Baby shower gifts that won't bust your budget

Frugal Baby Shower Gift Ideas

TDS Reader Contributors

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Cookbook Selections

The last two baby showers I attended, I gave an unusual gift which got lots of favorable comments... food! In the first case, I purchased a copy of a "quickie"-type cookbook like one I already owned and loved, then I tagged some of our family's favorites with post-its and put together a "care" packages of all of the ingredients for those few recipes. The most recent shower I attended, I put together a package of five convenience dinners (canned chow mein/instant rice/boxed fortune cookies, spaghetti/spaghetti sauce with meat/parmesan cheese/french bread mix, etc.) and several desserts (cheesecake mix, dessert bar mix, etc.) and grouped them in a big decorated box with tissue and a card explaining my greatest challenge when my babies were new was "having the time and energy to grocery shop and make dinner!" Both times I also threw in a package of newborn disposable diapers and some baby wipes. This "theme" can be as simple or as elaborate as one would like... Someone could volunteer to "Once-A-Month" (or "Once-A-WEEK") cook for the mom or maybe clean house and care for the baby for awhile so the new Mom can just rest! The basic idea is to provide the gift of time and less worry.

Organizer Help

Purchase a plastic over-the-door shoe holder and label pockets (usually 12 or so) to hold all those items you need close at hand or are so small they get lost. Use a permanent marker to label for cottonballs, Q-tips, nail clippers, combs, hair bows/bands, etc. You can also write the baby's name and add ribbons or stencils if you like. Budget permitting, you can fill it with the goodies.

Personalized Memory Album

If this person has a computer with a color printer, she could print out pages designed for "Memory Albums." This is basically a newer type of scrap book. I have seen some wonderfully done page designs, with places left for photos or other memorabilia. This is much more personal than a purchased baby book, and any number of pages can be designed and placed in a binder for the recipient. I've even collected otherwise unusable photos from my child's school year and made a complete page for each child in his class as an "end of year" goodie.

Don't Forget

I usually watch for laundry basket sales. Buy a sturdy basket and watch for sales on baby items. I usually fill the basket with things most folks don't think about such as plastic security plugs for your outlets, door and drawer locks, box of dreft or snow. Also I watch for clothes sales of clothes that will fit the baby in a few months or sometime that year. The babys grow too fast and the mother ends up with a lot of new born size clothes not ever worn. You can spend as little or as much as you want. I have filled baskets with as little as $10.00 and as much as $25.00. Just takes a little time and keeping your eyes out everytime you go shopping.

A Mommy Manual

I made an inexpensive, handy baby shower gift for my daughter. I made a Mommy Manual. I downloaded a lot of "baby information" from websites (they have everything from prenatal care, what to expect in the delivery room, what to do when the baby comes home, and basic baby care), put it in an inexpensive binder sectioned by topic: prenatal, delivery, baby care, etc. Then, I simply made a pretty cover to slip into the front for the cover decoration. Mine simply said, "Official Mommy Manual for Rebecca" from Mom and the date. My grandson is two now, and she is still not only referring to the manual, but loaning it out to her friends!

Things That I Used

As a third time mom, I can tell you that anything in white cotton (such as blankets) will feel wonderful and can be bleached--a huge plus! Babies are messy little people! A package of cotton birdseye weave (NOT prefolded) diapers are absolutely a lifesaver--I have used them as burp cloths, light blankets, to play peek-a-boo, as a sunshield, and even as a diaper in a pinch! Also, I enjoyed receiving baby supplies as gifts, such as disposable diapers, baby wipes, baby wash, Q-tips, baby tylenol, baby gas medicine, even formula, etc. A paperback Dr. Spock baby care book is great, especially for a first time mom. These are things that may not be glamorous but make life with a baby much easier.


New parents always love something personalized and handcrafted. For several baby showers, I've given a gift of personalized baby bottles and these have been a huge hit.

Buy a set or two of clear or clear colored plastic baby bottles (not the ones with designs pre printed on them). Three packs of these bottles are usually just a few dollars. You can paint on them with the fabric paints that come in the squeeze bottles with the writer tips. You can often find these on sale for under a dollar.

Many new parents will know the sex of their baby, and may even have a name picked out before shower time. I have personalized botles with the baby name or just with pictures and designs that corresponded with a theme the mom-to-be had already picked out. (a celestial theme, rainbows, balloons.. etc). Wrap the bottles in pretty tissue and a bit of ribbon.

The fabric paint does NOT come off, even in the dishwasher. I have some of these for my own baby and once the paint is dry these are practically indestructible, and SO cute!

Quilt or Comforter

If you sew, you can make a very easy baby quilt (nine squares)from scraps you probably already have. No time to quilt? Make a baby comforter, which is two pieces of material with batting inside, anchored by tufts of yard sewn here andthere across the comforter. You can also buy a very inexpensive baby one-piece garment or shirt and decorate it with lace, ribbons or fabric paint. I went to a shower where the person had decorated a matching shirt, little shoes and socks and it was very cute.

Group and Theme Gifts

Group gifts are great! My family went in together to buy a car seat for us, and friends pooled their money and bought 8 weeks of diaper service. Many of these people also got a little something that was personal - a favorite book, a little blanket, teething ring, but probably ended up spending lots less than if they had each purchased gifts independently. I'm always happy to go in with others on a large purchases. It saves me time and ensures the recipient is getting something they really want or need. If you know others who are attending the shower, you could contact them ahead of time and see if they're interested in giving a group gift.

Themes can be helpful. A practical theme that I have used in the past is "safety". I bought a bottle of ipecac syrup (for use in case of ingestion of certain poisons) and all the little baby-proofing gadgets they sell for outlets and cupboards. This is admittedly not the most fun gift to give, but it's certainly appreciated, not likely to be duplicated, and can literally save a life.

Don't Forget Mom

I used to rack my brain trying to think of a gift for a child not even born yet and then had my own kids. At my first shower my sister gave me a basket of "me" things - bubble bath, a box of my favorite tea, coupons for baby-sitting, etc. All things that would give me a nice break when needed. I have since used this idea for the showers I have been invited to and have gotten not only a nice response from the other people invited but have gotten thank-you calls from the mom's each time they've used an item in the basket. People tend to get so excited about the new baby coming and mom gets ignored. Trust me, a little TLC in mom's direction goes a long way on a long day.
Lu Anne B.

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