Updates: “Step-mom In Over My Head!” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Step-mom In Over My Head!” whose pregnant stepdaughter was dropping serious hints that she wanted the LW to host an expensive baby shower with a huge guest list for her. “[Her dad and I] think that, since she has no money, she should not be having a big party but should instead be focusing on saving for the baby while we should be putting our money towards baby needs and not parties!” The baby shower was held over the weekend. Keep reading to find out who ended up paying for it.

The shower was yesterday. We met with stepdaughter and baby daddy and drew the line at a financial contribution with which we felt comfortable. We would neither host 70 people nor pay for a sit-down lunch for a big group at a restaurant. That was a difficult conversation, but we prevailed. Stepdaughter’s maternal aunt took the ball and ran with it, and in the end she hosted a party in a rented hall. It was still too big (70 or so people) but people brought food, the aunt and cousins decorated, and it was less insane than the original proposition. We (significant other and myself) each got her a gift, in the category of baby furniture.

I saw a great article in the HuffPost today about how we should forgo baby showers and bridal showers and instead have huge celebrations of graduations and first jobs…at which people buy you furniture and toast you and do all the stuff for actual accomplishments. I like that plan!

The author pointed out that of the seven weddings she had been to only two of the couples were still married.

Once you graduate from college you have always graduated from college!

Anyway, all’s well that ends well. Thanks for the clear thinking and straight shooting from both you and your active readers.

Well, I’m glad your stepdaughter’s shower went well and you stuck to your guns as far as what you were comfortable contributing.

As for forgoing baby showers and bridal showers and instead having huge celebrations for graduations and first jobs, I’m going to disagree. First of all, there already ARE huge graduation celebrations. Don’t most people get pretty big gifts from their parents and close family members when they collect a degree? And, yes, landing a first job is quite an accomplishment, deserving of a celebration and a toast or two, but…new furniture? Really? Presumably, one should be able to buy some new items with his or her paychecks from the new job. A baby shower, on the other hand, doesn’t so much celebrate an “accomplishment” (it seems maybe you have an issue with calling something an accomplishment that doesn’t always require much effort or forethought) as it celebrates the addition of a new life into the world and helps prepare the parent(s) for some of the many needs and expenses they’ll face as they usher in and care for this new life. I fully support the idea of baby showers for first-time parents! Bridal showers I’m much less enthusiastic about, but that’s a conversation for another day…


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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  1. Yeah, new furniture does not sound right. I imagined someone gifting an ugly chair or something like that. What if the person has no place to put the new furniture or what if it doesn’t agree with the rest of the furniture? It is different in a baby shower, where the parents can decide on a crib they want before someone offers to give it to them.
    I disagree with forgoing baby showers. Like Wendy said, it is about celebrating a new life. I do agree with not going overbounds with it. Sometimes people make a very large party with money they don’t actually have.
    The thing with bridal showers I could agree with. Bridal showers are really not that necessary and people go waay overbounds with them, they give them waay too much importance. I once went to three different bridal showers for the same bride: once was the one from her family, another from her friends and the last one from her coworkers. Of course, had to bring a gift to each. I thought it was inconsiderate and only went to all of the them because the bride was a close friend and coworker.
    Also, in my country, bridal showers are only for women, a group of women gathers to drink tea and coffee and discuss “advice” important to give to the new bride. It is called (in a translation from spanish) a “kitchen shower”. The bride gets gifts consisting of things she’ll use for the kitchen and the house.
    The whole idea sounds super sexist to me. If there are two people, shouldn’t the both of them be receiving the advice and the things? Maybe that is why I agree with forgoing the bridal showers.

    1. Haha, I have this mental image of an ugly chair that is repeatedly re-gifted and it just continues in perpetuity…

  2. It would be so weird to be showered with gifts for graduating or getting a job. Your success is its own reward. Although I wouldn’t mind going to a “I don’t have a baby” shower like on Sex and the City (no gifts though, just booze).

  3. Avatar photo Crochet.Ninja says:

    i definitely think mom’s need the baby shower. i can’t imagine having one myself, there is just so much you need, and how do you think of it all at once?? usually the other moms have ideas etc that help.

    however, i would totally go to a ‘i dont have a baby’ party with just booze. or name it whatever you want, i’ll come for the drinks! i’ll bring appies 🙂

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      I think there should be “I’m not pregnant anymore!” parties where instead of bringing presents for the new baby or whatever, guests just bring alcohol to drink and help replenish mom’s liquor cabinet.

      1. So… I’ve decided that for now on, when I’m invited to first birthday parties, I’m gifting the parents beer or wine or liquor instead of the kid. The reasons being: 1. There’s usually a lot of people invited to first birthdays and how many new outfits or toys does a one year old really need. 2. Said one year old is not going to know I didn’t gift him or her a present.

      2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Love this! A lot of my friends specify “no gifts, please” on their young kids’ invitations and whenever that’s the case, I always bring the parents a bottle of wine.

      3. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        Yes! I’ve been invited to a couple of first b-day parties, and the parents also specified no gifts. But I brought them wine anyway, and they were most appreciative. 🙂 I think it’s a great idea!
        I also think “divorce parties” sound kind of fun- since getting a divorce can be fraught with lots of emotions and be a long process, letting off a little steam with friends when it’s all over could be fun and a way to start a new chapter.

      4. Yup, threw myself a divorce party when I got the signed paperwork from the court after the waiting period, so much fun. So many people come out too and are just so happy for you. And best part, no gifts, just lots of super positive people. And pizza delivered to the bar.

      5. Love it!!! I’m totally going to have a big party when I stop breastfeeding!! I was not at all a fan of being pregnant, and am very much looking forward to having my body back all to myself.

      6. Love this idea. And for women who don’t drink, a gift certificate for a mani/pedi or some amazing bubble bath…. anything that allows her to pamper herself once in a while.

    2. I like the idea of the baby shower because not all moms are well off and many could use the financial help. Plus, first-time moms could always use the moral support.
      The post-birth celebration really should be a thing!

  4. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

    I personally have no problem with showers, but I do dislike when they become gift-grabby. And this goes for wedding and baby showers. If I were invited to 3 like Ale, I would have just attended one and been done with it. Shower gift + wedding gift is plenty to me.
    Now, shower games on the other hand…

    1. I only said yes to a bridal shower on the condition that there were no cheesy bridal shower things (read: games). Because, no.

      1. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

        The games… I just, can’t.

  5. I skipped the bridal shower, and I have never regretted it. I don’t mind going to other peoples’ showers, but it just would not have been for me. I would, however, have a baby shower if I were to have an ‘oh-shit’. It’s more for the benefit of the kid than myself (especially because it’s a good opportunity for other parents to hand out gifts that were really helpful for them as new parents).

  6. PumpkinSpice says:

    We don’t have baby showers in my family. Old Italian superstition. We do welcome home “parties” instead. When you come home from the hospital and everything is already there. Just incase something happens during the birth or before, the parents won’t have to deal with seeing everything from a shower etc. So basically, when the family knows everything is ok, they show up when S.O./spouse is home with premade food and or something you need for the baby, to make your life easier. I love the way we do things, but most people are like “huh?” when you tell them your family doesn’t do baby showers.

    1. PumpkinSpice says:

      Speaking of which, my due date is Thursday. I really hope my aunt drops off a pot of her meat sauce, it is the best. Lol 🙂

    2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Jews do it this way, too. I sort of see the point, but I’m such a planner, I appreciated having help getting things ready before baby arrived (I’m referring to jackson since I’m not having a shower for #2). Thankfully, everything went well and we brought home a healthy baby.

    3. This is common in Eastern European cultures, not just Jews. My manager’s wife is Russian and we didn’t even know she was pregnant until he left for paternity leave. The very Orthodox Jews I know don’t even talk about the baby… like at some point it becomes obvious shes pregnant, but they never announce it (until after the birth) and you don’t say “congrats” or give presents in advance.
      My dad is also an OB/GYN and he is firmly against baby showers for the same reason you say– he’s seen it go bad too many times, and it’s impossibly hard to come home and see the nursery all set up when due to some terrible circumstance, you don’t have a baby to bring home.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I’m so emotional these days that I cannot handle sad stories. As I was reading your words about coming home and seeing the nursery all set up when there is no baby to bring home, tears came to my eyes. I rented Cake from the Redbox this week but had to turn it off when I realized it was about a woman whose child died in a car accident. A friend keeps posting articles on FB about abused dogs and I can’t handle that either. I got a glimpse on the news of a kid misspelling a word in a spelling bee and that too made me cry because oh that poor kid had worked so hard and there he stood, his dreams all over in an instant, all because he didn’t know how to spell “tristeza.” Tears, everywhere! NO MORE SAD STORIES, EVERYONE!

      2. Pregnancy hormones are the worst. During my 1st pregnancy I would tear up whenever I saw an older person working. Like one time we had bought I can’t remember what for the house and the deliery guy was like in his 60s. I had to leave so he wouldn’t see me cry haha

      3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Seeing older people working ALWAYS makes me break down, both before and certainly during pregnancy! I’m also particularly emotional when I watch running events – everyone cheering each other on, watching the runners who have worked so hard, it’s just so pure and sweet – it gets me very time. Also, tennis matches. When the winners of a grand slam climb up into the stadium to hug their families. My dad and I used to watch the summer grand slams together and during those moments I’d secretly wipe away the tears – I was afraid he’d see me crying for some reason. Then one day I noticed he was doing it too and we laughed and cried together. WE ARE WIMPS.

      4. Umm, while on jury duty last week I briefly felt sad for the defendant because he was on older gentlemen, probably very well off, and he was in a suit and I just, IDK, felt bad for him. Thank god I wasn’t selected to be a juror.
        He was being tried for drugs, intent to sell and possession.

      5. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I’m the same way, AP. One of my closest friends who has wanted a baby for so long and got pregnant by chance after many failed rounds of IVF, just found out, at 12+ weeks, that the baby won’t survive outside the womb. I keep crying about this. I’m so upset. My heart is so broken for my friend, and I feel almost guilty for being excited about my own baby-to-be. And then at the same time, I’m so anxious something could go wrong. I really feel an emotional mess these days.

      6. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Oh no – is this the friend you told me about? That is heartbreaking! I’m so sorry for her, for her husband, for her family, for you!

      7. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Yes, same friend. She was so close.

      8. Oh no AP, don’t cry! Sorry!!!!

        Also, tristeza? What the fuck that’s not even English!

    4. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

      hah this is so the way my italian grandmother would have insisted things be if she had survived to see the birth of her first great grandchildren 🙁 sadly she passed 3 months before. but the superstition thing, so spot on.

  7. escapehatches says:

    So I had to go back and read the previous letter to confirm something, and having done so I suspect some of the LW’s issue here (whether she realizes it or not) boils down to being a stepparent. As one myself, I caught that tone pretty quick and although I can empathize I have to side with the commenters and Wendy here.

    As a stepparent, it can feel sort of lousy to be constantly reminded that you’re not the same as the biological parents and some of that hurt can come out around baby showers and their ilk. We all know it takes nothing to have a child, and real work to raise one. It sounds to me like a little (likely subconscious) misplaced hurt over her role as a stepparent – why does this ungrateful stepdaughter get lauded for a pregnancy when it’s being a “mom” that is truly worthy of accolades.

    Like I said, although I empathize with where she’s coming from, these aren’t conflated things. Someone having a baby shower doesn’t diminish your graduation, and your new job isn’t more important than someone’s marriage.

    BESIDES – it’s a party. Who doesn’t love a party?

  8. I do think things like graduations should be celebrated as more important in our society. Maybe not lower-level graduations, but certainly high school, college, and any advanced degrees. It really does seem like the be-all and end-all in our (American) society is weddings and babies. As someone who isn’t married nor has a kid, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on people who have gotten married and have had kids. I don’t mind that, and I love attending weddings and celebrating their happiness. But it isn’t really fair to people who never marry or have a kid. What if they are very successful and are a wonderful person, but aren’t lucky enough to have found the love of their life? Or what if they decided marriage isn’t for them? So the SATC episode that someone referenced above is one of my favorites.

    1. Soooo…graduation “registries” are becoming a thing apparently. I think it’s ridiculous myself…

      1. Interesting, I haven’t heard of that. But again it’s all about what value is placed on different life events. I don’t think it will ever really change, though.

  9. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    My three best friends who are getting married this summer all make cumulatively between 90 and 200k and two of the couples just purchased 500K houses within the past year and another couple a 900K house. I make 35K a year working at a non profit and have already spent close to $1500 on all of these weddings, by the time its all said and done it will be close to $2000 if not more. Personally I think its bullshit that each and every one of these couples is having a shower–even though one of them does literally ZERO cooking yet has registered for all of this ridiculous shit she will never need. Meanwhile I buy most of my stuff at good will, or big lots because I have a hard time supporting myself on my salary. I am definitely not saying I feel like I should get thrown a party with free stuff, but neither do I think that couples who are very well off and very well established should do so either, anymore. I just really wish this culture surrounding weddings and their now gift grabby nature would die already. It made sense decades ago when couples married very young and went from their parent’s homes to their own, maybe without jobs and normally with just the husband working. Today really, the whole thing is just off putting.
    I have a bit more sympathy for baby showers although honestly, most couples who are in the position to have a baby should only be doing so if they can afford to also buy all the “stuff” that people “need” for them. But babies are cute and its more fun to help out new parents who are going to be spending tons of money regardless.

    1. But…who makes that choice though? Who decides which person “deserves” a shower and who doesn’t? I speak from experience here…sometimes stubborn aunts can be very pushy and INSIST that they throw a shower for you. I get that you’ve spent a lot on their weddings this year, and trust me, I TOTALLY understand what it feels like to have all these things to pay for and no money to pay for them. I’m guessing you are in all of these weddings? I’m sure any of the brides would have understood if you told them “I’m really sorry, I just can’t add another wedding to my schedule this year due to my personal budget”. To keep my costs down for showers I’ve often written a nice handwritten card of congratulations and invited the couple over for dinner (for weddings) or offered to babysit one night, or I make a baby afghan (for baby showers, obviously). I mean, people get it. Especially people you are close to. I did the dinner thing for my cousin who got married last year and IS well established but still had a shower. She loved it.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Haha no sadly the brides would not have understood. These are life long friendships and it’s not as easy as saying “can’t do it” also because I want to do it. Personally I think the idea of all wedding showers for pretty much anyone in today’s modern world is just not necessary. People can still register and people will bring them gifts for the wedding, but showers just don’t jive with me. And trust me I get having pushy relatives who try and force things- in which case a person getting married, if they really don’t want a shower, should be adult enough to say no and draw that boundary. They just rub me the wrong way,I dearly love all my friends who’s weddings I am in, but I still think that them having showers is unnecessary. It’s j my opinion though and I still attend these things and take an active role, one is even on my birthday, but deep down I just hate them.

      2. @muchachaenlaventana, I feel you. My salary is right around yours and I have 6 weddings to attend this year. I’m in MOH in two of them, my boyfriend is in another, and two others are of good friends. There’s one I could’ve skipped, but it’s on Block Island and I’ve never been so it’s a good reason to go. I am almost certain I make the least among most of my friends. I love weddings and it’s hard to turn down being a member of the bridal party b/c I want to be part of it. Also hard to turn down attending a wedding because I enjoy them and want to be there for my friends’ big days. But I could also do without showers.

      3. Breezy AM says:

        I am really glad you’ve had good experiences with giving handmade gifts.
        I have not always had a good experience. And it’s not because my stuff sucks. I’ve won community contests for cooking and entertaining, so it’s not like I’m dressing up a burnt brick and calling it fruitcake.
        Sadly, I’ve had the experience where gifting something like, a jar with cookie ingredients layered carefully, is perceived as “cheap.” It’s basically assumed you are doing it because you don’t think this person is worth spending money on. The people who have this messed up idea generally feel that at absolutely MOST, you’re supposed to shop very carefully at sales and such through the year, accumulating low cost reasonable gifts o have on hand, so you can gift “properly” anytime you need a gift.
        I will confess I do think the layered ingredients thing IS kind of “cheap” myself LOL! At least freaking take the time to MAKE something 😉 But for these people? It doesn’t matter even if you DO make it. It’s really, truly seen as a tacky way to get out of spending money on people (and, within their own families, there’s sort of a… a scolding aspect to it? Like “Lyra, don’t be making baby blankets and crocheting booties for babies; you’re letting people know we aren’t particularly well off and that’s not their business. Have some pride and self respect and dip into your savings, which you should always have a modest amount on hand for such occasions, and buy something proper.” Ugh.

        It’s up there with the people who throw a fit about the kind of gifts. Remember the bride who called up the person who gave a picnic basket with marshmallow fluff or whatever in it (it wasn’t just marshmallow fluff, there were many other items) and basically said she wanted to let this person know that such a gift wasn’t acceptable and that she was making a fool of herself to give such a gift and to let her know proper etiquette demanded one buy something off the registry and ONLY off of the registry and went on and on about how this was to establish their home and how they were (literally) having the wedding to make a profit on furnishing their home and such.

        I know. I hate people too. That said, most people are NOT jerks like that. I’m just warning that for some people in some situations, there ARE plenty of people who will, yes, sadly, bitch about a handmade gift, even one of high quality… and family cultures where such a gift just would not be acceptable.

      4. I also haven’t given a lot of homemade gifts because I’m really not sure which way it’ll be taken. Some people will basically ask for a knit/ceramic piece and some would think in the “that’s cheap for you” way. So I don’t tend to give homemade gifts unless I’m certain they would want it. I gave a set of homemade pots at a wedding a few years ago in addition to something off their registry. But part of that was Bassanio was getting on my case about having too much pottery. I hoped they liked it, but I’ll never really know.
        On the other side of that, I’ve heard of people requesting artwork or something from an artist friend “in lieu of a gift” or whatever. And the asker doesn’t realize that the cost to the artist is far above and beyond what they would have given as a gift (after materials, time, expertise, etc.).
        So I agree, it really, really depends on your audience and you should float the idea by them (even in a passing comment) before giving homemade as a gift.

    2. My husband and I were broke when we got hitched and had a wedding with just our folks. My parents threw us a belated surprise reception. I was adamant that I did not want one for two reasons. The first being along the lines of what you said about not needing anything. We may have been broke, but the reality was we had been living in sin for two or three years and had household things already. The second reason was that we didn’t invite anyone to the wedding and I felt crummy/not right in having a reception, because I thought it would more or less be saying, “we got married without you, but come give us a gift, anyways!” I am really uncomfortable with people giving me things. A handful of close/immediate family members gave us gifts, which was awesome, because it meant I only had to write a handful of awkwardly worded thank you notes.

  10. So I used to work with a girl that had a pregnancy scare then decided she actually wanted a baby. She didn’t understand why her boyfriend’s devout catholic parents weren’t thrilled with their decision to have a baby at 20. (I suggested they get married then try for a baby, but she said it was super important to get married in the Catholic Church and she didn’t want to wait that long for a baby). All of this was kind of odd to me, but I figured she’s an adult, whatever. Then she quit her job because she was worried about the stress hurting the baby, but she still sent me her registry information. She registered at pottery barn. Fucking pottery barn for expensive ass blankets and embroidered pillows. I asked her if she was going to register for other baby things and she said “maybe but not clothes, I don’t want people buying ugly shit for my baby.” I got her a pottery barn gift card, but she cancelled the baby shower. She then texted me multiple times asking if I could get a gift from the website since it would be mailed directly to her and would be easier than meeting up. I did none of these things and ended up using the gift card on a gift for someone else. She then gave her baby a super rare name that’s hard to pronounce and would constantly bitch at people for pronouncing it wrong. Crazy.

  11. How do people feel about gender reveal parties and second baby showers? I thankfully was only invited to my step-sister’s gender reveal party, but my Facebook feed says both are a thing now.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      I don’t have any opinion on gender reveal parties — only that I wouldn’t want one myself. But, in general, I’m a little uncomfortable with events/occasions where I’m kind of the center of attention. And learning your baby’s sex is such a personal/private thing, I’d feel weird sharing that moment with anyone other than my spouse (and doctor, of course). I don’t like the idea of second (or subsequent) baby showers unless there’s a big age gap between the babies (like, more than five years). The idea of a shower is to help the new parents get set up with some things they need for the baby and if they’ve had a baby in the last five years, they should still have most of the necessary items. Plus, like, how many celebrations and presents does one family need, you know?

    2. I’m okay with gender reveal parties if it’s small and not a gift thing. For example, a coworker’s SIL hosted one for her. It was just family and super close friends. It was pretty much a cake and punch type thing plus they could tell everyone the sex of the baby without anyone getting mad they weren’t called first. But a full on registry type thing is tacky. (Also “gender” reveal bugs me since it’s technically the sex of the baby). Where I live most people don’t have a second baby shower unless there’s been a lot of time between babies, or they have a “sip and see” (or “sprinkle”) where close friends visit after the baby is born with small gifts/offer to help out around the house/ etc.

      1. Maybe it’s just where I live, but it’s normal to have second and third (etc) baby showers. Every baby gets a shower, because it’s about celebrating the new baby. I have never been to a baby shower with a registry, though.

    3. My future SIL had a shower for the second because she had the first in a foreign country and never really had a baby shower, then moved back before having the second. I think that her friends really wanted to throw her one because they didn’t get to do it the first time. It was really small.

      1. I think in circumstances such as this, where it’s a new city and new people, it’s totally fine. As long as new friends or coworkers ask to do something for you. I get it. Sometimes people just like a reason to celebrate.

    4. I’m very meh on them. People tend to forget nobody else is as jazzed about their baby as they are. Plus they tend to scream ‘another all about meeeeee gift grab opportunity’.

    5. One of my close friends had a gender reveal party recently. Her and her husband had a lot of difficulty getting pregnant (and already went through 2 miscarriages within a year in 2013) so it really is a great opportunity to celebrate. She was very specific with “no gifts please”, and it was a fun get together.

    6. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      I think it would be fun to attend a gender reveal party. I only know one friend who had one and it was just a family party. I think the idea is fun – it’s a party and a surprise! I personally wouldn’t have one because (1) I’m impatient and could never wait to know, even if the party were just a couple of days after the results came in, and (2) like Wendy said above, I would feel kind of uncomfortable learning that news along with everyone else. But a gender reveal party with my family would have been fun! But, again, I could never be patient enough to pull it off. To not know right away when I could know??? Torture!

      1. I’ve seen really elaborate ones where they like cut into the cake and the cake is either blue or pink, or open the box and the colored balloons float out… so then it’s like multiple people in on it, rather than just an envelope you open. It might work for impatient people like you though because then you aren’t just holding this envelope and waiting, you had to hand it off to someone else to prep the reveal-method.
        Alternately, YOU could already know and it could be a reveal/surprise for other people at the party.

        I am nowhere near pregnant yet, but I think I’m pretty sold on not finding out until the birth. As someone said above, it’s not gender its sex; gender is a sociological construct. I think the whole thing with pink and blue is very gender essentialist and I think not knowing could help cut down on some of that. Or at least prolong it a few months…

      2. I was at a gender-reveal BBQ this weekend for a friend’s pregnant wife. It was just a small gathering of close friends, and it was a fun occasion to find out not via Facebook, for once.

        The dad-to-be is a great baker and baked a super delicious chocolate cake, and blue icing in the middle that was revealed as he cut it.

        No gift expectations or anything. She has a baby shower scheduled (it is their first child). A part of me understands the tradition, but the other part of me is a bit peeved. And like someone mentioned, who decides who “deserves” one. I get all that.

        In this case,they make a super great salary (over 100 K and no student debt), and she was gifted major baby items (top of the line) from her family member.

        I do realize that they still need some things. I guess it irked me when I saw she had posted on the FB event “if bringing diapers, please bring sizes….”. Even with diapers, it is still tacky to specify and to totally write out that you’re expecting gifts. You take the diapers you get. Whatever you don’t want or need, donate to the women’s shelter (or other charity that could use them).

  12. I’m totally on board with parties for other big life events, but I agree with Wendy that they kind of already exist. I mean, me and everyone I knew had a high school graduation and college graduation party or open house. Me and Bassanio celebrated his new job and my PhD graduation with bottle service at a club and invited all our local friends. It was so fun! No gifts were involved because we wanted to treat our friends to a fun night out. People should throw more of those parties.

  13. pebblesntrix says:

    I’m glad this work out for you, LW. I’m also in agreement with Wendy about baby showers and bridal showers. For a first child, it’s the celebration on a new addition to the family–in the much a wedding reception is, I suppose–and can be essential to helping a couple get established, your stepdaughter’s entitlement notwithstanding. And bridal showers should be a “no”. The couple’s already getting a wedding gift and it’s a bit much to expect more than one gift. On the flip side, it’s great to celebrate graduations. First job parties I think are a little more case-by-case basis. In terms of furniture, that seems a little more appropriate for a housewarming gift, after all, new job =/= new place in our day and age. I think, overall, if people want to have celebratory occasions more often than not, it’s fine as long as they are reeking of entitlement and thinly veiled gift grabs. Some people are just really social and like to share big life events with close friends and family.

  14. dinoceros says:

    I know a lot people whose families gave baby furniture. I wouldn’t necessarily expect it, but my friends’ parents gave them things along the lines of strollers (which are basically the cost of furniture) and rockers and stuff. Plus, it was established that the stepdaughter didn’t have much money, I thought, so she probably could use the items.

    As for the celebrations, I can kind of relate to the article. I didn’t get a party or lots of gifts for my graduations. I generally ended up out more money because of them (feeding family lunch, cap and gown, etc.). I think that for some first-gen students, no one in your family knows they are supposed to throw a party or anything, so you don’t get one. It’s fine — it’s not why I graduated. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little disappointing. And for me, I could use household and other items a lot more now than I will if I ever get married.

  15. bittergaymark says:

    Wow. The hatred, contempt, and sheer loathing of the step daughter just fairly DRIPS from this letter. Gag. Vomit. Barf. Just reading this, I feel I need a bath…
    That said. I, too, am fucking SICKING of wedding / baby / my-life-is-better-than-yours fucking bullshit events. You already won the fucking game of life — stop saddling everybody else with your shallow and hilariously vapid demand for more and more gifts. Enough already. Most of your homes are already overflowing with useless crap. Give it a fucking rest.

  16. I had THE WORST experience with bridal showers this past January. I was in the wedding so I already had to shell out for the overpriced dress, shoes, hair and makeup. Not to mention their actual wedding gift. Then the bride’s aunts decided to throw a shower THE DAY before the wedding. Rehearsal for the wedding was right before the shower so I couldn’t get out of it. Then I get a message from the bride saying I can’t bring my partner to the shower (due to limited seating) who traveled several hundred miles with me. The aunts put a “no gift” clause and asked for recipes, totally cute idea. I guess this upset the groom who then emailed all the bridesmaids saying he “wanted his bride to have the best day possible and we really should get her gifts.” Talk about tacky. I’m still mad about it and don’t feel like being in any other weddings.

    1. I hope the bride was embarrassed that the groom did that….geez.

  17. Ok so I agree showers can be over-the-top and ridiculous. I’m definitely not the biggest fan of them and I never have been. Yet, it isn’t ok to assume that every bride or every mother-to-be who has a shower is in it to be a gift grabber. I’ve attended many many many showers where the bride to be or the mother to be is incredibly gracious and thankful. Personally I made a conscious effort at my own shower that my aunts hosted to be as gracious as possible, and I made sure to personally thank everyone and give them a hug as they walked out the door. Not to mention I’ve seen showers where the intention is for one side of the family to get to know the other prior to the wedding. The wedding industry is INSANE and it is absolutely ridiculous how much people spend on their weddings, but just because someone has a friend or family member host a shower for them doesn’t mean that they’re only there for the gifts…
    Not to mention that last part of the LW’s update…graduations and new jobs *are* important, but marriages and babies are huge steps in peoples’ lives. People typically hold graduation open houses. Do you hold a “new job!” party every time you change jobs? “Oh, I just had a new job party 6 months ago, but I’m going to hold ANOTHER one because of my new job!!”
    Why not celebrate a new life as a couple at a wedding shower? Why not celebrate a baby on its way? Those are major life events…not the ONLY life events of course…but if people want to celebrate love and new life, why the heck not??

    1. Well the wedding reception is where you celebrate the couple really. Showers actually are about gifts, with the idea being that you literally “shower” the young couple or expectant mom with gifts because they’re just starting out and need those things. I think people start to feel objection toward it when the couple is older and have good jobs and already have all the stuff they need, but want to upgrade. Then it’s like, “shit, *I* would love to have a nicer set of dishes or pots & pans! And I’ll be giving these folks a wedding gift too… why a shower gift as well?”

      1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Yeah, just because a woman is “incredibly gracious and thankful,” doesn’t mean the shower isn’t about gifts. Of course, it’s about gifts. That’s why I am not a fan of bridal showers (and didn’t have one myself). You’re already getting wedding gifts (and maybe even bachelorette party gifts). That’s enough gifts for one event! Don’t get me started on the idea of engagement party gifts, too. ENOUGH, ALREADY!

        I’ve gotten invites to all my cousin’s bridal showers and am, of course, expected to send a gift even though I live far away and won’t be attending the shower and even though I’m already giving a wedding gift. I really don’t care THAT much — I usually just send a “token” type gift anyway — but I’m the oldest cousin, which means none of these cousins were really expected to give me a wedding gift, let alone a shower gift (I didn’t have a shower anyway), because they were young and, for the most part, still dependent on their parents. And now I’m starting to get invitations for second cousins I literally have met like once or twice in my life. Just, ENOUGH, people.

      2. The amount of gifts ends up being astounding. For my friend’s wedding that I’m MOH in, I got them a engagement gift since I went to their engagement party. I’m hosting her shower along with 2 other bridesmaids and paying for 50% of it. I’ve already spent money on a dress. Since I’m throwing her shower I feel I should hardly have to give a wedding gift. I almost always give money so I’ll either just give less than I usually would, or buy something off the registry.

      3. Honestly after all that, I think a card and no gift at the wedding is perfectly acceptable. Or a card and a token gift like a framed photo. Only one of my 5 bridesmaids gave me a gift, and I wish she hadn’t, after everything else. I flat out told my MOH to NOT give me anything.

      4. I didn’t give my sister or best friend a wedding gift as I was MOH and shelled out a lot for parties that I hosted. I think my sis’s shower and bachelorette were upwards of $500. I did do a nice card. Neither were upset about it. In fact, I think they both told me not do presents. If you’re in the wedding, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo an expensive gift.

      5. See, my aunts would have legitimately been offended if I said no to them hosting a shower. Not exaggerating. I didn’t ask them to throw a shower. I politely said no when my future mother in law requested that we add more to the registry because I thought it was ridiculous to add more stuff that we didn’t need. I specifically told my bridesmaids that them being in the wedding is enough and I don’t expect any shower gifts, bachelorette party gifts, or wedding gifts because I know they are all on a tight budget. And yet I’m gift grabby just because I allowed my aunts to throw me a shower when they INSISTED?? Trust me, it was NOT worth a fight. Like I said above, overall I’m not a fan of showers — even my own. It felt awkward and weird being the center of attention the entire party. Yet I know it made my aunts incredibly happy that they were able to host a shower for me.

      6. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        A shower is literally a gift grab. So yes. If it was really important to you, you could have said no. You choose what was more important to you. That’s fine. Just own it. If you decided it wasn’t worth the fight, fine. But you were party to it. Apparently adding more to the registry was too much for you and you could offend your mother-in-law, but you didn’t want to do that to your aunts. You could have alleviated the registry worry by not having the shower that you apparently didn’t want.

        It’s okay to have liked your shower. Just own it. Own your decisions.

      7. Wendy (not Wendy) says:

        WTH? She DID own her decision: it wasn’t worth it to hurt her aunts’ feelings. She didn’t really enjoy it. A “gift grab” is insisting on having the party because you want a lot of stuff. She accepted the stuff (graciously, I assume) because it came along with not hurting her aunts.

        As I’m sure you are thinking because of what I wrote, yes: I got talked into having both a bridal shower and wedding gifts. (I didn’t want a shower and I wanted a “no gifts” wedding. I even ended up registering because of what I used to think was dumb advice… people are going to get you stuff anyway so better make sure it’s stuff you can use.) I thought my ex and I were in agreement about not wanting those things, but either she secretly wanted them and wasn’t willing to admit it, or she was a pushover: her mom talked her into it and she agreed without talking to me about it again. I couldn’t go back and say “actually no” without seeming like a major, major bitch. “My mom says presents are the way people in our family show their love and we have to let them do it so I said okay,” was what I got. “And that’s what you want to encourage?” I asked. It was totally contrary to our values, but my MIL thought hers were more important. #stillbitterIguess Anyway, I let it go, we got some things we used and some things we kind of used and it didn’t warp me for life but it seemed silly for people to spend money and take time to do something “for” me that I didn’t enjoy at all. But I was gracious. I hope.

      8. Yup. I do not make much money and most of my friends make at least twice what I do, if not 3 times. So I’m giving money and shower gifts to these people who have a lot of nice things already. If I ever get married, I’ll want to have a shower because I DO need nice sheets and towels and such, and I’ve given my friends those gifts over the years. I always buy cheaply for those type of household items, because I don’t have the money to put towards it.

      9. Trust me, I’ve been that way my entire adult life. Cousins, friends, family friends, etc. getting married who have everything and are much better off than me and are still having a shower. I get it. I’ve also been to my fair share of showers with unappreciative brides which is never fun. All I’m saying that not every bride who has a shower hosted for her is gift grabby. Like you said, I/we were getting by on the insanely cheap household items — that were quite literally falling apart — so we also were in need of new sheets and towels.
        With this I’m sure people think all I’m doing is explaining and rationalizing, and that I’m apparently a gift grabby bride-to-be for agreeing to my aunts who so desperately wanted to host a shower for me. And apparently even though I WAS gracious and thankful, the way I handled myself at the party doesn’t even matter. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  18. I’m not a fan of most parties with gifts (baby showers are often an exception). I love parties, but I feel like too often I get invited to parties (particularly graduations where I barely know the person) just so they can get a gift. I have a few “friends” who only seem to invite others to parties where there is some sort of price of admission or gifting. I understand wanting to upgrade some things with a registry, but I think it gets way too carried away. No one really needs all this stuff. I find the materialism to be pretty gross, so I almost always give gifts that are either meaningful or experiences.

  19. I didn’t get ANYTHING when I graduated college. My step-mom planned a day out with her friend during my ceremony, which was fine because it freed up a ticket for my best-friend (but the fact that she thought so little of my milestone hurt). And I didn’t get any recognition (cards, phone calls, etc) from family. Hell, even coworkers got me cards. So yeah, I think “graduation” and “first house/apartment for single people” parties should exist. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing adult milestones when you’ve worked hard to get there.

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