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Jodi Campbell, a mother of two who doubles as an event planner, advises gift givers to do some planning.The Canadian Press

When Jodi Campbell’s loved ones break the news that they’re expecting a child, she usually knows what’s coming next: a baby shower invitation.

The Vancouver mother of two, who doubles as an event planner, has hosted showers for the births of each of her children and lent a hand with at least 10 others for family members or close friends.

That means Campbell has spent her fair share of time wandering store aisles with a baby shower registry in hand, and knows about how to handle the tricky task of figuring out what to spend on a gift.

Before plunking down any cash on a shower present, Campbell advises gift givers to do some planning.

“Set a budget with an approximate amount that you’d like to spend, peruse the registry, if available, to see if you see something you’d be interested in purchasing, and then purchase items that fit within your budget,” she says in an e-mail.

Campbell says most people spend between $30 and $50 on baby shower gifts. She’ll chip in extra – usually spending about $75 or $100 – when the present is for a family member or close friend. First-time mothers will also prompt her to spend a bit more too.

“They tend to need more for their baby. My purchases for first time parents are more practical and my gifts for those who are on their second or third (or beyond) baby are typically more frivolous,” she says. “When a family already has a baby, they usually have the basics, so I buy something a little more fun like a cute pair of shoes or a toque.”

If someone is throwing an extravagant shower that doesn’t necessarily mean you should spend more on the gift.

“Don’t spend beyond what you’re comfortable with just to keep up,” Campbell advises.

If you are strapped for cash, Campbell instead recommends purchasing a book and a onesie because both items are fairly inexpensive and easy to find on sale.

Shower guests can also pool money and collectively purchase a bigger ticket item – a stroller, crib or bassinet – from the registry, Campbell suggests.

“I do have a tendency to buy a little bit here or there and not realize how much it adds up to until the end,” she says. “It’s usually at this point that I ask family members or friends if they’d like to contribute some money toward it to make it more of a group gift if I’m realizing that it’s a lot higher than I budgeted.”

And don’t be afraid to stray from the list, she says.

“Money is always appreciated as it can go toward practical items like diapers, larger purchases like a stroller, or even towards a child’s future education,” she says. “I find that books, fun outfits, and gift cards are great gifts for someone without a registry.”

Campbell often settles on a theme for her gifts. It gives them a sense of cohesiveness and can help narrow down the pages of options you have when mulling over options on a registry.

Once, for example, Campbell gifted someone a bib, baby-sized cutlery, small bowls and a cup. Another time she settled on nursing pads, a lactation cookie mix, and a manual breast pump.

When in doubt, she suggests turning to the recipient.

“Don’t be afraid to ask the parents if there are specific items that are at the top of their wish list,” she says. “Purchasing a gift for a baby shower can be daunting, so having some direction about what to buy directly from the parents can be very helpful.”

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