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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Baby Showers DIY inspirations & The Simplest and Yummiest Cookie Balls Ever!!

How cute are babies? Everything about Babies is gorgeous! A baby shower is one extra large cute event! Where I come from, we also have a get together after birth to celebrate the coming of a baby. We call it a "Mubarakeh". Usually close friends and family are invited over to see the mother and baby and give their blessings. It is like a baby shower, but takes place after the birth of the baby. Traditionally, Mughli or Karawya (A pudding made out of ground Caraway seeds, believed to be very healthy for nursing mums) are served to guests, along with Arabic coffee, and chocolates. Nowadays, hosts would have a Buffet full of other mini bites to offer their guests. Some people would hold a "Mooled" where they recite together some rhymes about motherhood, babies, and recite traditional poetry verses and prayers. I have never seen a Mooled before, but my sister had just had a baby and in her Mubarakeh my aunts carried out a mooled for her, which I found fascinating! In the modern time, people stopped doing these traditional ceremonies, but I found it to be really nice. Kind of like a peek into the old traditions. It created an ambiance and was really entertaining. Seeing these women of all ages, some mothers, some grandmothers, some yet to become mothers, all come together reciting beautiful verses in celebration of birth and motherhood, was to me very warm and inspiring. It was an act of support, understanding and hope for a wonderful life! This is one tradition that has to be brought back to life!

Whether you are holding a baby shower or a Mubarakeh food is a big part of your event. Whichever way you decide to go, traditional minimalist or elaborate Buffets and dinners, you will want to decorate to a baby theme! In this post, I am sharing with you some ideas that will hopefully inspire and help you carry out your baby celebrations.

Who doesn't like Balloons?! You can find all kinds of Balloon arrangements, themed to baby showers. These are moderately priced and can be placed all around to stress the Baby theme. It is also a good idea to place a well grounded (so they don't fly away) balloon arrangement outdoors by the entrance to signal the location for guests who are visiting for the first time. This would put the guests in baby mood straight away!

One very easy and inexpensive way to decorate to a baby theme is by using Baby Clothes as part of your decorations. You can mount strings from one wall to another, and hang baby clothes like you would when drying laundry. Every mother has baby clothes, so this is an accessible way to decorate. Baby clothes are so cute and can be very colourful, if you do not wish to stick to the traditional blue or pink theme!

You can even place booties, bibs and onesies on the tables as centre pieces. You can use bibs instead of napkins if you wish to go that far!

You can place party giveaways in baby socks. You can even have the babies name embroidered on these socks.

If you wish to be more elaborate, then you can design or purchase a giveaway, that is specific to your event rather than generic. One very good option is a frame with a picture of the baby and mother, a picture of the baby with guest, or an empty frame, they can fill with a picture of their desire.

Here is how you can make your own, baby themed frame giveaways:
1. If you really want to go from scratch, then go to stores like ACE, or Home Depot (any hardware or home decorating store) and buy wooden strips in the thickness you desire. For a rustic look skip the diagonal cut on the corners, instead keep them straight and stick using a glue gun. For each frame, cut these strips into 2 different sizes (one size for the sides, a smaller size for the bottom and top parts: as shown in picture above). If you are feeling a bit extra mathematical, then go for the diagonal corners.
Colour the fame with the colour of your choice. For a rustic look, colour with white and then use sand paper and scrub gently to give an old and tired impression.

2. Once painted and dried, Cut a square a little bigger than the opening where the picture should go. Cover this cardboard square, by sticking some fancy wrapping Paper Mache to cover it. Glue The covered cardboard with a glue gun, from 3 sides, keeping the top part open (where picture can be inserted).
If you prefer, You can skip all this by purchasing ready frames, repainting them to the colour you desire.

3. Buy some baby themed decoration pieces, such as booties, bottles, pacifiers...etc (you can find these at any arts and crafts shop, buttons and fabrics shops, or even online). Use these to decorate your frames, as shown in picture. Simply glue on the frame.

4. Make a bow tie out of ribbon and glue on 1 corner of the frame. You can drop the baby's name or some candies tied with ribbons from the glued bow tie as shown in picture.

Place all giveaways in a nice themed tray, and place that tray close to the door, in order to remember handing them out to guests as they leave.

Another Fabulous giveaway is a themed small box, could be a generic box, a jewelry box or even a box filled with chocolates. If you are seasoned with wood-works, then go ahead and make your own box. If like many, you find it challenging, then purchase the boxes you like (can shop online if you don't have access to ready made boxes). Again, you can recolour the boxes if you do not find the colour you like. If your box has an opening like the one in the pic, then place a photo or decorate with baby themed pieces as shown above. Wrap a ribbon around the bottom part of the box. You can fill the box with chocolates, candies, or anything you desire. The box in the picture, was used to hold some chocolate lollies. When opened it had a Styrofoam base, on which the lollie sticks were mounted.

You can go for a cardboard box instead of a wooden one. Use baby themed ribbons and decoration pieces to customise the box. In the picture above, it is a simple blue cardboard box with polka dots on the bottom bit. The white baby themed ribbon, the blue and white ribbon used for the bow tie and the baby bottle are all extras that have been stuck on it for theme. Just a little bit of imagination and you can create any piece you like. Fill this box with any giveaway, including chocolates, candies, pictures, letters from baby and mother to guests, thank you notes, words of wisdom...

Every baby has to have a scrapbook! A record book of his/her early years, where you can stick keepsakes, congratulations cards, baby pictures, mum and dad's thoughts for the baby, and anything else you can think of. It is a very nice thing to have when the baby is older. You can of course get a professional scrapbooking service to create an out of this world book, or you can do it yourself. There is more sentiment and thought in books you make for your baby, and nowadays, there are all sorts of papers, ribbons, decorative pieces that you can use to make these. here is one simple way to make a real nice baby book yourself:
1. Choose the paper for the inside pages.
2. Stick some decorative pieces on some of the inside pages.

3. Pick 2 hard cardboard squares to use for cover. If you could not find a good design, then use regular cardboard squares and cover them by sticking wrapping paper, or any decorated paper of your choice all over them. You can even go elaborate by sticking decorative paper on the front bit, then another, say striped paper, on the inside bit.
4. Using a paper puncher  make holes along the sides of the inside paper and the outside cardboard covers. (make sure you make the holes in the same place in order to hold everything in place together, the best way is to use a ruler to measure the space between the holes).

5. Using a paper binding pin, a wool thread, or a ribbon, bind the papers and covers together to hold everything in place (as a book).
6. For decoration, stick some ribbons along the side seam.
7. Using Foam, plastic or paper letters, stick the name of the baby on the cover of the book. You can even stick the year the baby is borne, star sign, birth date...etc

8. stick the same decorative pieces on the cover to add to the theme. Decorative pieces can be elaborate or cardboard themed pieces.

You can have guests sign the back pages of the baby record book if you like. These scrapbooks don't have to be made only for baby showers. You can make a scrapbook as a gift for a birthday, a wedding, an anniversary, a graduation...etc. When it comes to gifts: "It is the thought that counts", look how much thought has gone into this! These gifts are way more meaningful than a thoughtless purchase from a shop.

Then there is the chocolates. How cute are baby shower chocolates? You can buy themed chocolates at specialty shops, or you can make them yourself. If you know how to make the actual chocolates, then perfect! If not, then you either join my chocolates course and learn how its made :) or you can buy the desired chocolate and wrap them yourself in baby themed wrappers. This could be easier than you think. here is how:
1. Buy different textured ribbons, baby themed decorative pieces, thin gift wrapping papers in different colours.
2. Unwrap chocolate pieces (make sure your hands are clean before handling the chocolate. it is best to wear gloves). Cut your chosen wrapping paper big enough to fully cover the chocolates. Line each wrap with wax or baking paper - in the same size. the wax paper is food safe and prevents contact of food items with other types of paper. wrap the paper around chocolate piece as you would a gift. Use double sided scotch tape to hold the seams in place.
3. top the chocolate with a wide ribbon of your choice, then top that with a narrow ribbon and stick at the bottom. Glue decorative piece on top of all to finish (like in photo above). Or tie the ribbon in the way you like, you don't have to stick to this shape.
These steps can be carried out in any shape or size. here are some samples:

The decorative piece is the star of the show in this batch
Your decorative piece can suggest style. Use mini hangers as chocolate hangers. Shape the wrapping paper to a formal Jacket...etc You can also mount your chocolates on lollie sticks!

Make baby cribs using ribbons. Stick a sleeping baby piece on top of the wrapped chocolate.
One of the easiest ways to wrap chocolates is in the shape of a BonBon. Place chocolate in the middle, tie ribbons along the sides and top each ribbon with a decorative piece
The same tips and techniques work for any occasion, you just have to choose colours, ribbons, and decorative pieces to go with the theme and occasion of your celebration.
When you are done theming and wrapping your chocolates, it is time for display. You can place your chocolates in a simple basket, or even an elaborately decorated basket. You can go for simple plates, tiered platters or even trays. Since we are making everything from scratch, here is how you can create an excellent display tray for your masterpieces :)

1. Buy a wooden tray, large enough to fit your chocolates, giveaways...etc
2. Have a carpenter create a stand for it. A wooden double cross with a base, that opens up to hold the tray on top.
3. Decorate the tray holder with ribbons and teddy bears as shown in picture.
4. Line the bottom and inside sides of the tray with fabric, paper mache, wrapping paper...etc

5. Glue ribbons around the outside sides of the tray as in picture.
6. Make bow ties and stick them on top of the ribbons. You can go for polka dots instead, or paw prints, baby bottles, paper bibs...etc
7. Stick teddy bears or any soft toy to match your over all theme on the corners of the tray.
8. Use pieces of the giveaways like the frames, the boxes to decorate and hold your chocolates in place.
9. Use a thin tree branch or twigs to hang chocolates and candies on the tray. Simply stick the bottom of the branch to the tray using a glue gun. Hold in place till dry. Stick beads, or decorative pieces on the twigs. Hang chocolates on the twigs. If you are not using mini hangers you can hang the chocolates using ribbons, or laundry wooden pins...

Finally, Use baby pictures, chocolate pictures, cupcake pictures...etc to make a thank you card. Just gather up the images in one picture, and print on card paper. Use the backs to write a thank you note for guests who celebrated the birth of the baby. This Thank you note is much nicer than a generic Hallmark bunch of cards, and will forever be kept as a keepsake.

Now for the Recipe :)
These cookie balls, are very easy to make, yet very delicious. You can roll them in cocoa powder after shaping as you would a chocolate truffle, then wrap them. Or you can dip them in melted chocolate of your choice for a firmer, more chocolatey flavour. Please do not confuse cookie or cake balls with chocolate truffles as they are not the same. Chocolate Truffles are made out of chocolate Ganache, fillings and toppings, they are never made out of crushed cookies or cakes. The latter are known as balls!

For the Yummiest Ever Cookie balls
You Need
1 large packet Digestive cookies (or any cookies you desire)
125g butter, melted
360g chocolate of your choice melted
Melted chocolate for dipping
Cocoa Powder for rolling

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler:
TIP A double boiler common mistake: Please note that in a double boiler, the bottoms of the top pan should never be touching the simmering water. Therefore fill with a small amount of water and bring to a simmer before placing the top part (that holds the chocolate). The steam of the simmering water is what melts the chocolate, not the water itself. Also the simmering water should never get in contact with the chocolate. Therefore make sure to use a smaller pot at the bottom, and a larger one on top.

Crush the cookies into a powder. Add the melted butter and melted chocolate, stir to coat all. Mixture should be brown or white if using white chocolate. Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up and become easier to handle.

Using a measuring tsp, or a melon baller, scoop out a leveled ball of the mixture and roll between your palms in the shape of a ball. Place on a lined tray with baking paper. Repeat till all balls are shaped. Place in fridge till ready to dip or roll in cocoa powder.

If dipping balls:
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until just melted. Do not leave on double boiler after its melted or you will scorch the chocolate and cause it to split and become gritty. Dip the balls in the melted chocolate. Lift them out with a chocolate fork, or a regular dinner fork (could be easier). Let excess chocolate drip off, then place on a lined tray. Leave to set at room temperature overnight. Once dry, wrap as in above instructions.

If rolling in cocoa powder or crushed nuts:
Place coco powder in a tray, roll the prepared balls in the powder and repeat till all quantity is finished. Wrap as instructed above.

All Pictures and ideas, are inspired by Baby Yousef's Mubarakeh, and what my sister Dana had created for this occasion and her baby.
Motherhood is Fabulous :)

Hope you enjoyed and found inspiration in this post. I would love to hear from you so leave me a comment before you go, share the love :) 

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