For most of human history, we had no idea what sex a baby was until he or she was born. Even with the universal use of ultrasounds beginning in the 1990s, the gender could not be determined until 18 to 20 weeks gestation. This meant most moms-to-be didn’t know what they were having until they were five months pregnant, around the time they would typically look at having a baby shower.

Now, thanks to an optional blood test known as NIPT, which primarily checks for Down’s Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities, moms-to-be can know the sex of their child as early as 10 weeks. This led to the invention of “gender reveal parties” that can happen as early as two and a half months into pregnancy. The question then became when do you throw a gender reveal party?

The answer depends on several factors.

Option 1: Gender Reveal before Baby Shower

You know the results, and you’re excited to share! You want to have your gender reveal sooner rather than later. Just remember you don’t want it too close to your baby shower, which is traditionally held in the third trimester (around 28 weeks to 34 weeks gestation).

If you know who will be hosting your baby shower, get together and consult on the best times for both parties. Try to space them out by at least a month.

Because we know the gender so much earlier these days, most women throw their gender reveal parties right away, long before the baby shower. However, just know that if you do this, you are likley to receive many gendered items, especially clothing, at your shower.

Option 2: Gender Reveal after Baby Shower

If you aren’t down to have 50 pairs of “Princess” themed bibs and tutus or sports themed onesies with moustaches on them, you may want to reverse the order of your parties. When people don’t know the gender, they’re constrained to giving more gender-neutral items. Oftentimes, this means you end up with more practical, useful items (think bottle warmers and diaper pails) rather than more clothing than your child can wear before they outgrow them.

The downside is you might not get a good showing. Once the baby shower is done, people may not see a reason to come back for another party, especially if they assume gender reveal parties require another gift.

Option 3: Joint Gender Reveal & Baby Shower

Your third option is to host your gender reveal at your baby shower. To do this, you’ll again want to coordinate with the friend or family member who will be hosting, since etiquette traditionally says the mother-to-be should not host her own shower. Together, you can come up with the perfect reveal strategy, whether cake or confetti poppers or a piñata. This joint-purpose party is great for women who don’t want to be the center of attention for too long. It also helps prevent the gender-themed gifts that many mothers would prefer to avoid.

When will you find out the gender? 

Many moms-to-be want to to be surprised at the gender reveal, too! If this sounds like you, you’ll need to enlist the help of close friend or family member—one who you can trust to not spill the beans before the big reveal.

When you get your NIPT blood test or sonogram results back, make sure to tell the medical personnel  that you do not want to know the gender. Ask them to write the gender on a piece of paper, fold it, and seal it in an envelope. You can hand this envelope to your trusted buddy, who will open it and plan the reveal.

You can still participate in planning for and decorating the party with both blue and pink colors as a theme. However, your trusted buddy will be the one to order the cake with special icing on the inside, purchase colored balloons and trap them in a cardboard box, or set up the pink or blue piñata filling.

Just be sure that you and your partner don’t have a preference in gender that will leave you disappointed if you don’t get the boy or girl you’re hoping for. It is not unheard of for a gender reveal to end awkwardly with either mom or dad being visibly upset at the reveal! If you suspect you may suffer with “gender disappointment,” you may want to change when you find out the gender. You can have the time to adjust to the news and still enjoy the happiness and surprise that your friends and family will be experiencing. The same goes for any dads who may not want to be put on the spot with a gender reveal.

Whenever you throw your gender reveal, just remember to kick back and have fun. These parties can be as simple or as complex as you like. Games and over-the-top décor are not required but can certainly make it special if that’s just how you are. Just be yourself and bask in the glory of your friends’ and family’s love for your and your new little one.

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