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Herald birth of baby with announcements

Handmade cards are a heartfelt, beautiful way to share the good news

After the arrival of a baby, birth announcements are a wonderful way for parents to share their good news. The announcements make beautiful keepsakes and answer the flurry of questions that follow such an exciting event: What's her name? When was he born? How much does she weigh?

Birth announcements are never required, but parents who choose to send them will need to decide between handmade versions and professionally printed cards. Handmade cards communicate warmth by their very nature, but printed and engraved cards can be just as personal and distinctive. And many parents appreciate the ease of ordering announcements. It's even easier if you choose the design before the baby is born, then call the stationer with the relevant details soon after the birth.

What to Say

The wording of the announcement should complement its appearance. The most formal version could include nothing more than the baby's name and birth date and the parents' formal names (for example, Mr. and Mrs. John Smith). You can also use given names (Mary and John Smith), which is more in keeping with the spirit of the correspondence.

Often, parents choose wording that reflects their feelings: "Mary and John Smith proudly announce (or joyfully announce . . .) the birth of their daughter, Anne." Less-formal cards could read "Mary and John Smith welcome with love . . ." or "It's a boy!"

If the parents have different last names, their announcement could read, "Mary Jones and John Smith proudly announce the birth of their daughter, Anne Smith." When a child is adopted, parents often use the word "arrival" or "arrived" as in "Mary and John Smith proudly announce the arrival of Anne Smith," and may include both birth date and arrival date.

Handmade Cards

Handmade birth announcements allow parents to express their creativity as well as their joy — and making them doesn't have to be hard work. In fact, the easiest announcement of all is also one of the most personal: a note handwritten on good stationery.

You can dress up simple cards with a few special touches. For the cards, just fold pretty pieces of sturdy paper in half (trim them first to the size you want), or use single thicknesses of card stock. You can also center a piece of paper on a slightly larger piece of card stock; punch two holes at the top of the two cards, and join with ribbon.

The baby's details can be handwritten or printed out on the cards, which can be embellished in one of the following ways:

For an embroidered rattle, draw a rattle shape lightly in pencil, then use a thumbtack to make holes along the outline at 1/8-inch intervals. Thread a needle with embroidery floss, and stitch along the outline using a back stitch.

Take one good impression of your baby's footprint with an ink pad, then bring the image to a rubber-stamp company to have it turned into a stamp. Use it to decorate your cards.

For a card with a flannel "onesie," just cut out a tiny onesie shape from plain white flannel, and use craft glue to attach it to the card.

Photo Cards

Your friends and family will be delighted to discover a photograph in the envelope they receive. Attach a photo to a card using ribbon corners, thick thread or thin cording. To make ribbon corners, fold short lengths of 1/2-inch-wide ribbon into points around a corner of a card; slide card out and iron the ribbon flat. Glue ribbon to the card and insert photo.

To use thick thread or cording, position the photo on a card. Use a pencil to mark where you'll need holes: one on either side of each corner, and two centered below the photo. Make the holes with a pushpin. Send one end of thread from the back through one bottom-center hole, then lace other end around the card. Insert photo, pull thread taut and tie a bow.

Paper Dolls and Stocking Cards

Paper dolls are perfect for twins — or triplets or quadruplets . . . Make a template for one doll by drawing a shape similar to a gingerbread man. For twins, fold paper in half, place the "hand" on the fold of the paper, and trace the template. Cut out shape. For triplets or quadruplets, fold the paper accordion style to make three or more dolls. Tie ribbons around their "waists," and write in the details.

A tiny newborn's sock is an adorable vehicle for information: Cut out stocking shapes from thick paper, rubber-stamp or write the baby's name on top and details below; slip it into the sock, and tie with a bow.

More Ideas

You'll find lots more craft and keepsake ideas in our new special issue, "Martha Stewart Baby," on newsstands March 6.

Questions should be addressed to Martha Stewart, in care of The New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Martha Stewart regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.Please include your name and daytime telephone number. Questions may also be sent to Stewart by electronic mail. Her address is: mstewart@marthastewart.comMartha Stewart Living Omnimedia LLC. All rights reserved. Dist. by New York Times Special Feature