Back in September, when I was visiting family and friends in Indiana, my sister-in-law and niece threw the most lovely baby shower for me. After having lived abroad in Scotland and now in Germany where the concept of “a shower of gifts” before a big life event like a wedding or a baby’s arrival doesn’t really exist, I’m of the opinion that this American tradition is one of our best. As I’ve described the concept to folks in the UK or Germany, I usually get a lot of heads nodding in agreement that this is a great idea for so many reasons.
Firstly, it’s very practical. As nice as it is to receive gifts once a baby is born, most new parents will already have everything they need. All of the essentials, from a stroller to a crib to bibs and wipes, will most likely have been checked off of their “to-buy” list quite some time ago. It doesn’t mean that a gift that’s given after baby’s arrival isn’t appreciated, but with all of the things new parents have to have, receiving gifts in advance (especially specific items they’ve registered for) goes a long way to keeping expenses in check. In our case, because of the limitations of our luggage space, we couldn’t really register for any of the bigger stuff, but we received a lot of cute clothing (lightweight and easy to pack) as well as children’s books which I could ship back to Germany by US Postal Service in a flat-rate box. In fact, I haven’t had to buy any clothes for our little guy (save a couple of things I couldn’t resist), and I reckon he’s going to have a better wardrobe than me for at least the first year of his life! All of the bigger stuff we needed (like a stroller, nursery furniture, etc.) we’ve bought or been loaned here in Germany, but often these things are taken care of and ticked off the list after a baby shower in the US.
Secondly, it’s a nice opportunity to gather family and friends all together and celebrate and mark a happy life event as a group. Usually there’s some sort of light food served, a few games are played, and then the presents are opened so everyone can see what you have received. The downside, I suppose, is that in the case of a baby shower the baby isn’t actually there yet to “goo” and “gaaa” over, but the upside is that mom (and dad, if he’s decided to take part in the shower) can enjoy the event without distraction or stress. I’ve also read that baby’s visitors should be kept to a minimum in the first couple of months of his or her life. Having a few visitors stop by the house to see the little one after the birth probably isn’t a problem, but having a group of 30-some women all crowding around and holding the little bundle joy shortly afer he/she is born possibly isn’t the best idea.
My baby shower was so much fun, and my sister-in-law and niece did a fantastic job making it really nice. I loved their “rain showers and rubber ducky” theme, and the food was delicious. I told my sister-in-law that the only thing I wanted at the shower was good quality cupcakes (something I think I’ve mentioned missing here in Germany), and she found a local cupcake company that made some of the tastiest cupcakes I’ve ever had. My mouth is watering just thinking about them right now….
All in all, it was a lovely event and a wonderful memory I’m looking forward to sharing someday with my son. Maybe it’s a tradition I should try to establish here in Germany?