We’re expecting our first baby this summer, and the gifts are just starting to roll in. They’re so sweet, and we really appreciate the thought that went into each and every one of them. At the same time, the minimalist in me does not want to have much more than the essentials.
We set up a registry and carefully selected only the things we think we really need. When people send other gifts, it’s because they’ve put thought into what we or the baby might love, and I appreciate this thought so incredibly much. But these extra gifts take extra space and can feel unnecessary. In the worst case scenario, they can even begin to feel like a burden.
(I should pause here to clarify that I’m talking mostly about toys and clothes, and not about handmade quilts or other such irreplaceable gifts that we’ll adore and treasure.)
What are expecting parents to do? Here are the options I’ve considered:
Keep the gifts
And be thankful for such nice people in our lives. Store them away somewhere or find a way to use them.
Return the gifts and use the money for other baby gear we really need
And still be thankful for the nice people in our lives. My worry is that if these friends or family ever come over they might notice that we don’t have their gift anywhere in sight. Often they’ve put a lot of thought into a gift, and I’d feel bad rejecting such a gift. Do you worry about this? Or is it not such a big deal since baby gear changes as the kids grow older?
Tell friends and family in advance that we’d prefer registry or cash gifts
We could cite the small size of our apartment as the reason behind this request, but this one still feels a little bit uncomfortable to me, like we’re assuming that they will want to get us a gift in the first place.
Fill the registry with more essentials, including things for older ages
This option is based on the assumption that if the registry has enough options — price points and types of gifts — that people will have a better chance of finding a gift there that they are happy to give, and feel less compelled to add other extra gifts. My concern here is that we won’t get the registry items that we really need for an infant if people buy more of the gifts intended for an older age.
I think I’m leaning toward the first or second option, depending on the gift and the likelihood that we would use it.
The most heartwarming thing I’ve observed about parents is that they share and pass along things they don’t need or use anymore. This virtuous cycle means there is another option.
We could try trading some extras for things that we do need.
It would even better if our extras were exactly what other parents were looking for. It could be a win-win for everyone involved.
Parents, I’d love to hear how you keep all these toys and extras at bay. Non-parents, I’d love to hear what route you would recommend. And all gift-givers, which option would you prefer that your recipients take if your gift wasn’t something they really needed?
(Photo credit: Julia Wright, Flickr)