Throwing a gender reveal party in France is pretty much like throwing any other type of American-style party in France. Rule one is invite people weeks and weeks before, because a last minute text message doesn’t really cut it here. Rule two is always have wine, no matter the occasion. And rule three is put in enough new things they can tell their friends about it, without making it too overwhelmingly American.
Our wedding followed rule three in particular and it worked out pretty well. There was a fingerprint tree instead of a guestbook, and a photo booth instead of games, but lots of champagne. There was a three-tiered wedding cake instead of a croquembouche, but the traditional
thousand five courses first.
Part of choosing to do a gender reveal instead of a baby shower was to keep it from being too different from what is done (and what is not done) here. Cake and baby chatter is a perfectly acceptable Sunday afternoon activity. Asking my in-laws and my husband’s friends to give us lots of presents when here it is usually considered bad luck to buy too much before the baby is born seemed like a less acceptable option.
Actually, I was thinking about it, and since there is a fair amount of government support here, you don’t really need baby showers to help you out. I mean, having a baby in any country is expensive, but I am eight million times less stressed than friends in the states, knowing that a large portion of medical and “start-up” costs are taken care of. (Though actually we aren’t eligible for the big “bonus” you get at 7 months, or the monthly benefits after the birth, since our jobs in Luxembourg have higher salaries than the average in France. But there are other advantages from working in Luxembourg that still make things much easier for us than they would have been in the states.)
But of course a baby shower is not just about gifts! There’s the social/fun side too that I really wanted to share with my French friends and family. And that can happen just as easily during a gender reveal, with the extra fun of guessing up until the last minute what color the cake will be!
Another rule I try to stick to when doing things like this is to make it as pretty as possible. Table decorations are important here, there is no way around it. And it involves a lot more than just plunking a bouquet down in the middle. So when I make the effort, I find that whatever I put on that table is appreciated a lot more. Thanks to the magical time vacuum that is Pinterest, I was not short on decoration ideas. And thanks to the wonderful Lili Pixel, I have some Pinterest-worthy photos to share. (She also blogged about it, we’re trying to launch the trend here!)
Games: I kept things simple. Knowing your crowd is essential in Franco-american party planning, and since most of the guests were my husband’s older relatives, both male and female, games involving diapers or baby food were not really appropriate. (If it had just been our friends, and given the amount of alcohol everyone besides me consumed, some of the weirder shower games I’ve seen would have been just hilarious.)
So guessing games and fabric pens to decorate onesies and bibs kept everyone pretty occupied before and after cake. The name boards were super fun, since we don’t want to share our pick before he’s born (assuming we’ve actually managed to pick one by then!). This way, people could see what names we’ve been considering, and we could hear other people say them out loud.
Food: I got a cake pop kit for my birthday and have been waiting for an occasion to use it. And blue and pink food was an obvious must (though if I’d had more time I would have done the cake pops in blue and pink, since having both cookies and cake pops was a little too much chocolate for everyone I think). Of all the different American snacks I’ve made over the years, rice krispies treats are a favorite. And finally, there was fruit, because I always try to throw in a healthy treat to prove that Americans don’t live on hamburgers and soda.
The reveal: I honestly though my dress was green, but seeing the pictures makes it look like I already knew it’s a boy! But we didn’t know, and it was really so much fun to find out this way. The moments before cutting the cake were so exciting and tense! For over a week, only the midwife and the baker knew what we were having, which they both got a huge kick out of. And I’m glad we got the secret envelope back from the baker, because the note is just too cute (“I’m a baby boy!”).
I set up a live streaming on youtube, so my family and friends in the states got to watch too. Following their comments was fun, and because there was a few minutes delay on the video, we got to watch ourselves cut the cake.
So that was our gender reveal party in France! It went really well, and everyone had a good time discovering a very American way to celebrate the arrival of a baby. Not all of my Franco-american events have gone quite as smoothly in the past, but after 6 years, the rules have taken shape. I can’t wait to see what other fun, multicultural parties we’ll throw for our baby garçon in the future!