Keeping Everyone Jolly For the Santa Photo

This is my 11th year getting little’s dressed up and heading out on a Santa photo adventure.  Given the holiday shopping crowds and number of other Mama’s attempting the same, put some planning into your trip before you leave home. Here are some helpful tips that I’ve learned (some the hard way!) that will hopefully keep your adventure fun and tear-free.

It’s not always realistic, but try to scout out the Santa location ahead of time. You can’t be sure you’ll see the same “friend of Santa” as my children call them (how else could Santa be everywhere and still mind the shop? They’ve decided his friends help and then give him the info at the end of their days) but the décor will be the same and varies widely among locations. Ask the Santa helpers if there’s a time that is slower/calmer for you to try and if Santa always wears the same outfit. I once wanted to walk away when I saw Santa’s “casual Friday” outfit but the kids were too little to risk going somewhere else without a meltdown.

Go when everyone will be at their freshest, including you. If you were up most of the night with a little one, it’s probably not your day to go.  Check the hours for Santa and then make your strategy. Be there when it opens if you don’t have a morning napper, schedule the trip soon after your little one wakes up and eats if you do.

Snacks are key! Keep them healthy and avoid sugar so your little’s don’t crash just as you hand them to the Jolly Old Elf.  You might need the sugar treat for a bribe at the end if they do well! Same with water...keep them and you hydrated.

If you have a crier, team up with the photographer – place them on Santa’s lap and then happily, slowly back away from them while talking, singing, whatever it takes. Once out of range, they need to snap the shot. If all else fails, include Mama and/or Daddy in the photo this year!

Bring an extra outfit. Nice clothes and coordinating outfits seem to be magnets for snack drips, mud puddles, diaper disasters.

I’m of the camp that the occasional bribe isn’t a bad thing. This is where the yummy sweet snack comes in handy. Have them earn it by playing nice with Santa.

Each year I’ve purchased the Santa photo, framed it, and started a gallery that comes out and is added to with each Santa visit. The kids and extended family love seeing them each year and its become one of my favorite parts of decorating our home for Christmas.  Even Lucy, our French bulldog, had her photo taken with Santa and is part of the gallery now. Don’t forget to find a Santa event for your pet also!

Lastly, be realistic as you hand your darling child/children to a complete stranger in a funny outfit.  It might stress you at the time if they melt down, but they probably won’t be traumatized as you swoop in to rescue them and it makes for an adorable and real photo. And those are the fun photos to bring out when they’re older!

Good luck and Happy Holidays!

 

November 01, 2018 by Diane Janowak
Celebrating Grandparents Every Day

Celebrating Grandparents Every Day

National Grandparents Day might not carry the importance that closes schools or slows down the mail, but to parents and littles, fondly referred to as “grands,” it’s a day of great importance as we honor our national treasures. The treasures within our very own villages, who add a layer of richness to our individual and collective families. With healthier lifestyles adding to our life longevity, more children’s lives include great grandparents as well. Four generations gathering together is such a blessing! How perfect that the official flower attached to the day is the lovely forget-me-not!

Rather than the occasional family visits and adventures that most of us remember as children, more grandparents are now embedded in the daily worlds of their children and grandchildren. Some do before and after school care while parents work, volunteer in classrooms and on field trips, cover the soccer and piano practices. Some are the primary care givers during the work day, while others live with their families or have taken over the parenting role completely.

The benefits to everyone are profound. Being “one layer removed” means guiding words from a grandparent might land softer than the same words from a parent. With a less stressful schedule, grandparents typically have more time to just play. Grandparents are a great source of family history, telling stories parents may have forgotten or don’t have the time to tell. Family values and traditions are passed down from grandparents and new traditions and idea passed up from the youngest family members. 

For grandparents, being actively involved in family is a large source of happiness, it keeps their brains and body busy, and is a great deterrent to depression. For parents, it offers a sense of security and support in our busy world. Grandchildren benefit by learning to communicate with adults other than their parents, gaining wisdom, having a better a sense of stability and safely. Kids who have involved grandparents have a lower level of depression as adults, an amazing benefit. It’s an incredible win for each member of the extended family. 

So thank you former President Carter, for declaring the first Sunday in September after Labor Day to be National Grandparent Day back in 1978. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate those who raised us and continue to be a source of love and guidance in all of our lives.

 

At Strasburg Children, we send out a special message of love and thanks to the Grandmas who call to share that they dressed their children in our clothing as they were growing up and they’re now back to choose designs for their grandchildren!   You have no idea how much these calls warm our hearts…we love hearing from you.

October 01, 2018 by Diane Janowak

For the Love of Outdoor Fall Weddings

At Strasburg Children, it’s safe to say that we adore weddings…the craftsmanship of the invitations and décor, the creative and tempting food choices, the stunning bouquets and floral accents, and of course, the flower girls and ring bearers! It’s such a thrill and an honor that we’re invited to be a part of so many weddings.

Even though we’re in the midst of the summer wedding season, which tends to be among the most popular times of year to wed, I have to admit that I’ve fallen for the charm of an outdoor fall wedding.  With its crispness of air, comfort-inspired seasonal food (think apples and pumpkins!), bouquets in shades of stunning burnt oranges, rich reds, and greens, and cocktail hour near a roaring fire, the romance of this season is undeniable. I find the beauty of an outdoor fall wedding irresistible.

What are the elements that have lured me in? Consider these nuggets…

You have a better chance of booking the lovely venue you’ve been eyeing for your reception. The location that is unavailable for the next two years in June thru August is probably open in October…of this year.

Your guests won’t have to work around summer vacations and camps.

You can have a beautiful outdoor wedding without worrying about your guests melting or freezing (in most places). You, and your makeup, won’t melt either.

Your outdoor photos in the sunshine will be amazing with a golden backdrop and you looking fabulous. No need for the small fan to keep the bride from sweating. Your wedding party will appreciate this also.

During fall, as the days get dark earlier and the temperatures begin to cool, there’s a glowing golden light at sunset. Be sure to add this to your photo list, even if it means stepping away your reception for a few minutes.It's the perfect season to wear a classic long-sleeved wedding gown...and longer sleeves for your flower girl. Or add a cozy shrug or shawl over your sleeveless gown. Pull out Grandma’s fur stole you’ve always wanted to wear!

You can wear your favorite boots under your wedding dress. Or you have a great excuse to find a fabulous vintage pair.

Bridesmaids and flower girls can be dressed in beautiful fall-inspired colors or rich jewel tones.

The food! Fall's harvest makes for a warming, wonderfully sensory menu. Think apple cider signature cocktails, a delicious soup course, and donuts for dessert. Pumpkin risotto is in season! Incorporate cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, apples, squash and more into your entrees and desserts. The switch up from the summer wedding menu and flavors will be wonderful.

The natural textures and colors of the season lend themselves to some incredible bouquets and décor - crunchy leaves, pumpkins and squash, votives, and beautiful branches all make lovely decorations.

So yes, I’m smitten with the sights and smells of an outdoor fall wedding. But really, I have yet to meet a wedding season and location I didn’t love. It’s truly one of the best celebrations we have. So congratulations and good luck to all of you brides-to-be…savor the process of planning your special day whenever and wherever it will take place.

August 13, 2018 by Diane Janowak

The Many Blessings of April

The month of April will bless us with the opportunity to celebrate with our families not once, but twice – both being occasions we hold close in our hearts. (And fortunately for my daughter, both involve a Strasburg Children’s dress.) We’ll lead the month off with Easter, celebrated by attending church as an extended family in the morning, followed by a meal prepared together and an Easter egg hunt before heading home. In an interesting twist, Easter shares the spotlight with April Fools Day…could make for an interesting Easter egg hunt!

The second, tied closely with the Easter season in the Catholic Church, is our daughter’s First Holy Communion.  I find it fascinating to learn how different religions develop the sacraments that build their foundations. In the Catholic Church, it’s the sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – that layer our foundations. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. First Holy Communion is the common name for the first time someone receives the sacrament of the Eucharist. Since the Eucharist is the central focus of the sacramental life of the Catholic Church, this is an event of great importance.

Traditions surrounding First Communion include large family gatherings and parties to celebrate the special girl or boy following mass. Girls often wear white dresses, to symbolize purity, along with a veil or floral wreath and white gloves (long or short). Boys typically wear either a suit or dress shirt and tie with dress pants. Many families have a portrait taken with the child wearing their special clothes as a keepsake of this important day.

So it’s time for us to narrow our choices on what Strasburg Children dress she’ll wear on her special day! Our top contenders are Lulu, MaryBella, Audrey, Caroline, Blair, Mary, and Virginia. Silk or cotton? Simple and elegant or the added charm of smocking and embroidery added by the hands of our artisans? We’re spoiled to have so many stunning options and relieved to know that each one is a wonderful choice. Next is the floral wreath choice, which will be worn with my short wedding veil. Gloves or no gloves? Add the white Mary Jane shoes with a bow and we’re ready for her big day!

Wanting this to be more than just a day, a dress, and a party, I found some great suggestions from other moms for making this day special and one that we’ll all cherish the memories of.

Make a First Communion banner. With a little felt, ribbon, and a wooden dowel, you can create this with your child to commemorate their special day. In our church, the banners are hung outside the worship area for a few weeks so everyone can see them and pray for the children. They hang on the pews where our families sit the day of their First Holy Communion.

Have a special First Communion breakfast that morning. I’m stealing this idea for sure!!

Give a timeless gift they can hold onto forever, such as a cross necklace and bracelet, prayer book, rosary, crucifix, or Bible. When they wear or use their gift, they’ll remember that they received it on their First Communion. If you get a prayer book or Bible, you can have their name and the date engraved on the cover at many Catholic shops for around $5.

Celebrate! Whether this is a celebration in your home or a larger event at a restaurant, this is a great way to show your child that this is an important day of celebrating them! Many include a celebration cake. For my son, I decorated cupcakes with white frosting and arranged them in the shape of a cross on a large wooden tray.

Light their Baptism candle at your celebration. Traditionally, Baptism candles were lit at special occasions such as Baptism anniversaries and First Communion brunch/dinners. Then at one’s death, the candle is lit and allowed to burn all the way down.

Say a special prayer for your child at dinner with your family. One mom found this prayer, which I thought was wonderful:

Remember how He broke the loaf made from golden wheat, and said, “This is my body.  Take this bread and eat.” Remember how the sun-ripe grapes taken from the vine became a cup of blessing:  “Take and drink this wine.” Remember how a cross of wood became a symbol of Christ’s giving of himself to us-the greatest kind of love. Remember Jesus’ love for you today as you receive His bread of life, His cup of grace…Remember and believe!

Have your child get their items blessed by the priest. After they receive their gifts, take them to Mass with you the next Sunday and have your child request that the priest bless them.

Congratulations if your April will include these blessings as well! Let’s take the time as busy moms to take a deep breath and cherish this day with our little ones.

March 21, 2018 by Diane Janowak

Keeping Your Heirloom Dresses Beautiful

All of our designs are made with heirloom-quality fabrics and details, with the idea that you can pass the dress or Christening gown along to another sibling, family member, or even to the next generation. If the garment will be worn within a few months, hanging it on a padded hanger in a cloth garment bag will keep it clean and safe…make sure you wash or clean it first.  If it will be longer, it’s best to store it off the hanger. It doesn’t take much time and effort to preserve these garments properly for the next wearer - but it does make a huge difference if you do.
January 31, 2018 by Diane Janowak

Ready for the Easter Parade!

It was going to church during the 1870’s that started the early Easter Parade tradition that a few cities have held onto until today.  Groups would gather in a certain area, wearing the clothes they kept for special occasions, and walk solemnly to their church for worship. After the services, they would follow the same path back singing songs of praise.  By the 1880s, the procession after church had become a spectacle of fashion and religious observance, famous in New York and around the country, as families would stroll from their church to see other decorative churches. 

Because I live in a city that doesn’t have an Easter Parade, I’ve decided to create one with family, friends and neighborhood children. Beginning at our house to create Easter hats, the kids will then stroll a couple blocks in our neighborhood, ending at a friend’s house for treats.  We’re having our parade the weekend before Easter since many spend the day with family.  Why not create an Easter Parade where you live? 

January 18, 2018 by Diane Janowak
Tags: easter

The Dress Your Daughter Will Adore this Holiday Season

Nothing makes my daughter’s face light up more than a pretty dress.

Ever since she could talk, she’s proudly expressed her preference for ultra girly garments. If she could wear a frilly dress every day, she would—and let me tell you, she’s tried.

Having a daughter who loves playing dress up on a random Wednesday, I have to bring my A-game when it comes to finding dresses for special occasions, especially the holidays.

This year, I’ve outdone myself. When she saw her brand new Strasburg Children’s dress, she nearly fell to the floor with excitement. To say she was overjoyed would be an understatement. Who could blame her?

Read more on Brown Girl Gumbo

December 19, 2017 by Diane Janowak

The "Slow Fashion" Movement

As fashion trends cycle thru faster and faster, the term “Fast Fashion” has become part of our vocabulary. As soon as a trend has been shown on the runway, it’s a quick dash on the production line to get it into the hands of the customer as fast as possible. No more waiting until the next season and remembering the trend you wanted to try…now you can get it ahead of the next season and wear it right away with a few pre-seasonal tweaks to make it work.

With this quickened pace, fashion trends have also been appearing younger, offering the ideas to a much wider age range. Go to the zoo and you can see skinny jeans tucked into tall boots with a cute top and faux fur vest (very zoo-appropriate!) on a 7 year old, 28 year old, 49 year old, and 65 year old. Each will look fabulous and hip.

While this approach works great for casual wear, it’s caused a void in special occasion clothing and made shopping a bigger challenge for parents.  Quality fabric and details have been eliminated in many garments in the rush to produce them, contributing to our “wear it a few times and throw it away” culture. Yet many of us still want more traditional and age-appropriate high-quality options when looking for a dress for Christmas, Easter, First Communion, or a flower girl. My 8 year old might want the same dress a 25 year old would wear, but this Mamma isn’t buying it. We have such a small window of time to put them in a charming and sweet dress and have them look like a little girl. Dressing little girls for a special occasion is now more challenging than ever.

At Strasburg Children, we prefer the Slow Fashion movement, although we might be the only ones using the term.  We think girls of all ages should have a beautiful dress that is age appropriate and timeless, complete with a longer, full skirt for the best twirls. Our fabrics are only 100% cotton or silk, and our details are truly heirloom quality. We wait for the silk worms to produce fabulous silk dupioni with just the right sheen and color combination. Artisans continue to produce our smocking designs with their hands rather than sending the fabric through a pleating and embroidery machine.  During production, each design is finished with French seams for a clean finish that covers all edges that could rub tender skin. Your favorite dress is created to be shared and loved by younger siblings or cousins as well, becoming a family heirloom.

Fast Fashion just doesn’t fit us. And we hope that means as much to you as it does to us.

November 28, 2017 by Diane Janowak

Prince George, Style Icon for Little Boys

Many of us moms grew up giggling at the antics of two adorable little Princes, William and Harry, enamored with their sweet and very proper English outfits as they explored the world with their much-loved Mum, Princess Diana. The royals were a fascinating breed, unlike anything we Americans could experience on our soil. And now as we dress our own littles, the pleasure has returned with the arrival of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. We can hardly wait to “meet” the new little royal we’ve been hearing about.

While Charlotte’s adorable smocked dresses and bows always bring a smile to our faces, it’s George that warms the hearts of us moms with little boys. We have endless options for dressing our little girls for all occasions. But little boys?  Why would I want to dress my baby in a plaid shirt and khaki pants when that’s what he’ll wear the rest of his life? The choices are so narrow and the window so short for when you can dress your baby/toddler in truly adorable, sweet clothes.

Prince George has changed that with a smile on those chubby cheeks. Thanks to him, we see a proper but very stylish little boy in his sweaters, shorts, knee high socks…even his buckle shoes are adorable. I can’t stop looking at him.

boys upscale shorts outfitWhy always shorts? English tradition, of course. For centuries, young British boys were dressed in gowns for the first few years of their lives, until being “breeched” and graduating to short trousers. It’s a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts until the age of 8, when they graduate to full-length pants. Especially among British royalty and aristocracy.

Taking a cue from the royal pages in British weddings, one of our original Strasburg Children designs was a boy’s button-on, where the short-sleeve shirt literally attaches with buttons at the waist to a short. It’s a classic style still worn in English and American weddings as well as for Christenings/Baptisms. That boy’s button-on, offered in all white and all ivory, remains in our collection. And now the cuteness for little boys has been expanded. We’ve added a button-on with light blue shorts and trim on the shirt to match our light blue dresses, perfect for a wedding, family portrait, or Easter parade. And for the bride who wants something more formal to coordinate with the groom’s tux we have a button-on with white shirt and black shorts. Add black knee socks and patent leather shoes and that little guy might get more attention than the bride.

So we adore you and we thank you, darling Prince George, for bringing style back for your little buddies!

 

November 01, 2017 by Diane Janowak

Because a girl is never too young for pearls

The timeless, classic beauty of a string of pearls has drawn many of us into its allure. The beloved pearl, the “Queen of Gems” as it was known for centuries, is the oldest known gem with a 4,000-year history. The Louve in Paris holds pearl remnants from a Persian princess dating back to 520 BC. Thru much of history a strand of matching pearl spheres was a treasure of almost incomparable value, in fact the most expensive jewelry in the world. And at one point, only people of a certain rank in society were allowed to wear pearls, determined by laws.

pearls jewelry for little girls

Fortunately the human hand eventually intervened, bringing access to pearls to the rest of us. Known for its stunning luster, the pearl has a very humble beginning as an annoying grain inside a mussel. Pearls do occur naturally, but the majority of pearls are considered cultured – they start with human assistance. To create a freshwater pearl, a tiny piece of tissue or pearl is carefully inserted into a live mussel. For protection, the mussel covers that tiny piece with a substance called nacre, the pearl “skin.” With thousands of thin layers of calcium carbonate crystals a pearl is created, with a white surface representing purity. Cultured pearls today rival the quality of the most expensive natural pearls.

The freshwater lakes of China have proven to be the perfect environment, creating pearls that are high in quality, durability, and with a high luster. Luster is the amount and quality of light that reflects off the surface of the pearl, which should be bright, not dull.  As a soft gem, they need special care to protect them from scratches and perfume, so wipe them with a soft cloth after you wear them and keep them in a soft pouch to assure a long life together.

Within our collection, pearls are integrated into the design of several accessories and dresses.   A veil with scattered pearls, satin gloves, and a ribbon and pearl hairbow make wonderful finishing touches for a flower girl and for her First Communion.  For baby’s Christening, our crochet booties and knit and satin booties cover tiny toes under the gown, accented with pearls.

The purity of the pearl plays a lead role in our newest Christening gown, Elizabeth, that we’re introducing this fall.  As smocking is being created by hand on our white 100% cotton bishop gown, our artisans are adding tiny pearls into the embroidery.

And we’re thrilled to have found beautiful freshwater pearls that are hand strung by a small group of artisans in Louisiana.  In addition to a classic pearl bracelet and necklace, we’ve added lovely cross and flower charms as well. These are the perfect finishing touches for a flower girl, her First Communion, or any time she’s opening a special gift.

Going strong with a 4000-year history, we don’t think the fascination with pearls will diminish anytime soon. And it certainly won’t at Strasburg Children either. Because a girl is never too young for pearls.

September 28, 2017 by Diane Janowak