should have been invited, and moreover you haven’t thanked those that came to each and all.
Ultimately, I think that baby showers have become the new pre-wedding experience. It’s one last hurrah, one last fling, one last “it’s all about me.” But what people are failing to realize, here, is that once you’re pregnant, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about your family, the life you’re taking care of, and the community and system of values you’re bringing that child into.
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