The first time I was invited to a baby shower, I was admittedly perplexed about what to buy and how much to spend. From baby bottle warmers to car seats, the registry was jam-packed with gear I had no experience with whatsoever. And the prices ranged from $2 for a diaper rash cream to $899 for a top-of-the-line stroller. So what’s a well-intentioned gift-giver to do?
“Depending on your budget, plan to spend between $30 to $100 on a baby shower gift,” says Jennifer Porter, Seattle-based etiquette coach and party planner.
I know what you’re thinking—that’s a very wide range. Fear not: “It does matter how close you are to the mother-to-be,” says Porter. “Opt for the lower end of the budget for a colleague and the higher end for a close friend or family member.”
If your relationship dictates a smaller gift, but you don’t think a single book or a stuffed animal is enough of a gesture, go in on a larger gift with a few colleagues or friends. Remember: In most cases, it’s not about the spend, but rather the gesture. “Be sensitive to office dynamics," she suggests. Don’t blow anyone out of the water— including the mother-to-be—with an unnecessarily extravagant gift.
Do you have to shop the registry?
It's a smart idea to shop from the registry, says Porter. But “if a baby shower registry is depleted and just a couple of items remain, scan for necessities. It is also appropriate to give a gift card to the registry retailer along with a small token gift, such as a baby book, rattle, or stuffed animal.
A gift card from the new mama's favorite retailer allows her to either chip away at the remaining items on her registry or nab any last-minute must-haves once the baby arrives. It also frees you up from having to buy big-ticket items like the Diaper Genie, says Porter
How much should you spend on a baby "sprinkle?"
"Sprinkles," or smaller, less formal versions of a baby shower, are increasingly common to celebrate a second or subsequent pregnancy. They allow friends and family to celebrate a new arrival without all the fanfare of a traditional shower.
“Treat a baby sprinkle like you would any baby shower with one caveat,” says Porter. “For an additional child, consider what’s needed more closely." For example, if parents are expecting another baby of the same sex as their first child, they probably have clothing covered. On the other hand, if the mom-to-be is having a girl after two boys, she could probably use a new wardrobe for baby, as well as complementary gear, like a rumble seat to turn her stroller into a double, a second car seat, or another set of crib sheets.
Since there’s typically no registry for a sprinkle, it’s a wonderful gesture to focus on the mom-to-be. Consider gifting comfortable pajamas, a prenatal massage, or even a gift card for a dinner delivery once baby arrives.