• Rose Smith

Article: When Gender Reveal Parties Go Wrong

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

As a couple is expecting a new member of their family, one of the most common questions they might receive is, “Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” If a couple wants to know the sex of the baby, they can often learn about 18 to 22 weeks into the pregnancy. One way they might announce it is through a gender reveal party. Gender reveal parties have been a viral way to celebrate new information about an upcoming baby and have even caught the eye of celebrities. In recent memory, Trisha Paytas, Nicky Hilton, and Jed Duggar all posted about their upcoming baby’s sex through their own gender reveal parties (US Magazine). However, what happens when these parties go wrong?

The first officially documented gender reveal party (or at least the one that codified the trend) was in 2008, when blogger Jenna Karvundis cut open a custom-made cake with pink icing on the inside, declaring that she was expecting a girl (Prospect). The post had gone viral, and throughout the 2010s, many couples followed suit. The general process would go something like this: instead of the doctor telling the parents what the sex of the baby is, the doctor writes it in a slip of paper and puts it into an envelope (Invitations by Dawn). The envelope is handed off to a family member, friend, or some kind of party planner or baker to start putting together the reveal. A common way to do it is to make a cake or cupcake and fill it up with pink or blue icing to indicate whether it’s a boy or a girl. As the trend grew in popularity, people tried to outdo each other with more elaborate or flashy reveals, including confetti cannons, the usage of a live alligator, and a light show from the tallest skyscraper in Dubai (Insider).

While the first gender reveal started innocently enough, there have been gender revels that have gone wrong, even deadly. Many of these mishaps have come from the ill use of explosives. For instance, in 2017, a fire ignited after the expectant father shot a decorated bullseye full of explosives designed to erupt in blue smoke upon impact (Seattle Times). However, the explosives were too strong, and they caused a wildfire that ended up destroying 8 million dollars worth of property. Luckily, no one died in the incident. However, in a tragic example, the party planners had made a metal contraption with a metal tube and base, tape, and colored powder. The idea was that the couple would light a fuse, and the colored powder would burst from the top. Instead, the tube itself exploded, scattering deadly shrapnel into the crowd (ABC). One of the guests, the expecting grandmother, was hit in the head and killed instantly in the blast.

The originator of the gender reveal party, Jenna Karvundis, has since disavowed the concept, citing both the dangerous consequences of irresponsible explosives and the reinforcement of gender roles (Seattle Times, The Guardian). Some party planners have also tried to suggest new ways to capture some of the magic of new baby information while also moving away from the gender reveal trend. For instance, Pine Crest Country Club provides some examples, including a name reveal party or chosen godparents party.

It is understandable to want to find a way to share the news about a new member of the family, since a new child is not only a big step for the parents, but it affects a whole community of family members and friends. Gender reveal parties took off in the 2010s with that idea in mind, but after a number of expensive and fatal gender reveal parties gone wrong, people have started to look for other alternatives to reveal new information about the baby coming into the world.

Rose Smith is the blog editor of Twenty-two Twenty-eight. When she isn’t writing about the world around her, she is often found listening to music, watching movies, and going on walks with her dogs.

You can find her on Instagram here and on Twitter here.