As my baby bumps is getting bigger and the due date is just around the corner, some of my colleagues have told me that they wanted to throw me a baby shower.
Those are the colleagues that I work closely with or talk to on a regular basis.
Among them is a female colleague who has been transferred to our Bangladesh office for five years.
I was let in on that she kept asking and urging other people in the office to throw me a baby shower and/or take me out to lunch.
I’ve had a feeling they were planning something for me.
But when one of them asked me what I thought, I wanted to be honest with them. I told them I didn’t want to have a baby shower.
I didn’t have one when I was pregnant with Baby FAF, and I don’t want to have one now.
I didn’t want them to take me out to lunch just because of my pregnancy either.
And here are the four reasons why:
1. We still have baby stuff from Baby FAF.
We still keep a crib, a baby bathtub, diapers, milk bottles, breast pumps, some baby gear and a lot of baby clothes from Baby FAF.
Over the past three years, we have given away some gear such as a bassinet and a bouncing chair.
But we still managed to keep most of Baby FAF’s stuff in the storage shed, knowing that we’d have a second baby one day.
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2. I got a lot of hand-me-downs from my neighbors.
A neighbor recently had a baby girl and gave us four big boxes of clothes 0-12 months and a huge bag of 1-T clothes she herself had inherited from another neighbor.
Another neighbor also gave me a bag of clothes with tags on them.
She asked me if I wanted more, but I politely declined her kind gesture, citing the fact that we just had too much at home.
Just the thought of having more baby clothes given to me stresses me out.
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3. I am tired of decluttering and cleaning the house.
At first, I was supper happy about the windfall of hand-me-downs we were showered with.
However, after reminding myself about the spring decluttering and the yard sale I had just a month ago, I realized we had almost no space for all those items.
We even use the closet in the foyer to store baby stuff.
At one point, I found myself overwhelmed with baby stuff and decided to donate a box full of infant clothes to a neighbor.
4. I want my colleagues to save their money.
For a moment, the thought of getting brand-new clothes with tags on them tempted me to say yes to those offers and a baby shower. I wouldn’t have to go out and buy new baby clothes as gifts for the baby showers I’ll get invited to.
However, I really don’t want my colleagues or anyone to spend money on something that I don’t find necessary. They will need to buy decorations for the party, possibly order some food, and buy gifts for the baby, which I really don’t want to happen.
For me, frugality is not just about saving our own money. It’s also about avoiding waste and keeping others from overspending on us.
Related: 10 Simple Things We Do To Save Money
5. I am tired of answering questions about my pregnancy.
I appreciate all the attention and questions from friends, neighbors, and colleagues about my pregnancy.
However, after almost six months of answering various repeated questions about the baby, the last thing I want is another party where I get asked more of those questions. It stresses me out. Big time.
I get asked the following questions multiple times on a daily basis:
— When are you due?
— Boy or girl?
— Are you guys ready?
— Are you guys excited?
— Will you have a third one?
— How are you feeling?
One of my colleagues who just had a baby told me she hated the question “How are you feeling?” since she got asked that question too often. And I nodded in agreement.
But what can I do? I just can’t tell people to stop asking me such questions without sounding rude. I choose instead to smile and repeat the same answers every single day, hoping they won’t ask me such questions again and reminding myself that I’m going to have the baby soon.
Mr. FAF said I might have been guilty of asking other pregnant women the same questions. I think I might have, and I will try my very best not to repeat that same mistake again.
What I’d rather have instead
My number one choice is to not have others spend money on gifts, clothes, or anything on our baby. We welcome hand-me-downs if others no longer need them. But I don’t need any new purchases for my pregnancy, period.
However, if others really need the need to spend something to celebrate the new addition to our family, there’s only one thing that I’d rather get: money.
I don’t want gift cards. I don’t want Visa cards. I want the cold-hard cash. And it doesn’t have to be in a red envelop either.
I realized this might be more of a cultural difference. In Vietnam and China, it’s perfectly normal to give friends or family members red envelopes with cash inside for their weddings, birthdays, births and other special occasions.
But it’s not so much the case in the US. In some cases, it might be even considered tacky. I get that and never mentioned the cash aspect to anyone except for Mr. FAF, who also agrees with me that it’d be the best gift for us.
Cash is flexible. We can keep it in our savings account or buy things that are absolutely necessary for our baby like diapers and daycare tuition. My family (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) sent us money as gifts when I was pregnant with Baby FAF.
But it was when Mr. FAF and I were still in financial difficulty. We gratefully accepted the gift.
This time when I’m pregnant with our second baby, Mr. FAF and I have stable jobs, so I told my family early one I would NOT accept any gifts (money, clothes, or toys) from them, especially when my aunt and uncle came to visit us in DC.
I shared my thoughts with my best friend from college who’s Vietnamese American. She came to the US when she was 4, so she has a good understanding of the Vietnamese and American culture.
She agreed with me that cash would be the best but also said that it’d be weird to suggest cash gifts to other people, which I never did and don’t plan to do. I don’t want to sound like a greedy weirdo.
Related: Why Money Matters In A Relationship
I have told my colleagues that I appreciate their thought but prefer not to have a baby shower. They seem understanding and respect my decision.
I just hope that there won’t be any surprise gifts for the baby in the future. I’d still cherish the gesture, but I wouldn’t be perfectly happy with it either.
Like I said above, frugality is not just me saving my money but also me helping others save their money.
One of my neighbors recently threw a birthday party for her son. In her invite, she said “Please no gifts.”She considers herself to be a minimalist.
I know she’s very frugal but also generous. She has given us a lot of brand-new baby clothes with tags on them (that she had gotten from others for her daughter) instead of trying to sell them for money.
Another neighbor had another party for her daughter and suggested donating to a charity of their choice instead of bringing gifts. The same neighbor offered to take Baby FAF overnight at her house when I go into labor.
I found their actions really inspiring.
Gifts can show how much we love and care about someone. But it’s not the only choice. It’s easier for people who need to give gifts to say so, especially if they’re on a budget.
But I’m on the receiving end this time, and I want to confirm that family, friends, and colleagues don’t need to give us gifts to show that they care about us. Sometimes it’s just the free words or actions that speak and matter more than an expensive gift.