The hectic hours of the baby shower are over. You’re tired. All the gifts are unloaded from the car. You’re thankful. Your babies’ nursery is exploding with gift bags and packs of diapers. You’re overwhelmed. So now you ask, “What am I going to do with all this?” and “How do I get started unpacking all this?” and maybe even “Do we need all this?” Don’t stress. One step at a time. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your wanted, and not-so-wanted, baby shower gifts.
Multiple Gifts Received
Even though you have multiples, you don’t necessarily need multiple of everything. This is one of the first rules we learn as multiple parents. For example, you need multiple sets of bibs because multiple babies drooling and spiting up is a guarantee, so that means less laundry if you have multiple sets. But you don’t need multiple baby bathtubs since you won’t (safely) give multiple babies a bath at the same time. You have two options for what to do with multiple gifts. If you have room to store them, you can keep both and have an extra in case you figure out that you do need multiple or if the first one gets worn out or breaks. Or, if you’re absolutely sure you can survive with just one, you can maximize the gift by returning it, exchanging it, re-gifting it, or donating it.
Return/Exchange, But No Idea Where the Gift Came from
No receipt? No problem. There are several ways to maximize your options of what to do with gifts you have and want to return or exchange, but don’t have a receipt for. First, if you have any inkling of an idea where the gift might have come from, start there. In return for seeing your driver license, most stores will give you a store credit for an item without a receipt. It may take several tries at several stores, but if you’re willing to take the time to try, you can get something you need and will use from the same store and the gift isn’t totally wasted. If you were fortunate enough to have kept the receipt with the gift through the shower, the transportation, and the unpacking, nice job. Your reward is the option to return the gift, flat out. No strings attached. You may even get cold hard cash for the gift.
The Hand-made Personalized Gift
The thought and time taken by Aunt Betty was sweet, but it’s not exactly your style or taste. You don’t know where you’ll fit it in to your nursery theme. Hand-made gifts are the type of gifts that you may just have to take one for the team, or your family, in some cases. Although the crocheted doily with your babies’ initials doesn’t exactly fit into your twin boys’ blue and grey nursery design, you may be able to live with it in your kitchen to use for special occasions or can stomach it being displayed in the guest bedroom to maximize this gift or any other hand-made gesture. Hand-made gifts with names or initials (anything personal) are good candidates for the scrapbook and/or hope chest so your little ones can have it as a memory when they’re not so little anymore. Lastly, if you absolutely don’t want it and you’re sure Aunt Betty won’t notice next time she comes over, a charity is sure to find someone who will put it to good use.
Don’t have Room for the Gift
The timeless dilemma of a multiple parent – it’s needed, but there’s no place to store it. Queue dramatic music. Bom, bom, bom. This is when you must get practical and may need to get creative. You must have already determined this item is a must-have if you’re willing to make room for it. Assuming you have a closet or storage space solely dedicated to baby stuff, the first thing to do is purge. Ideally, before any shower, you would’ve purged anything that isn’t needed for or won’t be used for the babies. These things need to be moved to a different area or gotten rid of. (Donating is a quick place to purge, while helping others.) That way, the space dedicated just to baby items has a fresh clean start. Use the space to the fullest by removing bulky packaging, stacking large things on the bottom, storing things inside of each other, tightly packing, and hanging items on the wall to use all the space possible. Remember that a rule of packing and storing things efficiently is based on an item’s size. Big things go on the bottom/on the floor, while smaller lighter things go on top. Think of it as a puzzle. All the space should be used efficiently to maximize storage. For small items that you have a few of the same of, consider storing these in their own storage container which can be stacked or hung. For example, if you’re growing your baby’s collection of hair bows, don’t put them in a pile directly on the shelf, store them in a container dedicated just to hair bows that can be stacked on top of the tub of baby socks that you’ve also organized. What you need most often should be the most accessible. If these storage maximizing tools are in place, this should maximize the room you have for most things that you thought you didn’t originally have room for.
Just Aren’t a Fan of the Gift
“Why would someone choose this for me?” Since gifts don’t typically come with explanations as to why they were chosen for us, we’re sometimes left to deal with the outcome. If you don’t have a need (or desire) to use a gift, there are several options to maximize the gift. You can use the “Return/Exchange, But No Idea Where the Gift Came from” method and do your best to determine where it came from and at least get a store credit for it in return. Or, there’s the ever popular, re-gifting option. We’ve all done it. Save the gift for someone you know will be a fan. Just make sure all evidence of this being a gift for you is removed, like gift tags or cards. This could be embarrassing. Then there’s the option of donating. This is an easy and quick option. There’s always someone less fortunate who is sure to have a need for the gift that you’re not a fan of. Or if all else fails, you can keep it and make the most of it. If you have the extra storage space, you never know when it may come in handy or when you’ll change your mind and be a fan of it after all.
Not a High Enough Quality Gift
We all have standards. Some are higher than others. So, if yours are higher than the quality of a gift you received, be gracious and thankful, and then do what you choose with the gift. Diapers are a good example and something we can all relate to having standards for and is something we all need. Some parents and caregivers see the need for the high-end, organic diapers (disposable or cloth) that absorb your little cherub’s number one and number two ever so sweetly and with great style. While others watch their pennies carefully and go with the best value in a diaper, no matter the brand, organic make-up, or outward appearance. If you’re a coupon cutter or a name brand junkie, on either end of the spectrum, you have standards. To maximize a gift you’ve received that doesn’t meet your standards, you have your prerogative to get rid of the gift as you wish; whether it be returning for store credit if you know where it was purchased, exchanging it for something of higher quality that meets your standards, re-gifting for someone who may have less strict guidelines, giving to charity for anyone to make use of, or keeping it and making it work with your standards.
Don’t Need the Gift
The thought was nice, but you don’t need a pair of baby high heels or a baby bum fan. Yes, these gifts have been given. Instead, hide your facial expressions of disgust and confusion, and maximize the gift you don’t need by planning to give it to charity. There’s always someone out there who may think your trash is their treasure. If the gift is more usable (and less embarrassing) than baby heels or a bum fan, you can re-gift them to another mama at her baby shower to save a few dollars that you’ll likely need for your own babies.
Don’t Need the Gift until Later
There’s a difference in hording and saving. If you’re a saver, you know (opposed to hope) you’ll use an item you received at your shower; you just don’t need it quite yet. Like the helpful people (who are usually parents themselves) who get you clothes in a few sizes up. Those clothes are great – it’s like your multiples have a whole new wardrobe every three-ish months. Thank you to those who think ahead and get clothes that our babies may not wear right away. And if those clothes are season appropriate – bonus! When you receive gifts that you don’t need to use just yet, store them appropriately so you don’t forget about them and they don’t go to complete waste. If we’re still talking about clothes, they’re most helpfully stored according to size, whether it be the ones your multiples are wearing now, or later. So, when you have 2 babies crawling around the house and are as busy as busy gets, you can most efficiently change out their next set of 3 months’ clothes. If you have a gift that they’ll grow into that’s not clothing, periodically organizing (or at least looking through) that specific type of item (bath, toys, books, gear) is helpful to remind yourself what you already have for them to use next. If you maximize the gifts that can be used in the future, it can be like opening Christmas gifts when you realize you have something from your baby shower 9 months ago that your little ones can use now!
Liza Mead is a stay-at-home-mama to fraternal twin boys and has a background in interior design and marketing, both of which she works in second to her favorite titles as Wife and Mommy. In Raleigh, North Carolina, when her twins are content or sleeping, she spends time organizing, being involved in church events, and event planning. She’s thankful for the blessing of each day’s new memories created.