Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Variation on the Baby Shower Theme

I saw an article in the paper yesterday about eco-friendly baby showers. I especially liked this paragraph:

At these parties, parents may even request re-gifts, items that have been handed along from one family to the next. Guests present coupons for baby-sitting or homemade meals and offer handmade books filled with sage parenting tips. Presents, perhaps bought from consignment stores, arrive wrapped in reusable materials like baby blankets, or not wrapped at all.

We did not have a baby shower for either son. All their clothes were passed down from friends and family (which made for some amusing photos of our sons in pink flowered playsuits). Friends loaned us a bassinet and changing table. We used my sister's old dresser for the baby's clothes and diapers. Another friend gave me the unused duplicate port-a-crib she'd gotten as a shower gift.

My motivation was practicality over environmentalism, but the result was the same.

Unfortunately, it has been difficult to pass along my younger son's cast offs now that we're exiting some stages of growth. Everyone I know, especially first-time parents, but even repeaters, have multiple showers at which they get a closet full of clothing (all 0-3 months, so you know the baby won't even wear much of it before s/he outgrows it), more toys, stuffed animals and blankets than a crib can hold, and a surfeit of "must-have" items that quickly end up in the trash (e.g. Diaper Genie, Baby Monitor, pack-and-plays, baby wipe warmer).

I have a crib I'd love to give to someone, but nobody wants anything used for their child.

This is probably a phenomenon located firmly in the upper-middle class. Most of the doula clients I have and other expectant parents I know are dual-career professionals who have waited a few years before having children. So they have money to burn and nothing to focus it on.

Indeed, a "green" baby shower is no cheap prospect. Organic cotton is expensive, as are hand-made wooden toys. Don't get me wrong. They're great gifts. But I suspect most gift-buyers go for the 4-pack of onesies over Gaiam's $24 romper, especially outside the college-educated, socially-progressive circles.

For readers who are beyond the baby-shower days but are still looking for cost-saving, earth-friendly or just plain sensible ways to run a household, I highly recommend The Complete Tightwad Gazette, a collection of tips and tricks from the woman who raised four or five kids on $30,000 a year. It is there that I learned a tablespoon of soy flour and a tablespoon of water can be substituted for an egg when baking. It also tipped me off to the idea of stocking up on "leader loss" items at the grocery store, which is why I now buy 20 boxes of pasta when it's on sale for $.80/box.

Anyway, it's always good to be reminded that the status quo is not the only quo in town.


Blogger Julie said...

I second the Tightwad Gazette recommendation!

Almost everything my kids wear (except the oldest, unfortunately) is handed down. Speaking of which...would the recent cast-offs happen to include socks or undershirts?

7:51 AM  

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