While a gender reveal party can be fun for a lot of expectant parents (and grandparents), it’s not for everyone.
Whether you aren’t finding out the sex of your baby or you just don’t like the idea of having one in the first place, there are actually a lot of really fun gender-neutral alternatives out there.
First things first, though: What is a gender reveal party? Basically, it’s a big party where the parents-to-be and their family and friends come together to find out the sex of their baby. The parties have really advanced over the years and now often include balloons, colorful cake, and even smoke effects.
The concept was popularized by blogger Jenna Karvunidis in 2008.
Interestingly, Jenna has since walked back her support of the parties, and in 2019 she told her readers that the original gender reveal baby had … changed her gender! “Plot twist! The baby from the original gender reveal party is a girl who wears suits. She says ‘she’ and ‘her’ and all of that, but you know she really goes outside gender norms.”
There are plenty of personal reasons why an expectant parent may choose to not have a gender reveal party, and all are equally valid. Here are seven gender-neutral ideas that can take its place.
What's wrong with a gender reveal party?
There’s nothing “wrong” with gender reveal parties exactly, and plenty of people have them and are thrilled to do so. But other parents are less inclined. On one hand, it’s a helpful way to gather up supplies that are girl- or boy-themed for parents who really care about having pink items if they’re having a girl and blue items if they’re having a boy.
As Diane Stopyra writes for Marie Claire, “gender-reveal parties don’t actually reveal gender — they reveal anatomy. Gender is a wholly different thing, inextricably tied to the social constructs around it.”
She also adds that our notions about pink and blue have a horrific past: “Fun fact: Blue used to be the color most associated with little girls, due to its association with the Virgin Mary. But Hitler — yes, Hitler — feminized the color pink by forcing gays to wear triangles in that shade during World War II.”
On the other hand, many people feel that locking a child into a set gender so early in life — before they’re even born — is problematic. For one thing, the gender reveal party isn’t really revealing a child’s gender, it’s revealing the child’s biological sex. These are actually two totally different things.
And Carly Gieseler, PhD, assistant professor at The City University of New York, has noted that “at a time when these expectations about gender are eroding, this type of ritual is working against that progress. We’re affixing a label to a child who hasn’t even had a chance to enter the world and assume that identity.”
Of course, someone’s attitudes and beliefs about gender and biological sex are personal and are likely not going to be changed by something you read online. But it’s good to know why some people push back against the idea of gender reveal parties, especially if you’ve been wondering.
7 Gender-Neutral Alternatives to a Gender Reveal Party
Luckily, a lot of parents have been putting thought into what kinds of parties they can have if they skip the traditional gender reveal and want something else. So this means that the rest of us have options, which is usually only a good thing. If you want to have a gender reveal party, go for it! But if you don’t, one of these ideas might appeal to you.
1. Astrology Party
Ooh, I love this one: Instead of a gender reveal party, have a zodiac sign reveal instead! The options are pretty endless: You can score decorations in your baby’s sign (or make your own), and even include activities like blessings and even tarot card readings. Another idea: Have your guests write horoscopes for your baby, and then read them aloud.
Here are the zodiac signs and their corresponding birth dates:
- Aries: March 21 to April 19
- Taurus: April 20 to May 19
- Gemini: May 21 to June 20
- Cancer: June 21 to July 22
- Leo: July 23 to August 22
- Virgo: August 23 to September 22
- Libra: September 23 to October 22
- Scorpio: October 23 to November 21
- Sagittarius: November 22 to December 21
- Capricorn: December 22 to January 18
- Aquarius: January 19 to February 18
- Pisces: February 19 to March 20
2. Celebrate Every Color
Instead of just focusing on pink or blue (or even yellow), why not host a kaleidoscopic party and celebrate every color of the rainbow? Guests can wear rainbow colors (for extra fun, have them dress monochromatically), you can have a rainbow cake, and, you know, rainbows can be everywhere. You can even choose rainbow-themed songs for the playlist, like “Bold As Love” and “She’s a Rainbow.”
3. Pregnancy Reveal
Whether you have kept the details of your pregnancy hush-hush or you want to tell everyone right from the beginning, you could have an “I’m pregnant!” party instead. Gather your friends and family in whatever way works for you (in person, on Zoom), and have fun telling them your big news in a celebratory way. Plus: You can still totally have cake.
4. Name Reveal Party
While some parents wait to pick out a name for their child until they actually meet the baby, a lot of people usually have at least a few names in mind ahead of the birth. If you don’t want to have a gender reveal but do want to have some kind of fun party, have a name reveal instead! You can share the names that you’re thinking of, or have a name collecting party and let your guests contribute.
5. Birthstone Reveal Party
If gemstones are your thing, nothing could be more fun than having a birthstone reveal party. Of course, if your baby decides to come a little early or late, you might end up off, but the party itself will be plenty of fun. Guests can bring birthstone-themed gifts, and you can even try to find someone who will make a gemstone-encrusted cake.
6. Gender-Free Baby Shower
You can also choose to just not focus on the baby’s gender or sex at all as an alternative to a gender reveal party. Instead, just have a party celebrating your baby! There are so many gender-neutral options out there for babies today, and you can choose a theme that has nothing to do with boys or girls and has everything to do with … literally anything else.
7. Godparent/Chosen Family Party
Instead of focusing on the baby (who will definitely get plenty of the attention soon enough), you can have a godparent or chosen family party instead of a gender reveal. Invite your closest friends, especially those you want to ask to be godparents. The party will be intimate, but it’ll be a great way to ask if they’re willing to take on the role.
Ultimately, how a family celebrates welcoming a child into their life is up to that family. Some parents might want to have a gender reveal party, and it might be super fun. For others, it’s not the best choice for them. Either way, there are a whole bunch of options out there (and you also don’t have to have any kind of party at all).