Baby showers are a heart-warming social ritual, which started back when the Egyptians were building pyramids - a rite-of-passage party to commemorate a woman's transition into motherhood.
More recently, they became an opportunity to 'shower' a mother-to-be with useful gifts so as to lighten the financial burden of starting a family, and to envelope her in a warm glow of love from other women-folk in the lead up to her impending life change. Baby showers remind us that we have a support network. They tell us that our social group recognises the moment as too special to go unmarked.
But somewhere along the way, this cute, quaint community celebration went on a serious ego trip. Gone are the days when a bunch of women gathered in a sitting room with some flowers and cakes, and handed over pretty bundles of muslin cloths and hand-me-downs from their own children. These days, baby showers are held at five-star venues with personalised decorations and professional photographers. Baby showers? More like baby hurricanes. And with each year, these previously dainty events seem to get bigger and bigger. One member of the Baby & Child team walked past a baby shower at the Ritz-Carlton JBR recently and thought it was a wedding.
Some baby shower production crews are starting to extend it in to a full-on day-long bonanza of treats - spa treatments beforehand and limo rides home to recover from the exertion of ALL. THAT. FUN. What's next? Baby shower weekends away? Baby shower anniversaries? It's as if we'll never see our beloved friend again once she's become a mum.
And at what cost? Quite a large one as it happens... not only have showers become labour-intensive to arrange and time-consuming to attend, but as a result of this evolution in scale, the price of a baby shower has rocketed.
This isn't such bad news for the mother, whose only requirement on the day is to look blooming and effuse maternal instinct, but for the guests (and the friends who have been roped into lovingly arranging her baby bash) it can be quite a whack to the wallet.
And as if all of this grandiosity wasn't enough to mark the occasion, we then have the gift-giving gauntlet. Multi-packs of sleepsuits? These days people are more likely to turn up with an entire wardrobe for the soon-to-be-born baby packaged into a vast cellophane-wrapped hamper. And if you feel like you might be able to scrimp on the present with an expensive-looking bargain, a baby shower gift registry will put an end to that. It's like a public shaming service of who spent the least.
Baby shower gift pressure has become so great that a British survey researched the issue. It found that more than a quarter of women have bought baby designer gear to give as a gift at a shower, 19 per cent resent gift registry lists as it makes them feel they have to spend more than they would like, and 15 per cent have declined invitations to showers due to the costs involved.
We know women who have scampered out of baby showers halfway through the gift-opening bit after seeing Dh2,000 Swarovski-encrusted rattles being unwrapped, simply to avoid the humiliation of her very normal gift being opened. Is this heart-warming? Hardly.
To summarise, it seems we've lost sight of what baby showers are really about. Do they need to be such flashy, consumerist spending binges? We're not saying motherhood can't be luxe and glam, and should be all homemade cakes in the park. But where is this bigger-and-better trend going to end? We're living in fear of the next invite, ladies.
As much as we want to celebrate each perfect little newborn, this baby shower business is becoming more of an expensive obligation than a cute celebration. Should we get back to basics?
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