Carolyn Hax: How important is it to have a baby shower?

Carolyn Hax
Columnist August 3, 2013

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

I’m pregnant with my first child, and I’m getting quite a bit of feedback from close friends and family about having a baby shower.

I don’t really want to have one. I feel like my husband and I have the resources to take care of what we really need, and it seems a little self-centered to be asking anyone else to contribute to a choice we made on our own. I felt the same way about a bridal shower, and I did successfully avoid that horror, but I’m feeling a lot of pressure about the baby. Is it okay to say no, I don’t want one? Is it important to let other people have a party?

A Must?


(Nick Galifianakis/The Washington Post)

You’re under no obligation to have a shower. So, yes, it’s okay to say no and hold to it.

However, the answer to your other question is that people often do like to feel as if they’re a part of your major life events. That sounds like the case here, and having a bunch of people feeling invested in your baby’s life isn’t the worst thing for the baby.

So, why not at least consider a themed shower that allows people to 1. express their taste vs. follow your instructions; 2. spend very little; and 3. promote a beautiful connection between these loving people and your baby?

The idea I have in mind is a children’s book shower, where guests are asked to bring (and sign) a favorite. Another, though, would be an advice or time-capsule shower, where people can write down something they wish someone had told them . . . let’s say upon their high-school graduation, or at different stages of life. Get a nice archival box for them and hold onto it to present to your child when he or she is 18. I’m wishing I’d done this.

Anyway, urge these “close friends and family” to toss around ideas with you, if this version of a shower appeals to you.

Re: Baby showers:

I totally support the idea of a book shower for a new baby — it gives the village a chance to get together and celebrate a new baby, and you never know when you might need that village down the road.

For that matter, don’t discount the tips that you can get at a baby shower in the way of useful stuff. When you get married, you already have a pretty good idea of what you need to maintain a household, but you might not even be aware of the random stuff that other families have found to be lifesavers when it comes to taking care of babies.

Anonymous

Thanks. I also heard from others suggesting a theme of “little things I couldn’t have done it without.” I’d bring a pack of Sharpies.

Re: Showers:

One good reason to go along with a (subdued) baby shower is that if you do, you should be able to exert a modicum of control over it. Otherwise, there’s the horrific risk of a surprise shower that’s nothing like what you’d want.

Anonymous

“Horrific” is somehow both gratuitous and apt.

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