– Ask Cheryl – Baby Shower Invitation Etiquette

The reader featured in today’s post was invited to a baby shower, but feels put out because the invitation dictated what she should buy for a gift. What is the proper way to include baby registry information on a baby shower invitation? Find out below.

Dear Cheryl,
I have just been invited to a baby shower for the sister of my son’s wife. I have recently become unemployed, as the family is well aware, yet my son’s in-laws have sent me an online invitation to another baby shower. My daughter-in-law’s sister is having her second son after having a boy two years ago. I have only met the mother-to-be a couple of times and have never met her 2-year-old son or her husband. I gave a baby gift to this couple two years ago and never received an acknowledgement or thank you note.

Now another shower is being hosted and the online invitation states, “No infant clothes, No infant diapers, but here is a link to the baby registry at MyRegistry.”  Sorry, but this kind of ticks me off.  I have been out of work for three months and have no income coming in.

For my son’s sake, I bought a baby gift, a set of cute 9-month-sized clothes for a boy and a music toy. Did I do the right thing by buying the baby clothes? The items on her registry do not include clothes, but include a breast pump and $ 40.00 – $100.00 items mostly related to breast feeding. Is it proper to ask for more items after having a baby just two years ago? Or am I just being overly nerved-out at this point? Giving instructions on what she wants and saying “don’t buy this” feels rude to me.
Best Regards,

Baby clothes hanging on the clothesline.

Dear Rhonda,
I understand your frustration. What to give is always up to the gift-giver. Registries are a suggestion and a tool to help the gift-giver, not add stress. It is perfectly acceptable to buy “off the registry.”

From an etiquette point of view, there is nothing wrong with creating a baby registry for a second child, and it has become common practice to include the location(s) of the baby registry in or on the baby shower invitation. However, there should not have been any mention on the invitation about what to give or what not to give. All gifts should be received with gratefulness by the parents-to-be and it is certainly rude to try and dictate what someone will purchase for you. Baby registries are not a mandate, and gift preferences should only be given when asked.

Additionally, baby shower invitations should be sent only to those close to the mother or parents-to-be, not to everyone they know. For future reference, you are only obligated to buy a gift if you attend the baby shower. A shower invitation does not carry an obligation of a gift if you do not attend. However, if attending, you should take a gift. You could have simply RSVP’d that you were unable to be there and not purchased a gift.

You are going through a tough time right now and your family could have been more sensitive. We will give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume they were concerned that you would feel left out if not invited. Also, your daughter-in-law is part of your family and she possibly wants to include you in her family gatherings.

You did the right thing because you have every right to give any gift you choose. If possible, include a gift receipt and don’t give it another thought. Whether they love your gift or not, they should be thrilled that you took the time to choose and buy it.
Warmest regards,

If you have questions or comments about gift giving, baby shower, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length and grammar, or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations and more.

2 thoughts on “Ask Cheryl: Baby Shower Invitation Etiquette

  1. I don’t understand this advice. Basically you’re suggesting she waste her money on a gift that the parents have specifically said they don’t want. That’s a lose-lose for both of you. If you can’t afford anything on the registry, give a gift card so they can at least use it on what they want. Or, don’t go to the shower. You’re not obligated to, especially since this isn’t close family and it’s their second child.

    1. Thank you for your comment and you make very some very good points. I like the gift card suggestion, very practical. However, from an etiquette point of view the gift giver is in charge and can buy any type of gift they choose. Also, gifts should not be “dictated” by the recipient. Registries are wonderful things – practical in every way, but should be viewed as suggestions, not mandates.

      Also, sometimes the gifts we think we don’t want turn out to be favorites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Connected

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.