How to save money and prevent burnout this baby gift season

Bet you're looking forward to a little golf, cocktails outdoors after work and perhaps even a few lost long weekends this summer. What if your plans suddenly get waylaid by the baby boom? It is easy to get flustered when a flurry of new arrival announcements and shower invitations star pouring in. So, checked in with leading baby gift consultant Jill Notkin, who sets us straight on what to buy, what to spend and where to be.

Question: How much should individuals spend on a baby gift?

Since it seems like everyone has babies in clusters, you don't want to break the bank buying baby gifts. There are several factors to consider when deciding on your gift budget. Is the recipient a good friend of yours? Does the recipient sign your pay check? And finally, how much can you afford to spend? It is my opinion that a baby is something to celebrate. If it is your college roommate or BFF blessed with the screaming ball of new baby, consider spending between $75 - $125. Similarly, if it is your boss (or boss' wife or partner) celebrating a new bundle of joy, send a gift that reflects your paycheck. But most importantly, be able to afford whatever it is you spend. No use blowing your lunch money on a jewel-encrusted onesie if you can't afford to. Typically, $50 - $100 is a safe amount.

Question: Any budget friendly ideas for those who are strapped for cash?

Hit your nearest dollar store for a medium sized basket. Then, find your way to Target or Wal-Mart and load up on baby essentials. Bottles, bibs, burp cloths, washcloths, baby wash, etc... Nothing expensive, but do fill the basket and wrap it beautifully with lots of ribbons and bows. A few dollars can stretch a long way and you can be certain the recipient will be grateful for one less trip to the store.

Question: June is definitely baby season. What are some of the trends we are seeing for the summer? What's a good gift if you want to stand out from the rest?

Did you know that most babies are born during late summer months of July and August, and into September? If you're helping to welcome a new baby, my biggest don't is: do not send clothes in size 0-3 months. Everyone sends that teeny tiny size. Do the parents a favor and give them something to look forward to when their baby hits 6 months and is suddenly in need of new threads. Great gifts include a snapsuit and matching blanket by Baby Star. If you want something that will last for years to come, consider a personalized towel. Looking for something that screams luxury? Nothing can top a cashmere sweater by Amber Hagen.

Question: What if a guy's friend had a baby. Is it better to buy something for the new Mom, Dad or the baby?

It's typical to buy a gift for the baby, but nothing is stopping you from sending a little something for Mom or Dad. If you know Mom is nursing, she might appreciate a cozy nursing cover. If you know her taste, don't hesitate to buy her a beautiful diaper bag. Want to surprise Dad with something of his own? A Daddy Messenger Bag might make him feel part of the game too. But always send a little something for baby too, even if it is a small rattle or toy.

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