Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Baby on a Budget: Receiving Gifts

A large portion of the clothing and baby items we have for Lucia were received as gifts.  While it’s probably not wise to expect that you’ll get everything you need for baby as presents, you most likely can plan on obtaining some of the baby necessities this way.  Here are some of my tips for ensuring that the gifts you receive are items you actually need.

Know what to expect regarding gifts. Will many people want to buy things for your baby or just a few?  Will they spend a lot or will gifts be small?  You probably know your family and friends well enough to know who will get items for your baby, who tends to be extremely generous with gifts, etc.  If you are having a baby shower (or a few), wait until after the shower to buy for the baby yourself (unless you find a great deal on an item that you just can’t pass up) – even if you think you know what to expect, you may be surprised by the generosity of others. 

The crib and bedding we received off our registry.
My husband and I are fairly young, which means that our friends are as well.  Some are still in school and the others are just starting out in their careers.  I didn’t expect to receive many gifts from friends, but they were extremely generous.  One of my friends who works as a supervisor at a large clothing chain sent Lucia a box full of hundreds of dollars of adorable girly clothing a few days after she was born.  She gets a good discount, but still spent quite a bit.  (I previously wrote about the generosity we experienced at our baby shower.)  

Make a baby registry.  Even though many people like to buy cutesy clothes or other items not on your registry, others like to buy more practical gifts you really need and will look at your registry as a guide for what you may or may not already have.  I didn’t register for any clothing or other cutesy items (but don’t worry, I still got plenty of them!), and because of this, those that did purchase off our registry bought us items that we really needed.  And while those gifts weren’t awed over as adorable when I opened them, they are items I use every day and I think fondly of the gift givers each time I use them. 

Make sure to register for big ticket items even if you don’t think anyone will purchase them.  My husband and I registered for our crib and a travel system with a jogging stroller but never imagined that we would actually receive them as shower gifts.  Several of David’s aunts, uncles, and cousins went in together to buy the crib and many of my friends pooled money for the travel system.

Baby shower David's family gave us in IN
Exchange for bigger sizes. At my shower, I got tons of newborn and 0-3 month clothing.  After bringing all the gifts home, I went through the clothing I had for each size and realized that we had more clothes than the baby could ever wear in those first three months of life (and usually babies don’t even fit in the clothes that long; Lucia was already out of 0-3 month size by two months).  So, I exchanged much of the clothes for larger sizes.  In every case, I exchanged for the same exact pieces of clothing, just larger, because I know that the gift givers picked each item out special and would want to see a picture of the baby wearing the clothes.  I’ve done the same thing again since Lucia was born because we had tons of beautiful baby girl clothing pour once people knew the sex (I don’t know if we would have received so much had we had a boy, but pink baby girl clothes are just so fun to shop for!).

Accept hand-me-downs. Let your friends and family know that you would be happy to receive hand-me-downs (there is even an online registry, Encore Baby Registry, that allows you to register for new and secondhand items from family and friends!).  Most baby items are in great condition because they aren’t used for very long.  Of course, you may want to pick out a few special items for your baby yourself – the nursery décor, a particular piece of furniture you love, etc.  But one of the best ways to save money is to borrow baby items.  Many pieces of clothing, baby gear, furniture, etc. can be passed down for years from family member to family member or from friend to friend, which can also give the item sentimental value.  Do be vigilant, however, to check that items haven’t been recalled.  Certain items you will want to buy new for safety’s sake (especially the car seat). 

Be grateful.  When you receive gifts, take the time to show your gratitude. Be an “active” gift receiver.  Send thank you notes.  Send pictures of your little one with their gifts.  Of course, the purpose of this is to let the gift givers know how much you appreciate their generosity; but if you don’t adequately thank them, you also shouldn’t expect gifts for your little one’s first birthday or for the birth of subsequent children.

Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my Baby on a Budget series.  


  1. Great tips, Mandi! I couldn't agree with you more on accepting hand me downs. My husband and I were SO blessed to receive hand me downs for both of our kids! We STILL get hand me downs from relatives and as our kids grow! It has saved us so much money. 

    The best part? Most of these items (especially clothes) can be handed down again. Well, right now they are sitting in boxes to be handed down to (hopefully) future siblings. But I can't wait to pay it forward!

  2. Such a great post.  We have been richly blessed with gifts and hand-me-downs, too, and your advice is spot-on.  

  3. It's really such a wonderful post. Your ideas are phenomenon.  I obliged you by giving me such a nice thoughts about baby's gifts.

    Fuzzi Bunz

  4. Yes, hand-me-downs are wonderful! All of Lucia's clothes still looks brand new since she outgrew them so fast, so the someday a little sister or other family member will get some great use out of them!

  5. As a Godfather I always consider presents that will surely offer big help to the couple and I guess it is best to look for baby gifts online for credible references of gifts.

  6. Angela @ Written By MamaApril 16, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    Switching things out for bigger items is a really good tip. I can't even begin to count how many things Landon never wore because he grew SOOOO fast! I also found that when people ask you what you want, you should tell them honestly, or you might get something outlandish that you'll never ever use.

    Thanks for all the tips though! It is a great post.


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