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Sip and See (party) also Sip n See

noun [countable]

a party given by new parents so that friends and family can see their newborn baby

'Among those rumoured to have thrown a baby shower is the Duchess of Cambridge, although whether she and Prince William will hold a Sip and See for their eagerly awaited new arrival is yet to be seen.'

Daily Mail, UK 15th July 2013

In those early weeks of parenthood, juggling an unsettled baby and its relentless needs against sleepless nights, the idea of throwing a big party couldn't have been further from my mind. I'm guessing I'm not alone in that sentiment. And yet there's a recently emerging craze which flies in the face of all that downcast exhaustion. Far from shying away from socializing or even looking at yourself in the mirror, why not invite lots of people around for a resounding knees-up where they can have a few drinks and admire the new nipper? – Enter the Sip and See.

the Sip and See … is a large, glittery affair, which may involve a special cake, champagne, and considerable expense

The Sip and See (also sometimes Sip n See or Sip and See party) is a 21st century take on the old tradition of 'wetting the baby's head'. In contrast to celebrating the birth of a baby with a few drinks, however, the Sip and See is a large, glittery affair, which may involve a special cake, champagne, and considerable expense. Guests sip the lovely beverages on offer and in the midst of their socializing get an opportunity to see the new arrival (and politely make adoring comments, presumably).

The concept of a Sip and See has been around in the US for some time, but is now growing in popularity in the UK, a trend thought partly attributable to social media, where people are picking up ideas from across the pond. On the same theme, another emerging practice emanating from the US is the gender reveal party. In this gathering, the focus is on the little person before, rather than after, their arrival, and guests are invited along to find out, en masse, the gender of a soon-to-arrive baby. Rather than making an announcement, this is done through a novelty item such as a cake or, for a Latin American twist, piñata, which when cut open reveals a particular colour (pink or blue of course!). For parents who take their gender reveal celebrations particularly seriously, this may even mean not knowing the gender of the baby themselves. Such parents ask the medical professionals to give them the information in a sealed envelope, which they then hand over to a baker who makes a blue cake for a boy or a pink cake for a girl and covers the whole thing in icing. The party climaxes when the cake is cut and all is revealed!

Background – Sip and See (party)

Concepts such as the Sip and See and gender reveal party follow in the wake of the prom (a party for secondary school students) and baby shower (a party for a pregnant woman who receives presents for the baby). Both these celebrations originated in the US, and though in previous generations might have seemed a little 'over the top' from a UK perspective, have now been embraced by British culture to some extent. It remains to be seen whether the Sip and See and gender reveal party will hang around too or just be a passing fad.

The expression Sip and See seems likely to have taken inspiration from conjoined verb expressions such as e.g. scratch and sniff, which first appeared in the 1970s and describes a special paper which releases a smell when scratched. Other examples include wash and wear (describing fabric that holds its shape when washed and doesn't need to be ironed), and bring and buy (a charity event where people donate items for sale and buy items donated by others). In all these cases it's possible to contract and to n, a scenario which is restricted to a limited set of expressions in English (c.f. conjoined noun phrases such as fish n chips, salt n vinegar etc.).

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 1st October 2013.

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