Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rain on my parade.

This post stems from a comment I made on Facebook a few days ago. It started as a joke, but wound up raising an interesting discussion:
"So Facebook friends... tell me why it's socially acceptable for a woman to have a bridal shower and a baby shower, but not a housewarming shower? Why can't I register for the fun gifts, too?"
Here's the deal: I'm 33, single and childless. (I swear this isn't a pity party... I'm going somewhere with this!) Over the past 15 years or so, I've been buying shower gifts for friends and family who got married or had children. Those gifts were usually chosen from a registry - so not only does a woman get gifts, but she gets to pick everything out herself! A mommy-to-be or bride-to-be makes a list of what she wants and/or needs, walks around the store with a little zapper gun, selects the style and color and quantity, and then people go out and buy exactly what she wants. It's genius. 
I certainly don't begrudge a mom-to-be this rite of passage. It's not like they have cribs and diapers and bottles laying around from their college dorm days. And new mommies get hand-me-downs, but not that's not always practical. Safety requirements change from year to year, so a new car seat is necessary. And not everyone wants a used bib that's been drooled on or a used board book with teeth marks. 
So new moms and baby registries are excluded from my rant. But let's talk about these brides.
It used to be that a woman lived with her parents until she got married. She went into her new home with literally nothing but her clothes. So a shower was a great way to stock her home with all the appliances, tools and gadgets that she would need in her new life.
Things are a little different now. Most women go to college and live in a dorm, and then move into an apartment from there. Many couples live together before getting married. These people already have a coffee maker, dishes, wine glasses, pots and pans. They don't need a shower, right?
A lot of brides tend to get a little greedy and see this as an opportunity to get newer and better stuff. "Someone else is paying for it? Well then... I'll ask for a shiny new Keurig coffee maker! And I'll get rid of my old mixer and register for a new deluxe model in designer pink... and while I'm at it, I might as well replace my blender and food processor to match the mixer! And who needs round waffles when I can make waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse?!"
The list goes on and on, and the items sometimes border on ridiculous. They can't think of anything else they actually NEED, so they pad the registry with things they think they want: quesadilla maker, ice cream maker, s'mores maker... things they would never buy with their own money and will probably never use. (By the way, if you're looking for a good laugh, check out one of my favorite blogs, Unclutterer, and scroll through their weekly Unitasker Wednesday posts. Pure gold.)
So where am I going with all of this? Back to my original point. I've never been married or pregnant, so I've never had a gift shower. In a month, I'll be moving into my first home alone. I have some stuff, but there are other things I want and need. I'm paying a crapload of money for inspection, deposit, down payment, etc... and on top of that, there's a carpet I need to replace... and then there's the dining room set I'll eventually need (so I'll have someplace to eat). My Ikea loveseat is functional, but hardly ideal. I chose it because it was flatpacked, able to be delivered to my 2nd floor apartment, and priced for my budget at the time. I'd love a REAL sofa... comfy and cushioned and good for napping. 
I have a lot to take care of before I'll be able to afford some of the bigger things. And my priority list doesn't even begin to include the fun stuff. The little decorative touches that will make it my home. 
So why is it considered inappropriate, tacky, socially unacceptable to have a housewarming shower? First time homebuyers are just as needy as new moms... and in some cases, they have less stuff than a bride-to-be who has been living with her fiance for years. 
When I posed the question on Facebook, I expected to be met with opposition. Surprisingly, most of the people who contributed to the original discussion thought it wasn't at all tacky for me to create a registry... as long as a friend or family member distributed it for me. (Otherwise it just looks greedy.) People told me that some stores actually have housewarming registries in their computer systems.
I have no intention of creating a registry. I feel like it would be telling people that I expect gifts when I move. Plus, most of what I need is either huge (sofa, dining room set, carpet) or petty (plunger, dish drain rack, bucket for cleaning). But there are times (namely when I look at my massive "to do" list) that I wish I could just make a list and hand it out to people. Sometimes it seems grossly unfair that I have to be engaged or knocked up in order to do it. What if I never get married? What if I decide not to have children? What if this is the ONLY major life event that I have? Don't I deserve a chance to go to Pier One and play with the zap gun? 
(By the way, I found this article online while I was writing this. It pretty much sums up the entire discussion!)


  1. Pier One doesn't have registries, do they? ;-P
    I still say if you want stuff register. Technically, it's still "tacky" to put the registry info in a shower invite - as people RSVP they are expected to ask where the couple is registered, if they wish to purchase a gift from it. Somehow it's become socially acceptable to shove a little registry card into the invites these days. Heck, I know I threw a stack of the cards at my Mother-in-law for my baby shower. And I'll totally be showing up to your housewarming with a bucket and plunger, with a gift card attached for the dish drainer (since you should be able to pick your own to match the kitchen.) (Unless you're picky about your plunger and bucket.)

  2. Hahaha... I appreciate that, but I'm gonna buy that bucket before I move. I'll want to start cleaning as soon as I get in there :) I'm probably gonna make a trip to Wal-Mart or Target for that kind of household stuff over the weekend.

  3. I frequent a pregnancy board, with one forum devoted to showers. Long story short, the "etiquette police" on that board are OK with bridal and baby showers, because they should be hosted by someone other than the bride-to-be or mother-to-be. They frown on housewarming registries because they feel the person with the new house is basically soliciting gifts for themselves.

    Were I invited to your (or anyone else's) (and I'm not hinting that I expect to be invited) housewarming, I would want to bring a gift, and would be asking you what you needed or wanted. I would think having a registry would be helpful to guests who wanted to buy you a gift.

  4. I can see where they're coming from by saying it's acceptable because someone else hosts the baby/bridal shower. But isn't the mommy-to-be/bride-to-be choosing the gifts for their own registry? So technically, she's still soliciting gifts for herself. If that argument is valid, then I can tell my mom to throw me a "housewarming shower" and I'll go register for the gifts. It's the exact same thing :)