Motoring mommy

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One of my sisters is having a baby soon, and my other sisters are planning to attend the baby shower (as the only brother, I’m the odd man out). My sisters worked hard to pick out good gifts, but then they found out something that really upset them: my parents are buying my sister a car as a baby shower present! That’s obviously a much more expensive gift that my other sisters have managed to get, and—worse yet—we found out that the sister who is having a baby actually asked my parents for the car! Isn’t it rude to ask for something so pricey as a baby shower gift? Isn’t it rude for my mother to present a gift like that in front of people who have spent good money on less spectacular gifts?

While the car dealers we spoke to said that they’ve seen vehicles given as gifts for just about any occasion imaginable, it’s true enough that the gift your sister is getting is a rather unusual one for a baby shower.

And etiquette experts also back your feeling that your sister’s direct gift request was a misstep. There is a complicated etiquette for baby shower gift recipients, but it is all based on the simple idea that being too direct in asking for gifts is rude. It’s now generally considered alright to start a gift registry—mainstream stores like Babies ‘R’ Us offer registries, for instance. But the registry information goes out on a separate invitation, etiquette pros say, and it’s certainly not appropriate to directly ask specific people for specific gifts.

As you point out, baby showers aren’t cheap for anyone (except the mother)—a British study found women spent an average of £50 ($65.66) to attend and give gifts at each shower. That really adds up for women, who will attend an average of 23 of these things in their lifetimes. They’ll spend a total of £560 ($735.36) in their lifetimes on baby shower gifts alone, another British study found. It’s always possible that some attendees will resent your mother’s over-the-top gift—it certainly sounds like your sisters will.

But while you have the high ground etiquette-wise, it’s probably not the best use of your time or brainpower for you to work yourself up about your sister’s big gift. While etiquette rules exist for a reason, so do families, and you and your other sisters don’t know exactly what was said between your sister and your parents. With your sister’s family growing and your extended family celebrating, now is a time to be building bonds with your loved ones, not straining them. Consider loosening your stance on your sister’s etiquette failings and not worrying about a shower that, as you pointed out, you won’t even be attending. Instead, focus on the joyous occasion that is growing closer every day. Let your sister drive her car—and don’t let it drive you crazy.

You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car! —Oprah Winfrey

Written by Nancy Pearson, President of Nancy Pearson Design.