How to: Secondhand baby shower

Christine Koh is the founder and editor of Boston Mamas and a great friend. I asked her to share her experiences coordinating (umm, I mean “being the guest of honor at”) a second-hand baby shower. Voila:

After wading through what seemed to be the waters of secondary infertility for several years, my second pregnancy came as quite the surprise. And of course I learned I was pregnant not long after finally coming to terms with being a three-person family and donating most of my baby stuff.

When my girlfriend Heidi offered to throw me a shower, I asked whether she would be willing to coordinate a secondhand baby shower since I already had mom friends asking me to take baby gear of their hands, and because it seemed like the perfect idea for this eco-obsessed mama.

Here’s how Heidi and I made it happen:

1. Get jiggy with Excel. Since it had been so long since I was in the baby zone (my older daughter Laurel was almost 6 years old when I found out I was pregnant with Violet), I looked at one of those giant (absurd) “must have” baby gear/items registry lists and culled the essentials. I created a spreadsheet listing the essentials and noted what I already had.

2. Provide needs and guest list (including email addresses) to hostess. I sent Heidi my lists and she crafted an evite and shared my needs list and asked guests to tag in for specific hand me downs. If people did not have hand me downs or want to bring them, she welcomed them to simply come and hang out, or bring gift cards or diapers.

3. Mingle and be merry! I think showers are all about the people — refreshments can be as simple or fancy as people desire. Heidi ended up having brunch catered and it was super elegant and delicious (you can see additional pictures from the shower here). She was also kind enough to check in advance as to whether I was experiencing any food aversions. She’s thoughtful like that.

4. Open gifts and freak out appropriately. I’m sort of kidding about this but sort of not. We did the traditional gift opening and there was plenty of freaking out over cute little baby things.

5. Get help getting things home. This is something that ended up working out fine for me on the fly but I recommend planning in advance. I received a lot of large, bulky items that would not fit in our little car and Heidi lives about half an hour away from me (so, multiple trips back and forth would be a bit time consuming). We ended up having several friends offer to load up their cars and drop by my house, which worked easily since many of the guests live in close proximity to me. If your attendees are more spread out and the shower is not at your home, it would be a good idea to check in with nearby friends to help get gifts back to your home.

And that’s it! The most challenging planning involves going through your list and having the hostess keep on top of emails to avoid duplicate hand me downs. And I found that the cool thing about a secondhand shower is that it not only helps friends who want to clean out their basements of baby gear, but also can result in the passing down of some items that would be cost prohibitive to gift brand new.

I was truly overwhelmed by the generosity – among the secondhand items I received were a car seat/stroller system, crib mattress, jogging stroller, high chair, and giant crates full of baby clothes and toys (literally, 4 of them). There also were new baby clothes and toys and spa gift certificates. I was so touched, and above all, it was so utterly lovely to celebrate Violet’s impending arrival with such a fantastic gathering of mom friends.

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In addition to everything else mentioned above, Christine is also the designer behind Posh Peacock and writes a personal blog at Pop Discourse. She tweets about it all at @bostonmamas. Thank you big time, Christine!

When Whitney and I “coordinated” a secondhand shower, it went a little differently since none of my pals seemed to want to give used presents. See our lovely eco-geeky baby shower story and pictures.