This is a tricky time for office and work politics. It is a sad fact that even something as happy and generous as a baby shower can become fraught with issues. The goal of a baby shower is to help out new parents, not create a hostile work environment for anyone. Taking these few hints into consideration can help you sidestep problems and ensure that you won’t get the cold shoulder at the water cooler.
Many companies already have policies in place for work-related parties and celebrations. Some offices celebrate every birthday with balloons, cake and a festive meal, while others discourage employees from uttering the words “Happy Holidays.” Does your company only celebrate pregnant workers, or do they include pregnant spouses? What about pregnant partners? Don’t be discouraged if the company doesn’t support showers. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a shower. It just means that may have to move the shower to a private location.
If your company encourages employee life celebrations, they may have a modest budget for such things. It may include purchasing a cake, drink or food. The company may offer the use of a break room or board room for the gathering. If your company doesn’t offer these, look at other venues such as a restaurant near work or even a private home that is centrally located.
You want to choose a time to have the shower when the mother-to-be still feels good and is coming to work. Consider having the party as a send-off for maternity leave. There are pros and cons for that plan. On the positive side, it makes a lovely send-off for a new mom. But on the negative side, it means that she is washing and prepping her new items when she is extremely pregnant. So if you choose this option, consider offering her hand in getting clothing and blankets washed and ready for baby. You can also set a date several weeks before her leave. This gives her time to write and pass around thank you notes. But, it can lead to awkwardness, especially if co-workers select the same gift.
While it might be an office celebration, try not to impinge too much on the business of the day. Set a time for the shower that will cause the least amount of disruption to the office. If possible, try to schedule the shower for just at the end of the work day, so that people can gather and celebrate before heading home. If you work in a place where there are several shifts, or where people cannot stay after work, try to set a time to coincide with a meal break and incorporate the party with eating. While you may need to take a little time to set things up, you will not lose much work.
Prevent awkward moments by helping Mom create a gift registry. Using an independent gift registry gives her the most flexibility since she is able to add entries from a wide range of stores and outlets. You can help the Mom with her shopping, making sure that she has everything that she will need for the new baby. Add items that are both expensive and inexpensive for guests of all financial levels.
In some cases, the company will spring for a larger gift for an expectant mom, but that is becoming rarer and rarer. Instead, talk to co-workers about everyone chipping in an equal amount for one of the more expensive needs for baby such as a stroller, crib or car seat.
These should be easy. In an office setting, it is important that everyone is invited, even if you know that everyone will not attend. The last thing you want to do in a work setting is create a situation where someone feels left out. You can also use your employer’s communication system to let everyone know they are invited to the celebration. You can even print out a flyer or small poster to put in whatever area employees habitually gather. If you use clip art or a special font, consider designing thank you notes to coordinate with the invites. You can help the new Mom by addressing the thank you notes, or at least putting names on the notes.
Make sure that you bring plenty of handled shopping bags or tote bags to make it easy for the new Mom to carry her gifts home. If you know that she will receive a large gift, make sure that you have a way to get the gift to the new Mom’s home, whether that means that she will be able to load it into her car, or whether you need to arrange for the gift to be delivered. Keep decorations to a minimum. Not only does it save set up time, but it also makes it easy to clean up afterwards. Additionally, make sure that you add a pad of sticky notes to your prep items.
A day or two before the party, make sure to send out reminders through the same avenue you sent out invitations. Make sure that everyone feels invited, but be sure that no one feels obligated to attend the party.
Use the sticky notes to record a description of each item as well as the giver. Stick the note to the prepared thank you note. After the party, you can present the Mom with an easy way to send out her thanks you notes.