Recently, I've noticed a new trend at the baby showers I've attended: the mom has opted out of opening gifts in front of her guests. The first time I saw it, I figured it was a fluke, one rogue's mom attempt to buck tradition and have more time to socialize with her guests versus passing around onesies and tiny hats.
By the second and third time, I realized I was witnessing a new baby-shower movement, one where moms no longer feel obligated to sit in front of their guests and "ooh" and "aah" over each gift, regardless of what they really think about that personalized nursery art (note to guests: just don't) or that outfit designed to make your newborn look like a hot dog.
In theory, I love that moms are no longer following old-school shower norms and doing their own thing. When I asked a few of them what motivated them to save the gift opening until after their guests left, I got varying responses. One mom simply disliked being the center of attention. She felt uncomfortable enough just being the guest of honor, let alone having the present-opening spotlight on her. Another said she just wanted more time to walk around and talk to all of her guests and thought unwrapping all of those gifts would have cut into her fun. Another cited feeling like it was an old-fashioned tradition, and now that women are having babies later in life, baby showers should reflect that sophistication. All valid reasons.
But here's the thing: baby gifts are really freaking cute. Unlike wedding presents, which are pretty much as dull as that set of knives will be a year after the wedding, baby shower gifts usually include things like tiny ruffled socks, tutu-wearing stuffed animals, and clothes covered in baby animals, bows, and pastel stars. What's not to love?
I have to admit that when I attended these present-avoiding showers, I felt a bit cheated out of the experience of witnessing all that cuteness. And I know that the older women in the crowd — the grandmas who craved seeing this stuff way more than me, who still has storage bins full of it in my basement — felt even more miffed by it. They had bought the gifts, damnit, and they wanted to see their fellow guests' faces when the mom-to-be opened them.
So what do you think? Should moms-to-be feel obligated to open the gifts they receive at their baby showers in front of their guests? Or should they feel fine with making the unwrapping a private event?