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Home > Media > The Sunday Times

Benita Aw Yeong
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 stop there.

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 lives.'

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on July 13, 2008.



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