Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Cute and Practical Baby Shower Gift: The Diaper Cake

Today was a fun-filled day, as we celebrated with one of our dear friends, who is expecting her very first baby!

We gathered with about 40 of her closest friends and family at the Yacht Club of the Americas, and enjoyed a beautiful baby shower with views of the ocean, on a gorgeous sunny day in the Florida Keys. 

For me, this was the third baby shower I was attending, and I wanted to give something a little different.  Plenty of people would be gifting clothes, bottles, bibs, and wash cloths.  I was feeling brave and creative, and decided to attempt my very first diaper cake.

Now for the disclaimer: a diaper cake is NOT edible.  It's merely a creative way to display diapers, which have the tough job in life of containing... well... you know.  Please do not eat your diaper cake.

Thank goodness for the World Wide Web!  There is a wealth of information out there, all about how to make your own diaper cake.  The methodologies, styles, and themes are numerous -- with instructions for anything from diaper "cupcakes", to three- and five-tier cakes!  I checked out diaper cake "stores", including listings on eBay.  Unfortunately, the ratio between really ugly, tacky diaper cakes to good diaper cakes is about 20:1.  Just as you're building anything, you need to start with a good foundation.  So many diaper cakes out there look like they were just thrown together.  If you start with sloppy tiers, the finished product will show.  I tend to be very meticulous (*cough*Virgo*cough*, as my co-worker would say), and wanted to put in the extra effort to make mine turn out just right :)

As this was my first attempt, and I was a little too eager to get started, I didn't take the time to order any eco-friendlier disposable diapers (Seventh Generation, Huggies Pure and Natural, etc).  I also wasn't ready to commit to a whole batch of cloth diapers (which also work to make a cake), just in case this whole project blew up in my face.  LOL!  If I was successful with my first cake, I was planning to make more down the road, and use eco-friendly diapers and gift products as decor.  But for this very first one, this is what I used:
  • One case of 76 Size 2 Huggies diapers with Winnie the Pooh print
  • One 10oz/300mL Gerber NUK BPA-free baby bottle
  • One bottle Gerber Graduates Banana-flavored Puffs
  • 9 feet of 1.5"-wide decorative ribbon
  • 3 sizes of rubber bands (size 16, 33, and 117)
  • One 18" disposable decorative cookie tray (from GFS)
  • One clear cellophane "gift basket" bag
  • Double-sided Scotch tape
  • Parts of two packages of blue Pooh bear wash cloths and mini wash mitts
  • One Pooh Bear rattle
  • One set of a Pooh Bear hooded bath towel, with brush and comb
  • Two bendy straws
  • Two large paper clips
  • Scissors
  • Butter knife
  • Extra pair of hands for bagging (hubby's will work fine)
The rest is super easy, as you'll see in the instructional video.  Just make yourself comfortable at a big table with lots of room to work, put on some music, or watch your favorite shows or a movie.  Then you take a diaper and a size 16 rubber band, and you roll.  And you roll.  And you roll.  I told hubby that this was actually very therapeutic.  LOL!

When it came time to choose a rolling method, I referred to the video.  Watch about 3 minutes into it.  I used this lady's "Method 2" of unfolding the diaper, and rolling the entire thing from front to back.  I also folded over, and tucked in the outside-facing end of the diaper, giving the roll a smoother appearance, with no trailing edges.

I used the bottle of Gerber Puffs as my bottom support mechanism, and held the diapers in place with not just one, but two size 33 rubber bands.  It dawned on me that the diaper rolls might stand up straighter if there were in fact two rubber bands holding the tier together.  So that's what I did: instead of one giant rubber band ring holding all of the diapers together in one tier around the middle, I spaced out two giant rubber bands one inch apart, around the middle section of each tier.  It worked like a charm!  No bulging, and the second rubber band also served as a backup, in case the other one gave out.

Just follow the instructions, and depending on the size of your diapers, and the circumference of the bottle you use in the middle as your stabilizer, you may end up needing more or less to make each tier look full and round and uniform.  The instructor in the video used a 64-pack.  I used 72 of a 76 pack.  Just don't short yourself on diapers, as that will make for a sloppy, lopsided-looking cake.  Also remember to try to get the print to face out, in the same direction, and the seams facing in.  My pack of Pooh diapers also came with two different print designs, and I alternated each roll with one of each design.

When it came time to do the top tier, I inserted the NUK bottle on top of the Gerber Puffs bottle.  It worked great!  The Gerber Puffs bottle has a nice flat top; giving the baby bottle a nice wide base to stand on.  As you can see, the hollow in the middle became the home for the Pooh Bear rattle to sit, and peek out of.

The ribbon I secured with double-sided tape; easy enough.  The hooded towel was the trickiest part; I actually cut a triangle-shaped piece of cardboard, left over from some of the wash cloth packaging, and used that to hold the shape of the hood.  I then tried about a half-dozen times to neatly stuff the rest of the towel under the bottom tier of the cake, and up inside the middle, underneath the Gerber Puffs bottle.  It was tricky, as I didn't want the cake to start looking off-keel. It took a few tries, but I got it to work :)

The middle tier is actually covered with Pooh-print wash cloths -- four of them.  I thought it was cute how that turned out; almost like a fondant ;)  I overlapped the wash cloths, and this is where the butter knife came into play.  I used the flat, rounded top of the knife to help tuck in the bottom edges of the wash cloth, under the second tier.  The top edges were also tucked in, to keep them from shifting.

The two little mini wash mitts were stuffed with more wash cloths, to give them a little shape.  I carefully folded over the bottom edges of the wash mitts, and secured them each with one large paper clip.  I then slid each onto a trimmed plastic bendy straw, inserted into the bottom tier of the cake.  Then came the brush and comb, which were already tied together with ribbon, and I just slid the comb's base into one of the upper tier rubber bands to hold it in place.

Hubby helped me get the whole thing in the cellophane bag, which incidentally, just barely fit!  I slid the greeting card in behind the hood of the wash cloth, secured the top of the bag with another rubber band, and tied it off with the last bit of ribbon.  Et voilĂ !  About six hours later, my very first diaper cake!

It was a hit, and my friend loved it!  I was told that other people were complimenting on it as well.  It was such a fun project, and I'm so glad it turned out as well as it did, and it will be enjoyed :)

I've already started on the next one, which I'm just making for fun, and will probably sell on eBay, unless somebody else I know is having a baby girl anytime soon ;)  This one is being made with Huggies Pure and Natural diapers, made from organic cotton.  This next one should come together a bit faster than six hours, now that I have one under my belt.

Hope you'll consider making one for the next baby shower you go to :)

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