They registered for a carseat and a pack-n-play and a rock-n-play and a dock-a-tot and a blah-a-blah. Some of which they will use, I promise you. Some of these things they will use every single day. Some of these things they will feel obligated to use at least once because, well, they asked for it (because someone told them to) and you, a dear friend, bought it for them (because they asked for it). So, they will take the tags off, work for 10 minutes to get their sweet little baby to make a cute face so they can snap a picture to send to you as a “Thank You” for getting said item, then immediately post it on the swap pages or put it right back in the back of the closet where it’s been slowly dying since they received it at the baby shower (because the thought of the return line at a brick-and-mortar store gives parents with newborns the heebee-geebies!). Then, another family will visit the swap page or event and purchase that “link-new” baby item for about a third of the retail price and zero of the wear. Ugh!
And that’s how it sometimes goes with the good idea fairies that show up when we are compiling our baby registries.
There are so many “Top 10” baby registry lists and “What You Really Need”-type blog posts out there so I wanted to present a few different ideas for you. I know, I know the idea of giving someone a gift card as their actual present sounds just tacky. I mean, that’s what a prepubescent high school freshman would give as a gift. I get it. Trust me. I love to give big gifts. You might struggle to actually give these gift cards as gifts because then you wouldn’t really need to wrap it in one of those BIG, HUGE baby shower gift bags (though you totally could!). But trust me, these small but mighty gift cards will be just as appreciated. Plus, you could always wrap a box-inside-of-a-box, inside of a box, inside of a box, inside of a box, inside of a BIG, HUGE baby shower bag!
However, I’ve also become a proponent of giving thoughtful and practical gifts. As a military family who’s constantly downsizing despite growing a family, I can absolutely attest that more is not better. Stuff takes up space so getting more stuff just as you get a new human is not always good. Thoughtfully giving one of the gift cards listed below, especially when gifted with an explanation and purpose, could be even more thoughtful than simply getting another NB-sized onsie that the baby will outgrow in an hour anyways.
Let’s get to the list. Here are my Top 10 thoughtful gift cards to give as a gift to a family with (or expecting) a newborn:
The obvious one considering who’s writing this list…gift certificate for a postpartum doula and/or a lactation consultant. We offer such a range of support for the entire family that receiving a postpartum doula as a baby shower gift will be a blessing for everyone! The only thing I’ll caveat this with is, this may not be a good “surprise” gift. I highly recommend discussing this with mama-to-be before purchasing a large package with a postpartum doula. The family/postpartum doula relationship is so intimate that families don’t want just anyone providing support during this time. So, the gifted has a few different options on how to do this. First, you can talk to you the mama-to-be about your idea prior to the baby shower then encourage her to interview with a few different postpartum doulas. This will allow the family to determine the best support person for their family first. Then, once the doula or doula agency is identified, you (as the gifted) can work with the doula agency to find a way to gift doula support (I do this, so if you’re local to me - SAN PEDRO, PALOS VERDES, SOUTH BAY, and LONG BEACH in SoCal, reach out and let’s chat!). Or, the second thing you can do, is present the idea as the baby shower gift. If you do this, do your own research first then present the parent-to-be with a selection of 3 or 4 doulas or doula agencies that you think will be a good fit for the family. Then work to schedule the interviews and let the family-to-be know how much you will be able to pay for regarding services.
Costco (or BJs or Sams Club) Membership: The key here is to find out if the recipient has a favorite product. For example, my husband and I are convinced that Charmin Ultra Strong is hands-down the best toilet paper ever. Well, not all of these warehouse stores carry that brand. But, if your friend and his/her family are willing to try new things, I can’t speak highly enough about Costco and their store-brand Kirkland. My poor husband’s entire wardrobe is either from Costco or Eddie Bauer or LL Bean. I heart Costco! I will likely do an entire blog article on the reasons I love Costco for parents of newborns!
Door Dash, UberEats, Omaha Steaks, or something similar in your area: Parents with new babies do not want to cook every night. They also don’t want to think too hard about what to eat or you to get it (God-forbid they have to put they new baby in the carseat, lug the carseat into the restaurant, then figure out how to manage and carry it all). So, getting a gift certificate for a place that offers many different dining and delivery options presents them with best of all choices.
Local grocery store or Target. Not glamorous at all, but there will absolutely be emergency grocery runs even though the pregnancy period is past. Diapers, wipes, coconut oil, laundry detergent, stain removal sticks, food for the forgotten family pet (no judgement here…I speak from experience dude!), or just plain ole dinner (see suggested gift above too!). If you happen to live near a Wegmans, consider yourself so-freaking-lucky!! You could also consider a gift card to a grocery delivery service like Instacart or Amazon Fresh. This way the family can decide exactly what they need and have it delivered right to them instead of forging the grocery store with a newborn. Just make sure they family lives in a service area for these services.
Amazon Prime Membership. I think most people are Amazon Prime members nowadays, but in the event this family is not, please gift this to them. They deserve it. Pantry. Wardrobe. Video. Music. Audio books. 2-day delivery. All of these are very handy for families with newborns. Do them a favor and bring them into the 21st Century. They will thank you in about 4 months.
Barnes and Noble gift card. While there will be much hustle and bustle with a newborn, there will also be down time and, sometimes, it can be very lonely and boring, if unprepared. If the parents are readers at all, perhaps they’ll enjoy a trip to Barnes and Noble or searching for Nook books to help combat that boredom. Or if they are Amazon Kindle users, consider an Amazon gift card given with the intent they load up on books (Audible is an Amazon company so Amazon gift cards can be used for Audible rentals too). Alternative to this is to help them by getting them a library card to their local library and showing them to free library apps like Overdrive or Libby.
Shutterfly or Minted or Other stationary gift certificate. You know you expect to get a baby announcement! You might even know where it’ll go on the fridge. But, did you know those things are not cheap!? Why not give a gift certificate for a photo card printing company like Shutterfly or even a post-card making app like Ink? Or, the recipient could also use the card to make custom stationary on behalf of the baby and can then use those as thank you cards in the future. Sidenote - Costco also offers pretty great quality cards too, so if you’re doing the Costco card thing, keep this in mind!
Newborn Photographer AND/OR gift certificate good for purchase of prints. If the family expressed a desire for a newborn photographer (or even a maternity photo shoot), this could be a great gift. Coordinate with the photographer to make sure s/he is available during the window that the family would need them before getting the gift certificate though! Also, side note on this - be sure the family is interested in this. I know that, personally, this was not something I wanted with either of my children. That said, I would have just used the gift certificate into a family photo session a few months later (as long as the gift certificate didn’t expire!).
Magazine subscription. Perhaps one of the parents enjoys home decorating. Maybe the other parent enjoys traveling or hiking. Or, maybe you know that one of the parents has a People Magazine fettish! Getting the gift of a magazine subscription will give them something to look forward to through the early weeks and months of the postpartum period PLUS it will provide the with some low-stress entertainment for a little while. The parents can even read (some of) these magazines to their newborn.
Housecleaning. Give the gift of a clean house. Whether you pay enough for a one-time, pre-baby deep cleaning or you offer to cover the cost of a series of services, a clean house can do wonders to the parents’ sanity and overall well-being.
There are many, many other ideas I considered for this article but for one reason or another, decided not to include it. A meal service like Hello, Fresh! or Blue Apron or Home Chef could be fun for the parents and a great way for them to enjoy a “date-night” at home. But, it’s not necessarily the most practical gift at the newborn stage, so it might not be well received, despite being presented with the absolute best of intentions. Speaking of date-night, there’s a company called “Date Night In” that provides the family with the materials to have a date night in the comfort of their own home, ideal for families with newborns. Or how about a gift certificate for an at-home massage? Maybe the family has a dog (or 2) so getting them a gift certificate for a mobile dog groomer or maybe a dog walker would be amazing (especially for mothers delivering by surgical birth).
The list could go on and on. So don’t be afraid to think outside the registry. The registry is great, but a gift coming from a place of thought and love…that is priceless. Gift cards are no longer tacky. And when presented with a thoughtful purpose, they are actually extremely amazing gifts. Bonus if you know a friend/family member attending a private school that participates in the Scrip program - buy the gift cards through that program and help support that school at no extra cost to you!
If you are an expectant family looking to develop your registry, reach out and let’s connect. I’d love to help you build a registry that meets your family’s needs. Be sure to check out places like Babylist or Amazon where they allow you to add services like postpartum doula support (yes, I’m on babylist!), dog walking, and many other services, as well as traditional items like the carseat and baby carriers.
So, think outside the registry, and give a gift card!
Kari Haravitch PCD(DONA)
What are some other radical baby shower gift ideas? Comment below or on Facebook. I’d love to hear from you.