Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

This past weekend, a few of my mom’s friends threw a shower/celebration for Elliott. I know what you may be thinking: A shower? For a second baby? It happens, especially if Baby 2 is a different gender than Baby 1. It’s basically an excuse for a group of women to get together and drink sangria and pina coladas and give Elliott the things they would have bought for him anyway. The crowd was limited to friends and family who would enjoy the occasion and for whom I wouldn’t blink an eye about attending a “second baby shower” for, either.

It was pretty fun as far as showers go. The limited amount of gifts, and the fact that they were all clothes and toys instead of “big ticket items” meant that I didn’t spend too much time feeling overly self-conscious as everyone just sat around while I opened things. There weren’t any overly game-y games, the food was tasty, and there was no drama. There was even a sweet 8 month old baby girl to help Charlotte “entertain” everyone.

As I mentioned, the haul was entirely clothes, toys, and other small items like receiving blankets and bibs and such. Later, as I was sorting everything into piles by size, I noticed that while there were only a couple of duplicate gifts, everything looked “the same.” Adorable, mind you, but pretty much the same. In fact, when I started sorting everything the next morning, I was unable to remember which gift went with which person, despite the best efforts of my gift-documentor. Which set of “puppy onesies” went with my aunt and which one went with my sisters-in-law? Thankfully, the thank you notes don’t have to be quite that precise.

Being who I am, I started to wonder which theme was the most prevalent and that opened the statistical floodgates. As I sorted, I recorded the theme(s) and category (size) of each item.

Here’s what I learned with the help of some basic charts from Excel:

As you can see, Puppies and Baseball were the major themes, with Zoo and Vehicles right behind. I really thought Monkey was going to take it, but that was because everything that was Zoo themed included monkeys but wasn’t counted as a monkey-themed item. While it looks like Misc Animal had as many hits as Puppy and Baseball, It really didn’t. More on that in a minute if you don’t start tuning out beforehand.

We had warned everyone that Elliott was likely to be a big kid, which explains the relatively even distribution in clothing sizes from 3 to 9 months. It’s hard to resist the tiny clothes, because they’re just so gosh-darned cute. Anything much bigger can be a serious hit-or-miss since babies “sizes” don’t always match their ages. Who knows what season he’ll really be in the 12 months clothes? I suspect it will be well before his one-year birthday.

Sadly, I don’t think my sample size was large enough to answer any more interesting questions. I wonder if there’s a connection between size and popular theme: are puppies even cuter in the 0-3 months size? Does construction equipment make more “sense” for the 18 month set? I also wondered if what I’d picked out for him (and added to the sorting after I’d finished cataloguing) matched up, or if my pro-monkey/anti-sport-themed bias would be too obvious. I know the additions would have bumped frogs into it’s own category. Since that pile of previous purchases also included items from Grandma, and I couldn’t remember who had purchased which items, that’s another unanswered question.

If you’re moonlighting as a stat geek, too, you might care that Zoo was defined as anything with multiple kinds animals on it. One might consider this category Jungle or Safari, but they usually contained animals that don’t ever see each other in the wild. Misc Animal was defined as clothes with a single animal theme, like Monkey or Puppy, but only containing one or two item with that theme. That didn’t seem like enough to clutter the pretty charts with a single block for elephant, penguin, frog, turtle, etc etc. Misc Sport was defined similarly. The No Theme theme was reserved for clothing and items that didn’t have a theme so much as they were a solid color or pattern. Some had phrases like “I’m Awesome” or “Little Brother”, but that didn’t seem theme-y enough. I intentionally left No Theme off the bar chart because even though it was nearly 1/4 of the items, it wasn’t as interesting as the rest of the themes and skewed the visuals. The packet of blue and brown pants is useful and i’m grateful, but it doesn’t really address the primary “popular theme” question. As far as categories go, Misc Cloth are laundry-bound things that aren’t clothes (bibs, blankets, wash clothes, and a stuffed lovey), and Misc Toy/Acc are toys and other things that won’t be laundered before Elliott gets to use them. (boiled, maybe ;)

In the interest of full disclosure, the quantities (especially the totals by category) are a bit misleading. Excepting Zoo, if an item had more than one clear theme (like a dinosaur driving a car or teddy bears *and* construction equipment) then it counted in multiple categories. There weren’t many of those items (maybe 4?) but with a data set this small, it’s a significant impact. LIkewise, if a set had a bib with the outfit, it counted as two items in the same theme, and a 5-pack of onesies would be assessed as 5 different items (and they weren’t always in the same theme!). I know, I know. It’s amateurish not to track it both ways, but at the end of the day, I knew I had much better things to do than go back and re-count everything using different methods for different data crunching. I could have also tracked themes by gift (most people picked up multiple items), and tracking theme by age of gift-giver would have been interesting, too. At least with a larger sample size. Missed opportunities all.

As of now, the clothes are all sorted into gift bags based on size, ready to be brought out and laundered as he grows into them. The 0-3 clothes and the majority of the misc cloth and toys will be addressed as soon as we get the nursery set up and the changing table in place, which should be some time in the next couple of weeks.

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