Baby Shower Q&A:
Gifts and Favors
Baby shower gifts and favors play a central part in making the modern baby shower fun and entertaining for the attendees.
It is worth remembering though, that the roots of gift giving at showers is based in simple practicality. That of providing the mother-to-be with at least some of the basics that she will need for both the baby and herself in the first (often challenging) year or two after baby is born.
There are no hard and fast rules as far as gift giving and favors go, so please consider our advice as simply useful guidelines to keeping both the mom and the baby shower attendees happy (and hopefuly sane).
Quick Lookup Topics on the
Gifts and Favors Q&A Page:
• How Much Should One Spend On A Gift
• For the Grandparents-To-Be
• Combined Showers
(for more than one mother-to-be)
• Gift For The Hostess
• Asking for Cash Gifts
• Gift Registry - Options
• Gift Certificates
• Asking for Specific Gifts (e.g. Books)
• Group Gifts (Family / Work / Club)
• Invited to a Baby Shower but Unable To Attend
How Much Should One Spend on a Gift?
How much should I spend on a gift?
I would recommend spending about $20 to $30 dollars on a gift but don’t feel like you need to follow that. You can get some very nice items for that price range. I would suggest that you never spend less than $20 and there really is no limit for the most amount that you spend. If you are not immediate family, I would only spend upwards of $50 but not much more than that. If you are close to the mom to be, you can spend until your heart’s content (budget allowing) especially if you are purchasing stuff for your new niece, nephew or grandchild.
For the Grandparents-To-Be
Should the grandmothers-to-be bring a gift to the baby shower?
Yes, grandmothers usually bring a gift. If you are planning on buying something bigger, give that at a later date and just bring a small gift for the shower (unless you are comfortable with giving a larger gift at the shower).
When should the grandmothers-to-be bring a gift?
Things are always changing, as things go ... so I am preparing my daughter her favorite pasta salad for about 45 people, just for tasting, there are also other items being served. This will be the 1st grandchild for both sides of the family. Do I bring my gift now to the baby shower or can I give her/them something at a later date?
When it comes to gifting from grandparents, there is never a right or wrong way to give the gift. Most grandparents opt to give a small gift, usually under $20 at the baby shower, so they still feel like they are part of the shower. They will give a larger gift at a later date so that other people don't feel they have been outdone. In the end, it is really up to you when and how you would like to gift your daughter.
My daughter-in-law is expecting our first grandchild. Some relatives are throwing her a baby shower at my home in a few weeks. My question is: As a Grandma-to-be, should I spend about the same amount for my shower gift as other attendees or am I allowed to get something nicer. I just don't want to show up everyone else or make any other guests uncomfortable by buying a bigger gift than everyone else?
Congratulations on becoming a grandmother for the first time. In regards to your question, I have to say that you are very considerate to be thinking of your other guests but you don't really need to worry. One of the luxuries of being a grandparent is spoiling your grandchild, so no one will feel uncomfortable that you have purchased something bigger.
However, if you are worried about it, what I would recommend that you do is give the gifts either before or after the shower when it is just your daughter in law and son that will be seeing it (them). This way you can spoil your grandchild and you don't have to worry about offending anyone. At the shower, you can give a little something, like an outfit or a toy, and no one will be the wiser that you purchased something extra.
Gift For The Hostess
I'm really hoping you can help me out. A friend of mine is hosting a baby shower for my daughter and I'm so excited to be a grandma! My problem is, I need to find a gift for her to thank her for hosting this giant get-together with over 40 people attending. I think flowers alone simply do not cut it as an appreciation and thank you. Do you have any suggestions and/or is there a traditional gift to give to the hostess. Any advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Congratulations on becoming a Grandma, what an exciting time for you. I don’t really have a suggestion for a traditional type of gift to give a hostess, but really recommend thanking her with something personal that you know she will love. One great suggestion, besides the perfect card, is to treat her to a spa day for just the two of you. You can show your friend just how much you appreciate her by spending time with her and spoiling her at the same time. Top off the day with a nice lunch or dinner and maybe take in a play or a movie. If you aren’t sure about the cost of a play, I have found that they are only a few dollars more than a movie and the experience is one that shouldn’t be overlooked. All the best and enjoy the grandchild that is soon to come!
I am the person who the baby shower is for. I have three best friends hosting my second baby's shower. What is the protocol for hostess gifts, or is there one? I would like to pick them up a little something, but have no clue what to get them as a token of my appreciation. I didn't do anything for them the first time around, and now question if I should have back then.
Whether to give a hostess gift or not is really up to the individual person and although they are not mandatory, I do agree with you that they are a special way to say thank you.
That being said, I wouldn’t stick with a baby themed gift. You know your friends far better than I could, and I would suggest that you use that knowledge for picking out the gift. Get them something that they would either use, love or cherish and then choose a card that reflects the baby shower and how you are so thankful for everything that they do. One other word of advice, however; use the same budget for each recipient or treat them to a spa day so they know that they had the same amount spent on each of them.
Combined Showers (for more than one mother-to-be)
I am hosting a double baby shower for two expectant friends. The reason for the double shower is that both girls live out of town and we wanted them to be able to attend each other's showers as well as everyone else attend both girls' showers. They know most of the same guests, but for the guests that don't know both (i.e. their respective mother-in-laws, etc.) we don't want them to feel obligated to buy gifts for both. Is there a proper way to word invitations etc., that gifts for both is not expected?
It is very nice to have a shared baby shower and I have seen it done several times. In regards to the gifts, I think you could just put it in the gift registry information of each mom that is having a shower. You could say something like, "Gifts from the heart are always cherished, but gifts from the store are all that is necessary. Those who are shopping for Mom-To-Be A can find some gifts here, while those who are shopping for Mom-To-Be B can find some gifts here." By separating them and providing links or directions to each registry, it should give guests a clear idea that gifts really aren't necessary for both moms. Click to create an Amazon Baby Gift Registry for your shower Now
I am hosting a baby shower for my friend. Attending one baby shower in 37 years and hosting zero, I am thankful that I found your web page. I read where hostesses give gift bags to the guests. Can you please recommend a few ideas for me? Thank you so much.
That is wonderful that you are hosting a baby shower for your friend. It can be quite a challenge but I am sure that you are up to it. When it comes to gift bags, the sky really is the limit. The first suggestion I would make is to tailor your gift bags to your theme. So if you are having a Books for Baby theme for your shower, you can give books to your guests. Some wonderful ideas for general gift bags are candles, bath supplies like bath beads, skin lotion, bubble bath and facial masks. Other great ideas are little keepsakes or a things that can help out at home like nice pen sets, recipe books or cooking spices.
Also check out our dedicated baby shower favors page!
Asking For Cash Gifts
What is the best way to ask for cash gifts only?
I can actually answer this question for you in one word - Don’t. Asking for cash gifts only is considered to be very rude and many guests will not come to a shower if all they can bring is money. There are many reasons why people do not like to give money and these are simply: a) they want to get something special for mom and baby, and b) they have no way of knowing if the money will go towards baby. If you are thinking of cash gifts simply because the shower will be a long distance shower, then I would recommend having gift cards or to simply ask people to have gifts delivered to the expectant mothers home. If you are sure that you want to ask for cash gifts, place on the invitation that there will be a money tree or wishing well at the shower for guests, or use a baby registry service instead. Leave it as optional so that people who would rather bring a gift can do so. Read our article, The Many Sides of Gifting, to get a few more thoughts on this.
We are thinking about having a wishing well, are they considered appropriate or are they too old fashioned?
I don’t think that they are too old fashioned but I do know that many people find them very impolite, especially if you stress that giving cash is preferred over giving a gift. One alternative to using the wishing well is to place cards bearing gift cards in the well or to use the wishing well as a place to write down some well wishes for the mother to be to place in her baby’s scrapbook.
I will be hosting a baby shower for my daughter-in-law in September. I would like to know if they use some sort of wishing well for baby shower and what is it called.
Congratulations on the soon to be arrival of a new little one in your family. In regards to your question, you can simply use a wishing well like you would at a wedding. There is no special name for it but some people prefer to use different things such as a wishing stroller or wishing bottle. For more information on wishing wells, please read our article The Many Sides of Gifting. There is a section on wishing wells and money trees in that article.
This is my sisters second baby, first boy, how do you go about asking more
for money than gifts?
Thank you for contacting baby-shower.com and congratulations to your sister on her
second pregnancy. Generally, I would recommend not asking specifically for money since
this can be a very hot subject for a lot of people and they will often feel that you have
broken basic etiquette. See also our Money Tree article.
But that isn't to say that you can't word the invitation to ask for something besides
regular gifts. A great way to do this is to say something like, "And baby makes four and
fills our hearts with so much love, and we ask you to come and celebrate baby with us.
But thankfully our little one has everything already and only needs the essentials and
Then at the bottom of the invitation, mention that you will have a wishing well at the
baby shower for gift cards and the like. This will give people an alternative without
asking straight out for money.
For more ideas on throwing a baby sprinkle ...
Asking For Specific Gifts
Hi, I hope you can help.
I am having a baby shower for my daughter and instead of a baby wishing well I wanted the guests to bring books for the baby to start a library for him.
How would I word that cleverly and correctly on the invitation to get my idea across? Thanks for any suggestions or help you might.
I have to say that your choice of exchanging the wishing well for books instead is an excellent idea and I have seen a shift towards libraries for infants more and more over the years. There really is no wrong way to word it and you can place on the invitation, instead of a wishing well, we are asking for books instead. If you would like to have a little saying something like:
"Although we appreciate all the help from a wishing well, we honor the wealth that is gained from stories. For this reason, we ask that you bring a book for our baby instead of something for a wishing well."
or you could do a poem or verse,
A book is filled with a thousand words,
that paint for children a million worlds.
To explore and dream of each and every day,
To color the imagination of our play.
For this reason we will ask
to send wishes in words for this task.
Our baby will soon discover,
what treasures are hidden beneath the cover.
When it comes to the wording, you can really play around with it and your guests will be more than happy to bring a book instead of a wishing well card.
What is the saying if you want to receive books instead of cards?
When it comes to asking for a certain item, there really is no specific way to ask. I would recommend adding a line or two on the bottom of the invitation that requests books instead of cards.
I would say something like, "Although we treasure all the good wishes found in a card, we would treasure more the good wishes and words found in a child's book. For this reason, we are asking for a book instead of a card."
You may find that some people prefer to bring a card and you may find that guests bring both a book and a card.
How do I ask people to bring different size diapers to the baby shower?
One of the best ways to ask people to bring different sized diapers is to have a Diapers and Essentials Baby Shower. Since the theme is surrounding diapers, most people will bring a range of diapers. If the mom to be has a preference for diapers, such as Pampers, then I would recommend placing a pampers logo somewhere on the invite to hint at the preference. If she prefers to use cloth, then I would put that right on the invitation.
If you decide not to have a diaper and essentials themed shower, I would simply put in a little note that says, "Baby will grow so quickly she won't be in newborn diapers for long, so please bring a range of sizes."
I find that being direct is the best way to word things. You can put it in a little rhyme or simply ask straight out.
Gift Registry - Options
Is it rude to register at a store and tell people, either in invitations or just by spreading the word?
This is a very debatable question. Some people feel that it is rude to register while other people find gift registries as a way to get the mother to be exactly what she wants. I personally prefer listing the gift registry on the invitation since there is no reason to beat around the bush about it. The only thing that I would do is just to mention that if guests are stumped for ideas, there is a gift registry at “the store”.
If it is okay to register somewhere, how long of a list should you make it?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to register at a store when you are expecting a baby. People enjoy purchasing things that they know you will want and use. I think having about 20 items on the list is about the right amount but you can have more. My only recommendation on the actual list is to provide people with both low and high cost items. It would be really rude to only have expensive items on the registry since many guests will feel like you are trying to force them to purchase the more expensive items. Having about 5 big ticket items, 10 to 15 mid range items and 5 to 10 low cost items is a good split.
Editor's Note: Gift registries have been around for quite some time now and are no longer frowned apon as they once were. If you like the idea of providing a Gift Registry as a gifting option, or even as the primary gifting option, please allow guests plenty of time to decide on which gift they will get (or contribute towards) and also provide plenty of gift options. Try to keep the price range of gifts reasonable and constrained, so that guests don't feel they are being pressured into spending more than they otherwise would. Easily create an Amazon Baby Gift Registry for your shower right Now
Are gift certificates okay?
Yes, gift certificates are perfectly okay, especially if you are a distant relative or someone that doesn’t see the expectant mother often enough to know what she likes and/or what she needs. Gifts certificates can provide the mother-to-be with useful options. For more on gift cards, read our article The Many Sides of Gifting.
Editor's Note: Gift certificates have also been around for ages now. Some people may consider them an 'OMG - last minute, I really don't have a clue' gift, whereas others (like myself) appreciate the flexibility that they offer. It will however look better if you arrive at the shower with something more substantial than just a card with a gift certificate tucked away inside.
Group Gifts (Family / Work / Club)
How should you organize a group (family, work) gift for a baby shower? Yes, I know the simple answer should be 'just ask' but sometimes this can get sticky if there is another alpha personality in the group.
I think you answered the question for me. Asking is best but maybe just putting out a general email like, “I would love to get a large item as a group. Is anyone interested?” Perhaps also add "... and if you are interested, please feel free to make a gift suggestion or two". When you get replies, decide on a short list, then as a group what is the best big item. That way people feel like they are a part of the choice process and not just the money. Remember to get a card large enough for every one to sign and annotate with their best wishes.
Invited to a Baby Shower but Unable To Attend
If you are invited to a baby shower and can't go, are you still obligated to buy a gift even though you can't make it?
No, you don't have to send a gift if you aren't going to the shower. The only time I would recommend that you do, is if you say you are going and then have to cancel at the last minute. If you sent a reply back that you weren't going, then you don't need to send a gift.
What should I do if I can’t attend a baby shower after RSVP’ing that I will attend? Should I send a gift in my place?
If you have already RSVP'd that you are coming and have to cancel at the last minute, just phone the hostess and let her know. People can be very understanding. You do not have to feel obligated to send a gift and if you have purchased one already, you can wait until baby arrives to take it up to the new mom. There is no rule, however, that says you shouldn’t send a gift and you can do so with a nice card saying you’re sorry you missed the shower.
My friend doesn’t know what she is having yet, so what should I get her as a gift?
Since you are unsure what she is having, I would avoid buying clothes. Other than that, the store is the limit. The operative phrase here being 'gender neutral'. You can buy anything from blankets and bedding to things like toys, bath stuff, bottles, safety items, and so on. Most stores carry a substantial range of gender nuetral items.
Do you need to give gift bags to the guests?
In a short answer, no. Gift bags are not mandatory but it does add an element of elegance to your shower and it is a nice way of saying that you appreciate everyone coming and making the baby shower such a wonderful event.
I’m trying to throw a shower for my friend but she already has everything for baby. What should I do about gifts and what should I recommend the guests bring?
Wow, your friend is really lucky that she already has everything. I know I was still purchasing small items only a few weeks before my baby arrived. In regards to your question, I would recommend having a less than traditional type of shower. Throw a scrapbooking shower or a pampering for mom shower. This way guests can bring things that mom can use instead of baby. If you want to keep the presents kid themed, suggest having gifts for older children, that way baby will have clothes and toys that he or she can grow into for the next year or more. Lastly, you could have a college fund shower where guests deposit their gift amount right into a RESP for baby. In the card, they can add the amount that they deposited if they want to.
I have a question about baby shower games. I bought prizes to give to the winners to keep but my mom thinks the person the shower is for is suppose to get a gift also. Do I need to give her something with each win also or is it ok for the guest to only win the prizes from the games?
Wow, I love your mom’s gift giving spirit and she can host a shower for me any time. When it comes to the prizes, you do not need to gift the mom to be unless she wins the game. Just think of it in these terms. In the course of the shower, an expectant mom will get the shower as a gift, your gift to her, and about 20 or more gifts from the guests. If you were to give her a prize for each game, she would be overloaded with gifts and goodies. On a side note, many hostesses give gift bags to the guests. With the gift bags, giving one to the expectant mom is optional but it isn’t necessary and you should really do what is comfortable for both yourself and your budget.
I’ve been invited to an alphabet shower where each person has to buy something starting with the letter of the alphabet that is chosen for them and I got the letter “X”. Do you have any gift ideas? The shower is this weekend. - Lisa
Hmm, X is a tough one but there are a few ways that you could play it. Instead of going with an X named item, you could purchase a gift and label it “X-actly what you need.” If you want to stay with an X item, think music and pick up a xylophone toy for baby. There are many on the market today and some have lots of light up features for as young as 6 months old. Lastly, you could go with a brand name. There are X-Tech Strollers, if you can budget such a large gift, or you could give the mother to be a treasure map where she has to follow the map to where X marks the place where her gift is. What’s waiting at the X could be a massage, a spa day or a gift certificate for a baby store.
In this age of technology, the gender of the child is often determined very early. It seems this has resulted in invited guest purchasing more and more clothing for the newborn. I have noticed even after the mother registers, people insist on purchasing gifts of clothing. In our case, the newborn will not need more clothing. How can we tactfully indicate this on the invitation without sounding ungrateful?
I understand your predicament over the whole clothing issue and the ability for people to buy gender related clothing now that sex of the baby can be determined. When it comes to the shower and trying to discourage guests from purchasing only clothes, I would suggest not telling them the gender of the baby, if it is at all possible.
If this isn’t possible, I would use a theme that does not promote purchasing clothing. Stay away from themes like a layette shower or a clothesline shower. Have a shower like a basket shower or a time of day shower. This way you can send out suggestions for the gift, things like the bath time basket or play time, etc.
Still, no matter how you arrange your shower, you will still have guests bringing clothes for baby since everyone feels they know exactly what baby will look cute in. A great way to ask guests not to bring clothes is by having a poem in the invitation. Something like, “Baby’s closet is full of wonderful things, but his bedroom is empty of all belongings.” This way you are not just saying, “Don’t bring clothes,” but are stressing the need for other items.
If nothing else works, simply recommend that all guests bring a gift receipt just in case there are doubles, this way Mom can go out and return the clothes if she gets too many.
This is a second child and the mother really doesn't want a lot of gifts. She has a very small apartment and has all the basics from her first child. We'd like to have a shower and have everyone go in on a disposable diaper delivery service. How do we word this on the invitation? -Pat
Since this is the mother-to-be's second child, I would recommend that you read our article on Baby Sprinkles which are showers for second and subsequent pregnancies.
Regarding your question, I would word the invitation like, "(Older Sibling's Name) is inviting you to a baby sprinkle to celebrate her little sibling who is arriving. Since (older sibling) has given all her baby things to baby number two, she/he is asking that everyone pitch in on something really big; getting all those diapers! We will be putting together a fund for a disposable diaper delivery service and if you would like to pitch in, please give me a call."
Make sure that you leave it as optional since some people prefer to choose a personal gift rather than one that is a group gift. Since you are looking at diapers as the main gift and mom doesn't need a lot of things, I would also recommend having a Diapers and Essentials theme.
Should the prizes at a shower be for the baby to give back to the mother to be, or gifts for the winner to take home? I have been to just a few showers and I saw both. -Tracey
Generally, when you are having a shower, the prizes at the shower are for the guests to take home. I have actually never seen them being for the mother and it is a very interesting idea and what that has definitely peaked my interest in learning more about.
My own interest aside. Most people feel that mom is receiving a lot of things. She has the shower, the presents from the guests, the cake and of course, in a few weeks or months, she will have her baby. For this reason, most prizes and gift bags are for the guests, although with the prizes, a mom-to-be can win one if she wins the game. If you would like to give mom something special for baby, by all means, do so.
All the best and good luck with your shower.
Do you have to have gift bags done for everybody who comes to the shower...example chocolates, bath bombs. Thank you.
Before I go into gift bags, I just want to say that gift bags are optional. You don't need to do them and no one is expecting you to. Not having gift bags can be a great way to shave off a bit of the overall cost and I have had showers where I have left out the gift bags simply because of my budget.
If you are doing gift bags, you will need to do them for everyone. The easiest way to do a gift bag is to make it a general bag. Everyone gets the same thing so there is no need to address the gift bag or sort through them when you hand them out. You also don't need to worry about people complaining that someone else got something better.
If you want to learn more about gift bags, please read our article It's about the Bling or read any of our themes for more gift bag ideas.
My sister in law and brother live Manahattan. She is having 2 showers one in New Jersey and another in Chicago (where she is originally from.) How do we write on the Chicago invitation 'gift card and cash'. Because they will not be able to take all the gifts back with them to New York. We want them to have gifts but either shipped or gift cards? Thank you!
This is a question that is asked quite often on baby-shower.com and it can be answered in a number of ways. First, most people that you invite to the Chicago shower will know that your sister-in-law lives out of state. For this reason, they may ask you what to get her or may opt for smaller items to make it easier.
The best way to ask is to either have her register at an online store where items can be picked up in Manhattan or ask straight out. If it is the former, make sure that you mention that pick up should be in Manhattan. For the later, maybe write something like:
"Since mom is already carrying a package, she needs to travel light. We ask that you only shower her with gift cards to make it easier on her flight."
"Although wrapped presents always look nice, they are difficult to pack into a little carry-on. Please make your gift as small as can be and if you want a little more, make a gift card for three (mom, dad and baby makes three)."
For more distance shower Q&A and distance shower theme.
Is there a rule about how many door prizes you should have based on the number of guests?
Generally, there is no rule in regards to door prizes. Many people will have just one door prize and then will have as many prizes as they have games. One or two prizes per game for the winner and 2nd runner up. Basically, it is up to the hostess and the type of budget the hostess has in deciding the door prizes.
Do you have a baby shower question that we have not covered?