It's a time to celebrate and a time to look ahead.

    While giving gifts to welcome a baby into the family or community has continued throughout the world for thousands of years, it's only been in the last fifty years or so that the modern baby shower has become a tradition among American families. Beginning with the "Baby Boom" of the late 1940s and continuing throughout the 1950s, the baby shower became a way to celebrate new life and a new addition to the community by giving the family baby gifts to make raising the child easier and more affordable.

    The centerpiece of the baby shower, of course, is the wealth of presents given the mother-to-be. The traditional baby shower gift is something the baby needs or the parents will probably find in short supply during those hectic first weeks and months. Baby shower gifts typically include plenty of diapers, layette sets, linens and sheets, and gift baskets. Some guests even choose to give elaborate arrangements of diaper cakes or layette sets arranged according to a theme. Others use the opportunity to present the new family with a long-lasting keepsake or personalized baby gift, to mark the occasion.

    Speaking of themes, the style-minded baby shower planner often includes a theme or motif into the modern baby shower. These themes can range from an activity the mother enjoys such as tennis or going to the beach, or might also be something purely from the imagination. A theme may also look forward to some aspect of the child's life still to come. One of the most popular themes of recent months, for example, involves recreating a family trip to the beach. The shower includes such guest favors as tealights set into miniature "pails" and starfish-shaped soaps arranged in amusing nautically-inspired presentations. Themes can be easy to create, and they afford a lot of inspiration when planning a shower and plenty of conversation fuel once the shower begins.