Sunday, May 12, 2013

How To Win your Next Baby Shower- 7 Great Handmade Gift Ideas

Now maybe it's because I'm getting older, or maybe all my friends are just getting really lazy about taking their birth control, but I've been attending a TON of baby showers recently.

Baby showers are a chance for a woman's friends to gather around her and show their love and support for her unborn child by buying it onesies--- it's NOT a competition, in the same way that the Olympics are not a competition.  You naive fools! Baby showers are TOTALLY a competition, and if you want to stay in a woman's close circle of friends, you'd better bring your A-game and get ready to pull a Tanya Harding on any woman who brings the same gift as you.

Obviously, the best way to win a baby shower is to spend ALL THE MONEY YOU HAVE. You may think "that's ridiculous, she doesn't need that many onesies!" But, you're forgetting that, not only do onesies come in newborn sizes, but also in 0-3 month sizes.  If you really love your friend, you will go to the ATM, take out all of your cash, and convert it instantly to plastic Target gift cards with teddy bear motifs.

However, if your current cash flow is a little restricted, but you still want to make a gesture that says "I love you more than these friendship usurping hags," you can always try giving her a thoughtful and creative gift instead.  And, since society dictates that the handmade gift is always the best, the other women at the shower will have to concede that you brought the best gift, even if they are the ones who respected your friend's wishes by sticking to her registry.

Here are 7 handmade gift ideas that will blow your next baby shower out of the water.

1. Book it! Sean and I received an AWESOME handmade book from the daughter of some of our neighbors.  It's a children's story about the love between our dog, Cricket, and their dog, Seamus, and it is easily the best piece of literature I have ever seen.  Here are a few pictures from the book:

I know what you're thinking, "I'm not as talented as the little girl who wrote this book!" I know you're not--- no one is-- but you can still create your own book by using photos for your illustrations.  I wrote a book/photo album this fall for the 6 recent babies in my life (seriously, I think my friends need a refresher lesson on how birth control pills work,) and had it printed on a site called Lulu.  Now, whenever I need another book printed, I can just pull up my saved book and order another copy.

2. Dork out: Not many people take into account the Dad when shopping for a shower gift, but you can make your gift stand out, by giving the gift that he will like the best.  Take for instance this baby quilt:
star wars baby quilt

This was made by Sean's cousin, who runs an Etsy store called, the swankie blankie.  What makes this Star Wars quilt even more amazing is that is has a matching death star burp cloth.  I want you to take a minute to process what I just said. A MATCHING DEATH STAR BURP CLOTH. Now, imagine you are the coworker of the dad who received this baby quilt.  Monday morning, when you ask him how the shower went, this blanket is the difference between him groaning and saying " was horrible!" and him shrugging his shoulders and saying "It wasn't too bad. Someone gave us a Star Wars quilt and a matching burp cloth with the death star on it."

3. Get Practical: One of the best handmade gifts I received at my baby shower was a stack of homemade flannel breast pads from my friend Elizabeth.  She included a funny note about how, regretfully, I was about to start leaking in impolite places, and that she had whipped these up for me on her sewing machine. Now, at the time I didn't really register how much I would love this gift, but sure enough, as soon as my baby was born I started squirting like a horny holstein.  This homemade gift saved the day, and prevented me from having to trouble-shoot that particular crisis with a house full of relatives, on less than two hours sleep a night, and with diaper cream on my hands.

4. Knit it and quit it.  Hand-knitted gifts are to baby showers what bacon wrapped shrimps are to buffet lines--the best thing on the table.  Knitters, remember that-- again, like bacon wrapped shrimps-- these items go fast!  It only takes a few hours to knit a baby garment that will make your competitors fellow party goers green with envy,  (or that could just be all the baby-shower guacamole) either way, start knitting tiny baby socks! On the left is a baby hat I designed and knitted as baby gifts this year.  On the right is a photo of a titty-hat. When worn by a new baby while breastfeeding--- well you get it, it's hilarious. I can't take credit for this idea, that must go to my little sister, Tori who is truly twisted.


5. Go Artsy Fartsy: When Millie was born, our neighbor Sue achieved complete baby shower domination, by commissioning Wilmington, NC based artist, Maya Simonson to do a piece of artwork for the baby's room.   Maya includes little girls in all of her watercolors, and this particular piece was inspired by what she imagined life to be like for a little girl growing up on our street.
The nice thing about custom artwork is that is will hang in the baby's room as a constant reminder to the other women who visit the nursery of their inadequacy giving baby gifts.  If you can't commission a piece from an artist, you can also try choosing illustrations from a classic children's book such as "Where the Wild Things Are," or "Winnie the Pooh" and having them matted and framed to match your friend's nursery decor.

6. Because I said Sew: The top drawer of Millie's dresser is organized into two sections.  On the right side is Things The Baby Poops On, while the left side is all the Things the Baby Throws Up On.  In this drawer are a collection of hand sewn burp cloths, bib's and other vomit-collection textiles that are so artfully done, they deserve to be on display at the Smithsonian.  Instead-- as I may have mentioned-- I use them to collect baby throw up. But, each time I do, I think fondly of the women who gifted them to us.

If you're a talented seamstress, and you're bossy enough, you could win your next baby shower by taking a page out of my friend Emily's book. When some of our dear friends became pregnant with twin baby girls, Emily instructed each individual in our circle of friends to make a quilt square.  This was a serious feat of cat-herding that involved several organizational deadlines, the mailing of squares across multiple states, and more than one firmly worded reminder email. However, in the end, she got results, and cobbled the squares together into these two beautiful quilts, forever endearing herself to the young parents, and clearly winning their baby shower.

7.  Throw some Bows- Just after the baby was born, we received a box of these handmade hair-bows from our friend Leslie:

I'm sorry--- it was rude of me not to warn you that these photos may make your head may explode from cuteness. CAUTION: THESE PHOTOS MAY CAUSE AN OVERWHELMING URGE TO PROCREATE, ESPECIALLY WITH LONG, SILKY-HAIRED GENTLEMEN.  So, even if you can't paint, knit, or sew, I'm willing to bet that you can operate a glue gun. Granted, your bows probably won't look as good as Leslie's do, but that is because she is the Michelangelo of ribbon, and you are just some asshole with a glue gun.

Party-goers, I hope these tips give you some good ideas for handmade baby shower gifts.  Personally, I've really enjoyed getting to brag about all the good presents I got, which I'm sure are much better than the ones you will be making. If you've read this entire post, and you still don't have any ideas for your next baby shower gift, I hate to say it, but you don't deserve to win. If I were you I'd head straight to the ATM because--as you can see from these photos--you're going to be facing some stiff competition.

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