Trumbull County expectant moms are tossing out tradition when it comes to celebrating welcoming their bundles of joy into the world. Gone are the days of pastels and obvious baby themes as baby showers take on a more contemporary approach.
"I think the tendency is to definitely be different and to be exciting and to possibly be theme-oriented," said Pat Butto, owner of The Party People, a party planning company with offices in both Canfield and Niles.
One of the most obvious new trends in baby shower planning is the switch from pastel colors and obvious baby themes to more colorful, nursery decor-inspired themes.
The Cake Boutique on North River Road in Warren creates elaborate cakes for local baby showers. Some of the latest trends are animal or nursery-driven themes with bright colors or gender-reveal cakes that use colored icing to let guests know the sex of the expected baby.
"Things aren't so much pastel anymore. There are a lot more vibrant colors being used, so that's kind of a big shift," said Jeffery Lyda, co-owner of Party On!, Everything Buckeyes and Halloween Mania, with locations in Niles and Austintown. "The pastels aren't as strong as some of the more vibrant colors."
Another trend Lyda has seen in his store is that more moms-to-be are opting for animal-themed parties.
"The animal themes (are more popular) and not the traditional Noah's Ark that's kind of involved," he said. "Monkeys have become a very large category. It is one segment of the patterns that we have and there's decor that goes with that."
New shower trends
Brighter, vibrant colors as opposed to pastels
Theme-oriented parties, such as those inspired by nursery decor or animals
Gender-reveal parties - where the icing inside of the cake is colored pink or blue according to the gender of the baby to surprise the guests when the cake is cut
Mixed-couples baby showers
Intimate dinners and parties after the baby is born
More games and game categories to choose from
Interesting, quirky shower favors
The animal and bright-color trend has spilled over into baby shower cakes, which have now become more elaborate and the centerpieces of today's parties.
"It just all depends on how important the cake is around their decor. Some people really get into it," said Stella Kotsatos-Angelo, co-owner of Cake Boutique in Warren.
"They're not doing the traditional stuff at all. They're not doing the baby booties or carriages or things like that," she said.
Kotsatos-Angelo said a lot of local parents-to-be are using designs from the baby's nursery to decorate their baby shower cakes.
"They'll bring us a picture of what they're doing in their baby's nursery and ask us to do a cake off of it. You pretty much can't tell which ones are baby shower cakes," she said.
"They may be baby animals, like a baby giraffe. For the most part, they don't really say baby on them at all. I've done all animal-print like 'Madagascar,' baby animals, polka dots and stripes."
"Many of the new mothers are into the theme like the nursery and the colors. So many expectant parents know the sex and you plan differently because of it," she said.
Kotsatos-Angelo, whose bakery on North River Road has been in business for two years, said one newly popular trend she's experienced are gender reveal parties - where the icing inside of the cake is colored pink or blue depending on the sex of the baby. The baby's sex is revealed to party guests once the cake is cut.
"We've actually done three of (the gender reveal cakes)," she said. "We've done a set of twins and we did it for two other parties where people were coming from out of state and they wanted to do a gender reveal with their family in town."
Kotsatos-Angelo said that all three of the gender-reveal cakes she's made were not for baby showers.
"They're actually having gender-reveal parties for this," she said. "It's a separate party. They usually tag it onto a dinner."
Butto, who's been in the party planning business for 36 years, said gender reveals are becoming more popular and are only one way modern moms-to-be are shaking up traditional baby showers.
"It doesn't have to be the classic 2 to 4 on a Sunday afternoon," she said. "(Expectant parents like) to mix it up a little bit and have something different - like brunch in the park or a mixed-couples baby shower - where there are things for Daddy as well as for Mommy.
"Sometimes when people are planning a baby shower they leave out the daddy, and I think that that's unfortunate. Both parents are expecting, not just the mom."
Intimate dinners and parties after the baby is born are other types of functions local moms-to-be are utilizing instead of the traditional baby shower.
"Those are some wonderful ways to entertain expectant parents," Butto said.
Although Butto said she is not a fan of baby shower games, Lyda said he has even seen some changes in trends when it comes to entertaining party guests.
"Having activities for families and friends is an important part of the whole event," he said. "Five years ago, we had maybe Bingo and the name game or something. Now we have 24 different choices of party games, like the diaper game or tummy game, as well as your traditional games. But there are a lot more choices in the games category."
Instead of games, Butto suggests those wanting to think outside the box give outdoor prizes.
"I think games are very passe," she said. "The enjoyment of the event should be the interaction of guests."
According to Butto, most modern-day moms-to-be want to be different and break the mold with their baby showers. One way of doing that is through interesting and quirky favors.
"I am totally against favors that are not edible, drinkable or usable," she said. "I really like the idea of sending somebody home with something that they can later enjoy - whether that's a cupcake or brownie, a miniature split of wine or a picture frame that has something in it that's significant to each guest."
Kotsatos-Angelo said one of the most popular favors she's been making are cake balls and cake pops that give baby shower guests something edible to take home and enjoy.
Lyda said that in addition to unique favors, his company's balloon centerpieces are a different way of spicing up a modern baby shower.
"As far as decor goes, most of the decor we do is balloon decor. We customize a lot to fit the theme," he said. "That's what's so nice about balloons. Some people really throw odd requests at us and we try to adapt to it and make them something custom."
Lyda said balloon decor is a popular, cost-effective alternative to traditional choices.
"It has a great value to it as an alternative to decorating with flowers or material. We can do a lot of very unique things," he said. "Everyone wants to stand out and be unique, and balloon decor gives us the opportunity to meet that need."