Last summer I invested in a baby gender reveal cake, and held a baby gender reveal party. I didn’t post about it the time, because it felt so extravagant. I have never bought a big cake before – I even made our wedding cake! – so it was a something of a departure for me.
Over the past couple of days, however, there have been stories in the UK press about how baby gender reveal cakes and baby gender reveal parties are the New Big Thing for British mums-to-be. (These “trend” stories are so woolly, aren’t they? As seems to be the norm, the one currently doing the rounds features a single, solitary case study. Now I suppose enquiries will go up, and the media coverage will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Well, I suppose that’s how it goes.)
Since it turns out that I am achingly on-trend and also because some of the newspaper stories are, erroneously, lumping baby gender reveal cakes and baby gender reveal parties in with baby showers, I thought I’d share my experiences…
Baby gender reveal parties became popular in America, which is where we got the idea from, about a year ago. As explained by the Telegraph:
“These are celebrations at which friends and family gather around an expectant mother to find out the sex of her child, through the cutting of a cake that contains pink sponge for a girl, and blue for a boy.
“Typically, the parents will find out at exactly the same time as everyone else in the room, having asked their sonographer to seal the news in an envelope, which they will then hand straight to a baker who can get to work on a gender-reveal cake.”
This time last year, I was three months pregnant with Thrifty Baby and we had already decided to find out at the 20-week scan if it was a girl or a boy (due to yours truly being an infernal nosy parker). When we chanced upon the YouTube footage of American couples cutting into mystery cakes, surrounded by friends and family, we thought it was a brilliant idea.
The way we saw it, it was a way to bring our family together to celebrate Thrifty Baby’s imminent arrival. We live in North Yorkshire, but our families are based down in Essex, almost 300 miles away. Siblings, parents, step-parents and grandparents were all excited for us, and phone calls, scan pictures and emails were flying backwards and forwards – it seemed such a shame that they all lived so far away! A family member had suggested holding an American-style baby shower, but to be honest, that’s really not my thing.
So we hatched a plan. Rather than have the sonographer make the announcement at the 20-week scan in August, we would ask them to seal the news in an envelope. We would take the envelope to the baker as quickly as possible, because we knew we would be tempted to look inside. We would take the cake down to Essex, hold a small party for close family, cut into the cake… and all find out the big news at the same time.
We let our local cake baker in on our plans, and booked her in for August. My mum kindly offered to hold the party in her back garden. A date was set. Invitations were sent.
Then we hit a couple of problems. Explaining to the would-be guests what a baby gender reveal party actually was, and how it worked, turned out to be a job and a half. People were confused, then bewildered, then sceptical. Didn’t we want to leave the surprise until the birth? Wouldn’t we prefer the surprise to be for us two only? Weren’t we horrified that the baker would know before we would?
Then it was as if a switch flipped, and we had the opposite problem: guests who were crazy-crazy-excited about the impending baby gender reveal party. This should have been a good thing, but at one point the guest list was commandeered, extended to include other family members and family friends, and then extended to include plus ones and people we barely knew. British reserve kicked in, and we suddenly felt uncomfortable about the whole thing.
And at this point we realised that as fun as the party idea was, the cutting of the baby gender reveal cake was also going to be a very personal moment. And that actually, we were really nervous about it and didn’t want share it with all and sundry. So we restricted the guest list to parents, step-parents, siblings, grandparents and our baby niece.
Our next challenge was getting the whole thing past the sonographer. When we went for the 20-week scan, she initially refused to write the baby’s sex on a piece of paper and put it an envelope, on the grounds that it would contravene data protection rules. Eh? That Data Protection Act has a lot to answer for! If any of you are considering a baby gender reveal party, I would bear this in mind. It wasn’t something we had expected!
Fortunately we persuaded the sonographer that if the envelope was passed to us rather than the baker, data protection didn’t come into it. She agreed to write down the baby’s sex – albeit grudgingly.
We took the envelope to the baker quicksmart. The cake cost £50. Do you know, we got so much out of that £50 – a great cake, a great party and some great memories – that I think it was money well spent.
Here is our wonderful cake:
The sponge had been dyed and then thickly iced, so that none of the colour peeped through. When we drove down to Essex, the cake was carefully strapped in on the back seat. I was terrified that we would have to brake suddenly, and the cake would go flying up and smash on the ceiling, and cover us both with dyed cake crumbs…
The party went well too. It was a sunny afternoon and all the flowers were out in the garden. Both our families came together for the do, and my sister-in-law and her family even flew over from Macedonia for the occasion.
When we cut the cake, it was an unexpectedly nerve-wracking moment. I don’t know why – we were going to be delighted if the cake was pink, and delighted if it was blue – but that split-second between putting the knife in and seeing what colour was inside passed v-e-r-y slowly. (We also took a video – I’ll see if I can dig it out.)
And the outcome? Well, you probably know that already…
If you are considering holding a baby gender reveal party, I would really recommend it. I loved it, and would definitely do it again. Just be prepared to argue your case, if necessary. I know that if we had given into the sonographer’s protests in that cramped, windowless scanning room, and instead let her tell us there and then that Baby Thrifty was a boy, the surprise wouldn’t have been half as much fun.
You also have to be prepared to eat cake of an exceptionally lurid hue…