Babies are cute, cuddly, and fun--and they have a purpose that goes far beyond those bright eyes and dimples. Our little babies are created for the purpose of enjoying God and glorifying Him forever. All other joys with our children point to this ultimate joy for which they and we live, and all of the sorrows of life with children, here and now, are entirely dwarfed by that promise.
One of the nicest ways to share in the joy, excitement, and expense of a new baby is through the tradition of baby showers! I love them! So many times I am thinking, "Wow! Here we are again, and this is only the beginning. Ten thousand years from now, if God pleases, we will still be telling the stories of God's grace in the life of this little one, and we'll still be laughing, very much as we are now."
I thought I'd share some frugal ideas for special baby gifts, with a sprinkling of ideas on how to especially help expectant parents who are frugal by absolute necessity.
A diaper cake is an elegant presentation for a very inexpensive baby gift--
DIAPER CAKE VIDEO
A diaper cake is made entirely of disposable diapers and rubber bands and then decorated. One of the sweetest diaper cakes I've seen was decorated with plain ribbons and topped with itty bitty baby shoes. A Google image search will bring up many good ideas. (Some people build the cake around a hidden champagne bottle; some roll diapers two at a time. Some tuck surprise gifts in with the diapers.)
One of the nicest baby showers I had was when I was expecting my seventh child. The hostess asked me what I needed most. Diapers. I needed diapers. I knew that I could easily find baby clothes at garage sales for 50 cents or $1.00 an item, as I needed them, so my greatest need was diapers. My friends gave me a Diaper Shower--and I did not buy diapers again until my baby was nearly a year old. Whether using disposables or cloth diapers, the cost of diapers and covers can be substantial, so this is something to consider, whether as a gift, or as a shower theme. (Most moms will need mostly sizes 2 & 3; gift receipts will be very helpful if she needs to exchange sizes.)
I'm not a big fan of registries, but now that most of them are online, it's very easy to learn the new mother's tastes, preferences, and colors early on. It's easy to make notes, and keep my eyes open for a less expensive gift that I think she'd enjoy, even if it's not on her list.
If you go to lots of library book sales or rummage sales, watch for nice copies of your favorite children's books. These can be packaged alone or with a related toy. Some of my favorite baby-themed books are Baby, Come Out by Fran Manushkin, All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan, If I Were a Mother by Kazue Mizumura , The Biggest Bed in the World by Lindsay Camp, Rock-a-Bye Farm by Diane Johnston Hamm, Welcome, Little Baby by Aliki, and Where Does the Brown Bear Go by Nicki Weiss. (Sadly, some of these are out of print.)
With sales and power couponing, many baby toiletries are available for little or no money. A selection of baby care supplies makes a great gift in a lovely basket bought from Goodwill for $2-3.
A potentially free option is a coupon for free services--a free meal, laundry, cleaning, playtime in the home with older children while mom recovers, or free babysitting for older children while Mom and Dad go out with baby. If you make the offer, do call the recipient after the baby is born to get your orders, and set up a date and time. In the whirlwind days with a new baby, the mother might forget your kindness if you do not remind her! (And some people who would love the help are shy to ask, even with a coupon!)
Make a lovely card and include a promise to deliver a freezer meal at 38 weeks and then set up a Meal Train for your friend, to coordinate meals for her family for the first few weeks.
Make a portable "Big Brother" or "Big Sister" party with safe, non-messy, quiet entertainment for the big kids in the home. We've used balloons, streamers, stickers, a "Welcome Baby" banner to color and hang, pens and paper, puzzle books, and family-friendly DVDs. Some homemade "I'm the Big Brother/Sister" t-shirts are a great addition.
Know your friend. This isn't appropriate for every local culture, but if you do think it's appropriate ask your friend if she would welcome used baby clothing. When guests are invited to give a used gift, no one feels excluded from the shower due to a lack of money. The purpose of a shower is to provide as much practical help and loving support as possible. At my last baby shower, when the hostess asked about gifts, I told her that I would love some used boy clothing. One of my favorite gifts from that shower was a big bag full of like-new baby boy clothes, which a friend had purchased at a garage sale. I was thrilled with the bounty, and when my friend later shared that she got them for almost nothing when the garage sale was closing for the day, I was even happier!
Mommy Labor Bag. I would choose the very lightest weight, prettiest, and loosest 100% cotton gown, lip balm, ponytail holders, disposable facial wipes, a 12-pack of inexpensive washcloths (for hot or cold compresses), healthy energy drink mixes, a sport bottle, some high protein snacks, a nice scented lotion, cute socks, and a praise music or hymn CD with some of her favorite music.
Another Mommy Labor Treat would be two cheap pillows, each in a fun pillowcase, with a music CD
My friend Elaine once received a wonderful gift--a stack of thank-you cards pre-addressed to everyone attending the shower! It was such a loving gesture, and wonderfully convenient while she was busy with her newborn. (A few unaddressed cards could go along, too.)
Deputy Headmistress suggests a gift package of homemade baby wipes, ingredients to make more, and an estimate of the annual savings!
HOMEMADE BABY WIPES VIDEO
My friend Cassie recommends packing the ingredients for healthy baby teething biscuits in a Mason jar and attaching the recipe and a baby-themed cookie cutter. (I would substitute healthier butter or coconut oil in that recipe and then label the jar, "Keep frozen until ready to bake.")
I missed one of the showers for one of my little boys! I was in Wisconsin, and all my birth family was in Maine. Family and friends threw a full shower for my little guy--with decorations, treats, and gifts--and then sent the gifts along by Priority Mail with a delightful, funny video of the whole event!
Whether as a baby gift, or for yourself, I was intrigued by this idea for a cute, free or cheap no-sew baby carrier--