Megan and Jake Casperson, of Lebanon, were surprised to learn in early 2014 they were going to be blessed with twins.
“My husband and I were both speechless for at least a couple of minutes,” said Megan, 32, a stay-at-home mom. They already had a 1-year-old son, Colby. “I was thinking that I’ll never leave the house again. Trying to juggle three kids seemed impossible! God had thrown me a curveball, but he never blesses you with anything you can’t handle. My husband said, ‘Well, I guess we’ll need a bigger boat!’”
And a big gender-reveal party to share the news.
“I love any excuse for my family to get together and I love surprises,” she said. “Especially happy ones. So, I thought, why not have a gender-reveal party with two surprises? I did not do one with Colby. We just found out at the first ultrasound. I think the gender reveal parties were beginning to become more popular a couple years after he was born.”
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As a reference, the first video of a gender-reveal party was posted on YouTube in 2008. Now, thousands have been uploaded. The parties are a way to celebrate and share the surprise.
Up until the late 1970s and early 1980s, parents discovered their child’s sex at birth. Now, more than 50 percent choose to find out the sex of their baby beforehand, usually with an ultrasound between 18 and 22 weeks, according to the American Pregnancy Association, a nonprofit educational group.
At Megan’s ultrasound, she and Jake, a field superintendent for Contegra Construction, had the technician put the results in an envelope they couldn’t see. They wanted a surprise, too.
“I took the envelope to the bakery and told them it was a surprise to the parents as well,” she said.
The chocolate-iced sheet cake had two brown and yellow icing owls sitting on a tree branch with the lettering, “Guess whoooooo?” When they sliced into the cake, the icing in the middle was pink on one end and blue on the other.
“We had our family over for a big dinner/reveal,” said Megan. “We first surprised everybody with an envelope with an ultrasound picture saying that it was twins. I believe my husband’s sister Angi was the first one to realize it was twins from the ultrasound picture! My dad was speechless! My mom was ecstatic!”
The Caspersons had kept that secret.
“I was very happy when we cut the cake to find out we were having one of each. I was saying that I would like to have a girl to even things out in the family, and a boy for Colby to rough and tumble with. Turns out we were blessed with both!”
Samuel and Josephine were born Sept. 3, 2014, weighing 6 pounds, 5 ounces; and 5 pounds, 14 ounces. The Caspersons are currently working on an addition to their house.
Are gender-reveal parties here to stay or are they a passing trend?
“I believe the gender reveal parties will stick around,” Megan said. “They get families together to celebrate a good surprise. It’s always fun to come up with plan to reveal the gender. There are endless possibilities for ways you can tell your family. So, that’s always fun to plan.”
Big Bang theory
Aaron and Jamalyn Koch, of Millstadt, didn’t find out the gender of their first child until he was born.
“It was nature’s biggest surprise, if you will,” said the mother of Vincent, 2, and Matilda, 4 months. “We wanted the surprise to be when he was born, genuine and sweet, in that moment. Aaron kind of wanted to know before, but said, ‘If you want to be surprised, I will be surprised, too.’”
For baby number two, they went a different route.
“We decided to find out. It was a way to prepare Vincent a little better, and a way for us to prepare a little better, too.”
They planned a party at their home to share the news with family and friends.
Then, they announced the gender with a big bang.
“I wanted to do individual poppers,” said Jamalyn, 34. “Everyone would have one and find out at the same time. I sent an out-of-town friend of mine the envelope from the doctor. I knew I wouldn’t see her and wouldn’t be tempted to ask her or misread her look.”
She learned individual poppers would take two months to arrive, then scrambled and found another vendor to provide two giant poppers in short order.
“My friend told them what color,” said Jamalyn.
Guests got into the spirit by wearing pink or blue.
“Both of our dads stood on either side of us, and we counted down, three, two, one, and they popped. I was jumping up and down. It was really fun. We all found out at once. There was love and fun in the air. Literally.”
Pink confetti filled the room.
“We are still finding confetti to this day,” said Jamalyn. “It was everywhere.”
Spreading the news
We asked readers to let us know how they announced the gender of their baby-to-be. Here’s what they had to say:
▪ Victoria Allen and Bill Flynn, of Fairview Heights
When did you have your gender reveal? At 20 weeks (we are 37 weeks pregnant right now).
How did you let people know it’s a boy? “We have a 5-year-old and wanted to involve her in the photo. She wanted a sister so bad! Needless to say, she ended up with a brother and was not happy at all. She cried at the ultrasound and the entire way home. She didn’t even want to do the photo shoot we had planned, so I snapped a funny picture of her to let the world know how disappointed she was and used that as our official gender reveal. I planned on doing a picture with both of us spraying her with blue silly string, but we didn't make it that far.”
▪ John and Heather Herzig, of Hoyleton
Due date: Nov. 16, 2015
When did you have your gender reveal? “My husband and I revealed the gender of Baby No. 2 in June while we were in Florida with family.
How did you let people know it’s a boy? “We decided to do a beach theme and have his/her older sister do the reveal. The theme was board shorts or bikini! This is a pic of Charlotte, aka Charli, who is 19 months, opening the treasure chest to reveal she’s going to have a baby brother in November. We are so excited and cannot wait.”
▪ Chris and Kat Stover, of Belleville
How did you let people know it’s a girl? “We had cupcakes made with pink icing in the middle,” said Kat. “Then I packaged each one individually with little tags. Both my husband and I took some to work, and we visited family and friends to reveal the gender. It was a lot of fun. Amelia was born in March. This was my first and his second.”
▪ Joe and Mandy Werle, of Belleville, and Tim and Denise Huller, of O’Fallon
How they did the gender reveal: With balloons. “No one knew the gender before the party except the parents,” said Nana Carolyn Wottowa, of O’Fallon. “Mandy was due five weeks before Denise, so she had to keep her secret longer. I took the picture. I was concentrating so hard on the timing to get the balloons that it took me a minute to actually see who blew them up and to know whether it would be grandson(s) or granddaughter(s) or one of each. Mandy blew up a pink balloon; hubby Joe just held the blue balloon. Tim blew up the blue balloon, and Denise just held the pink balloon.
Part of the fun: Guests were given the choice of pink or blue beads to wear to show their guess for the Werle baby. They could choose pink or blue clothespins for the Huller baby. Decorations were all in pink and blue, including cotton candy and the Hershey bar. Lot of ideas came from Pinterest.
About the families: Denise and Tim Huller have two children. Will, 5, was born in 2009. Tyson Christopher was born July 28, 2014. Mandy and Joe Werle have a son Paxton, 2, who was born in 2012, and a daughter, Mikenzie Kay, born June 23, 2014. Grandpa is Ralph Wottowa who liked to compare bellies with his daughters when they were pregnant. These photos were taken at the gender reveal party in March 2014.
What’s happening now: “We just celebrated first birthdays for both Mikenzie and Tyson,” said Carolyn. “Mikenzie’s theme was Minnie Mouse and Tyson’s was ‘The Hungry Caterpillar.’ We truly enjoy all 4 grandchildren and can’t imagine life without them.”
Ways to reveal a baby’s gender
Need some inspiration? Here are five suggestions for parents-to-be who want to let folks know about the sex of their baby, according to www.bump.com.
- Balloon release: Have a party and open a giant package while all your guests look on. Inside will be pink helium balloons if it’s a girl. Blue balloons if it’s a boy. Or, pop a balloon with pink or blue confetti inside.
- Make it a game: Have guests guess baby’s gender. At the end of the party, announce what it is. Everyone who guessed correctly gets a trinket to take home.
- Gender reveal desserts: The original idea is to have your favorite baker create a blue or pink cake, topped with white (or chocolate!) frosting. Then, gather friends and family to slice the cake and discover whether it’s a boy or girl. New twists include cookies with pink or blue batter in the middle, and custom fortune cookies with messages inside that reveal the gender.
- Get big bro or big sis in on the action: If you have an older child, let him or her announce baby’s gender by wearing a shirt that says, “I’m getting a baby brother!” or “I'm getting a baby sister!”
- Alter the ultrasound pic: Do you like photoshopping your favorite photos? Do it to baby's ultrasound pic. Add a pink bow or a blue tie to baby's sonogram, frame it and send it to his or her future grandparents.