Push Presents

Push Presents: The Divisive Trend of Post-Birth Gifts

The arrival of a newborn is one of the happiest moments in a couple’s life, a miraculous event that brings the gift of life into the world. And while the gift of life is certainly the most important gift of all, another type of gift has been steadily gaining popularity – the push present. What is a push present you may ask? A push present is a gift that is given to a new mother from her partner, to celebrate her “pushing” of a new life into the world. While the sentiment behind the push present is one of love, the subject brings up a lot of controversy. Like breastfeeding, co-sleeping and crying it out, the push present is a hotly debated topic among moms.

The Case Against Push Presents

The biggest complaint against the push present is that it is commodifying the natural act of birth. Critics ask, “Shouldn’t the baby be reward enough?”. We live in a capitalistic and materialistic society and some people prefer that the act of giving birth be unaffected by all that. Another negative aspect is that it can put undue pressure upon the partner’s shoulders, in having to spend money on a gift at a time when finances might be extra tight.

The Case for Push Presents

The idea of giving a gift to a new mother is to show appreciation for what she has gone through, both mentally and physically. Pregnancy is an emotional time for a woman as they endure months of hormonal changes and physical discomfort, which culminates in labour and birth. While a healthy baby is the best gift in the world, it is thoughtful to give recognition to what the mother has experienced. It is given by the partner to show love and gratitude.

Push Present Ideas

Jewelry is a popular push present, made fashionable by extravagant celebrity gifts. Headlines were made when Jay Z gave Beyoncé a giant blue tanzanite ring to celebrate the birth of their daughter, and when Mark Anthony gifted Jennifer Lopez custom made canary yellow diamond earrings with a matching ring for the birth of their twins. While most people cannot afford such pricey gifts, jewelry is still a great option for a wide range of budgets. Diamond stud earrings or diamond eternity bands are very popular choices, as are pendants of the baby’s first initial, or a charm of their birthstone. There are no rules which say you must give jewelry, and gifts like a spa package or a new piece of technology can be just as meaningful.

What Moms think

While I am not a mother, being in my thirties I have a lot of close friends who are so I thought I would ask their thoughts on the subject. Out of six of them, two had been given a push present. One received a rose gold necklace to match her wedding band, and one received a new iPad. The ones who didn’t receive presents said they didn’t expect to get anything, and weren’t disappointed. However, everyone said they would have been very happy had they received one and couldn’t see why anyone would be upset by the idea. One friend said perhaps it was just the name “push present” that felt tacky, and not the gesture itself.

To Give or Not to Give

I think it all comes down to whether the partner wants to give a gift, and if they have the finances available to do so. If you want to give your new baby’s mother a gift to celebrate all that she has gone through, then you absolutely should. Just do it because you want to, and not because of outside pressure. The “push present” should not be expected or bragged about, it should be a sentimental symbol of a special moment in life. In the end a push present isn’t going to make the new baby anymore of a blessing, but it might be a bit of icing on the cake!

Have you ever given or received a push present? Would you want to? Let us know where you stand in the comments below!

Wedding Vow Renewal

We Do, Take Two: Renewing Your Wedding Vows

A wedding day is a most special day, when a couple proclaims to the world that they will love and remain committed to each other for the rest of their lives. After the wedding the couple begins married life with one another, and together they experience all the good and (sometimes bad) moments that come their way. Hopefully amidst all of life’s ups and downs they will still love each other as much as the day they said “I do”. Many couples want to celebrate the fact that their love has lasted, and one way they are doing this is by holding a wedding vow renewal ceremony. Let’s take a look at all you need to know about renewing your wedding vows.

Reasons to Renew

Couples have many different reasons for wanting to renew their vows and there is no right or wrong reason to do so. Some choose to do so after a significant wedding anniversary, such as 5, 10, or 25 years of marriage, to show that even though time has passed their feelings have not changed. Some couples who’ve eloped, or who had a very small number of guests for their original wedding, want to hold a celebration with all the people who weren’t able to be there the first time. Other couples had huge elaborate weddings the first time, and want an intimate ceremony to renew their vows. Certain couples may feel their original wedding was a disaster or they didn’t have the money to do it the way they really wanted, and a renewal ceremony can be exactly what they need. There are couples that have had to overcome a hard time in their marriage, whether illness, financial, or personal hardship, and they want to renew their vows and say that they still choose to be together. The reasons for wanting to renew your wedding vows are very personal and there is only one real reason you need – because you want to!

Who’s Hosting?

Vow renewal ceremonies are typically hosted by the couple who is renewing their vows, or sometimes by the couple’s adult children. You can invite people formally by invitations in the mail, or more casually by email, depending on how fancy or casual the ceremony will be.

The Location

The location of the ceremony can be anywhere you want it to be. It can be at a favourite restaurant, or at an elegant hall. It could be a backyard BBQ or an all-inclusive vacation. Because it is not a legally binding ceremony (that’s what the wedding was for), there are no limitations where your renewal can take place.

The Guests

It is generally considered unnecessary to have bridesmaids and groomsmen for a renewal ceremony, as it is not supposed to be a recreation of the original wedding. However, having the people from your original wedding party attend your renewal is more than welcome. If you have children or grandchildren, it is a very sweet gesture to involve them in the service. You may pick whomever you please to officiate the ceremony as, mentioned previously, it isn’t legally binding. You could pick a family member, friend, or religious figure, the choice is up to you. Some couples choose to have a ceremony with just the two of them, perhaps while away on vacation, while others want friends and family there. Generally, you don’t need to invite co-workers or acquaintances to the renewal, only people who are very close to you as a couple.

What to Wear

For the outfits there are no rules at all. Woman can wear a white dress, or they can wear any other coloured dress of their choosing. Or maybe it doesn’t have to be a dress at all! Some women choose to wear a veil, others do not. Some choose to hold a bouquet, some don’t. The same freedom of attire goes for men, as they can wear a tuxedo, khakis, jeans, etc. The ceremony should reflect who you are, and you can wear whatever makes you feel the most beautiful and comfortable.

Proper Etiquette

Your renewal ceremony is not a second wedding, and so certain things are no longer necessary. You do not need a bachelor or bachelorette party, as you are not “celebrating” your last single days. You do not need to have a shower, as a wedding shower is to gift the bride with things for her married life. And you should not register for gifts for the ceremony. The gifts given to people at a wedding are to support them in starting their new life together. You and your partner already have a life together and should not expect friends and family to give you more. If people want to give you something of course that is ok, but it should not be an obligation.

The Ceremony

The couple can choose to walk down the aisle together, or they may choose to walk individually or with one of their children. Your vows should be very personal, and reflect the love that endures between you. Don’t focus your words on the hard times you may have gone through, but look positively towards the future. You may want to have an older married couple give you a blessing or some words of wisdom, or have your children read something they have written for you. The exchange of wedding rings is still a very popular part of the ceremony, as it signifies the exchange of love. Some couples choose to get their original bands engraved with a meaningful phrase or date, while others prefer to have new bands made for the renewal. And of course, every ceremony should end with a kiss.

Your Way

In the end, there are no hard rules for wedding vow renewals to follow. Your original wedding may have been influenced by traditions and family obligations, but your renewal ceremony is all about you as a couple. You have had time to grow together and truly become a team, and you have earned the right to hold the ceremony your way.

Four Dream Engagement Rings

The Engagement Ring of Your Dreams

You have fallen in love and finally met your perfect match. You start noticing engagement rings all around you; on the hands of friends and family, on Facebook, on Instagram, engagement rings are everywhere! And you start to imagine your perfect ring. Perhaps you have known for years what style you wanted, or maybe you have just started collecting images but haven’t narrowed it down. Either way most people have an idea of what they love and what they don’t really like when it comes to ring designs. But how do you get those ideas into your partner’s head, so that they will know what to look for when the time is right to propose? We are here to offer some suggestions.

Friends and Family

Let your best friends or siblings know what kind of ring you would like. Give them pictures or at least an idea of what you want. It’s very likely that your partner will look to them for advice on the design, and you want them to have the right information.

Window Shop

Next time you and your love go shopping together, tell them you want to take a look at the diamond rings. Go into a couple of jewellery stores and point out or try on ones that you really like. One of my friends did this, and about a year later she received the very ring she had tried on in the store. Bonus points for your partner for remembering the ring you loved.

Pinterest

If you keep a Pinterest board of engagement rings you love (which let’s be serious, A LOT of us do) then you can mention this to your partner. If you think your partner will never go on your Pinterest page, then you can accidentally leave the page open on the computer so they see it the next time they log on. It might be a little bit sneaky but it will definitely help your partner figure out what kind of rings you are into.

Your Opinion Matters

Another idea is to comment (in private) on rings that your friends have. Let your partner know that you absolutely love Ashley’s rose gold ring with the diamond halo while you really don’t like Melanie’s yellow gold ring with the three diamonds. If your partner is paying attention they will make a mental note of these comments, and hopefully purchase something you will like.

Be Obvious

If you have been with your partner for many years and are certain an engagement is coming your way, you may feel comfortable being straightforward about what you want. Send them an exact image of a ring or a couple of rings that you like. Let them know what metal type and diamond shape or other gemstones you would like for your ring.

Shop Together

There are a lot of couples who chose to pick out or design a custom ring together. Sometimes the couple has gotten engaged without a ring and is looking to make the perfect one. Sometimes the couple decides on the engagement ring, and then the one partner buys it and holds onto it for a surprise proposal. There are no rules these days. You can do whatever feels right for you as a couple.

Surprise! Do you like it?

Now, sometimes the proposal is a complete surprise and you didn’t get a chance to let your partner know what you wanted in a ring. Hopefully the ring is stunning and fabulous and you love everything about it. Maybe it’s not the exact design you would have picked, but you love it because of the thought and love that went into it. If you really don’t like it, you always have the option of telling your partner that it’s not quite what you wanted, and they might be ok with changing the setting or diamond. However, I would say be very gentle if you are going to do this, as I’m sure a lot of thought, time and money went into the ring. In the end the most important thing about the ring is that is it a symbol of your commitment and it should reflect the love you and your partner will share for a lifetime.

Valentine's Day Jewelry

The Origins of Valentine’s Day

February can be a tough month to get through. The holiday season is over, the sky is dark and the air is cold. Yet there is a magical day in February where we get to spend precious time with the one we love, and celebrate romance. Of course I am talking about Valentine’s Day, which falls on February 14th. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, USA, the UK, France, Australia and Mexico. On this day millions of people give someone they care about a token of their love. It may be a hand written valentine, or a box of chocolates, a dozen red roses or a diamond ring. It doesn’t matter what you give, all that matters is that it comes from the heart. But how did this tradition begin? Let’s take a look at Valentine’s Day through history.

The Ancient Fertility Festival

Long before the romance, February 13th to 15th was the date the Ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Lupercalia. Lupercalia honoured Lupa the she-wolf in Roman Legend who suckled the twins Romulus and Remus that grew up to found Rome. It was also dedicated to Faunus, the God of Agriculture. The festival was to ensure purification and fertility in the city. It was run by the Luperci, Roman priests who would meet in a sacred cave and sacrifice goats and a dog. They would strip the hides off of the animals and cut them into strips and dip them into the blood. They then took the bloody strips through the streets and would slap both the ground and young women with them to ensure fertility. Lupercalia was a very popular festival that continued on into the 5th century AD when Pope Gelasius outlawed it. Some scholars believe this ancient fertility festival was converted into the Catholic holiday celebrating Saint Valentine, at a time when the Church was trying to suppress the ancient religion and spread Christianity. There are others who believe Lupercalia’s only connection to Valentine’s Day is the date and nothing more.

Who Was Saint Valentine?

Saint Valentine was a 3rd century Roman priest who was martyred on February 14th and is associated with romantic love and valentines. But so little is truly known about him that the Roman Catholic Church removed his name from their official Calendar of Feasts in 1969. So what do we know? Well there were actually records of three different Saint Valentines who were all killed on February 14th. One was a priest in Rome, one a bishop in Terni, and one was a priest in Africa. The first two Valentines were said to be persecuted and murdered during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, which has led some scholars to believe the stories may be from a combination of them both. There are few facts about Saint Valentine’s life but his legends still live on. The most well-known legend is that the Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage, as single young men made for better soldiers for his army. Valentine defied the law and married young lovers in Christian ceremonies. For this he was sentenced to death, and became a saint of love. Another legend had Valentine imprisoned for helping Christians, and while in jail he fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailer. Before his execution he had healed the daughter’s eyesight and left her a letter that he signed “from your Valentine”. Whether there is any truth to these stories we will never know, as it is lost to history.

Birds of a Feather

In 1382 English writer Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his poem “Parliament of Foules” for the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. One line stated “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate” which referred to the idea that birds’ mating season began in February. This appears to be the first time in history that Valentine’s day is connected to the idea of romance. On February 14th of the year 1400, the High Court of Love was established in Paris, which dealt with love contracts, marriages, betrayals and violence against women. Charles, Duke of Orleans wrote the oldest known valentine in existence in 1415 to his wife while he was imprisoned in the tower of London. By the 1600’s Valentine’s Day’s link with romance was a popular concept and was mentioned in Shakespeare’s Hamlet when Ophelia proclaimed “To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s Day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.”

Modern Traditions

By the 18th century it was common for friends and lovers to exchange small tokens or handwritten notes on Valentine’s Day. In 1797 “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer” was published, helping men write sentimental verses in their cards. The Persian poetry of flowers had been imported into Europe, and people believed that each flower had a specific meaning. By the Victorian times people would give a bouquet of flowers to their loved ones to send a specific message. And red roses, which had been tied to passion and love since ancient times, became the number one choice to give your valentine. In the late 1800’s mass produced printed valentines began to replace hand written ones and were usually covered in lace, ribbons, and colourful pictures. Around the same time Cadbury started producing chocolates that were sold in beautifully decorated boxes. It is believed they invented the very first heart shaped box. These boxes were marketed to be used as keepsake boxes to hold letters, locks of hair and love notes. By the 1980’s jewellery companies began promoting diamonds and jewellery as the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

Love Is Everywhere

These days over a billion Valentine’s Day cards are sold each year. And recent years have seen a rise in the number of people who send e-cards on February 14th. Even though the origins of this holiday are clouded in mystery, people just love to come together to celebrate LOVE! And why not! Whether it is little kids exchanging cards, young couples exchanging roses and chocolates, or a married couple giving the gift of jewellery, the most important thing about this holiday is not the actual gift, but the act of showing someone how much they are loved.

Holiday Marriage Proposal

Holiday Marriage Proposals

December is the month for celebrating the holidays, reconnecting with family members and proposing marriage to the one you love. Did I just say December is for proposing marriage? Yes I did! A survey conducted by TheKnot.com showed that 16% of couples get engaged in December, and a survey from event company Chillisauce showed 45% of people believe that Christmas Eve or Christmas day is the best time of the year to propose. So what are you waiting for? The timing is right! But if you are considering a December engagement let’s go over what you need to know.

Public or Private?

First of all, consider what your partner would like. Are they super outgoing and love attention or are they private, preferring to keep things intimate? If they are the outgoing type, consider proposing surrounded by friends and family. The holidays are the busiest travel time of the year as families who are usually far apart come together, and this is the perfect chance to share the moment with them. However, some people find getting everyone together quite stressful and overwhelming, and some families have more than a little drama between them. In these situations, I would suggest a more private proposal.

If your partner avoids the limelight and prefers to keep intimate moments private, a proposal very early on Christmas morning before anyone else wakes up would be very romantic. Or perhaps wait until boxing day, when you are both relaxing and your partner doesn’t see the proposal coming.

6 Holiday Marriage Proposal Ideas

If you have already decided to propose during the holidays there are so many creative ways to do it:

1. Engagement Ring Stocking Stuffer

If you propose on Christmas morning you could put the ring at the very bottom of a stocking, and as they go through all the silly stocking stuffers they will be in for a huge surprise when they find the ring.

2. Surprise Christmas Tree Ornament

Another option is a beautiful ornament hanging on the Christmas tree, with “Will you marry me?” written on it in sparkly writing.

3. Lots and Lots of Boxes

If you are with someone with a great sense of humour you could wrap the ring box in many bigger boxes, and have a great laugh while they unwrap each box, one by one.

4. Christmas Lights Proposal

If you were going to propose on Christmas Eve, you could write out the words in Christmas lights and bring your loved one outside once it got dark. Although it would require some planning and sneaking around, I guarantee it would be an amazing sight.

5. Family Time

You could also propose at the holiday dinner table, when all of your family can share in the moment.

6. Hanukkah Surprise

If celebrating Hanukkah is more your style, for 7 nights you could give your partner small gifts which reflect your relationship and on the 8th night write them a note that says ‘Marry Me’, and be kneeling on one knee with the ring in hand.

It’s a Magical Time

Family, friends, celebrations and special dinners are all great reasons to propose during the holiday season. Not to mention all the decorations and lights which provide the perfect romantic backdrop to photograph the moment. People often feel sentimental at this time of year and reflect back on the magic they felt when they were young. But it’s nice to feel a bit of magic as an adult too, and a holiday proposal guarantees your happy memories will live on forever.