How to Ask for Secondhand Gifts on your Baby Shower Invitation

by - Wednesday, March 13, 2019

It can be seen as tacky to give any suggestion of what you want (even though this is EXACTLY what a registry is... but girl rules), and even 5 years ago, this kind of thing could face major criticism.

Wanting secondhand gifts isn't crazy- it's awesome! In fact, I think you can plan a whole party around secondhand baby items. There are so many reasons to ask for used gifts for your baby, here are a few of the best ones:

- You will get more of the stuff you need. One cutesy baby outfit at Carter's is 30 dollars. The same outfit secondhand is 10. So we can safely assume that you can check off most everything on your list without your guests breaking the bank.

- You can live without fear of blow outs (sort of). If your baby has a blow out poop on a secondhand baby blanket, you don't need to panic that they have ruined an expensive item. And there will be unspeakable fluids on everything, so why not take that pressure off. It won't keep your baby from having a blow out at the worst possible place or time, but at least they aren't ruining something expensive.

- You can help save your kid's future. The babies we have now are facing a life of uncertainty. Climate change is creating more catastrophic weather each year, and plastic is filling our oceans with body-disrupting and cancer-causing chemicals. By encouraging secondhand gifts, you can help fight both of these problems. Secondhand stuff keeps things out of landfills, cuts down on the waste of shipping, and eliminates the plastic that packages every new thing you buy.

Asking for secondhand gifts can be the first step in the most important battle you have as a parent- to ensure your baby's generation has a future.

This is just the beginning of the benefits, and they are worth asking for. The trick is how to do it without seeming presumptuous and offending your Aunt Sally. There are a few steps to make this a success:

First, Register.

If you want a registry that speaks to your desire for secondhand gifts, you can't do better than Encore Baby Registry. You can register for new, secondhand, and hand me down items all in the same place. When people check it out, it will be clear what your priorities are (and anyone I have asked who used it seemed to love it). Most registries (Babylist and Amazon to start) can accommodate secondhand gifts, because somewhere on the registry there is a "purchased" button, so people can mark the items they bought, even if they bought them elsewhere.

If you need a little help figuring out what to put on your registry (and what to skip) check out our Green and Natural Baby Registry. We have come up with excellent options for almost everything.

There are a few exceptions to the secondhand rule- a crib, a breast pump, and a car seat. For these items, you either need a hand me down from a person you completely trust, or you have to bite the bullet and get them new. But that is three things out of many, so you can mostly avoid new if you want to.

Second, Ask for Secondhand Gifts

These are my best ideas for how to phrase the invitation. They aren't perfect, and Aunt Sally might be offended anyway... but it is worth a shot.

You can ask two places- on your invitation and on your registry.

On Your Registry 

At the top of most registries there is a space for a note. Just write "We welcome/ are so grateful for both new and secondhand gifts" or "We welcome secondhand versions of anything on this registry" Doesn't have to be cute, just to the point.

On the Invitation

Ok, here is the meat of it. How do you put this on the invite without seeming presumptuous or obnoxious? It depends on the situation and you as a couple, but here are a few ideas.

Make it a Theme

 You could request a "Hand Me Down" shower. The idea is that everyone would bring something their own children used and they just couldn't throw away. In the invitation, write "Instead of a brand new gift, let's celebrate the new baby with hand-me-downs and secondhand finds! It will warm our hearts to carry on the love your family started."

You could also throw a "Green" Shower. "We cannot wait to meet this baby and see their beautiful future! To celebrate this future, the couple would love secondhand gifts instead of anything brand new."

Short and Sweet

"Parent and Baby are registered at Amazon, but they would love hand-me-downs and secondhand gifts as well!"

"Hand-me-downs and secondhand finds are welcome!"

"Please don't buy us brand new stuff. We love secondhand!"

"We are excited to see you; the gift doesn't have to be brand new!"

Blame it on the Baby

"This baby is a green baby! He/She would love and appreciate secondhand gifts"

"Brand new or used, this stuff is getting pooped on! We love secondhand gifts too!"

For Twins

"Because there are two, it doesn't have to be new!"

Just Remember...

Keep it short and don't get too specific. If your registry has a conspicuous place to mark something as purchased (Amazon and Babylist both have them, but you may not spot them), then best case scenario your loved ones will figure it out. If not you will get doubles, but you are smart and capable and can figure it out. Writing too much info about this on an invite does come off as presumptuous.

Lean on word of mouth. Chat with your hosts about it and they can share ideas and information by word of mouth as people ask. Otherwise, know that there might be a bit of stickiness, and just don't stress about it.

Always stay positive. No one wants someone they love to feel shamed for not getting all used stuff. So try to cut out talk of pollution or waste (unless you can come up with a hilarious poop pun. I worked on it, but I didn't make it happen).

Third, Say Thank You and Be Happy

Some people will listen, and some people really, really won't. Maybe they don't have a good consignment shop near them or they just were raised seeing secondhand gifts as distasteful. It's ok.

Somebody will probably give you an earful about it. That's ok too. Another fun fact about babies is that every person, whether they reproduced 5 year 50 years ago (or just never had a child themselves), feels compelled to let you know that they know way more about parenting than you do. I don't know why this is, but 7 years in, I can tell you that things are much happier if you let it roll off your back. It's not personal, it's some weird biological instinct of nonsense. You are always doing the best you can for YOUR baby, which is exactly what they need. 

So, you will get some secondhand gifts, some new ones, and at least one person conspicuously wrapping their package to highlight the newness of their gift. No matter what, smile and say thank you. If even one extra person bought secondhand instead of new, you have succeeded in cutting down waste. Also, you can return the new gifts and switch them out for a secondhand version, where you do the work of tracking these things down.

I think what you are doing is awesome, and it will most certainly inspire the people around you. Our generation is changing the world, because we aren't blindly accepting the super consumer attitudes of the generations before us. It takes courage to put yourself out like that, and your baby is so lucky to have you.

How to Ask for Secondhand Gifts on your Baby Shower Invitation

how to ask for secondhand gifts on your baby shower invitation

Has anyone here asked for secondhand gifts for their baby shower? How did it go?

You May Also Like


  1. What a great idea! I would have loved to get some of my friends/families favorite items for baby that they are no longer using.

  2. such a great idea! my friends have some cute things too haha

  3. Wow! This is an amazing idea! I know any hand-me-downs that I got from family came in super handy with my son!

  4. I love the idea of gifting something that belonged to my baby. There are so many things we still have that my baby used once or some she didn’t even use at all! I would rather gift it to someone I know and love than a stranger.

  5. We are definitely a "second hand family" and wondered how to pull off hosting such an event (the parents are fully on board with it). So thank you for your great suggestions, giving us the courage to go ahead and turn a deaf ear to the idea that it is somehow really tacky. Thanks!

  6. Thank you for this! It is so important to us to get things that have already been used! This has provided me with a great way to get the message across to the lovely people in my life who would like to shower us with gifts :-)

  7. Also I love the phrase: "already-loved gifts" or "already-loved finds".



Get Our Latest Posts Via Email - It's Free

Enter your email address: