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.