Baby showers are wonderful opportunities for moms-to-be to gather with friends and family and soak in the love and excitement for their new bundle of joy. And, of course, there’s usually a bounty of gifts that go along with the occasion.

When you’re trying to keep an organized house and create a clutter-free nursery, what’s the best way to approach your baby shower? We spoke with experts to find out how to handle the new-baby largesse and keep stress to a minimum.

Before the Shower

You’re a pregnant lady in a store with a bunch of bright, shiny baby stuff—and you’re armed and dangerous with your store-registry scanner! So what do you really need? And what’s safe to leave off the list?

“It is so tempting to think that you need every little thing for your baby,” said Cena Block, a “mompreneur” coach from Milford, PA. “The truth is, you just don’t really need all that much. Talk to your grandma—she’ll tell you that they all raised their kids very well without ‘all that.’”

Instead of being lulled into getting all the latest and greatest gadgets, think about the items that you’ll get the most mileage from:

  • Books.
  • Digital thermometer.
  • Nasal aspirator.
  • Infant pain reliever.
  • Humidifier.
  • Onesies in every size for the first two years. “Remember to register for items in different ages and stages for your baby,” Block said.
  • T-shirts.
  • One-piece sleepers or gowns.
  • Socks.
  • Receiving blankets.
  • Burp cloths.
  • Carrier.
  • Car seat.
  • Breast pump, bottles and formula. Keep in mind that your insurance company might cover the cost of your pump.
  • Breast pads and nipple cream.
  • Nursing pillow.
  • Baby-food processor.
  • Teether.
  • Baby’s first eating set.
  • Baby monitor.
  • White noise machine.

Here are some items you can wait for:

  • Snowsuits and coats. “You won’t know your baby’s size until she appears,” said professional organizer Regina Leeds, author of nine books, including “One Year to an Organized Life” and “Rightsize … Right Now!”
  • Shoes (same idea).
  • Stroller. Give yourself time to research what you like most.
  • Toys.

Designing Your Nursery

Just after the halfway point of your pregnancy, start collecting ideas for your nursery.

“You don’t want to wait for the shower to get organized,” Leeds said. “Planning early gives you ample time to use the products that off gas long before baby arrives.”

Visit Pinterest for inspiration, but don’t go overboard. “You don’t need a tricked-out nursery from the start,” Leeds said. “Newborns have simple needs. They need to be warm, fed and dry.”

Assessing the Space

Once you have the basics of your nursery complete—walls, flooring and so forth—walk through your nursery and assess your storage and furniture needs.

Start with the difficult problems, such as compensating for a lack of closet space, and then solve the easy ones, said Lauren A. Williams, a professional organizer in Woodinville, WA.

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Make sure you have your basic baby items, such as diapers, wipes and a trash container, within easy reach.

mom and baby in nursery

“It’s really essential for new parents to set up your nursery with everything you need within arm’s reach of wherever you’re performing mommy tasks,” Block said. “Organizing your nursery should be more about function than form.”

You also can think in terms of zones when you’re setting up your nursery, such as a changing area, clothing storage and a nursing/rocking/reading/snuggling area, Block said.

After the Baby Shower

Incorporate items you receive from your shower into the baby’s space immediately. “That will give you a much better idea of what storage you will need, if any, for the items,” Williams said.

Then institute an organizational setup that works for you. For instance, you might group similar items together, such as clothing, personal care items, bedding and toys. Or consider grouping by use, such as “overnight clothing with overnight diapers, winter clothing with winter bedding, bath wraps with the baby shampoo,” Williams said.

“It has to be a system that works for you,” she added. “There’s no such thing as a wrong system if it lets you get what you need when you need it”—especially when you’re bleary-eyed from lack of sleep.

baby shower

Keep in mind that your baby will grow quickly, so your setup needs to be flexible enough to change along with your little one.

“It won’t be long before your baby is on the go and you’ll get more comfortable changing her in different locations,” Block said. “In that case, be sure you have everything you need to change baby in an easy-to-grab location that is close to where your family hangs out.”

Duplicate Gifts

If you receive duplicate shower gifts or items that you don’t need, try to return the extras, either in exchange for cash or for something else you need.

“You are not dishonoring the gift giver by trying to keep your home free of clutter or by trying to obtain something else of value as you start a new life with a baby,” Williams said. “The gift giver gave you something to help you and would want you to be able to truly make use of the item.”

Donate anything you can’t return, pass the unneeded gifts along to someone you know or sell the surplus items. “You will be honoring the gift giver again, giving the item a new purpose,” Williams said.