It has become more and more popular to ask baby shower guests to bring a specific item instead of a card, or in addition to a gift. There are lots of reasons for this custom. First of all, very few people know what to do with the cards. Guests can agonize over what to write in a card, but the baby won’t be able to read it for years. Mom and Dad are so busy that often cards get lost or thrown out, making them useless after the first few moments. Plus, there is the waste aspect. Why spend money and time on a card that will end up generating trash when you can provide the family with something that they can use for years.


This is, by far the most popular gift to give instead of cards. It makes a lot of sense. Cards are expensive. Attractive cards can cost up to seven or eight dollars. For the same price, your guests can purchase a baby book. They can write their sentiments on the title page, making sure that the baby and parents know that this is a treasured infant. Not only will the book be used over and over again, it will add to the baby’s world view, and even hearing the words read will help the baby learn language and, ultimately, do better in school.

But books aren’t the only type of gift you can ask guests to bring.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

If you are throwing a baby shower during the holiday season, this is a wonderful way to experience the season. The great news is that they don’t all have to be “Baby’s First Christmas,” baubles. Instead, ask guests to bring Christmas tree ornaments that hint at the guest’s relationship with the parent. For example, if the guest knew the Mom in college, perhaps a ball with the college name will work. A grandparent, aunt, uncle or sibling might choose a vintage ornament from their own collection for the baby.

Before the shower purchase a nice sized, plastic ornament organizer. Make sure that there are at least enough spaces in the box for each guest you have invited with a few left over. Paint the baby’s name, if you know it, on the lid of the box. If Mom and Dad haven’t announced the baby’s name yet, just label the box with the words “Baby Shower Ornaments” and the date.

When you ask the guests to bring ornaments, include a sturdy cardboard tag with your invitation. As your guests to write why they chose to give that particular decoration. Then ask the guest to tie the tag to the ornament so that, in years to come, the parents and the child will remember the person as they decorate the Christmas tree.

As the guests enter, file them past a small, tabletop tree. Ask your guests to hang their decorations on the tree to add to the party’s ambiance.

At the end of the party, remove the ornaments from the small tree and place them carefully in the box you have already prepared so that they are ready to go home with the parents.

Food for Thought

Do you know any gourmet chefs that are about to become parents? If so, think about exchanging the traditional card for something that will feed the body and the spirit: recipes.

Ask your guests to look up their favorite family recipes. This might be a special dish reserved for holidays or celebrations of some kind. It might be a secret sauce passed down for generations. Or it might just be that dish or dessert that the Mom or Dad loved the last time they were at the guest’s home. Whatever the guest wants to share.

There are two ways to collect these recipes. You can include a recipe card with a hole punched in one corner in the invitation, asking the guest to write the recipe down in their own handwriting, adding why it is special or why they chose it. Then you can ask each guest to tie the recipe to the gift they are bringing instead of a card. As the parent reads each recipe with the gift, you can remove the recipe card from the gift, placing it into a decorated card box, ready to go home.

But today, many chefs use digital recipe books. Many families keep their recipes online so that they can share them quickly. You can use this to your advantage. Simply ask each guest to send the digital recipe of their choice to you in an email, along with a picture of themselves with the parent-to-be. Ask them to write a short paragraph addressing why they have chosen this recipe for the party. Then create a document that incorporates the recipe with the picture and paragraph. You can print out the pages yourself and slip them into moisture resistant plastic sleeves to protect them during cooking before placing them in a binder. Or, you can take them up to your local office store and ask them to print the recipes on slick, moisture resistant card stock and bind the pages in the store. To make sure that the parent can save and share the recipes, include a thumb drive with all the recipes to add to their own digital collection.

Diaper Raffle

Babies go through diapers. Whether your favorite parents are considering cloth or disposable, that baby will need a lot of diapers. You can help Mom and Dad out by asking your guests to bring diapers instead of a card. Tell them that every pack of diapers earns that guest a chance in the “Big Diaper Raffle!” Encourage your guests to bring diapers in a variety of sizes, since the baby will grow.

If you have enough guests bringing diapers, construct a “Diaper Throne” by taping diaper packages over and around the chair of honor for the Mom-to-be. She can sit on her special seat as she opens presents.

Be sure to include a nice prize for the raffle in your shower budget. Some prizes you might consider are gift cards to local restaurants, a Mani/Pedi with the Mom-to-be, or a photo package with the new baby

Bring books instead of cards

Books you can bring to a baby shower instead of a card


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