As a woman in her early 30s with a child of my own, it's no surprise that between my friends and family, I get a lot of baby shower invitations (right now, it's about one shower per month). The onslaught of wedding invitations from a couple of years ago has thankfully quieted down, and in their place are invitations to celebrate little bundles of joy. Even though I'm so happy for all my friends and family who are expanding their families, I can't make it to every shower. And if I can't make it, I don't think it should be mandatory to buy a gift.
I'm in no way saying that a person who misses a shower can't bring a gift at a later date or send the happy couple one if they wish. If you can and want to buy a gift, that's wonderful! I just mean that you should be under no obligation to do so if you RSVPd no and didn't attend the actual party. If I don't make it to a wedding, I don't feel forced to still buy something off the registry. Baby showers, birthday parties, and other celebrations should be the same.
People decide to abstain from events for a variety of reasons, and cost may be one of them. It's fully possible that someone might be genuinely happy that their friend or coworker is pregnant but they're financially unable to provide a gift. Clearly the point of a shower is to "shower" them with presents and well-wishes, and if a person can't afford the present, it makes sense that they wouldn't attend the function. Why, then, would it be a societal expectation that they should still have to shell out the money for a present?
The arbiter of all things polite, Miss Manners, put it better than I could ever: "An invitation is not an invoice." When we give gifts, it's because we want to do so, and we give what we're able to. If I had expected every single person that I invited to my baby shower to buy me something for the baby, regardless if they attended, I should have invited the whole damn town, because then I wouldn't have had to make midnight diaper runs later on.
So, no. You shouldn't feel pressured to buy gifts for a shower you aren't attending. I genuinely believe that all gifts should be given from the heart, and forcing people to give you things because of some social obligation is just wrong.
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