Before we even get started today, I wanted to rest your minds about a subject that has undoubtedly haunted you all since last Tuesday. Specifically, the question is, “How did Kathryn H. Kidd fare after the 5.8-magnitude Virginia earthquake?”
My answer to that comes in the form of a little advertisement. Joining the throng of human beings who have started their own blogs, I have launched a blog of my own ? Planet Kathy If you want to read the unvarnished account, go to Planet Kathy and click on “Kathy’s Blog” to get the scoop. And while you’re there, look around. Planet Kathy is new, and we’re looking for people to drop in for a visit.
Now that the advertisement is behind us, let’s talk about showers. When you think about bridal and baby showers, are you showered with excitement, showered with annoyance, or showered with guilt? Maybe it’s all of the above!
Personally, I don’t believe that the ward should put on a shower ever, or use the Relief Society bulletin or meeting to extend invitations. (Are we really too cheap to print off something on the computer and run it around, email it, or even mail it?) That being said, there may be a time when a shower is given, but a home just isn’t large enough to accommodate everyone who is invited, so a church may be used as a location.
I really believe that it is just about impossible to schedule a time for any event that doesn’t conflict with something church-related. In reality, we have temple nights, boy scouts, cub scouts, activity days, Relief Society meetings, Young Men and Young Women meetings, service projects, and the list goes on of activities that people may choose to participate in. I doubt that anyone who scheduled a shower over a “temple night” did it to try and trump the temple. They probably did it because that was the date and time that worked out best for the guest of honor’s schedule.
Also, if the guest of honor is a working woman, she likely does not have her free time during the day, but has it in the evenings when such church activities are usually scheduled. That doesn’t mean that a guest can’t choose to go to the temple instead of a shower for heaven’s sake!
Care should be taken not to have a shower for anyone (bride to be, or new mother) be “exclusive.” It doesn’t cost much more to print off a couple of extra invitations so everyone who knows this woman can be invited. When you receive such an invitation, you do not have any obligation to attend, or give a gift. If you do not wish to participate, simply RSVP that you will be unable to attend. If you want to give a gift, then do it. I seriously doubt that anyone will go back through the guest list and “blackball” someone who didn’t attend a shower or send a gift. There are many reasons that people don’t attend or give gifts.
Cathy in Utah
Thanks for clarifying, Cathy, about the conflict of showers with church activities. Since I wrote last week’s column, I scheduled a shower myself for the only possible day it could have been — only to find out later that it conflicted with our youth temple trip. Fortunately, I don’t think the attendance lists will overlap in this case. But it did show me how easy it is to schedule one event that steps on the toes of another one.
I live in a Utah ward where there is a large young adult population getting married, and my husband I serve in a young adult student ward where many weddings are happening. In the home ward the babies are coming to previous years’ wedding crops, and lots of showers are being given for both upcoming weddings and babies. I also had a son marry in July and a nephew marry last week, so I think I have some perspective from both sides.
I love a good family shower for either occasion, because it is a way for family and close friends to get to know each other better and to show support. The gifts in our family showers are from the heart and are much appreciated. Aunts, close friends and cousins love to have a good excuse to gather together and have fun for a few hours. It is also a good way to get to know the family that is marrying into your family. I have no problem with this kind of shower and both attend and throw them.
I have had a difficult time with huge ward open house showers where the name of the game seems to be, “How many gifts can I accumulate?” Many times I am invited to a shower where the guest of honor has never actually spoken to me herself but I am acquainted with the mother by being in the same ward. I want to be supportive of marriage and babies but have a very limited budget and the sheer number of invitations divides my gift money even further. I have felt many times that my small gift was not appreciated or even was looked down upon.
When I don’t know the girl well but feel an obligation to attend I search the registry at her preferred store and am amazed at the high cost of items she has chosen. I must admit I have been avoiding these kinds of showers whenever possible but have felt also somewhat guilty, feeling that if someone made the effort to invite me I should go. What to do? I wonder if this is a dilemma for other shower goers.
Drowning in the Summer Rain
It does seem as though the showers in your area have turned into a full-fledged downpour, Drowning. I know how you feel about feeling guilty if you stay home, but you and I both need to realize that attendance isn’t mandatory. This is easier said than done. I skipped several showers in one year because they were all held in a home that was hard for me to get into. Even though more than thirty people attended each shower, I still feel guilty for skipping the events and not sending any presents.
This is one of my pet peeves since moving to Utah some years ago. We’ve been in our current ward for more than six years, moved here with young children. In the first year we were here, we received at least six invitations to showers and weddings ? in most cases we hadn’t even met the parents, let alone the young people getting married. There have been dozens of invitations since then. Recently I attended my first ever bridal shower in the ward ? I actually did know the bride to speak to her, and had been her mother’s visiting teacher. And there was a baby shower for someone I knew well.
I guess people didn’t want us to feel left out. It’s the only thing I can think of. But, we’ve been financially strapped most of our marriage, and since such invitations come with an expectation of a gift if you accept them, I’ve ignored them.
Who knows, maybe I offended some people by excluding them ages ago when I got married ? but I carefully made the guest list and didn’t include anyone that I didn’t know and have some expectation that they’d even be interested in my wedding.
It just would have felt tacky, like begging for presents, to do otherwise.
Disgruntled in Utah
I know how you feel, Disgruntled. I felt so guilty about people thinking they had to give me wedding gifts when they couldn’t afford them that Clark and I eloped to the temple when we got married. That way, nobody felt obligated to give gifts, but those who wanted to do so were able to do so.
In the interest of full disclosure, even though I didn’t think I wanted the gifts, I was very sad when those department store trucks finally quit coming to our house. Getting married or having a baby can really awaken a sense of greed in a person, as I learned to my own disgust.
I have only been to one shower held at church (in the cultural hall). It was a baby shower and quite a few people were in attendance. It could be that the shower-giver’s home was not large enough. However, invitations were sent or hand-delivered to the individuals attending, not passed out at Relief Society.
I see no problem in using the church for a shower if a larger facility than a home is needed. Why not? However, scheduling one ? at home or at church ? at the same time as a scheduled ward or temple session seems rather inappropriate.
Other baby showers in the ward have usually been held at people’s homes and invitations mailed or delivered personally. I think showers are appropriate, but verbal invitations should not be acceptable. An actual, hard-copy invitation has to be given. Showers are a fun way to celebrate someone’s impending marriage or birth of a first child.
Hard-copy invitation? Oh Sharee, that was a knife to my heart! I’m in the process of sending out evites for a wedding shower. I hope I’m not violating some rule of etiquette that I don’t even know about!
Well we don’t have showers in the UK. Some sisters try and introduce them but they always fall flat. They are seen as being in poor taste.
People give presents on an individual basis, usually in private, leaving wedding gifts on a decorated table during the reception. In the case of a birth, when seeing the newborn for the first time, they may visit at the mother’s home or hand her a gift quietly at church.
Big present-giving parties may make women who can’t afford to give a big present feel uncomfortable. Others may feel cross that someone is throwing a party as an excuse to get lots of free goodies. Or a friend is throwing a shower for a friend to get loads of stuff for her.
These events are just another way for commercial companies to exploit the good wishes of those who wish to celebrate a special occasion with friends and family.
Thanks for letting us know how the United Kingdom does it (or rather, doesn’t do it!), Vim. If you think showers are out of hand in the U.S., you should see what happens on wedding invitations! It’s not uncommon for people to list right on the invitations what gifts they’re looking for. Makes me want to move to the UK.
I know I’m “old,” but when I was young friends, not family, gave wedding and baby shower. Now it seems like most invitations I get come from the mother or sister of the bride or new mom. Also, does the mother of 2-3 kids really need a shower?
I don’t think Church is the appropriate place for a shower. Nor do I think the invitations should be handed out there. If you can’t afford postage to mail an invitation, why not use the phone or email?
In all honesty, I’m tired of all the showers. I’ve been to so many over the years and they are all the same. Now, instead of going I just give a gift at the wedding or birth. No one seems to upset either. One thing I have done in the past 10-15 years is knit a sweater, hat and booties for each baby born in our ward. That way I can indulge my passion for knitting and welcome the new baby at the same time. I enjoy it more and the mothers always seem to be appreciative.
I’m old too, Kellie. I think that etiquette books still say showers aren’t supposed to be given by immediate family members, but that rule seems to have gone the way of the rule against telling the world in your wedding announcement where you’re registered and what you want for a gift.
As for showers all being alike, I do and don’t agree with you. Clark and I give couples’ wedding showers where we invite couples to celebrate the wedding of the bride and groom. We have a light supper and then everyone exchanges white elephant gifts. (That way everyone goes home with something.) Then the bride and groom open their gifts, we eat the cake, and we send everyone home.
Here’s another letter from a reader who remembers the rules of etiquette:
I have been involved in bridal and baby shower that use the ward building for the party. In some areas, the ward house is the only place that will fit the amount of people invited to a shower. I can understand using the building just because of lack of other space, but it should never conflict with a ward or stake activity!
I totally dislike invitations being handed out in Relief Society. It never fails that someone gets left out this way! Or you invite someone who just moved into the ward who doesn’t know the person of honor at all. I don’t even like showers being announced in Relief Society.
Last I checked there’s nothing in the Handbook of Instructions, Book 2 that mentions bridal or baby showers and no one is ever obligated to give a shower for anyone. In my last ward in California, we had a new member who couldn’t afford to attend all the showers the Relief Society presidency was throwing. Back in the day, the Relief Society might get together and make a quilt for the new couple or the new baby, but in my old ward in California, I think it got way out of hand. They would sometimes use a shower as an enrichment meeting (back when it was called that)!
I’ve been very grateful since moving to Happy Valley and living in a ward where there are 2 – 3 babies born a month that the ward doesn’t sponsor any showers. If just friends are having them for friends in the ward, I haven’t even been invited.
I don’t mind using the building if there aren’t other conflicts or a space big enough to hold the event, but invitations should go out in the mail, email or on Facebook and never during church. Showers aren’t a mandatory Relief Society function!
My sister’s ward gave up having showers years ago. They do open houses instead. It’s kinda like a drive-by shower. You know when and where. All you do is show up say hi to the guest of honor, drop off a present or add a few stitches to a quilt, grab a refreshment and you’re back out the door! People are too busy now to take time to sit down and play games and um.
There are lots of things in the world of brides and babies that bother me. Mothers throwing their child’s party (this used to be a huge etiquette no-no)! My biggest pet peeve is printing where people are registered directly on their invitations! This happens for both weddings and baby showers. So ? your invitation tells me I have to buy you a present and now I’m being told where I have to buy it and what exactly it is that you want! Really? Such entitlement!
Have you covered LDS wedding receptions or LDS wedding attire? Oh my! Now that could open a huge hornet’s nest!
Shocked and Appalled
It sounds as though you and I are on the same page when it comes to solicitations for gifts in wedding and shower invitations, S&A. As for introducing topics on LDS wedding receptions or attire, that could be a real doozy.
My personal opinion is that it is fine to give showers. These should be at a person’s home and not at the church.
Passing invitations out during Relief Society happens. People want to save postage. Does it hurt my feelings if I am not invited? No. If I want to give a gift I will anyway. Even if given an invitation it does not mean that I will attend the shower or give a gift. Again, it is my choice and I don’t need to feel guilty about it.
I do think that showers should be for first babies and first marriages. Expecting to have a shower for each succeeding baby really irks me. The same is true of second or more marriages.
In most cases close friends and family will give gifts the succeeding times. (Again that is if they choose to do so).
My feelings on the subject were established many years ago. Being in my seventies means I remember Ann Landers and referred to her for most of my feelings on these subjects.
There can be exceptions in all things: If all the stored baby clothes were lost in a fire, flood, hurricane, or other natural disaster, then, yes, a shower might well be in order.
I can think of another “natural disaster” you left out, Likes. When somebody has twins or other multiple births, they probably need any help they can get. (And no, I don’t believe that having twins is a disaster. Think of it more as a “happy accident.”)
I’ve been invited to a few showers for ward members, and I think these were cases where the entire Relief Society was invited. I appreciated the thought and politely (and promptly) declined if I couldn’t attend. I think the most recent invitations were regular mail, but there may have been a few evites (which is fine with me).
My thought is that if you’re unsure whether somebody wants to be included, invite her. Better to do that than to run into hurt feelings. If you’re going to invite somebody in person, do it discreetly and not in front of everybody.
As for conflicts with official ward/stake functions, I’ve never run into that. I can’t see my Relief Society scheduling a shower at the same time of an official ward/stake function. It’s more likely that the shower would be scheduled first, and then the ward/stake function.
Whew, Jody! Your comment about evites made me feel better. You made my day.
I don’t know if showers for babies born out-of-wedlock is a topic you want to hear about, but here goes:
We had an adult sister in the ward in that situation. The bishop put the word out that he did not want the Relief Society to plan a shower “celebrating” this event, and especially did not want the young women of the ward to watch us doing so. The word was passed around and all became aware of his wishes. Problem was that one sister in the ward, who considers herself more “progressive” in thought than others, chose to ignore the bishop’s wishes and throw the party anyway, inviting all the sisters in the ward plus a few of the young women. I then personally felt compelled to attend this shower (to show support for the new mother), even though my plan had been to support the bishop and to take the new mother a gift and visit with her privately.
That sister who chose to ignore the bishop supposed she was demonstrating more charity and compassion than the rest of us, rather than following her leader’s counsel ? all in the name of “caring more.” Wow. Major lesson learned here about pride, dissenters and the adversary’s well-honed tactics.
What’s It All About, Alfie
Wow ? talk about undermining your bishop! Shame on the “progressive” member who put every woman in the ward in the impossible situation of having to choose whether to support her bishop or to attend an ill-advised shower. It takes all kinds, doesn’t it?
I hope you’ll let a guy give an opinion here.
When I was little (the 1960’s) and growing up in Southern California, most women were not employed outside the home and baby and wedding showers were a chance to dress up and socialize. Where I lived (local customs vary!) a wedding shower was a means of introducing a young woman into the world of Relief Society, and a baby shower was literally a way to help each other afford the supplies for an up-coming baby. There was a true sisterhood in our ward, and these events were announced in Relief Society and “everyone” came.
Baby showers were given for every single baby and not just the woman’s first one ? again, there was a true sisterhood in our ward, and everyone knew a sister needed supplies for each baby, not just the first one.
I am in my 50’s now, and it has been a very long time since I’ve seen the sisterhood that existed in the ward I grew up in. My mother literally had a ward full of sisters and there would never have been a thought of not inviting a sister in the ward.
Bruce T. Forbes
Men are more than welcome to participate here, Bruce. I inherited the name of this column from my predecessor, Joni Hilton, who inherited it from her predecessors. I would much rather call it “Circle of Saints.”
I also liked your take on why having showers builds a sisterhood. Thanks for reminding us that there’s more than just one reason to have these get-togethers.
Here’s another reader who agrees with Bruce:
When I lived in North Carolina our ward would have fabulous showers and invite everyone with an invitation. It was a wonderful way to welcome a new baby or send off a dearly loved sister to her new life. No one felt obligated beyond their own thoughts, but it gave us all an excuse to get together to visit and to share love and support.
Now I live in California. No such thing ever happens. Babies are born, people get married. Showers happen but you won’t likely know about the ones that aren’t your closest friends.
Opportunities for fellowship and fun are being missed. There are probably women who feel left out and ignored. It makes me sad. I loved those showers.
Fond of Fellowship in California
Fond, if you like the tradition, you can start it up again. If you sell it to your ward members the way you sold it here, you might have a real success ? even in California.
Okay, people, that’s it for this week. If you find yourself with a little time on your hands, feel free to zip over to Planet Kathy and see what’s there. If you’ve been thinking about having your personal history done and don’t know how to go about it, there’s help for you there. And you can always check out my blog, and see what’s happening on Planet Kathy.
Until next time ? Kathy
“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson