New Parents Choose Both Online and Traditional Ways to Announce Baby’s Arrival

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Brand new parents have plenty on their plates, so you might think formally announcing baby’s birth in new and creative ways would not be high on their list.  Yet, new parents around the world announce baby’s arrival in an assortment of ways, from sweet treats to swaddling hammocks.

For a generation that doesn’t know a world without the Internet, keeping in near constant contact with friends and family via social media has become a part of daily life. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, to find many new parents in the U.S. are choosing online options to announce the good news. A surprising number, however, are still opting for what they feel are more personal—and traditional—ways of heralding baby’s arrival. Here is a quick glance at a bit of both worlds:

Tradition Meets Creativity

Handmade Creations

Many expectant moms are turning to creative projects to occupy their time, especially during that last trimester. What better project than handmade birth announcements? Using scrapbook or card-making materials, these moms are designing announcements around meaningful or fun themes. Once baby has arrived, parents need only add stats, pop in a photo of their precious newborn and the announcements are ready to drop in the mail.

Yard Announcements

From banners to stork lawn ornaments, parents are still opting for these very traditional ways to tell neighbors and passersby the happy news, particularly in small towns. Outdoor announcements, whether in the form of rented wooden yard signs or custom-printed banners, remain a very public way of letting the world know that baby has arrived.

Open House

Usually hosted by a close family member to take the burden away from busy new parents, open houses or post-birth baby showers are a great way to announce baby’s arrival to closest family and friends in a personal way. Sometimes referred to as meet-and-greets, these celebratory get-togethers offer visitors a firsthand look at the new arrival and the opportunity to congratulate the happy parents in person.

No Smoking

Cigars were the traditional way for new dads to share the happy news with pals. But with social and health concerns over smoking, parents are seeking retailers who offer alternatives in the form of bubble gum cigars in baby blue or pretty pink to allow parents to mix fun with tradition.

Online/Cloud Based Announcements

Digital Slideshows

Whether new parents opt for a professional photographer or snap those early pics on their own, posting a digital slideshow online provides parents with a handy link to email to friends and family. Many professional photographers offer clients an online page posted with their baby slideshow. Parents opting to handle their own photography are posting their slideshows on social media or personal websites.

Social Media Announcements

It is no surprise that parents are choosing to announce baby’s arrival via social media sites, like Facebook. Reasoning that all friends and family are followers anyway, new parents are also realizing that utilizing social media in place of more traditional paper announcements saves printing and postage costs.

Video Announcements

Whether opting for YouTube or another video platform, new parents are posting everything from the simplest announcements to creations that rival Hollywood productions. Some new parents are also choosing to announce baby’s arrival via live video on Skype, a popular solution for announcing baby to out-of-state relatives.

Online Announcements

Parents strapped for time are turning to online printers or photo sites to make creating their announcement a simple task. With dozens of designs to choose from, parents need only pop in the photo of their baby, add the pertinent details and click to order. Some sites even allow parents to mail their finished announcement directly from the site.

Whether online or traditional, this is just a small sample of baby announcement methods. Have one you would like to share?  Just add it as a comment.

7 Unique Baby Shower Themes for the Fall Season

Fall Leaves

I wait all year to see those first golden leaves and feel the new sharpness in the air on fall mornings, so when I was asked to throw a fall baby shower, I was thrilled. In my preparations for the upcoming event, I did some research and found some amazing baby shower themes that are perfect for fall.

Some of these themes require a little more work than others, but you can customize any of them to create the perfect shower for the lucky mom-to-be.

Fall in Love
This theme highlights falling leaves and plays on the word “fall.” If you already know the baby’s name you can print invitations that say, “Fall in Love with Baby Charles.” Create banner decorations by cutting heart-shaped leaves out of tissue paper and stringing them on twine. This is a very sweet theme that is best executed in muted shades of orange, green, and blue, though you should definitely add some pink of the new arrival is a girl!

Harvest Shower
Take advantage of delectable fall foods with a harvest theme. Serve pecan bites, cranberry scones, and pumpkin muffins, and give your shower attendees a half-pint of homemade jam to take home with them. Round up some orange and white platters and bowls to give your serving table a decidedly fall-ish look, and weave some orange and yellow flowers and vines around the buffet table. Bring baskets or Radio Flyer wagons for hauling the baby gifts to the lucky mom-to-be’s car after the shower is over.

Pumpkins
This is one of my favorite fall baby shower themes. It’s so easy to find pumpkin decor in the fall, but there’s also that sweet baby connotation with the word “pumpkin,” as in, “How’s my sweet pumpkin?” Create a pumpkin monogram for the shower by carving an initial in each of three small jack o’ lantern pumpkins. Put a candle or small lantern inside each pumpkin, even if you’re not holding the shower in the evening. Hang a clothesline, and pin the baby’s new clothes to it as the presents are opened. Decorate the cake with a picture of a little pumpkin nestled next to a bigger one.

Apples and Cinnamon
This combination of flavors is one of the best things about fall. Find a way to incorporate apple cider, apple pie, and candy apples into your baby shower, and keep a scented candle or two burning during your festivities. Use red and green colors for your decor, and send out apple-themed invitations: “Baby Hazel is the Apple of Mom’s Eye.”

Owls
If you’ve been anywhere near Pinterest, you’ve noticed that owls are huge right now. Owls are showing up on baby bedding, baby clothes, and more. Owls are great for fall, and you can use a brown-and-pink color theme for a girl or a brown-and-blue theme for a boy. You can probably find ready-made owl invitations, or you can create your own. Owl cupcakes would be a terrific final touch for this theme.

Nests
For a restful, nature-inspired baby shower, create a simple, earth-toned atmosphere. Create rustic centerpieces by filling oversize glass vases or Mason jars with smooth stones, bits of moss, and chunks of bark. Create pedestals out of wood slices, and make nest-themed place cards using mini peat cups, moss, white jelly bans, and tan card stock for the name tags. For the food, serve salads nested into Parmesan cheese cups.

Woodland Forest
This is one of my favorites of all the baby shower themes I found in my research. Gather decorative accents of bark, green moss, and deep woodland greenery for the party, and then search for bright splashes of color to accent all that greenery. Make red-and-white mushrooms, plump acorns, and little yellow birds out of felt, and disperse pine cones and pieces of interesting wood throughout your decor. Make cupcakes that look like mushrooms for your refreshments.

Any of these baby shower themes would be wonderful for a fall shower. Enjoy your time with your friends, and welcome that baby! Do you have any other baby shower themes you’d like to share?

Baby Showers in the USA

Baby Showers in the US
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From ancient times throughout history to modern-day society, a baby shower has served as both celebration of new life and rite of passage for new mothers and mothers-to-be.

While baby showers of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece may hold little resemblance to today’s gift-giving gatherings, these events of early history nonetheless served a similar purpose: to welcome new life into the world. For the most part, though, ritual was the central focus in those days, and not gift-giving. In many parts of the world today, this remains the case.

But baby showers in the U.S. have long been centered on showering the expectant mother with, from group purchases of extravagant strollers and the latest nursery furniture to everyday diaper supplies.  At Lil’ Baby Cakes, we continue to see interest in one of the most popular decoration-gift combinations at baby showers today– the baby diaper cake.  For readers not familiar with baby diaper cakes, we take diapers and other common baby care items and arrange them to look like the layers of a tiered cake.

Modern day baby showers in the U.S. really came into their own after World War II, coinciding with the start of the Baby Boomer era. Baby showers continued to evolve through the years, each passing decade leaving its personal mark of consumer ideology.

Today’s baby shower ritualof showering the mother-to-be with gifts is seen as a way to lighten the financial burden of caring for an infant, as well as an expression of well wishes.

You may be surprised to learn, however, just how large of an impact baby showers have on today’s economy. With 4 million babies born in the U.S. each year, and the average amount spent on each baby shower itself ranging from $200 to $1,000, the potential contribution to the American economy is sizable.

The U.S. ranks third worldwide for amount spent on baby showers per capita, behind heavily populated China and India. Indonesia and Brazil round out the top five. The average amount spent on a baby shower gift in the U.S. is $30, more than the $20 average spent for birthday gifts, but less than the $50 average spent on wedding gifts.

While some contemporary baby showers are built around a theme of pampering the new mother, baby shower gifts have traditionally been focused on the baby and its care. The top five most popular baby shower gifts in the U.S. are: 1) booties; 2) picture frames; 3) Sophie the Giraffe (teething toy); 4) sleep sacks; and 5) onesies.

Mothers-to-be may be honored with multiple baby showers in today’s society, such as a baby shower thrown by co-workers and another thrown by family and non-work friends. Since gift giving is the central focus of baby showers, etiquette holds that someone other than a family member holds the celebration. However, it is becoming less uncommon for a close family member, such as the soon-to-be grandmother, to host the event.

While the majority of baby showers held today are ladies-only events, baby showers taking the form of cocktail parties honoring both parents-to-be are becoming more popular.

From the post-birth rituals of early history to today’s baby showers bursting with modern consumerism, cultures throughout the ages have used baby showers as rites of passage for new mothers and their babies.

Graphic Sources: creativehomemaking.com, randomhistory.com, allabilitieschildcare.org, children.costhelper.com, marketfix.wordpress.com, parenting.com, wfla.com, diaperdabbler.com

5 Baby Shower Themes for Summer 2013

baby shower food

As we enter the fast approaching summer months I thought it would be helpful for all the new mommies out there if I put together a short roundup of the 5 best baby shower themes for summer 2013. Read on to discover cute new themes you can hold at your baby shower this summer that will have all your guests grinning ear to ear in excitement.  Here we go, from #5 to #1.

5. My Camping Adventure

There is no better time of the year to break out the marshmallows and graham crackers! Picture this: picnic tables, fresh fruit, and neat little DIY snacks. I’ve been to two different camping themed baby showers and they’re always a blast. For best effect, consider having your baby shower as an evening gathering, rather than the traditional brunch timing. This unique adjustment makes the atmosphere feel like you’re actually out with the girls camping; it’s a lot of fun!

Choosing a camping theme is great if you have a decent sized yard with a few small picnic tables and yard furniture. The dress code is very easy for your guest to adhere to, as most people have some form of flannel in their closet.

4. Fresh Fruit Tropical Paradise

Baby showers are usually a good excuse to snack down on cookies and cupcakes, a publicly acceptable reason for you to stray away from your diet. There are alternatives, though, such as the fresh fruit tropical paradise theme. Even if you are a not-so-proud owner of multiple sugar teeth (hello!), you’ll LOVE experiencing handfuls of succulent tropical fruit without having to feel guilty about indulging afterwards.

Must-haves at any fresh fruit baby shower include fruit on a stick (just as it sounds), and fruity ice cubes. Both are extremely simple to make. As a sweet desert that allows you to get your chocolate fix, consider chocolate strawberry fondue. Mmm.

3. An International Affair

Surprise your guests with invitations modeled after plane tickets as a part of your international affair baby shower. There aren’t many rules necessary to pull off this one, just make sure none of your friends and family have any allergies to any dishes you plan on serving.

Buy some plain colored bristol board to create your own hand drawn flags identifying various stations around your house complete with their own unique finger food and travel guide to fully immerse yourself into the world traveler experience!

2. Back in the Old Days…

Jump back to your favorite period in time, taking your visitors through a time machine into the best dress up party you’ve ever hosted! My personal favorite variation of the time travel theme is the tight and bright 70s! Dress up in neon tights, big shiny clothes, or whatever else you might still have in your closet. Visit your local thrift shop for cheap costumes galore.

1.  Pamper Mommy!

I recently had the pleasure of attending a girlfriend’s baby shower where the theme did a 180 degree turn from the traditional idea what a baby shower is. Instead of buying gifts for the baby, we bought them all for the mommy!

Bury your mommy in gifts she can use to pamper herself. Salon gift cards, nail polish, bath accessories, get her all of your favorites.

I hope these 5 simple baby shower ideas for summer 2013 have sparked some ideas for you! Have you recently hosted a fun idea I didn’t list here? Drop me a comment below and let me know how it went, I’d love to hear about it.  Happy planning!

Buying a Baby Gift for a Coworker

At some point during your career, you may be expected to buy a baby gift for a coworker. However, if you’ve never purchased a baby gift for a coworker before, you may be unsure how to proceed. How much should you spend? What kind of gifts are you expected to buy?

Today, I’m going to offer some tips about buying a baby gift for a coworker.

When should I buy a baby gift for a coworker?

Many people are unsure if they should purchase a baby gift for their coworker at all. While there is no set rule on when to buy a gift for a coworker, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. In other words, if you’re debating whether or not to buy a baby gift, you should buy a baby gift.  After all, this is a person you work with, and they are sure to appreciate you reaching out to remember the birth of her baby.

It’s also a good idea to find out what your other coworkers are doing. If everybody else is purchasing a gift, then you should probably purchase one as well or coordinate buying a group gift. You don’t want to be put in an awkward situation of buying a gift that is the same as other coworkers.

How much should I spend?

This is where your decision becomes more subjective. The amount you spend is entirely dependent on your relationship with your coworker. If you work in the same office, but you don’t have a close relationship with your coworker, then you shouldn’t spend more than $10 or $20. At that price range, your baby gift will be a simple yet thoughtful gesture on your part.

If you work side-by-side with your coworker every day and would consider that person a close friend, then you might want to take your baby gift to the next level. You’ll want to put a little more thought into your baby gift. At this point, the amount you spend isn’t so important. Instead, it’s all about how much thought you put into it.

Ultimately, your coworker will appreciate your baby gift regardless of how much you spend on it. If you’re able to give the baby a thoughtful and unique present with some emotional connection behind it, that will mean more to your coworker than even the most expensive gift.

What kind of gifts should I give?

Fortunately, this question is the easiest one to answer. There are so many different baby gifts to buy that you really can’t go wrong here. Obviously, you should figure out whether you’re buying a gift for a boy or a girl. If your coworker is having a baby shower before the birth of the baby, and if the sex of the baby isn’t known, then you’ll have to choose a unisex gift.

In many cases, your coworker will have a baby registry that you can look at in order to get gift ideas. If your coworker has set up a baby registry, then your job is easy. However, if all of the gifts on the baby registry are more than you would like to spend, then don’t be afraid to purchase your own gift.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

-Piggy banks

-Wall clocks

-Baby Clothes

-Diaper disposal systems or diaper caddies (or a baby diaper cake..wink)

-Savings bonds

-Gift baskets/gift cards

-Baby toys

-Company stock in the baby’s name

Conclusion

Ultimately, your gift will mean more if it has some practical use to the baby or the parents. Stay away from flowers and other frivolous gifts. Instead, find a gift with a genuine emotional connection and your coworker will be more than happy.