A post inspired by one of my favorite followers, you know who you are (svelt lady).
When it comes to buying a baby shower gift - do you go for the thermometer or the plush, snuggly, stuffed animal? The bottle brush or the collection of classic Dr. Seuss books?
Practical gift giving is boring. Adorable gift giving makes for gifts that will be cherished for a lifetime. Right? I'm not so sure this is how it actually plays out.
As a non-mother (and non-mother-to-be), the wedding gift registry is my point of reference. My wedding registry had gifts ranging all over the scale of functional to indulgent. I considered sheets to be one of the functional items and a Kitchen Aid mixer (with all the bells and whistles) to be one of indulgent items. Towels = functional. Featherbed = indulgent. But, in reality, nearly every item on my registry was indulgent on some level. Were my then husband-to-be and I sleeping on a bare mattress each night until we were gifted a set of sheets? No. Maybe our sheets were old and didn't match our bedroom motif, but we had sheets. Before getting fluffy new bath towels, did we have to drip dry when we got out of the shower each morning? No. We had a few towels around to help along the process.
Here lies the major difference between wedding registries and baby registries - pretty much every single item on the baby registry is practical on some level. The parents-to-be are just as likely to have zero pacifiers as they are to have zero onesies. Most non-parents don't own an old but working breast pump. Unlike wedding gifts, nearly all baby gifts are functional. And first time parents, in particular, are truly starting from scratch with baby stuff. With that being said, there is a clear difference between essential items and useful items.
So, here's my take: when you're perusing through the registry list and see that 0 of 3 requests for bottles have been purchased, strongly consider buying a bottle. Even though the jungle monkey play set is just the cutest thing you've seen the 2011 Puppy Bowl (one of my top 5 favorite television events each year), remember that your friend can manage parenthood without the play set (though it would help). But she absolutely, positively needs to feed her first born. If you really want to gift something more timeless, which I completely understand, do so along with one of the basics. Get a pack of pacifiers and a copy of Goodnight Moon. And, of course, if all the essentials are already purchased then issue has resolved itself. Done and done.