Tue, Jul 15, 2008
The Sunday Times
Only eggs? That's passe
Gone are the days when new parents strictly followed the Chinese tradition
of just giving red-dyed eggs and ang ku kueh (steamed glutinous rice flour
cakes) to celebrate the first month of their newborn.
Never mind the ancient symbolism of eggs representing new life - trendy
young couples are now going for glam with gift packages containing Japanese
and Western-style gourmet items. Butter chess cookies, cupcakes, swiss
rolls, mochi (Japanese rice cakes) and even Belgian chocolate eggs are
yummy treats finding favour as gift favours. The glam factor does not
Packages sent to relatives
and friends come with a customised card printed with the child's photo,
weight at birth and birth date too.And it isn't cheap: While the traditional
set of two home-dyed red eggs and two rice cakes costs just $1.50, new-style
first-month gift packages can cost $3.90 to $15.90 each. They can include
quirky items such as a teddy bear plush toy, Belgian chocolate eggs, a
lollipop and even potpourri in an organza pouch. Retailers operating mainly
online have sprung up to produce, assemble and customise these packages.
Parents order them by simply filling up an online form.
Proud parents Nicholas
Ng, 30, an investment consultant, and wife Serene, 28, a teacher, chose
to hold a party and give out gift packages from one such online firm,
Sweetest Moments, in February to celebrate the arrival of their first
baby, Claris. They spent over $500 on gift packages for more than 50 guests.
Each pretty pink box contained four swiss rolls, two ang ku kueh, two
red eggs and a customised baby card. Mr Ng says: 'We wanted a presentable
gift to thank our guests. We thought the whole concept was quite innovative
and unusual. Best of all, it could be customised with our baby's picture.'
Mr Charlie Chua, 34,
a sales account manager, and wife Connie, 35, a contract administrator,
celebrated the birth of their baby, Claire, with a lunch complete with
90 gift packages worth $6.90 each from Internet-based Partridge Pear.
The packs contained a fruit gummy
jar, a butter chess cookie, a pretzel, mini chocolates and a lollipop
- topped off with a birth announcement card.'We wanted a gift package
to surprise our guests. Seeing their faces made it all worthwhile,'
says Mrs Chua.
She adds that most of
her friends have kept the packaging even though it is more than nine
months since the party.
Retailers say 'extravagance' is the new buzzword when it comes to celebrating
baby's arrival. Mr Wei Chan, business
development director of neighbourhood bakery Pine Garden's Cake, says:
'We are seeing more demand for customisation on elaborate whole cakes
and East-meets-West packages.'
Ms Cynthia Toh, 30, manager of first-month gift retailer Baby Bliss, has
customers ordering up to 200 packages at a time, with each costing between
$8.90 and $15.90. She says: 'Parents find a standard, one-size-fits-all
cake boring. Eggs made from top quality Belgian chocolate and wrapped
in shiny foil are a popular alternative we offer.'
About eight retailers have
sprung up here over the past three to four years to cater to the demand
for first-month frippery. Even well-known bakeries such as The Patissier
and Bakerzin are venturing into the market. But the majority are small
online businesses, which even whip up cupcakes and the like for the parcels
in home kitchens.
Still, some parents prefer
to keep to tradition. Partridge Pear owner Denis Ng says about 30 per
cent of his customers still choose to include red eggs and ang ku kueh.
As the executive director
of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, Madam Lim Boon
Tan, notes: 'Eggs signify new life, and being red-dyed, they represent
the celebratory mood parents are in when they receive a newborn into their
This article was first
published in on July 13, 2008.