Competitive Baby-Gift Giving
A Fendi monogrammed diaper changing bag? $2,292. The reaction of the other baby shower guests? Priceless.
“The best things in life are free. The second-best things are very, very expensive.”
― Coco Chanel
We are a species that competes over everything, from sports to academics, from business to video games. But every now and then, a contest comes along that still manages to surprise us.
Welcome to the world of competitive baby-gift giving.
According to event planner Cheyenne Strother, of ROCKDIMENSION, the prime contenders are usually “the grandmothers, because they’re already battling for the title of ‘world’s best grandma’. From tricked-out baby carriages to designer breast pumps, people spare no expense when they’re trying to wow the parents-to-be.”
High-end wedding and event planner David Pressman, of David Pressman Events, says, “this kind of extravagance comes from relatives of high net-worth individuals who feel comfortable skipping the registry suggestions to ‘gift outside the box’, as it were.”
These days, if you’re wealthy and invited to a baby shower, it’s not just a party or a way to show your love and support. It’s an opportunity to showcase your outsize wallet. Bonus: you can then get double value by displaying your wealth/generosity on social media, which in turn may inspire others to give in Insta-worthy style.
In defense of this extravagant behavior, can you ever put a price on a present for a newborn baby? Or, rather, can you ever reach the ceiling on expense for said gift? Evidently not. The sky’s the limit, if you have the means. Consider the $400,000 platinum and diamond pacifier, the $65,000 fantasy coach crib, the $50,000 handcrafted mattress, the $7,000–$40,000 stroller. And don’t even get me started on the $600,000 solid gold rocking horse. Too rich for your blood? You can settle for the $10,000 teddy bear.
I know what you’re thinking: “Sure these gifts may exist, but have they actually been purchased by sentient human beings?” Yes, yes they have. It’s one thing to be fabulously wealthy and buy your own infant a $140,000 diamond-encrusted rattle to chew, as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt did for their daughter Shiloh in 2006. And what prepares you for a lifetime of bad decisions better than a $1.5 million solid-gold rocking horse, like the one Beyonce and Jay-Z got little Blue Ivy?
But celebrities can be pretty generous to their friends’ kids too. Give Kylie Jenner props for coughing up a $7,000 Fendi stroller for her best friend’s newborn daughter, or Serena Williams, for lugging a $5,000 gift basket to her pal Meghan Markle’s festivities.
So what’s the problem here? If the giver is happy, the recipient is happy, and (let’s assume) the baby is happy, or clueless—what’s the downside? Of course, in an ideal world, a gift’s value should not stem from its cost, but from the thought and care that was invested in selecting it.
Yet we don’t live in an ideal world. Hence, the stress a non-wealthy baby shower invitee may feel in being unable to make an offering in the same stratospheric category as the others. After all, once the new mom has oohed and aahed over the Harrod’s/Noa Mini $2,753 diamond and rose gold baby bracelet, how will your adorable box of multicolored baby socks be perceived? Will you resent the fact that your gift will suffer in comparison? Will you be spending your next three therapy sessions exploring this trauma? Along these lines, recalls Strother, “There was an instance where the mom-to-be was opening the gifts and she would place some in one pile and some in another. One of the piles turned out to be a donation pile for Goodwill!”
Make that four therapy sessions.
Hero image: background art from Ekaterina Kreker via Getty Images