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Should You Replace Baby Shower Cards with Books? An Unborn Baby Weighs In.

Vivienne Woodward


Vivienne Woodward lives in Philly and works as the events coordinator for an indie bookstore. She can often be found drinking too much coffee in the sunny spot on her couch and over-identifying with fictional characters. She enjoys collecting hobbies, dancing to radio pop, and rearranging the book stacks on her side tables.

Baby shower cards are great. I say this as someone who has rarely given, and never received, such a card. But generally, I am a fan of cards. They express care for the person receiving them, and who doesn’t like being cared for? That said, I do believe there is a chance that books could replace cards in most baby shower circumstances without the receiver feeling too much the card’s absence. But what do my beliefs matter? In order to see the issue from a TRULY objective standpoint, I decided to imagine myself in the position of an unborn baby and to let the unborn baby choose its own baby shower memento. After all, we’re all gathered here eating cake and drinking virgin mimosas for the sake of this future kid, right?

Let’s see what the baby decides: 

Dear Unborn Baby, 

Hello. Happy almost birthday. Perhaps you can settle an argument for us? Would you rather receive a heartfelt, handwritten card or a book as a pre–your birth gift? I know you have never been on earth before and so you may be unfamiliar with what a “card” and a “book” are. Let me break this down for you:

A “card” is a piece of paper folded in half. It generally contains some sort of generic messaging followed by some slightly less generic messaging, depending on the giver. In your case, since you are a fetus that will soon be born into the world, the message will probably be along the lines of “congratulations” or “welcome to the family bb!!!” The card may or may not be addressed to you at all. These messages are lovely, but let me ask you: when this folded piece of paper ends up in the trash before you even have a chance to move south through the birth canal, what will it mean to you? Will you remember that your future Aunt Millie wrote “I can’t wait to be the best Auntie ever!!! So happy for you guys!!!!!” Will it affect your upbringing and worldview? In contrast:

A “book” is a collection of pieces of paper that are sometimes brightly colored and covered in pictures and are full of words written by someone who is a professional at writing words (in contrast to your Aunt Millie who is only okay). Further, books are things that generally get enjoyed over and over again and become part of either your future bedroom decor and/or part of your worldview, versus a card which is read once and then discarded (pun probably very much intended by whoever invented the word “discarded”). I guess what I’m trying to say is the book will probably still be hanging around for your enjoyment by the time you make your grand entrance. 

Now that you know a little bit more about the world, do you think “books” should replace “cards” in celebrations dedicated to you in your unborn form? Let me also add that “books” can be inscribed. That means the person who gives you the book can write their own words inside of the cover. This means that their heartfelt, albeit potentially generic, message has a way better chance of reaching your eyeballs. Your parents might read it to you or you might even still have the book/message by the time you learn how to read! (You might also then be able to read this thoughtful article.) 

Okay, so I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about “money.” “Money” is pieces of paper that we exchange for “card” or “book.” “Book” requires more pieces of paper than “card.” That is definitely a factor to consider, even though “card” itself requires at least a few pieces of paper. The gifter might consider a fewer-pieces-of-paper-required book aka a secondhand book or a book made out of softer paper, to save themselves a few pieces of that special paper (sometimes referred to as “dough”). 

Last thing to consider: “book” might teach you things. “Card” might teach you things too, but then card giver might be overstepping their boundaries as “card giver” and not “parent.” “Book,” on the other hand, is written by a person who has been deemed worthy of putting ideas out into the world that you are about to enter. Not foolproof, but often a system with good results. You might learn about sharing or caring or dragons loving tacos, which is a fun lesson in “imagination,” “fiction,” and “anachronism.” These are all good things that you want to learn in order to survive/thrive on earth. The last one is less crucial, but you will figure that out.

So what do you think? I truly do not mean to sway you one way or another, unborn baby, I am just wondering if, based on my completely objective descriptions, you have a preference? Yes? I thought so, future baby, and thank you for weighing in. Good luck out there in the world!