8 Alternatives to Gender Reveal Parties
Somehow, it happened again: A gender reveal party started an enormous wildfire that threatened homes and livelihoods, all for a split-second pink versus blue surprise.
The fire near Los Angeles was reportedly caused by a smoke device meant to give off either pink or blue smoke to indicate the sex of a baby. Instead, the device lit a fire that burned more than 9,000 acres and caused thousands of people to evacuate the area. And this wasn't the first time. Last year, a gender reveal in Arizona started a 47,000-acre wildfire.
Former blogger and mom of three Jenna Karvunidis was credited with beginning the gender reveal party trend in 2008 before her first daughter was born. When she saw the news about the first fire from a gender reveal, she cried, she told Parents.com last year. This year, she took to Facebook to call for the end of the tradition.
"Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties," Karvundis wrote. "For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid's penis. No one cares but you."
The creator of the trend went public last year with "mixed feelings" about gender reveals and revealed that her oldest is a girl who defies gender norms and often rocks a suit.
"Who cares what gender the baby is?" Karvunidis wrote in the viral Facebook post. "I did at the time because we didn't live in 2019 and didn't know what we know now—that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what's between their legs."
Event planner Justine Broughal of Together Events said she doesn't plan gender reveals for clients because as soon as you focus on a baby's gender, "people have all these assumptions and things they put on your child." And these stereotypes limit kids growing up, as a plethora of research shows, and leave out transgender and nonbinary kids.
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"You don't really know gender from looking at your kid's genitals," says Broughal. "And that's just a really weird thing to be with all your friends and family and be like, 'He has a penis!'"
Gender reveal party gimmicks have also escalated since Karvunidis made a colored cake for her daughter. "The problem I have with it is that it's so extreme," Karvunidis told us shortly after her 2019 viral post. "You've got guns and glitter, you've got tractor versus tutu." And we can't forget the growing trend of folks putting pink or blue powder in front of an alligator and waiting for the creature to chomp down for a dramatic reveal (although we might like to).
Although Karvunidis knows she's not responsible for everybody in the world, she still feels a level of culpability. So asks parents-to-be who are doing gender reveals, "Don't do anything violent. Don't light anything on fire."
But for those looking for another potential bash, you're in luck. "People can come up with their own creative ways to celebrate that kind of news that has nothing to do with gender," says Karvunidis. Broughal agrees, encouraging parents to be intentional with the celebrations they choose, whether it's a big blow-out before baby hibernation or an intimate moment to celebrate a new season of life. Here are eight to consider.
1. I'm Pregnant! Party
"We could move it to pregnancy reveal party when you find out you're pregnant," says Karvunidis. "If you find out you're pregnant at 6 weeks and you have a party at 12 weeks, it takes about that time to put something together."
That's six weeks to pick a date, wrangle your people, send out invites, receive RSVPs (even on a Facebook invite, you know your busiest friends need ample time to check their calendars), order a cake, and get some decorations. Plus, at this point in your pregnancy, it's exciting enough for your family and friends that you have a bun in the oven—the gender is fairly irrelevant. A baby-shaped cake is an easy option, or as Karvunidis suggests, plan a dinner around some peas in the pod.
2. "Chosen Family" Dinner Party
For parents having their first baby, Broughal suggests having a small gathering to specifically share the news with your closest friends and family—similar to choosing godparents for religious families. Sometimes your family and support system are blood relations, and sometimes they're the like-minded folks you've found throughout your life. A dinner party with your entire support system around one table shows "you're intentionally inviting them into this next season of life with you and your child."
3. Name Reveal Party
"If parents want to have a big party, they could do a name reveal," says Karvunidis. "Maybe have a fortune cookie and open it up and everybody knows the name."
And in the age of Pinterest, you know there are some crazy cake crafts out there that could let parents craft their child's initials inside a cake to still get the effect of cutting into a baked good for a big reveal. The spectacle alone would get oohs and ahhs.
4. Fandom Reveal party
"I thought it would be fun to do a reveal with whatever kind of fandom you're into," says Broughal. If you're into "Friends" for example, ask friends which character your baby will be. We know there are some Chandler babies on the way. Could you be more excited for your baby to arrive?
5. Diva Reveal Party
"Which diva is your baby? Is it Christina or Beyonce?" says Broughal. Think karaoke, sweet treats, and an excuse for your friends and family to dress a little extra. And let's be honest, once your little one starts kicking you, you probably have an idea of which little diva the bugger is channeling. Queen Bey? Mick Jagger? Jonathan Van Ness? Cardi B? Just think of the photo booth potential...
6. Zodiac Reveal Party
Your baby might not arrive right on your estimated due date, but that guestimate should be enough to determine your baby's astrological sign. A zodiac reveal party has a woo-woo theme that just demands a full-on birth chart activity and maybe a tarot card reader.
7. Birthstone Reveal Party
If you know your baby's likely birth month (sorry parents-to-be with due dates in the first or final days of a month), you can do a birthstone reveal party. We don't have to tell you all the creative things you could do with an April due date. Hello, diamond party!
8. Parenting Style Reveal Party
On a more serious note, if your parents or close friends are more the pink or blue types, you could take the opportunity to throw a dinner party to make an occasion to talk about how you want to raise your child without those stereotypes.
"We're not having it be this awkward conversation where it feels like you're forcing something on your parents or your in-laws," says Broughal. Instead, you can "talk about gender and the expectations around how you're raising your kid and how they should interact with your kid" in a natural way, face-to-face.
On the Invite...
Although a baby shower usually functions as the gift-giving baby celebration, you can also request guests stay away from any stereotypically gendered gifts at a gender reveal. "Don't say, 'don't bring pink,'" says Broughal. "Instead, say something like, 'We invite you to bring gifts in all the colors of the rainbow.'"
For extra protection from a room full of pink or blue, adds Broughal, "I would be really intentional about what you put on your registry."