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04.22.2004: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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shower for a second baby ...
My friends, who are all in their early 20s (I'm 41), are throwing a baby shower for a mutual friend. This same friend had her first baby last year and the same friends who are throwing this shower threw a baby shower for her last year, inviting the same people as this year. In my opinion, you get one baby shower -- for the first one. I think the second one is a bit much . . . the purpose of the shower being to help stock up the new mom with the things she'll need, so all her older and wiser friends get together and throw her a shower. In my opinion she's now got all the starter things she'll need. I don't think my friends should be throwing her a second baby party, but don't feel I have a rational ground to say I'm not going just because I don't think a second shower is necessary. We're all college students (yes, even me) and we're all on tight budgets. It's not like the second baby is even going to be a different sex . . . it's a girl again! Is there an etiquette to this baby shower thing? Do you get one shot at it . . . or multiple ones?

A: You're right that traditionally, the baby shower was an event associated only with the first-time mommy, and that there are still plenty of folks out there who view the shower as a gift-grubbing occasion. Still, my feeling is that it's never inappropriate to throw a party for a friend. It would be one thing if she wanted to throw it herself, but given that it's simply that your group of friends wants to do something nice to help her welcome this second baby into her life, I'd say that's just dandy. If you want to take the focus off of the whole material goods thing and keep it about the celebration -- probably the safest route to go, if you don't want to run the risk of offending etiquette purists -- don't call it a shower. Invite guests over for a gathering in honor of the mom and her new baby, and let them know that no gifts are necessary. If, on the other hand, you think the mom would honestly benefit from a little help with this newest addition to her family, than I don't see that there's anything wrong with throwing a shower to give her a hand. If money is a huge issue for the guests, let them know that you're organizing a group gift -- a gift certificate to a baby-centric store for instance -- and that they're welcome, although not obligated, to contribute whatever they like to that. That way, those folks who really can't fork over very much can donate whatever small sum they can afford, without having to stress that the guest of honor will think they were cheap.

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