A few years ago, I experienced the Summer of Endless Weddings. Every weekend was spent at a reception, every Friday afternoon I’d trudge diligently to Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma or Macy’s to retrieve a registry and pick up that perfect (or at least, specifically requested) gift.
So it shouldn’t have surprised me nearly as much as it did when this summer turned into the Summer of Endless Baby Showers. Even though baby registries are pretty common these days, I find myself more tempted to stray from the registry when it’s for a baby than when it’s for a wedding. There are just so many fun and fabulous gifts out there for the little ones — it’s hard to stick to practical choices when I can get something really decadent and irresponsible instead.
Hands-down, my favorite gift for these events is a classic book from my childhood. I love to gift Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, or, more recently, Little Pea or Little Hoot, both illustrated by Jen Corace – whom I absolutely adore. I pair that with one of my favorite stuffed monsters from Ugly Dolls, and it’s a perfect low-cost gift that’s still so thoughtful and unique.
More recently, I’ve been turning to Etsy for baby gifts – the options there are just endless and so affordable! If you know the nursery theme, try searching for it on Etsy, and pick up a piece of artwork for the little one. Parents are usually so busy buying onesies and car seats that the art is a welcome surprise. Some of my favorite pieces that aren’t nursery specific, but still baby-perfect are this alphabet poster by The Small Object, and this counting poster by Robin Rosenthal. I also adore just about everything from Sarah Jane Studios (for a baby girl-to-be), and I’m a huge fan of art by Matte Stephens for boys’ rooms. Hide n Seek makes gorgeous prints as well – and just about all of these options will run you under $50, even with the frame (yes, you should frame it).
Other great Etsy options are these gorgeous onesies and outfits from Bella Blu Designs (they were recently featured on Martha Stewart, actually); I especially love her baby-shower-ready sets of coordinating onesies, pants and burp cloths. There are also some really amazing quilts to be found on Etsy – amazing detail and very reasonable prices. I love this Amy Butler patchwork quilt for a baby girl, or this one for a boy.
Occasionally, I admit, I just feel more like buying a gift for mom than for the fetus. I mean, after all…I’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy presents for the kid later in life, right? These custom bags by Caprice Bianca would make a great, unique diaper bag option, but they’re also perfect for mom to tote around her toddler’s goods, and then later, to let a little one use it as an overnight bag to take to Grandma’s house.
And once these baby showers come to an end, it’s only a matter of time before I’m buying gifts for munchkin birthdays and holidays. Fortunately, this one’s a snap. I’m turning to Cake and Milk Paperie, where I can buy the little one the kind of old-fashioned gift I love. These art smocks are guaranteed to encourage creative craft projects galore, and they’re so darling that Mom is going to be jealous she can’t have one too. And I’ll probably throw in a set of these adorable trace-the-letters cards that allow kids just learning to write to send their very own thank-you notes. It’s such a darling way to teach kids that thoughtful thank-you notes equal more gifts.
With a list like this, it’s easy to stray from the baby registry and arrive at any shower armed with the coolest gift there. Besides, it’s the grandparents that are supposed to spring for the boring, practical stuff, right?