Do I Have To Chip In?

Dear Mamas,

I have been invited to a baby shower (another one!) and I need help in knowing what to do. The hostess wants us all to chip in to buy a $900.00 stroller for our friend who is having twins. This is so embarrassing because I really cannot afford to contribute as much as everyone else. My husband was laid off his job 4 months ago and I am only working part time. Anyway, we have worked hard to keep things as normal as possible but the financial pressure has been hard on our family.

But what can I say? I don’t want to be the only one not in on the gift but I really don’t have that kind of money right now. Any suggestions?


Dear Beth,
I totally get how contributing to all those baby showers/wedding showers/school fundraisers/neighbor’s-kids-girl-scout-cookie-sales etc. can break the bank, especially if funds are tight. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve all been in that boat. The thing is, when people ask for a donation they often forget that their request is but one of many and that we can’t contribute what we would like to all the time.

In this case, I think the best strategy is to contact the person throwing the shower directly and be candid with her. Tell her that although you would love to be a part of the gift, you can’t afford the amount that is being asked for right now. Let her know what amount would be comfortable for you and find out if there are other ways you could contribute in lieu of giving the full amount. Maybe she needs help with some of the hosting responsibilities like shopping, setting up, preparing food, cleanup or even picking up and wrapping the gift.

Or, you could offer to buy something within your budget that could go with the stroller, like a nice diaper bag or some cute sun hats and sun glasses. If that doesn’t fly, then just bring the gift you want to give and a lovely note to go along with it and leave it at that. I’m sure your friend will appreciate whatever you give her as long as it’s given with love.

Thanks for this question, Beth. It’s a good reminder to us all to be sensitive to the fact that people’s budgets are not all the same. And whenever we are doing the organizing we need to remember to qualify our financial requests with a statement indicating that although such-and-such an amount is being asked for, people should please give what they can by the date needed.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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