…And a Bunch of Things You Can Do Instead

[The follow up to this article, Everything Wrong With Gender Reveal Parties…]

1. Throw a birth announcement party

Instead of revealing the baby’s supposed gender, just reveal the baby. Throw a big party announcing the due date, or the day your caesarean is scheduled, or when you hit the nine months mark and are still waiting for the baby to decide it wants to be born.

Have cake and balloons, and tell people what names you’re thinking of – hell, you can even announce the expected sex at the party as long as it’s not the main focus of the party. You can theme the party around birth instead of gender, with tiny food or stork related decorations.

2. Have a christening/naming ceremony/other cultural or religious ceremony

Christian tradition has the Christening or baptism soon after the baby is born, ensuring that the taint of ‘original sin’ is blessed off of the baby’s soul and that the Church family is committed to help raise the baby properly. Some cultures have baby naming ceremonies, where people witness the baby being officially named. If your religion or culture has a ceremony like this, consider looking into it.

If you aren’t that involved in your religion or culture, this would be a good way to get back involved in it, and to connect with community. Instead of starting your baby’s life off with some damaging gender role enforcement, you can start them off by introducing them to their heritage.

3. Throw a name reveal

You want to reveal something, so reveal the name! Have a shortlist of names and get your guests to guess what name you’ve chosen. Give each name a colour and you can even do the balloon or cake reveal with the colour of the chosen name! The bonus is, you can even use whichever colour balloons you like. If the name is along a theme like flowers; Rose, Lily, or Daisy; or the Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John; you can base the party on that theme.

The name is the most important thing about your baby, after all, and the main thing you have control over. Making the hype about the baby’s name rather than its genitals also makes the hype about your choice, and about the person you want to mould your child into.

4. Have a baby shower

More common in the US than the UK is the baby shower – a pre-birth party getting the parents baby-related presents. It’s good to be prepared, so throwing a baby shower is a great alternative to a gender reveal party, and as it’s a present ‘shower’ the focus is on buying you grocery priced gifts like nappies and childproof locks rather than expensive gifts and rather on you throwing a big fancy party.

And, if your plan would have been to have a baby shower as well as a gender reveal party, turn the baby shower into the big party; hopefully as you host a more scaled up party your guests might scale up their helpful presents from a pack of nappies to a changing bag, a changing matt or even just a multipack of nappies.

5. Throw mum a party

Mum, or whoever is actually the pregnant one, is the one doing all the physical work. While all of these baby parties focus on the baby and whatever fact about it you’ve chosen to celebrate, it might be worth throwing her (or him/them/etc) a party instead.

Throwing a party for the one that’s pregnant is just as supportive as the baby shower parties, in that there are gifts and things. The difference is that, especially as pregnancy is hard work and is followed by having a baby which is hard work, the presents are not about childcare. Instead of asking for nappies and talking about birth weight, the gift list is bath bombs and things, and the theme is giving mum a relaxing time.

6. Have a zeroth birthday party

Throw a birthday party for baby! Just like birthday parties don’t have to be on the exact day of a child’s birthday, this can be on a Saturday before the due date, or a Sunday after the birth. Instead of having a reveal of balloons or a surprise colour cake or anything like that, have birthday events. The day your baby is born is their birthday after all!

Like any birthday party, it can be as big or as small as you like, and at its most basic just involves a cake and some party hats. At zero years old, your baby doesn’t even have any friends to invite, so just have your friends and family like any other party, except they bring their children.

7. Throw a fake gender reveal party

The activist’s choice! If you’re feeling pressured to throw a gender reveal party and you really don’t want to, use it as an opportunity to make a point or a joke. The big reveal can be purple or white, the big announcement can be “The sex is… not something we’ve chosen to find out yet!” or you could even have a surprise lesson on the problems with enforced gender.

This is a bit of a risk – if guests are too invested in your reveal, they could be offended or upset that you’re ‘attacking’ their gender role beliefs and the party could get awkward. On the other hand, if the people in your life are against gender reveals and the gendering of babies, you might upset people before you even get to reveal your joke. It’s something that would be fantastic to see had happened, though.

8. Have a meet-the-baby day

Like an open house, take a relaxed weekend day to let people come and go, meeting the new baby. This casual all-day way of having a party means less stress and more party. You can just have some light snacks and drinks, people won’t all be there at once, and the atmosphere will be laid back.

It takes the focus of revealing anything about the baby and feels very mature and calm. There’s no need for a big cake, but you can have cake. It’s low key – there’s no pressure to do any particular thing. You sit around and people come to you, all nice and slowly, lasting all day.

9. Throw a “Wetting the Baby’s Head” party

A British tradition, this one doesn’t even really involve the baby. Typically an activity for the dad, it involves going out for a drink to celebrate a successful birth. In this day and age, however, it can be for both parents. After all, everything is going to be about the baby for a good few months, so one night out is probably a welcome break.

Leave the baby at home with a relative and have a nice drink at the pub; it doesn’t have to be alcoholic for those breast feeding or just wanting to avoid a hangover when they have a crying baby. For many people having kids, the social pressure to do certain things isn’t just damaging the child, it’s damaging them. Take a break and have a night out, you’re having a baby and you deserve it.

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Costume Creativity: Basic Hallowe’en Ideas… But With Some Twists

It’s nearly Hallowe’en, and you haven’t decided on a costume yet. Every year you just lump with a classic costume like ‘generic witch’ or a more cosplay style pop culture reference like a recently deceased celebrity as a zombie. Yawn. But don’t panic! It’s easy to make more of an impact at your Hallowe’en parties with very little cerebral effort (that means thinking) and impress people with one of these twists on the costume classics:

Werewolf:

A monster less popular these days, possibly due to the effort it takes, the lack of realism in many portrayals, or the lesser place of wild animals in our lives. Either way, a werewolf costume is a retro-feeling costume that’s easy to make feel unique.

Were-What?

Not quite as silly as the Wallace and Gromit film “Curse of the Were-Rabbit”, taking the typical werewolf approach to another animal makes a funny twist. Ripped and muddy clothes go well with big, furry, carnivorous animals for an old school scare. A were-rabbit could be scary; give it the creepy full-head mask look for an uncanny creepy feel.

Big Bad

A fairy tale twist on horror, or a horror twist on fairy tales? The wolf in granny’s clothing is easy to be funny, but that was done with high viewership in Shrek. Keep this one dark with blood or even evidence of eating Little Red Riding Hood herself. The other Big Bad Wolf was in the Three Little Pigs, so another scary tale costume can swap red fabric for some bacon…

Ghosts

It feels like a staple, but the simplicity of ghost costumes makes them feel boring. Despite the fact that it’s unlikely anyone you know has every cut eye holes out of a sheet and put it over their head to be a ghost, it’s a stereotype. Put some effort in, or don’t because ghosts aren’t as overplayed as they feel.

Accuracy

Step one: dress up in as accurate a historical costume as you can, be it Victorian or the 80s. Step two: make sure all of the clothes are white, paint your exposed skin white and use temporary hair colour to make your hair white. Boom. You now look like an accurate [into time period here] ghost! It’s high effort, but highly spooky and impressive.

Deadspread

Far less effort and far less spooky is this jokey option. Riffing on the classic bedsheet costume, take a coloured or patterned sheet or even a blanket and cut eyes in it. The deliberate fail of a basic ghost costume that isn’t even plain white is well worth the giggle, and you won’t feel like you wasted time and money if the laughs don’t last all night.

Witches

This classic costume is mostly confined to the ladies. It’s also one of the most common costumes with most of the more basic twists just as common. Characters, including Harry Potter and plain clothes witches like those in Charmed and Sabrina, done. Gothic or punky, making it more of a regular fashion outfit with a pointy hat, done. Good or cute witch, done. Luckily there are some untapped ideas.

Wet-ch

From the Slavic kikimora to the English Jenny Greenteeth, watery witches are a global terror. With a wet-look costume and some culturally specific accessories, such as a kikimora’s bare feet or Jenny’s big pointy teeth, this witch might be hatless but is definitely horrifying. You’ll definitely make a splash at a party, at least.

The Three Graeae

A group costume, yes, but a group costume to rival all others. The Graeae were the trio of witches that Perseus meets in his quest to kill Medusa. They sometimes took the form of hideous old women for those who want to wear fake warts and cloaks, and sometimes the form of beautiful young women, for those who want to sexy it up. Oh, and they only had one eye between them, which they took in turns to use and passed to each other by hand.

Skeleton

Watch out, there’s a spooky, scary skeleton inside you right now! The ever present fear of death not only hangs over us and makes us terrified of our insides, but gives us great amusement in Hallowe’en costumes (and decoration). Maybe it’s that deep down we know that it’s something that exists non-scarily in our everyday lives, or maybe it’s the ridiculousness of unconnected bones managing to stay upright in a human shape.

Muscle Man

While skeleton costumes are easy to make at home, ready made skeleton costumes exist to save you time and artistic effort. Likewise, muscle costumes exist. No, not those padded strongman tops, but another insides horror. Unsettling in a way skeletons can’t be, this probably isn’t safe for children’s parties, or safe from anatomical criticism from any doctors or medical students you might know.

Beast Bones

What’s a little creepier than a human skeleton? An animal skeleton, of course. With some different bone structures to play with, including wings, tails and legs, there’s space for creativity. Most obvious of all, of course, is the skull. Birds have beaks, deer and goats have horns, big cats have big teeth. Swapping the two tone face paint for a strangely shaped mask is a definite costume win.

Queer Picnic, Alternative Pride

While the Pride Parade is a succession of rainbow flags and Stonewall as an organisation focus on gay/lesbian rights, the origin of both was the Stonewall riots. A quick history lesson can be easily googled, but the rioters were mostly trans women and drag queens, and there are four letters in LGBT (and that still doesn’t cover everyone).

Torn between wanting to celebrate the successes and not wanting to stand in a parade where that isn’t really recognised and diversity is sorely lacking, I went to an event called Queer Picnic in Burgess Park in Southwark.

“Can you say that word?” I hear you gasp. Yes, for one thing it applies to me. It’s also becoming a more and more acceptable umbrella word for those who are comfortable using it, as used in the word genderqueer, the phrase Gender Studies and it’s use in LGBTQ. It’s also used more politically, in a way that can be summed up by the t shirt slogan “Not gay as in happy, queer as in fuck you”.

With activism banners and a deliberate effort to encourage diversity, the Queer Picnic was exactly what I wanted. It was publicised as a space for people of colour and trans people of all genders, and as including alcohol-free areas and food-and-drink-free areas for those fasting. The accessibility of the area was also noted, and various helper dogs, wheelchairs and crutches were visible, with disability and medication discussions casually had.

As for the picnic aspect, food was shared and people went from group to group, reading name tags and swapping contact details. Having been to the official Pride Parade last year and spoken only with my own friends all day, it was an event with much more of a community feeling for me.

If you went to the Queer Picnic, I hope you had as good experience as I did; you might have seen me, I was wearing a rainbow flag as a cape. If you didn’t, I’ll definitely be going back next year and I would definitely recommend it!