Congratulations! You’re having a baby! Just as quick as all the happiness and warm fuzzies came on, they can just as quickly be replaced by feelings of worry and nervousness. With all the staggering statistics on how much babies cost, no wonder new parents tend to freak out. Especially if you are a Type A, somewhat OCD, overthinking CPA like me. But fret not, you don’t have to buy everything yourself…that’s what baby showers are for! It’s time to be rewarded for all those awkward family gatherings and Thanksgiving dinner table arguments!
Here are some tips on how to make the most out of your registry.
Consider who will be throwing your shower(s) and how comfortable you are with them
If your job will be throwing you a shower and you tend to be shy about certain things, I don’t recommend putting a Breastpump Bra on your registry unless you are completely comfortable with those people picturing you wearing one. And yes, they will think about it and they won’t be able to help it. You could either make a separate, smaller registry for them or modify your existing registry depending on which shower comes first. My job asked me what I had left that we needed after I had my friends & family shower, so I chose the 5-6 things that were left of varying price range and sent them the list in an email with links to Target and Amazon. At that point, I knew no one else was going to be purchasing anything off of the registry, so I didn’t have to worry about gift duplication if my job didn’t mark it off of the registry.
Consider when your shower(s) will take place
If you aren’t going to be having your shower until very late in your pregnancy, say 36 weeks or later, I don’t recommend putting any absolute necessities on it, like the car seat. If you go into labor early with the car seat still sitting on the registry, Dad will have to make a trip to the store while you are in the hospital to get a car seat so you can bring the baby home. Although, this may not be such a bad thing if he brings you non-hospital food when he gets back. Many items can be picked up after the hospital stay or as needed, but you will not be allowed to leave the hospital without a properly installed car seat.
Not finding out the sex? Help your guests out a little
If you’re not finding out the sex of your baby and if you prefer items to be in particular colors, make sure you register for that color. Green and yellow are the main gender-neutral colors, but little girls can wear blue too, and both girls and boys can wear gray, brown, black, white, red and so on. So if you like a particular piece of clothing, go ahead and register for it if it’s in one of those colors. Most registries have spaces for comments too, so you can say something like “Would like in gray, white or red” if there are multiple colors.
Don’t freak out if your registry looks like it hasn’t been touched
It’s the morning of your shower and your impatience gets the best of you, so you take a peek at your online registry and notice only 1 item has been purchased and it’s “insert $1.99 basket filler item here”. Don’t freak out! It doesn’t mean no one has purchased anything. Some people forget to have the registry paper scanned in the store. Some people buy something very similar, but not exactly the same thing as you had registered for so they don’t know whether to claim it. Some people may even purchase items not on the registry, like diapers or some oh-so-cute bunny slippers, or they buy a bunch of clothes. Either way, enjoy your shower without spending the entire time wondering what the heck everyone bought.
Check your registry every so often leading up to the shower
This one may seem to go against the last point, and it definitely goes against gift registry etiquette I’m sure, but it’s for a very important reason. Whenever someone has a registry and tells me about it, I head to the store or website and look at what I want to get them and EVERY SINGLE TIME they have several items out of stock or without a photo and I’m left trying to navigate the store to find the one item that is available, in stock and I can figure out what it is. I’d like to argue that it has nothing to do with me shopping last minute, but let’s be honest…most people shop right before they go to the event. Heck, they probably go on their way to your shower and buy a gift bag while they are in the store and scribble in the card while driving. I recommend giving your registry a glance every once in a while just to make sure that you:
- Remove any out of stock or discontinued items and replace them with something similar, if necessary
- Check to make sure the price hasn’t shot up on any items (particularly on Amazon, where price can fluctuate drastically from day to day)
My experience with this has mostly to do with Amazon. We had a couple of items on there that went out of stock and one that the price jumped over $20 from when we put it on there! Even though I wasn’t the one buying the items, I wanted to make sure that my guests got the best price for what they were buying. Of course, they could always end up buying from somewhere else, which I have control over, but if I could help them in the price and selection department that only meant that they’d have more money to spend on an additional item if they wanted!
Consider having more than one registry
It’s always nice to give people more options. I don’t know about you, but I liked stuff from all over the interwebs and at different stores, so we had a registry at Target and Amazon. Just make sure not to duplicate items on either registry. An item should only be on one registry. It also helps to put a good mix of items on each registry with varying price ranges, so people will have options no matter which place they pick.
Allow different purchasing methods
Some people like shopping online and some prefer to go to the actual brick-and-mortar store. Again, it’s all about options and helping your friends and family. After all, they are buying you stuff!
Consider having an Amazon registry
Whether you decide to just have the Amazon Baby Registry or have it in addition to another one, I recommend it either way. For one, almost any item ever available anywhere is on Amazon to add to your registry. You can even add items from other non-Amazon web sites, from small places like Etsy to large retailers like Target or Babies R Us. That was probably my favorite part, as I was able to add items from the Disney store without having to have a “Disney registry” (if they even have that). The only downside to adding things from other sites is that Amazon does not keep up with whether that store still has the item or if the price changes. Just another reason to periodically check your registry.
Take advantage of perks and discounts
This tip is my favorite! Many places offer some sort of perk or discount for having a registry with them. For instance:
- Target will give you a baby kit when you register in store and they sometimes offer gift cards when you open a registry (these are usually sent in the mail with a baby catalog)
- Target will also send you a 10% off card to be used on any items still remaining on your registry after your shower – it can be used once in store and once online -> Double bonus! Combine with your Target Red Card to get an additional 5% off and free shipping
- Amazon gives a 10% discount after your shower beginning 30 days prior to your due date to be used one time only on items still on your registry
- Sign up for a free 3 month trial of Amazon Mom to get free shipping if you aren’t already a Prime member – just remember to cancel prior to the end of the free trial
- Babies R Us offers Registry Rewards, a program offering discounts and rewards dollars toward purchases
I wasn’t aware of these discounts, but was so glad we waited to purchase anything after our shower. I added anything else I knew we’d want to buy to the registry, then used all three discounts listed about to get 10-15% off of every item and free shipping. This helped out tremendously, as we still needed many big ticket items.
Register for now…and later
Don’t limit yourself to just the newborn essentials. Items like a high chair or Jumperoo won’t be able to be used for a few months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t register for them in order to prepare for the future.
Have fun registering for items and try not to stress about not registering for enough items/registering for too much. This is an exciting time for both parents. How often do you get to use a scanner gun to make a list of things for people to buy you? And most of these items were never even on your radar before now. Baby stuff is fun! You can’t control what people end up buying for you, so don’t overthink about how you wished Aunt Edna would have bought the crib instead of the swing because you need one more than other and they were the same price. Enjoy the swing dammit!
Some non-registry money saving baby preparation tips just for the heck of it
- You have about 8-9 months to prepare for your little one’s arrival. Why not scatter purchases along the way so you are not hit with large money outlays all at once? Whenever Costco had coupons for diapers or wipes, we would purchase a couple of boxes. We now have at least 144 newborn diapers, 240 size 1 diapers, 456 size 2 diapers (plus the ones that made up our diaper cake at our baby shower) and 1840 wipes (sooo…a week’s worth?? LOL). Now we can continue to just buy diapers when they are on sale, as opposed to running out in the middle of the night to the 24-hour drugstore to get overpriced diapers.
- Also, if we saw an item that we needed for super cheap on clearance, we would buy it. We needed plenty of baby items, so we knew buying a few random things wouldn’t affect the choices on the registry. For instance, one of the first baby items we purchased EVER was a Pack n Play for about $40 (about $75 on Amazon) and we also got a BabyBjorn carrier for $50 (50% clearance at Target). We thought these were good enough deals that we would rather purchase at that time than risk not getting them at the shower and then paying full price down the road.
- Shop online daily deal sites such as Zulily, keekoo, Groupon and Living Social. Zulily is my absolute FAVE! They have new deals starting at 9am est that last a few days on anything mostly baby related, but also on maternity, women’s, home and cooking items. We were so excited to see our stroller pop up one day for over $50 off. I also had a coupon for an additional $5 off and since I shopped through Ebates, I got an additional 3.5% cash back. We also got our video baby monitor from Groupon. Just make sure you read the fine print on purchases, so you are not stuck with anything if plans change.
- Use holidays to your advantage. I was pregnant during Christmas and my birthday. At both events I received maternity clothes and a few baby items, like picture frames. I was so very grateful for the maternity clothes since they aren’t cheap! I also got gift cards, which I used for maternity items (and maybe one or two super cute baby outfits! I couldn’t help myself!).
- Purchase clearance items before you know you need them too. I didn’t have to wear maternity clothes until about month 5, at which time I already had a few items from a prior maternity clearance at Target. Thinking ahead can save you money.
- Like baby brands on Facebook and enter giveaways and contests. I’ve gotten so many coupons, some for free items, just by liking brands on Facebook. I’ve also entered giveaways from various places, like Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, BabyGizmo and Working Mother. The chances are slim, but someone’s gotta win, right? Brett won a Britax Stroller Organizer worth $30 and I’ve won a free pack of Gerber onesies. Companies also love to send out free samples. Following coupon blogs is helpful to find out when companies are giving away stuff. I read Hip2Save, Swaggrabber and Totally Target to get the scoop on free stuff. I have a basket full of sample diapers, formula (full-size containers too! just in case we need to supplement), wipes and other various items. It’s a good way to try out different brands and products to see what you like.
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