So my pregnant friend has invited me to a ‘gender reveal’ party. What is this? And am I expected to bring a present?”
A gender-reveal party, usually held in the second trimester, is kind of like where parents throw a surprise party for themselves, revealing to guests and sometimes also to themselves what the gender of their baby is. They are mostly an American invention, though the trend seems to be spreading to Europe and beyond, made possible by developments ultrasound technology that let a technician’s gender prediction be much more accurate than it was in the past.
The gender reveal can happen a few different ways: parents may have an ultrasound technician write the baby’s gender in an envelope, seal it and then open it at the party, or before the party a trusted friend or family member will open the envelope and devise some kind of big reveal that usually involves pink or blue, including but not limited to:
- a cake or cupcakes that are pink or blue on the inside, covered in frosting so that the cake color is only visible after you cut it;
- a wrapped present full of inflated pink or blue balloons, a boy or girl’s outfit, a pink or blue Christmas ornament some other pink or blue item;
- handing out scratch cards that have the gender on them.
Sometimes parents will invite party guests to root for one gender or the other. Presents aren’t usually expected at these events (though who dislikes getting presents?) and the gender-reveal party doesn’t take the place of the baby shower, where presents are pretty much expected.
Like everything in life, gender-reveal parties also have their detractors, among them people who grouse that the parties are an “attention grab,” parents who are wary of getting too excited about the baby lest something go wrong during pregnancy, who want to keep the gender a surprise until the very end, or who feel like the parties encourage gender stereotyping and fear being drowned in a sea of pink or blue baby shower gifts (gender is only one part of someone’s personality, after all). And even in this day and age, ultrasound technicians still sometimes do make the wrong call on gender from time to time, especially before about the 14th week or so when genitals are about the size of a grain of rice and can be pretty ambiguous.
Still, gender-reveal parties are a fun excuse for getting together, eating cake and seeing your pregnant friend while she still has enough time and energy to be social.