Congratulations! A female in your life has given birth. Yay! It's time to celebrate. There are so many stunning things out there to buy, that it really isn't hard to find something beautiful for the new baby. But if you want to go beyond the usual gifts of baby clothes, balloons and flowers, and intend to show the special new family that you really care for them. Then why not do something truly valuable (trust me, I've had a baby) that will actually help the new family so much that it can't be quantified?
1. Before baby is born: purchase breastfeeding aids, such shells and shields, to pop in her hospital bag, just in case. Sure, this probably depends on the relationship with the mother. But the reason why these are a godsend will become apparent when and if they are needed.
2. Rustle up a scrummy meal and drop it round. Simply put: new parents are usually too awe-struck to think rationally about anything, let alone cooking a healthy, nutritious meal - so help them out by cooking that signature dish and leaving it on their doorstep.
3. Offer to drop in some essentials. If, like me, your new mama is the type to politely refuse gestures, then just explain that you want to and are going to do something, anyway, so you might as well get it right: "I am going to the shops, so I will get you milk and bread and leave it round, what do you want for dinner?" Cook, the ready-meal shop, sell gift vouchers and offer home delivery. This is a great gift idea. Another could be to order their online shopping for them.
4. Help with household chores. If lucky enough to get through the door, then emptying the dishwasher or giving the kitchen surfaces a quick wipe-down will be incredible. You'll be able to see the chaos right before your eyes, so any attempts to get things in order will be priceless. (I cried tears of joyous relief when my parents tidied up my kitchen. It was the loveliest thing that anyone did.) If this is practically impossible, and you don't know what to buy the new family, then how about hiring a cleaner for a few hours, so the new family can focus on getting to know each other? The gift of time is by far the most precious thing anyone can give.
5. Afternoon tea: bring the cake and make the tea! Even the most welcoming new parents will want to kiss you if, when you come in, you are equipped with yummy treats and are quick to put the kettle on as you order them to sit down.
6. Arrange a day out to help the new mummy get sorted and into the world. This means focusing on the baby while the new mama does some shopping. Just knowing that you're there, tending to the baby while she gets a chance to look around is pure gold. A nice lunch out will give her a change of scene and build her confidence when it comes to being a mummy outside of the house. It shouldn't be too ambitious or expensive - a few hours at the local shops will be long enough.
7. Check for any baby stuff that needs assembling. No doubt they'll be plenty of contraptions and gadgets still in boxes that never got opened. So, if you're good at this sort of stuff, then helping to get things up and running will be a huge help.
8. Arrange a little pamper session. Of course, it depends on skills, budget and the new mama's preference, but either visit with a beauty bag and give a little pedicure, or offer to babysit so she can go and get some much-needed time to herself.
9. Offer to watch baby while parents take a nap together. This one is so simple. Giving them just an hour of snooze-time will be truly priceless. Or how about offering to take any bigger kids out for the afternoon so they can try and nap with the new baby.
10. Do a nightshift. If you've got it in you to give up a full, or even part, night's sleep then you're an amazing human being. Again, this probably depends on the relationship with the family, but if close, then doing this is so generous it's a joke.
This list is by no means suggesting that any different is of no value. It is. The thought is what counts, whatever form the gift comes in. These are just some alternative suggestions that have wonderful value beyond the cost, and are perfect for those looking to do something a little bit different and distinctly memorable.