Like most people, procrastination is one of my favorite hobbies. When my boyfriend’s sister got married, I hurried to Target just a day or two before her shower to print off the registry and buy a gift. Most of the gifts that were in my desired price range were either already purchased, or available “online only.” Finding specific colors and brands was no picnic either, but such is the frustration of registry shopping.
On the other hand, nothing gets my adrenaline pumping like taking a gander through a baby store. Tiny little outfits and colorful toys are absolutely irresistible to me, as I think they are to most mothers. But being forced to shop from a registry can absolutely take the joy of new-baby shopping away.
Let me share a little secret: just because the shower invitation includes that little tagline about the baby registry doesn’t mean that you have to shop off of it. In fact, what’s the fun of buying gifts if the recipient already knows exactly what you’re buying?
Babies have lots of needs, but there are also quite a few baby products out there that are a complete waste of money. Registries are a great guide if you don’t intimately know the recipient, or simply don’t have an idea of what you’d like to get them. If you’re sick of buying the same old crib sheets and bibs, however, here are some unique baby shower gift ideas that any new parent will appreciate.
1. A laundry basket of toiletries. If you were just going to head to your local baby superstore to buy baby clothes, give yourself a slap on the wrist. I think that my experience is comparable to most other mothers: my well-wishers provided me with enough onesies to clothe every single baby this side of the Mississippi. Instead of buying new clothes, buy something to wash them with! One of my favorite gifts was a small laundry basket filled with baby laundry detergent, baby soap, baby lotion, cotton balls and q-tips, a baby hair brush, and various other goodies. I loved it because I probably wouldn’t have remembered to buy those things ahead of time. And let me tell you, special baby detergents like Dreft are WAY expensive, so if you can help the new parent out by buying one or two bottles of the stuff, all the better!
2. A crib soother. Last week, Keenan and I made a 9:30 p.m. run to CVS to buy batteries because he was having trouble falling asleep without his crib soother. The fact that I would stumble out the door in my pajamas at bedtime shows you just how important this darn thing is to us. Ours is a battery-powered contraption that attaches to the side of the crib. It plays music and features a glowing rainforest scene, complete with plastic animals and a waterfall. Why is this so amazing? It is my key to a good night’s sleep. Any time my son wakes up in the night, he hits his crib soother and the calming music soothes him back to sleep. We have this one by Fisher Price, but another really popular one is the Playskool Gloworm, available on Amazon. I never knew I needed it, but I can’t live without it!
3. A gift certificate to a really good photographer. Getting newborn pictures taken was one of the best things we ever did. We were pretty short on cash when my son was born, so I didn’t think we’d be able to get newborn photos taken. We were pleasantly surprised when a relative gave us a gift certificate for a photo session with a really good photographer. Those newborn photos, taken when my son was only 4 days old, are something that I will truly cherish forever, and I still tear up pretty much every time I see them.
4. A homemade blanket. Don’t get me wrong, I know that moms receive hundreds of blankets as gifts. If you’re going to go the blanket route, make sure it’s a homemade one. We received several handmade blankets, and they absolutely meant the world to us. Good options include knit blankets, and anything embroidered with the child’s name. The less sewing-savvy can make wonderfully warm fleece-tie blankets. Anything sentimental or handmade that serves a purpose is most definitely a gift worth giving.
5. A few board books. And by “board books” I don’t mean “Goodnight Moon.” I have nothing against this book, and my son enjoys reading it, but I’m pretty sure we were gifted at least five copies. It’s considered the quintessential “baby book” – so avoid it at all costs. That being said, books were one thing that I felt were in short supply after my son was born. Instead of spending $4 on a card, spend $4 on a book. Sign your name and some good wishes on the inside front cover, and the new parents will send you good karma every time they open it up.
6. A camera. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t have a decent camera for the first few months of my son’s life. Instead, I had a really awesome camcorder, which filmed HD video, but unfortunately took very grainy pictures. After a month or two I splurged on a decent digital camera – but I wish I’d had one sooner. If you know the parents are in need of a new camera, get a group together and buy them a nice digital camera and some extra memory cards. If the new parents already have a camera, some cute picture frames and albums can be a great way to show off the pictures. Gift certificates to photo-printing sites are also a good option, since printing off all those memories can be really expensive!
7. A toy box. This is something we still don’t have and are deeply in need of, in case any of my relatives happen to be reading this blog. My son has toys and toys and toys and more toys, and there’s just no containing the mess. And since he’s currently an only child, and only grandchild, the toys just keep coming. Give the gift of sanity and organization with a brand-spanking-new toy box, or even a used one that you’ve taken the care to clean up and personalize.
Shopping for new baby gifts doesn’t have to be boring or cookie-cutter. With a little creativity and some careful thought, your gift will be one that’s truly appreciated and memorable.