I'm not a big fan of baby showers. I spend most of my time at the snack table taking way more than my portion of cucumber sandwiches and wishing I could get drunk. It might stem from a baby shower where one of my aunts confused me for my older sister who at the time was seven months pregnant. That bitch. Anyway, I found myself at a baby shower for my good friend Mary recently. It was actually really fun because it wasn't ridiculously girly and we were encouraged to drink spiked berry tea.
Mary and her husband, Andy, have decided to wait until the birth to find out the baby's gender. They want it to be a surprise, which is great. However, shopping for a baby gift that's gender neutral isn't that easy. Luckily, Mary and Andy aren't gender nazis. They won't refuse to put blue on a baby girl, which I love about them. It still made things a bit tough, but guests seemed to take on the challenge when it came time for presents. One person gave them vintage children's records that she'd framed to hang in the nursery. Other great ideas were classic children's books, lullaby CDs featuring songs by The Beatles and little soft slippers.
The baby shower inspired me to look into cool gifts that can be used for a girl or boy. I found Lullababes, a local company headed by stay-at-home mom Melissa Magee, who makes blankets for kids of all ages. The blankies are made with patterned fabric, cozy fleece and warm shag and trimmed with satin ribbon, making them soft and comfortable. They come in three sizes: Baby Babe (40"x30"), Between Babe (4'x6') and Big Babe (5'x9') and start at $75. A little pricey for a blanket that will inevitably be covered in poop and vomit, but it's a lifer. The kid will probably end up taking it to college.
You can browse the styles in stock or fill out a form for a custom order. Magee will do her best to match it to your exact specifications. While, for the most part, the designs seemed to be very much for boys or girls, there were a few in the online shop that were gender neutral while avoiding the cliche of yellow duckies. I liked the Sassy Stripes and Lots of Dots designs, because they really could be draped over a chair in a boy's or girl's room. They're both simple with a cute pattern. For something a little edgier, Lullababes also has the Fluid Serenity style and Scrolly Skulls. They're a bit more grown-up and work for the parents who don't want to feel like parents. Wait, isn't that all parents? Hi-yo!
For other cool, genderless baby gifts, I recommend Magical Child (967 S. Coast Highway 101) in Encinitas. If you live in, or happen to be in, North County, it's full of crazy-cute baby gifts that will melt your cold, bitter heart. There's everything from toys and books to clothing and accessories for the little ones.
South Park's Mythology Eco-Boutique (2365 30th St.) is another place with insanely adorable baby stuff that departs from the traditional boy/girl styles, prints and colors. Every time I pass the store, I see onesies hanging in the window that make my uterus cry lonely tears. Like this one, and this one, and, oh my God, this one. Are you gushing yet? Because I am.