Shutterstock / Goran Bogicevic
Back in 2010, my friend Sadie was the first person in our group to have a baby. When it was my turn to visit, I knew I couldn’t go empty-handed—bringing gifts for new parents is a given. So I brought her a plant. Not a lasagna. Not fresh-baked cookies. I brought Sadie a living plant that she had to take care of. (It’s OK. I’m shaking my head, too.)
I’ve learned a lot since that friend fail, especially because I became a mom myself. I also discovered I wasn’t alone in this gift-giving conundrum. Deciding on the perfect gift for new parents is a common stumbling block for well-wishers. Here’s how you can skip over that faux pas and get straight to being an awesome loved one to a proud new mom and dad.
13x9s are not required.
Casseroles, hot dishes, bakes—whatever you call them, these one-dish dinners are easy to put together, convenient to transport, and often freeze like a charm (find scads of freezer meals here). But these big dishes take up a lot of room in the fridge. Consider cutting the recipe in half and bringing it in a smaller pan. Or skip casseroles altogether and pack up a hearty grain salad, muffin tin meat loaves, soup (like this incredible General Tso’s-inspired recipe) or one of these make-and-take meals for new parents in need.
New moms and dads need to eat more than just dinner.
One morning soon after my son was born, my mom-in-law came over to help for the day (so awesome). She looked at me for a minute and then asked, “When was the last time you ate?” I realized I was famished. See, we had some great dinner options in the house, but nothing I felt like eating at 8 a.m. Lucky for me, she’d brought her famous scones and jam. I feasted.
Consider sharing granola with milk on the side, frozen microwaveable breakfast burritos, a loaded hoagie or a deconstructed green salad the parents can toss together when they’re hungry. Snacks like veggies and dip, brownies or Chex mix will be much appreciated, too. Help them stock up with these make-ahead meals for busy people. Extra credit if the foods can be eaten with one hand, or if they’re good hot or cold.