A Quick Etiquette Guide to Baby Celebrations

Gift Registration? Gift Obligation? When to Send Thank-Yous?

Is it considered proper to register for gifts?

Opinions vary on this issue. While it strikes some as mercenary for parents-to-be to make up what is essentially a shopping list for friends and family, this practice is increasingly common. Registering at a store or with a catalogue or online service is certainly practical and time-saving for the guests of honor, who can avoid duplicates and returns, and, as with wedding registries, it can be a time-saver for guests, too, who don't have to spend much time selecting a gift. Of course, you may feel that registering takes some of the charm and spontaneity out of the event. In any case, there are two hard-and-fast rules about registering for gifts: never include the registry info on the invitation (put it on a separate slip of paper or let interested guests inquire with the host), and never insist that guests use the registry (they should always have the option of giving whatever they like).

Are invitees who can't attend the shower obliged to give gifts?

No. If they wish, they may send a package to the home of the host, who can have it on hand to be opened at the shower. But they certainly aren't obliged to do so -- a shower invitation is an invitation to a party, not a demand for a gift. It would be perfectly fine for the invitee who can't make the party to wait until the baby is born, and then send a gift.

When should the guest of honor send thank-you notes?

Usually within two to three weeks after the shower -- unless of course the baby's birth intervenes. In that case, it's fine to wait until after the hectic postpartum period is over. It's nice to thank your hosts with a special token, too, such a bouquet of flowers, a batch of cookies, or a small gift.

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