First of all, have you ever heard of such a thing?
Well, thanks to baby shower inspiration boards on Pinterest, all sorts of new trends emerge during one’s pregnancy.
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, the idea is to be environmentally conscious and avoid wasting so much paper, but also to avoid hours of unwrapping gifts. Instead, the guest of honor would just admire each gift on the table, take pictures with gifts and givers, and give thanks. Again, it’s almost the same thing as a traditional shower, but without the unwrapping part. 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.
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 just 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 Very. Bad. Idea.
The comment thread that I created actually erupted into a raging hormonal battle between hundreds of pregnant women, and it 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, when the guys were loading up all of the gifts to take them home, my feeling completely changed. I 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 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.
You can find me on PINTEREST, and I promise I won’t be promoting “Display Baby Showers” there!
Article by: Cate Rosales