The celebration that marks baby’s first month is probably one of the most important milestones in her brand new life. At the full moon (满月 or “man yue”) party, friends and relatives will be blessing her with baby gifts of red packets and jewelry, or practical baby necessities like diaper hampers, toiletries and the ever-useful gift vouchers.
New parents usually reciprocate by giving each guest a party pack as a gesture of appreciation for sharing in their joy and bestowing their good wishes on the child. Some parents do this themselves by putting together gift boxes of items. Others leave the sourcing to vendors who can customise the contents according to their preferences, often with options to personalise the packaging as well.
This Chinese tradition seems to have caught on with other races too. A spokesperson from Partridge Pear shares that their customer base includes a good mix of racial groups: “While the demand for traditional gift favors from Chinese families is on the decline, we are seeing a rise in the number of customers of other races going for traditional items. We had a British customer who ordered 200 boxes of red eggs and ang ku kueh for her grandchild’s first month celebration!”
Sticking with Tradition
The most important must-have item is eggs. These represent fertility, with the rounded shape signifying a renewal of life.
The eggs are hard-boiled for easy handling and ready eating, then dyed with red food coloring to symbolise luck and blessings. The eggs are often paired with pickled ginger. This represents a new birth, and the Chinese believe that it is a ‘heaty’ or ‘yang’ food to balance the ‘cooling’ or ‘yin’ state of a woman who has just given birth.
The other must-have is ang ku kueh, a red glutinous rice cake filled with peanut or mung bean paste. This comes in the form of the classic flat ‘turtle’ shape for girls, while boys are represented by a pointed version, known as ang yee. Apart from the auspicious colour, turtles are known to live long lives and hence, symbolise longevity. The Hainanese have a similar version called yi ba, which is a glutinous rice cake with a filling of shredded coconut, sesame seeds, ground peanut and ginger.
Esther Au Yong, a 35-year-old freelance editor-cum-yoga teacher, chose to DIY the party packs for her first child’s full moon celebration. With her mother’s and aunts’ help, she hand-dyed the eggs and packed them in pairs in a decorative wrapper, tied with ribbons. She also made pickled ginger to include in each pack.
When she had her second child 15 months ago, she ordered her full moon party packs instead. “It was easier for everyone. We had two kids in the house by then and they take up time! We found Singapore Mochi a reasonably priced vendor and ordered boxes that came with two ang ku kueh and two red eggs. It was simple, yet traditional.”
Another traditional item is sticky or glutinous rice. Different Chinese dialect groups have different ways of making this dish. While the Teochew version is sweet and steamed, the Hokkien version is savory, and calls for dried shrimp, Chinese mushroom, dark soy sauce, fried shallots and peanuts.
Going all Contemporary
Not into the traditional? It’s perfectly fine to get creative with your baby’s full moon party pack. These days, many parents often choose to combine food and souvenir items in the gift packs.
Top on the list of food favourites are cupcakes with themed icing designs, and trendy bakes like red velvet cake and macarons. Chocolate, cookies, and candies are also popular, from packets of chocolate fudge and chocolate bars to colorful jellybeans and chewy marshmallow. We all wish Baby to have a sweet life ahead, right?
Beyond cakes and sweets, plush toys are a cute addition, as are personalised party favours like photo frames with pictures of baby (alone or with the whole family), and baby-themed key chains or magnets. Other trendy ideas run the gamut from hand-poured candles to herbal soaps.
“More couples today prefer gift packs that are memorable and practical. Cakes and other perishables are short-lived, whereas reusable containers like buckets, pouches and tin suitcases can be kept to hold toys and stationery years after the food is consumed,” says Pennie Lim from CooChiCoo Singapore, a popular local vendor specialising in full month and birthday party packages.
Full Moon Party Packs to be inspired by!
To help you get started, we’ve found some local suppliers that specialise in full moon party packs. While this is by no means exhaustive of options available in Singapore, you can kick start your research and party planning here.
With over 30 years of experience specializing in making ang ku kueh, Singapore Mochi is a great place to get simple but tasteful gift packs that more traditional relatives will approve of. Boxes with four items hold a pair of red eggs embellished with ribbons and a pair of red ang ku kueh if it’s a girl, or a pair of ang yee if it’s a boy. The six item boxes include two servings of savory glutinous rice as well. Other options include wa ko kueh (steamed cake) and Nyonya kueh lapis (steamed rainbow cake).
CooChiCoo Singapore provides creatively designed packaging in the form of a themed box, a cloth pouch, a tin bucket and a mini ‘suitcase’, the last reminiscent of the lunchboxes of old.
You can have them filled with a range of modern favours, mixing-and-matching items such as jellybeans, milk cookies, chocolate, towel ‘cupcakes’ and hollow plastic red eggs filled with gummy bears. Each colorful gift pack also comes with an announcement card with your baby’s photo, name, birth details, and your personalised message.
Fans of cheesecake and cupcakes can consider ordering from Jara Petit Cheesecups, a homegrown bakery that has combined the two desserts into one delicious hybrid. Pick from sets ranging from a box of three to nine Cheesecups, with the option to add on other items such as red eggs. You’ll be spoilt for choice with flavours from Matcha to Banoffee, and you’ll also get to choose from a selection of baby-themed Cheesecup toppers. Alternatively, you may prefer the adorable no-bake eggless Cheesecake Jars.
To please the elders while still keeping it hip, Sweetest Moments offers the option of combining the best of both worlds. Choose your preferred gift box size — from De Petit with six items (three pairs) to Premium with 18 items (nine pairs).
Traditional items include red eggs and ang ku kueh, while contemporary ones include cupcakes, brownies and mochi. You can also add on a personalised baby card or button badge that your guests can keep as a memento. Satisfied clientele include local celebrities such as TV host-turned-MP Darryl David and more recently, Mediacorp veteran “Mr Unbelievable” Chen Tianwen.
If you prefer to customise your own, head over to Partridge Pear where you can have a ball of a time choosing from a large range of themed package designs available. Select three to eight favors from items that run the gamut from the traditional – red eggs and ang ku kueh to contemporary snacks like organic teas, chocolate coated sunflower seeds — as well as fun favours like foam craft kits, magnetic plush toys, and teddy bears. Then pick your announcement card and box-bag designs, based on the theme chosen. You can also get the birth announcement card printed in poster size as a keepsake.
There’s really no end to the fun and creativity that comes when planning your baby’s full month party pack. Now, are you ready to get started?
Feature image: Jara Petit