Should You Throw a “Display” Baby Shower?

First of all, have you ever heard of such a thing? A display baby shower.

Well, thanks to baby shower inspiration boards on Pinterest, all sorts of new trends emerge during one’s pregnancy.

WHAT IS THIS NEW TREND?

A display baby shower is similar to a regular baby shower, except for the fact that gifts are left open on a display table instead of hidden behind wrapping paper and gift bags. As far as I understand, this new trend came about for two reasons.

  1. People who are very environmentally conscious don’t like wasting all of that paper.
  2. People who are shy don’t like unwrapping gifts in front of an audience for upwards of an hour.

Instead, the guest of honor would admire unwrapped gifts that are laid out on the table, take pictures with gifts and givers, and give individual thanks. Again, it’s similar to a traditional shower, but without the unwrapping of gifts. Before you decide to go this route or to judge the idea as totally ludicrous, let me share my personal experience with a display baby shower. Spoiler alert: if I could go back and do things a little differently, I would.

WHY WE CHOSE A DISPLAY BABY SHOWER

My best friend and my amazing mother-in-law planned my co-ed baby shower. Knowing that I’m a totally awkward introvert that married into this huge Mexican family, my husband’s mama went out of her way to make sure I was happy and comfortable. And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that the “display” idea was my own! Well, sort of.

We were browsing Pinterest one day, and we saw the idea played out in such a cute way. I genuinely thought that less time with eyes on me unwrapping gifts sounded brilliant (remember, awkward introvert here). But not everyone would agree with me.

I wanted honest feedback about my idea from friends and strangers, so I checked into my favorite online pregnancy group for some thoughts from around the world. Before joining the group, I had no idea that baby shower etiquette was really a thing. Yes, I knew that it was polite to bring a gift and appropriate for the mother to send a thankful card to the gift-givers, but that was it.

I went into the forum that I frequented during my pregnancy and asked an innocent question. The question was something like, “What are your thoughts on having a display table for gifts at your baby shower?” Asking this question was a bad idea.

WHAT WOULD PEOPLE THINK??

The comment thread that I created actually erupted into a raging hormonal battle between hundreds of pregnant women. There was name-calling, mom-shaming, and some seriously strong opinions. It also resulted in several of the mamas-to-be getting banned from the website for breaking the community guidelines. Seriously.

Many of these women hated my idea and considered it to be rude and completely inappropriate. One woman even said that she would show up at my shower with a gift that was wrapped in three layers of duct tape to protest my outrageous request to leave gifts unwrapped.

It was safe to say that this idea was not a hit among women worldwide.

Unsophisticated little ol’ me didn’t understand what the big deal was…and I really, really didn’t want to sit in the spotlight unwrapping gifts at this baby shower…so we proceeded. My mother-in-law just put a note on the invites that gifts didn’t need to be wrapped.

Some people still put their gifts in a bag, which was completely fine. Others simply tied a ribbon around their gifts with a little name tag on it, or placed a bow on the box. We seriously felt completely overwhelmed by the amount of gifts and the generosity that was shown to us and our soon-to-be baby. We heard nothing but kind words about the display, and the day turned out absolutely perfect. I have no complaints about the party that was thrown for me, and in that moment, I felt like the display shower was a great experience.

BUT THEN, SOMETHING CHANGED…

When the guys were loading up all of the gifts to take them home, I suddenly felt really crummy. Did I seriously just REQUEST people to bring unwrapped gifts to a party that was thrown for me, and then just load up all of the gifts and take them home without giving the giver a special moment of appreciation in front of everyone? Yes, I did. And here are some things I didn’t consider first:

1. People like to see you open the gifts that they brought for your new baby; they like to see the look on your face, and they deserve that, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable to be the center of attention.

2. People like to give out of the kindness of their heart. It is really impolite to make a request about what, how, why, or when a gift should be given. If someone is attending a party in your honor, they should feel free to give a gift out of the kindness of their heart (wrapped however they wish) without you asking them to do things a certain way.

Possible exception: If this is a small, intimate setting and you and your friends are all environmentalists that hate wasted paper and share the belief that unwrapping gifts is not special in any way, maybe this would be an acceptable way to arrange the gift giving…but I consider this a rare circumstance.

IF I COULD DO IT OVER…

I would definitely skip the display baby shower and take the traditional route. I would never have suggested that my host put a specific request for gifts on the invite, because honestly, that is pretty rude. The people that love you and come to celebrate with you will bring you a thoughtful gift if they are able to. I wish that I could go back and sit there with my loved ones, unwrapping gifts and showing appreciation for their generosity, even if it was a little awkward being the center of attention for a brief moment that day.

I’ve learned a few things from this experience. First, not every idea you find on the internet is a good idea (duh). I love you Pinterest, but you really screwed me on this one. Secondly, you should never ask about baby shower etiquette on a pregnancy forum filled with hormonal women. And last but not least, if you throw a “display” baby shower, someone might just show up with a gift that is wrapped in three layers of duct tape to protest. This didn’t actually happen to me, but I feel sorry for the host that invites that woman to her display baby shower.

At the end of the day, someone out there is going to judge your party-planning choices, but it isn’t going to be me. I will say though, that even the sincerest of intentions might land you in some hot water, so I’d give this idea a second thought before proceeding.

Now, tell me! What have your best and worst baby shower experiences been? Share in the comments!

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7 Comments

  1. Amy

    September 23, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I have never heard of a display baby shower, but, like you, I found it hard to be the center of attention opening the lovely and generously given presents for my little one. I love this post for it’s sentiment and thoughtfulness – I love giving out thank you cards, and things considered old fashioned. Thank you for this hindsight perspective!

    1. Cate @ sweetandsimplelife.com

      September 23, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Thank you so much! The idea of it really resonated with me, and it might still be possible in certain groups and circumstances (like I said, I thought the idea was brilliant haha). But yeah, sentimental things are special, and sometimes we should just leave them as is. Thanks for commenting love!

  2. caryandchloe

    September 23, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    I did not get to have a baby shower but as socially awkward as I can be, I would have wanted a traditional baby shower. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have one but I really wanted to feel special and never actually got to. I do think it’s a wonderful idea though, I think it takes the time out of unwrapping which can add to spending time with the family and being able to thank them in a creative way versus the traditional thank-you notes. I love the photos btw, you look absolutely stunning!

    1. Cate @ sweetandsimplelife.com

      September 24, 2016 at 5:05 am

      I’m sorry you didn’t get a shower hun, I know that is a bummer. Traditional is good for sure, and unique new things can work if they’re done tastefully of course. I didn’t even think of the joys of being the center of attention haha, my anxiety is too bad! Thank you for commenting, I really appreciate it.

  3. misscharliandme

    October 15, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Never heard of a display baby shower before! Awesome idea though!
    I had a traditional baby shower but would have much preferred this!
    I’ve just nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award, so swing by, take a look and pass on the love!
    https://misscharliandme.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/a-little-bit-of-sunshine/

  4. Felicita Chapell

    October 26, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    I was extremely pleased to discover this web site. I wanted to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every bit of it and I have you book marked to check out new things in your site.

    1. Cate

      October 27, 2017 at 9:38 pm

      Thank you so much, you’re so kind!

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