Deciding what gift to get your expectant friend for her baby shower may be a minefield, and the situation is made even that much harder when you aren't close enough to risk too personal a gift. Depending on cultural differences, you may even find that some women are hesitant to have a baby shower in the first instance, let alone accept gifts for their unborn child.
So what do you do when you feel it might still be nice to celebrate your friend, but are keen to respect their preferences? As it happens I was one of these expectant mothers whose cultural leanings did not allow for a baby shower, and so I had planned for a celebration after the birth instead. But then we found ourselves in the middle of a pandemic and that just never happened; much to my relief if I'm being honest!
There are of course a lot of lovely options to spoil your friend that focuses on her and not directly on the pregnancy. We share some of these below in the hope that some of these may just do the trick. We will share baby-centred gifts in the second instalment.
1. Pamper experiences for the mother-to-be
As far as baby shower gifts go, spoiling the mother-to-be can never go amiss. It's almost as if for one last time, everyone is making an effort to give the expectant mother a chance to focus just on her before her life is consumed entirely by taking care of someone else. Spa days are always a lovely treat, and if you make the most of the whole day you can even squeeze in a gorgeous afternoon tea celebration. Virgin Experience has a variety of options on offer, but of course your favourite local spa is likely to have pregnancy-appropriate spa treatments.
2. At-home spa hampers
Perhaps venturing out of the house for a spa day is not a feasible option, or you may wish to gift the expectant mother something she can use over and over again, even after the baby has arrived. In which case at-home spa hampers may just be the thing. I have a weakness for Espa products, but some high street options like this Champney's hamper at Boots would do perfectly. The Temple Spa hamper offers a great vegan alternative.
3. Indulgent skin-care products
Pregnancy hormones do take a toll on the skin. Quite aside from the stretch marks, I found my skin quite dry and even more delicate during my pregnancy. Good skin care products that smell heavenly made for a great start or finish to my day, and felt like a luxurious treat towards the end of my pregnancy when I was so heavy there was not much else I enjoyed doing. The plus side is if the mum-to-be likes your gifts, it would have been a lovely introduction to skincare products she can restock for herself later. The Burt's Bees Vitamin E oil and Belly Butter or the Cowshed mum-to-be gift set are perfect for that rich moisturising feeling, with the Rituals' Hammam set offering a treat for the senses with the combination of eucalyptus and rosemary.
4. Soft, luxurious robe
There just may be days after the baby has arrived that the new mum may find herself not having the time she needs to put herself together. Who are we kidding? That's more likely to be an everyday occurrence! I found that a good robe, a fancy one if I could find a clean one, came in handy when I quickly needed to appear somewhat presentable for that unexpected knock on the door (yes, the postman counts), or the visit from the midwives in the early days. I've found myself lusting after the Fable & Eve of late.
A more practical robe, warm and snuggly like this one by The White Company would make a great option for the cold 2am night feeds.
5. Meal and snack delivery subscription
A gift card or voucher for a meal or snack delivery service for the new mum to use once the baby has arrived will quite literally be a lifesaver. Even with the most regimented meal-planning and prepping ahead of the baby's arrival, she will still be thinly stretched, and anything that takes the admin out of meal times will be heaven-sent. Even better if the meal service offers pre-prepared ingredients so she needn't worry about chopping vegetables.
I like the idea of snack delivery subscription services as they often mean the opportunity to discover a wider range of healthier snacks that you can then restock on your own if you've taken a fancy to something in particular. The healthy snack box and treat trunk offer vegan-friendly alternatives which would come in handy if you are breastfeeding and are worried about lactose allergies with your little one. Graze, on the other hand, offer a curated box that's tailored to your specific taste - a great way to guarantee you love all the snacks that you receive.
6. Vouchers for a cleaning service
In much the same vain as the meals, there really won't be much time to keep on top of household chores once the baby arrives. Everything piling up can start to fray the nerves of even the most tolerating person when they are overwhelmed from looking after their newborn and are stupendously sleep-deprived.
Enter the world of on-demand cleaning services. They come in for a few hours, whizz and fuff about for a little bit, and promptly get out of your hair (and house!), leaving you to rediscover the stunning armchair that's been hiding under a mountain of laundry for the past few weeks.
So there you have it, our roundup of baby shower gifts centred around the expectant mother that are bound to delight and make her life that much easier, without the risk of being culturally insensitive by getting things for a newborn which may be taboo in some cultures.
In the second instalment, we will share some thoughts on gifts specifically for the baby, but with a little twist. These ones are for those amongst us who are deeply romantic and prone to nostalgia, and must make a fuss and catalogue absolutely everything about their tot! And we make no apologies for it! See you in the next instalment.