It’s Raining Gifts: Wedding and Baby Showers at the Office

Baby shower balloon, originally uploaded to Flickr by Maddy's MusingsReader H wrote in with this question…

I have a question about celebrating life events in the office – specifically throwing coworkers wedding showers and baby showers during work time. Should these events be limited to eating cake, or is it appropriate to play games? What kind of gift should you get your coworker? Should you throw baby showers for men whose wives are pregnant? Is being involved with the planning and decorating for these things a major NGDGTCO no-no? I don’t know if you’ve ever addressed this on your blog – I couldn’t find a post that dealt with it – and I would love to get your $.02.

I have to say, my knee jerked as a reaction to this question far more than it normally does. Decorations? Games?  Are you kidding me?  Maybe I’m overreacting, but the more I’ve thought about it the more it just seems wildly inappropriate on every possible level. (Update: And numerous commenters disagree with me, with lots having celebrated baby showers with coworkers, at least during lunchtime or at the end of the day. Which I guess just goes to show you — know your office!) As I begin this post, let’s remember that the purpose of a wedding shower or baby shower is to “shower” the recipient with gifts. For a wedding shower, only those invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower; as far as I know anyone can be invited to the baby shower.  So right off the bat, let’s knock wedding showers off the list unless literally everyone in the entire office is invited to the wedding.  (And in case you are having a wedding shower in the office:  please, no games — leave the toilet paper dresses for family and friends only, not coworkers!) (Pictured: Baby shower balloon, originally uploaded to Flickr by Maddy’s Musings.)

-------Sponsored Links--------

I still think an elaborate baby shower, on work time, is inappropriate.  Let me assume, first, that the reader didn’t actually mean a “shower” — she surely cannot have meant that she wanted to impose the duty on multiple coworkers to each buy a gift to shower the pregnant coworker with, to require them to go out of their way and pull out their wallets to give something to this person who they work with, through no choice of their own.  So I’m assuming that Reader H meant a ceremonial “we all chipped in $5-$10 and got you a gift before you go on maternity leave” kind of situation. In which case it isn’t properly a shower, but it’s a sweet idea. Celebrating with cake or even sparkling apple cider makes it a nice treat for the entire office. That said, if you’re the boss throwing this sort of thing, it’s only a “treat” if it doesn’t distract from the actual work that people need to do there. So the shorter the better — the last thing you want to do is require people to work later (or rush through that day’s tasks) because of your little party.  Let people get their cake, eat it, chat for a while, congratulate the lucky coworker, and then slink back to their office to work.  Anything that assumes coworkers will definitely be there for more than 10-30 minutes is way, way out of line, at least on company time.

All of this, of course, assumes that Reader H is the boss or this is established office policy, with celebrations for birthdays.  If this is NOT the case, I would step away from the cake (and balloons and games), and assume that the shower is happening on everyone’s own time.

Readers, what are your thoughts?  Have you ever celebrated a baby shower in an office? What would you think if you were invited to one during work hours?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

Comments

  1. DC Association :

    This was very interesting to me! I work at an association, so definitely not the corporate world, but I decided to comment anyway! Everywhere I have ever worked, we have held wedding and baby showers for co-workers.

    I think at an office wedding shower, it is not necessary to follow the “don’t invite to shower if not invited to wedding” rule. In an office of more than 5 people, every single person certainly does not expect to be invited to the wedding.

    For all showers, I think that most people are happy to chip-in for a gift. People have no obligation to chip-in or attend the celebration. At my jobs, we have had snacks, cake and did a bit of decorating too. And, we’ve held showers for guys as well as the ladies, for both weddings and impending parenthood.

    Again, this is at a non-profit. I didn’t realize that this might be frowned upon in the world of law. Wow!

    • I tend to agree, though it’s certainly a “know your office” sort of thing. When I worked for a large insurance company (probably 75% female), we had teams of about 15-20 who always threw showers, but not everyone was expected to be invited to the wedding. Simple affairs, reserve a conference room, hang some streamers, get a cake and have everyone sign up to bring a snack, and everyone contributes a little bit for a gift certificate or something- takes maybe 20-30 minutes out of the day. If the guest of honor had a close friend or two within the company but outside of the team, they got the invite, too, but mainly it was just a party for that particular group of employees.

      Last office I worked at was majority middle aged women, and we frequently had grandmother showers. Same deal, though, just a glorified cake-break.

  2. I have to say I had a similar reaction. The only situation I have encountered is “we all chipped in for a gift and a card, and we are celebrating with cake too” types of situations – which generally coincided with the last day the woman would be in the office prior to going on maternity leave. Offices where I have seen that happen were also offices where they did something similar when someone left to go to another job incidentally.

    Having said that, I had a roommate once who worked in a totally different industry (fashion marketing) who had many more such obligations at her job – including more elaborate baby showers where individual gifts were expected. So it has been known to happen as far as I know, though not where I have ever witnessed it.

  3. “It’s only a “treat” if it doesn’t distract from the actual work that people need to do there.”

    This needs to be propounded to managers everywhere! Aaah! Last year (presumably to save money) my employer switched the holiday party from after-hours to, I think, 4 pm, and it was so unfair. You can’t win in this situation: if you don’t go to the party, or barely make an appearance, then you’re not being friendly/appreciative. If you do go and actually hobnob for a while, then you’re not getting your work done. Most of us tried to calculate exactly when our direct supervisors would be there and tried to attend for just like 10 fewer minutes than they did, to strike some kind of compromise. It was ridiculous. Bonus challenge: to have a drink or not? We all had several more hours of work to do, at least…

  4. I’m really interested to see what others have to say about this. I work for a small company with no history of showers and am helping to plan the first one we’ve had (a baby shower, along the lines of the second scenario Kat described-everyone chipping in and cake). We opted for just after work on a Friday, thinking it gave people who were invited but didn’t want to participate an easy out. It’s been surprisingly awkward to navigate given there is no set precident.

  5. Wow, is it just me, or did I find this post incredibly harsh? “So the shorter the better — the last thing you want to do is require people to work later (or rush through that day’s tasks) because of your little party. Let people get their cake, eat it, chat for a while, congratulate the lucky coworker, and then slink back to their office to work. Anything that assumes coworkers will definitely be there for more than 10-30 minutes is way, way out of line, at least on company time.”

    Read more: http://corporette.com/2011/11/01/its-raining-gifts-wedding-and-baby-showers-at-the-office/#ixzz1cTn3VLLK

    • i thought it was a really quite harsh too. i feel like there’s an assumption that H is the person throwing the shower and maybe that’s not the case at all. and maybe there is no office policy, this could be first (like a commenter above) and she’s trying to gauge how big this should be.

      • I’m the OP and just FYI I’m not the boss – I’m a lower level employee at a smallish company. My pregnant coworker’s assistant was told by our company president to organize a baby shower and she asked my advice, which is why I wrote in to Kat. This was the first pregnancy in our office so we did not know how to proceed. Since I emailed Kat we have actually had the party (during lunch, with a cake and gift card), which was a lot of fun and definitely appreciated by our pregnant coworker. Perhaps it would not be appropriate in a different office but for our close-knit group it worked out very well.

    • Agreed! I work in a mid-sized, national law firm, in a specialized group, and just yesterday we (our group + a number of litigation attorneys who the mother-to-be knows well) had a shower for one of our members that included decorations, themed food, and individual presents to open. Absolutely no one batted an eye at the idea that we’d do this and it was an enjoyable hour (4-5pm)!

    • I agree. Lighten up, sheesh! A shower is a nice thing to do and, in my experience, generally lasts all of 30-45 minutes anyway.

      • In my office, we throw a shower for any employee — male or female, of all ranks — who has a baby or is getting married. Recognizing a major event in a coworker’s life is a nice thing to do, IMO.

    • partypooper :

      It may have sounded harsh, but, to be honest, it accurately reflected my feelings on this type of things. I prefer to recognize events in the personal lives of my friends, not the personal lives of my co-workers. I also suspect that folks will do more for the boss’s baby than the secretary’s (out of understandable motives of self-interest). All in all, the mix of personal and professional is just too much for me.

      • Anonymous :

        Same. I never share my life events. I like a nice separation of work and home.

        • Anonymous :

          So when you’re pregnant and your coworker, charged by your boss, initiates a shower for you, you… what?

          There is very little privacy in pregnancy. Sometimes for bad, here, with people wanting to give you a gift and remember their own joyous times, for good.

          • Anonymous :

            “There is very little privacy in pregnancy.”

            That’s good! Never heard it like that before. I hate being made a spectacle of, but sometime I have to suck it up. Differing personalities trying to get along.

      • Georgiana :

        I agree, and I think Kat’s guidance (low-key, low-commitment, all invited) is spot-on.

    • Agreed that it struck me as harsh. My (admittedly relaxed and casual) office of a national, specialized law firm throws proper showers, during work hours, for male or female employees who are either getting married or having a baby. I haven’t seen anyone playing games yet, but there is definitely cake, punch, gifts, etc. They last a max of 45 minutes and no one seems to complain about them. The last shower we had was a baby shower for a male partner and we’re having another one soon for a female staff member.

      As to partypooper’s concern, I’ve noticed just the opposite here. The gifts at showers for partners are clothes/diapers/etc, but everyone pretty much expects that they can buy their own “big” purchases. Whereas, for the staff and associates, coworkers will chip in to buy a crib, stroller, dresser, car seat, or what-have-you.

    • Hi!

      Right with you, I thought it was incredubly harsh too – not that some of the posts on this site have not been at odds with my way of thinking / doing things before, but the wording seemed unusually harsh and I was actually wondering why Kat was writing so out of character.

  6. Wedding showers are the ONLY exception to the “only invite to the shower people who are also invited to the wedding.” This is widely accepted etiquette. But I agree, it should be limited to cake and a group gift.

    • This. My coworkers brought cupcakes and bubbly for my in-office wedding shower (and made me drink most of the champagne because they had to get back to work and I was leaving for my wedding that afternoon). It was really sweet and appreciated. Since my wedding, we’ve done it multiple times for other coworkers. For context – this was at my stuffy biglaw office and was thrown by the associates in our group (though the male group head managed to shuffle into the conference room where we were drinking champagne and couldn’t get out of the room fast enough once we realized what we were doing – it was too too funny).

  7. Notalawyer :

    The boss/es should not announce and more or less command performance/attendance at parties then leave it up to underpaid staff to plan, purchase gifts, provide food, and clean up afterwards, while showing up at the party as the ‘Host’ and taking all the credit without providing anything…AT ALL or contributing monetarily to gift or food/beverages provided. Nor should they invite guests who do not contribute or even know the participants.

    Needless to say, this is noticed and definitely not appreciated by those doing all the work. A complete morale buster.

  8. This is actually one of the few times I have disagreed. In our law office it is common practice to have a shower for the expectant mom or dad. The shower is cake and either lunch (dutch treat) or heavy hors d’ourvers after work. Both are complete with invitations, hosts, and an array of group and individual presents. Decorations are limited to centerpieces and some confetti for the evening shower and games anytime would be weird. The expectant mom/dad composes the invite list so not everyone in the office is invited, but everyone seems to expect that there will be some people excluded (which is tricky). My $.02 – work baby showers are okay if at lunch or right after work and not hokey.

    • We do this as well, for all staff and most associates.

      When I was getting married, or pregnant, as a partner, I did not have any shower events. I figured that it would become magically mandatory, since I was in a hire/fire position, and felt more comfortable skipping the whole thing.

  9. I don’t think a wedding or baby shower at work is a big deal. In places I’ve worked, it’s usually something where everyone who wants to contributes to a big gift or giftcard and there’s cake. There aren’t really decorations or games. Also because it’s a work thing, I don’t think the standard rules about being invited to the wedding etc apply.

    • I have worked at three big law firms in small departments, and this is how it is done. People contribute to a big gift or gift card. Then, we gather and have cake for 20 minutes. Who doesn’t like cake? Who wouldn’t want a brief break in their day?

      If someone has a conference call or a deadline, no one bats an eye if they do not show up.

    • anon also :

      I wish mine was like this. There’s cake, there’s some decorations (typically done by the assistant supporting the attorney if it’s the attorney having the baby, or by the other assistants if it’s an assistant who is pregnant), and there’s a varying volley of gifts. Usually everyone “voluntarily” contributes to a big gift, like one of those super expensive strollers, but some people buy individual gifts as well. I can’t tell you all how disinterested I am in cooing over yet another pair of tiny socks. I’m also much more uncomfortable with it when it’s an attorney that’s getting showered with gifts than staff. Attorneys don’t need staff buying them presents. We make plenty as it is. A staff shower, as a sort of “bonus” for all the hard work she does, to get her something really nice that she couldn’t otherwise afford, like a fancy stroller, seems much more ok to me.

      I’m on the verge of getting married, and one of the female partners asked me yesterday where I was registered. I was floored. I was brought up in the “absolutely no one at the shower who is not invited to the wedding” rule, and I’m not inviting any coworkers to my small wedding. Coworkers give wedding presents despite not being invited to the official bridal shower or wedding??? I’m also very uncomfortable receiving gifts in public, so now I’m half afraid I’m going to end up with an office wedding shower a la the baby showers I have seen here. There hasn’t been a female employee wedding during my time here, so I had no idea that an “office wedding shower” is something that happens in some offices. I really don’t want it to.

      • I have given wedding gifts to colleagues who didn’t invite me to their weddings. These were people I liked, and I wanted to let them know I was happy for them. The gifts weren’t extravagant, but rather just a little something off the registry.

      • As I noted above, I skipped it too.

        When asked where I was registered I simply said “I’m not registered anywhere, and we’re asking for no gifts. We’re lucky that we can do that.”

        Do what you are comfortable with.

        • won’t work- they can find your registry online then she’ll know you lied. We had coworkers get us gifts who weren’t invited, it was a nice gesture. it came in the mail, no big deal.

      • I get what you’re saying, but I’ve always understood that the rule was no one not invited to the wedding is invited to the shower. Not that no one not invited to the wedding should give you a gift. I actually think it’s really nice that this partner wants to give you a gift, and she wants to make sure it’s something you need (hence asking about the registry). Now if she’s doing it to find out info about a shower you don’t want, well, that may be different. But you can’t keep people from wanting to give you gifts to celebrate milestones, you know?

        • I joined a new team at work a few months before I got married and I was very surprised when I received a gift in the mail from the my new coworkers (all men btw). I thought it was a nice gesture that made me feel really welcome. Of course, I was sure to give them all Thank you cards when I returned to the office after my honeymoon.

  10. Maine Associate :

    I work at a small firm where we celebrate birthdays by the firm buying everyone lunch (there are 8 of us) and we all eat together. In the afternoon after the birthday lunch, there will be birthday cake that we will all eat together. A few years ago one of the assistants had a baby. We did the same thing to celebrate her pregnancy and everyone bought her gifts. There were no games or decorations.

  11. Chiming in to agree that this post seems pretty harsh. I have a fairly young office, there were four weddings last year alone. Everyone chips in $5-10 for a gift and cake, and after our weekly staff meeting, it’s a “surprise!” when the cake and gifts come out. It adds maybe 15 minutes to the meeting, and it’s generally a fun time. I think it’s nice that people you see every day, probably a good deal more than your spouse or child, recognize these events in your life.

  12. In my all-female offices, we took the person to lunch and chipped in for a smallish (like towels) gift. In my mostly-male office, the other woman suggested getting something for our manager’s new baby which touched off a huge e-mail chain. I wasn’t there for the actual gifting but I think they just handed it to him in the lab.

    In retrospect, it wasn’t because we as work friends wanted to make a big huge deal out of the weddings/births (even though they were obviously huge deals for the people). It was more of a “we want to do something nice for someone we like” spirit. Cake and everyone-come-to-the-break-room seem too showy in that vein.

    Games? shudder. no.

  13. Having worked in two different offices, it’s varied. My small office (of 8), everyone was invited to the wedding shower (for females), the wedding and then the baby shower. For my larger office, I, similar to @DC Association, work for an association. We don’t do wedding showers but we do baby showers. Everyone can chip in what they want (not required) and then one person buys the gifts. We also have chips and snacks. It’s scheduled in advance and on everyone’s calendar, late in the afternoon, except for the honoree, who is usually told it’s a staff meeting. We all participate, usually lasting for 30 min to an hour. We also have games – bingo or scrambled words comes to mind.

  14. We’re a big law firm in California and we regularly have baby and wedding showers. (Only for the women though.) An email goes out to people who might be interested in attending. We chip in for a group gift or bring individual gifts and we pay for our own lunch, which is held in a conference room. No games, but the recipient opens the gifts in front of everyone. Often, the spouse or grandparents will attend. Really, I don’t see what’s so bad about it. No one has to attend or give a gift.

  15. Anonymous :

    Interesting question. I have been distinctly uncomfortable with how my middle market, regional firm handles this. I was the first in a while to have a baby, and some of my friends wanted to throw me a shower. We did a long, Friday lunch inviting the female attorneys (partners and associates), my secretary and a couple of the paralegals that I worked closely with. I tried very hard to make sure no one felt obligated to come. In fact my secretary did not come, but I think she did give me a small gift at some point. I think most assistants will give at least a small gift at some point. I wasn’t completely comfortable with the shower, but that was what we did. However, I got comments from staff, who I have never worked with and am not particularly friendly with , that they wanted to be invited.
    Since my shower several years ago, the typical shower has evolved to a potluck lunch in the a conference room where all female employees are invited. I usually go as an associate who has a friendship with most of the honorees. However, the handful of female partners normally skip it.

  16. Anonymous :

    Well, I worked at a large government agency and the women threw me a baby shower. One of my male friends (c0-workers) joked around about not being invited. Showers were for women and attended only by women until the wife of one of the male employees got pregnant with triplets. Yes, he needed the shower!

  17. Wow, I am so thankful to work in an office with collegial and friendly coworkers who genuinely like each other, and have been happy to celebrate our colleagues’ life events. The workplace Kat describes sounds like a miserable and joyless existence.

    For those of you who don’t like your coworkers or don’t like celebrations: If you receive an invitation to a baby shower and you don’t want to attend – then decline. Don’t go and then gripe about it on the internet.

    Moving on to the actual question, at my office, for baby showers usually all of the colleagues from the department where the mom-to-be works are invited, as well as other colleagues who are friends with the mom-to-be (depending on the mom’s preference, we usually just invite women). Usually the shower is on the weekend at the home of a colleague (or other friend of the mom). That’s a lot easier than having it during the work day.

    If we are doing it during the work day, we often have the party at a local restaurant and take a long lunch (2 hours or so). We have cake and play 1 or 2 games. Usually the restaurant can make a fixed-price menu so everyone knows when they receive the invitation how much they’ll have to chip in. Sometimes we might have the shower in the conference room at work, but if we do that, the entire office is invited and we either do it potluck-style or just ask for a free will donation.

    Re: gifts, normally a link to the baby registry is included in the invitation. Otherwise people will take up a collection to buy a big item like a stroller.

    We’ve never done a bridal shower and I agree that would be odd since it’s usually organized by the bridesmaids. However, several times we’ve organized a party for a newlywed colleague just returned from his or her honeymoon. That usually takes the form of a happy hour at a local bar. We also do birthday lunches once a month or so. It’s fun.

    • Wow, you only have to do things you want to at work? Office-organized parties turn into obligations fast. It’s tough to decline an invitation to a 3pm meeting/shower and even tougher to not chip in (the oftentimes not specified) the right amount. What you’re talking about sounds different from what Kat’s talking about, but I’m with her in feeling grinchy about office-organized merriment.

      • I can’t imagine that someone’s boss would actually obligate her to stop working and attend a party – and honestly if her boss does tell her to do so, then it’s her job to go.

        People decline invitations all the time at my office. No one forces them to go. We all have jobs to do and that’s understood.

        • Uh – yes – there are bosses and colleagues that will browbeat you into going to someone’s party.

          And I don’t have to hate my coworkers to not want to celebrate with them – maybe I just don’t want to be the center of attention just so y’all have an excuse to throw a party. Or maybe I like my co-workers well enough, but we just aren’t friends enough that I’m comfortable accepting gifts from them.

          • But no one is seriously going to make you have a shower or accept gifts – I’m talking about showers that you’re invited to for someone else. It’d be crazy to throw a party for someone who explicitly said she didn’t want one.

          • The post isn’t talking about showers on the weekends, during your own time or of your own volition – i’ts talking about celebrating in the office. And you can bet your britches there are offices where the culture will frown on you if you don’t show up to one of their parties, or where they will throw you a party even if you politely demure. I’ve worked there, so please stop telling me my experience is wrong.

            I’m happy that you are besties with all your co-workers, but it is not a universal experience.

          • Then we should be attacking the attitude (browbeating those who don’t want to celebrate) rather than the celebration itself. God forbid that there are some workplaces that want to take a less than sterile approach toward workplace relationships.

          • At my office, bosses will totally browbeat you into this sort of thing. And showers are often “surprises,” so sometimes you won’t have a chance to express that you don’t want one. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if they threw one in spite of you saying you didn’t want one.

      • I have never been in an office where parties became on obligation. Rather, it has always been customary to stay as long as you want, but the lawyers are usually especially busy and just drop in for a piece of cake, or not at all. No feelings are ever hurt, and no one is ever obligated to show up.

  18. Another perspective from outside law. I’m an engineer. The only place I remember these events being celebrated was the last place I worked. We were about 80-100 people, but close for such a large group. Everyone from the VP down lunched together etc.

    Co-workers of the honoree would usually plan a lunch and someone would invariably offer to be responsible for a group gift. Those who wanted to gift separately did that, and that was it. Presents were given at lunch and since it was usually less than 10 gifts they were opened between ordering and lunch arriving, or after everyone was done eating.

    The only time I can recall anything bigger than that, we had 3 babies due within weeks of each other 1 female co-worker and 2 male coworkers. We did pot luck in the big conference room after work on a Thursday. Anyone who wanted to stay/contribute was welcome. We did decorate for that one, but no games.

    Oh, and these were always co-ed. It would have been wierd to exclude the guys, they wanted to celebrate too.

  19. Wow I thought this was harsh too – maybe it’s a regional thing, but my office is in the Midwest and we throw both wedding and baby showers, for men and women. An email goes around letting people know that they can contribute to a gift certificate at the place where the honoree is registered – but specifically states that there is no obligation and that everyone’s names will be on the card. The company buys lunch and a small cake and we surprise the honoree for a low-key lunchtime party. I think it goes a long way toward office morale and bonding.

  20. Anon for this :

    I worked at a mid-sized law firm and baby showers were a huge deal. They did them for the women and the men expecting. If multiple people were expecting it was a joint shower. The support staff did the decorating. The attorneys could either bring food and a gift or chip in money to the support staff. They were allowed to go on company time to go buy gifts with the chipped in money. The expectant employee’s spouse would come to the celebration. Sometime’s a mom or sister would come too. All the female attorneys and support staff were expected to go to the shower. A lot of the male attorneys went to but they were less “expected.” I as an attorney enjoyed it but did feel awkward if a partner was looking for me and I was at “the shower” while my male counterpart was busy billing hours. Also, those presents really started to add up after awhile. My husband got pretty annoyed with me chipping in $30 or so every few months for a shower but it was a nice gesture.

    • Anonymous :

      I had a similar experience at a mid-sized California firm, except that the firm paid for one generous gift (in the couple hundred dollar range) chosen by the employee who raised the issue to a partner. The rest of us would sign a congratulatory card and eat cake. The interesting twist is that the firm only purchased gifts for female employees since the wife of a male attorney was not a firm employee. When a male employee was about to have a child, co-workers would chip in for a gift.

  21. I’m sorry, but the tone of this post really caught me off guard. Honestly, I am very surpised that Kat wrote that! I really don’t think the OP’s question was so out of line as to warrant this kind of response. Yes, some of us work in high pressure environments but to say that expecting coworkers to “be there for more than 10-30 minutes is way, way out of line, at least on company time” seems a bit harsh. Expecting people to stay 30 minutes late on a day with a 30 minute shower may be “out of line,” but generally speaking if you know about an event ahead of time, I think you can figure out a way to arrange your day to accomodate it.

    I think this is totally a “know your office” situation. I think if you *know* that enough people would like to participate, then by all means do a nice lunch and some small gifts (maybe set a price limit on individual gifts to make it more comfortable); a lunch and a group gift could also work and may be more comfortable for all involved.

    • Cool, @AIMS. Nice to hear that all offices in NYC aren’t so harsh and cold… :-)

    • Research, Not Law :

      Agree. The tone really threw me on this post.

      Let’s be real: I spend more time with my coworkers than I do my friends. I like most of them. Why wouldn’t I spend 45 minutes and $15 to wish them well on their marriage/new baby and chat a bit with others? It’s not exactly a weekly occurrence that’s going to throw off my work.

      That said, I have worked in offices where parties were not optional and they were actually quite uncomfortable. But I see that as an exception, not a rule. I was still happy to wish the person well, even if I loathed the party thrower’s tactics.

  22. anon for this :

    disagree. Kat is right. it’s totally inappropriate. but, I work in biglaw in NYC like Kat used to, so maybe it’s a regional thing. however, i do think it’s consistent with many other things we discuss on this blog, and the general idea that work and personal are best kept seperate. (e.g., 1) no crying at work 2) no revealing clothing 3) no facebooking your boss 4) no gossiping at work. These are all rules we live by at work, but things we would nonetheless do with our friends, on the premise that work and personal are separate spheres of our lives and that overlap between the two leads to problems. Thus, I think Kat’s stance on work parties is perfectly reasonable and consistent.

  23. Anonymous :

    In my current office – a boutique creative agency with about 30 employees – we are constantly expected to attend and shell-out for a variety of celebrations that are essentially forced-fun mandated by our owners. Wedding shower bowling parties. At least one birthday party per month. Tons of baby showers (six in the past year). Most recently, we were subjected to an hour-long going away party complete with games quizzing us on how well we knew our departing co-workers. Personally I don’t think it’s right to be using time that could be billable to fashioning toilet paper wedding dresses (yup – this actually happened earlier this year) or estimating the size of my co-worker’s baby belly (so awkward and inappropriate). It’s a colossal waste of time, and not fun to be regularly hit up for donations/gifts.

    Conversely, my former agency – a top-5 global PR firm – struck a better balance. Major milestones (weddings, new babies, etc.) were celebrated with one nice gift that was paid for by the company. In my case, when I was married, the firm sent me a very nice serving set from Williams-Sonoma. With the birth of my son, the company purchased a higher-end item from my baby registry. A congratulatory note was sent. The end. No muss, no fuss.

  24. I work in a medium sized government office as an attorney and we have both baby and wedding showers for our co-workers (men and women). They have typically been lunch potlucks and then everyone contributes to a gift card to some place like Target. No games or decorations, or even cake, though someone will usually sign up to bring dessert. Both women and men and all levels of staff attend the lunch. It is fun and a nice way to socialize with our co-workers (escpecially since many of us don’t typically get together outside of work.)

  25. TXAttyJen :

    Absolutely disagree. I’m a junior partner at a mid-size law firm in Dallas (75 attys), and I just attended 3 baby showers in the past 4 weeks at work – 1 for an associate attorney and 2 for staff. Food, decorations, short games (no taste the baby food in the diaper guessing games), and every female employee was invited. Some practice areas went in together to give a group gift, but most people gave individual gifts. 1 shower was on a Saturday, 1 was during lunch, and 1 was immediately after work – all were held in the office. FWIW, we’ve never had a shower for the wives /girlfriends of male employees who are expecting, but I always get a gift for the baby once he/she is born.

  26. I had been working as a secretary at a human resources consulting firm (about 60 people worked there total) for all of three months when I was thrown a surprise wedding shower by the entire office. My wedding was the following month in my hometown several hours away. Since it was a small wedding and I was new to the office, I didn’t invite anyone from the office to the wedding. My shower was on “company time” complete with balloons, cake, and plenty of gifts. I’d say it lasted between30-45 minutes. I was truly touched. That office, though, was very, very event oriented. Lots of pot-lucks, parties for the whole family at the COO’s house, during-work-hours holiday party, plus an annual casino night. I know that the support staff, at least, thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere. Maybe it was a pain for management, but they never made it feel that way.

    I was a third-year law student when I became pregnant with my oldest. I had been clerking at a small firm for 18 months when the firm threw a group baby shower for me and two secretaries who were also pregnant. Again, it was on firm time and involved cake – about 30 minutes or so. Support staff got us each a basket of assorted baby necessities (bibs, thermometers, etc.), the associates each got us adorable outfits from ritzy baby stores, and the partners contributed very generous gift cards. My husband’s office (he’s a prosecutor) also threw us a party toward the end of the day one Friday. They went nuts and got us so much more than I would ever have imagined (baby swing, blankets, bath tub, clothes…). We did snacks and cake. Definitely no games for either shower.

    In the last eight years, I haven’t worked anywhere where there were coworker’s weddings or babies to celebrate. (In retrospect, I seem to work with a lot of old people, now!) However, having been on the receiving end of very thoughtful, generous showers, I can’t tell you how special it was to have the people I saw every day celebrate the most important events in my life. I think I’d be very happy to celebrate with others the same way. I certainly wouldn’t feel put out.

    • I thought one was only supposed to get a baby shower for the first kid – with the assumption that after kid one you have most of the stuff you need, and really shouldn’t have them for subsequent kids.

      • One is “supposed” to have the shower only for the first kid. Both showers (and two more by two different groups of friends) were for my first baby. I didn’t have a shower for either of my next two kiddos.

        On the other hand, some friends and I just threw a surprise baby shower for a friend who is having her third child soon. She never had a shower for her first two (both boys). Five years passed, she got rid of all her baby stuff, and now she’s having a girl. She was so surprised and happy that we all came together to celebrate her daughter with her. Rules can be broken!

      • I think the shower for the first kid is usually bigger, but it’s normal to have some sort of shower for subsequent kids too. When my coworker had her second son we got her a double stroller and ate cake.

      • Agreed. I’ve been to baby showers for subsequent children, but they’re often diaper showers (no registry, no other gifts expected, but diapers and wipes would be helpful).

  27. My personal preference regarding wedding and baby showers: Wouldn’t want to have one thrown for me, wouldn’t want to throw one for a coworker.

    I like the people in my office, but I’m just here to work.

  28. Anonymous :

    There are reasons why I LOVE working in a male dominated workplace — this is one of them! This never comes up and isn’t an issue.

    • karenpadi :

      Second that! If anything, we have a (firm-sponsored) lunch or happy hour to celebrate life events. We usually end up combining 2-3 people’s events into 1 “party”. Sometimes, we even invite (certain) clients who work with the honoree.

      No gifts, nothing beyond a quick toast. Heck, we don’t even sing “Happy Birthday” when we have (firm-sponsored) birthday cake (which only seems to happen when someone wants to tease someone else about his birthday).

  29. Anon Today :

    Why is it okay to only invite females to a wedding or baby shower? Or to only have a wedding or baby shower for females? Do men not get married and have children as well? This sounds just as sexist and off-putting as the post last week on male sexism at the office. It seems that women are doing themselves no service by excluding the men they work with from these celebrations. All it does is perpetuate the gender biases we should want to eliminate.

    In my office, a large international conglomerate, I must get invites at least 3-4 times a month because someone is getting married, having a baby, or leaving the company. No one feels obligated to go or pitch in for a gift, it’s just about congratulations and free cake.

    • My office does both co-ed and women only parties, depending on the preference of the guest of honor. We also have done baby showers for fathers-to-be. But the last two times we had a baby shower, we invited the two men in my department, and both physically recoiled at the thought of spending a Saturday afternoon squealing over baby socks and playing pin the pacifier on the baby. YMMV.

      • The Bad Wife :

        Maybe, they know something? Do you realize how 1950s this sounds? Men don’t like “girly” and “baby” things but women do so you have women only weekend events?

    • Research, Not Law :

      I’ve only experienced co-ed work showers. I find that in some workplaces, only women attend, but men have always been invited and welcome. As, I agree, they should be.

      • I’m particularly uncomfortable when only women are invited to showers that are held in a workplace context — either in the office or on the weekend. I have worked at places where women employees and the wives of male employees would be invited to baby showers — that was the worst! I realize not everyone feels this way, but for me neither parental roles nor invitations to work events should be defined by gender, any more than assignments or pay should be.
        More generally, baby showers bring up issues for people who want kids but don’t have them — e.g., because of infertility or because they’re not in a relationship likely to lead to a family.
        I guess I think it’s fine — can be really nice — for coworkers to gather to celebrate these life events. But I’m not sure you can have showers in the workplace without inviting some messiness, too.

    • Working Girl :

      At my firm (Biglaw), we have showers for both the expectant mothers and the expectant fathers, and both men and women attend. I think the female attorneys would revolt if it were any other way. Until we start making these practices gender-neutral, we’re going to be stuck in the 1950s. Start inviting the men!

    • In my last job at a large nonprofit, we threw baby showers for men, too. Their spouse/partner was also invited and we always tried to work around the spouse/partner’s schedule so they could attend (aiming for their lunch break, usually).

  30. Of course we’re not necessarily friends with the people we work with. But successful work of almost any kind depends on positive relationships with coworkers. Getting to know each other outside a strictly professional context and having generally positive feelings about each other greases the wheels in many ways. So I think some level of office socializing is actually important. I have no problem attending the occasional baby shower for a co-worker. At my office, they’re usually held in a conference room over the lunch hour — cake, a little chatting, no big deal.

    • Anonymous :

      Same here. Birthdays = free snacks in the kitchen and birthday wishes. It makes everyone happy, especially those who forget to eat breakfast.

    • This. I may not comfortable hanging out with them outside of work or intertwining our personal lives otherwise, but I’m definitely happy for them and don’t mind celebrating with them as long as I don’t have to leave the office. :)

  31. I agree with Kat – and I am not in NYC biglaw – no decorations, no games (games – are you kidding me?), maybe chipping in something small for a gift and cake (or lunch). But no big production. You can totally do cake and gifts in 10 to 30 minutes. I can like my workplace and my co-workers without having to say anything more than congratulations and good luck.

  32. My previous office (non-law) generally had success throwing these types of things at the end of the day. 4:30 would roll around, everyone gathers for cake and socializing, and anyone who wants to stay longer than 30 minutes could do so on their own time. The company or boss generally bought the cake, and people would chip in a small amount for a gift. The whole party would often move to a low-key happy hour location for those who wished to keep celebrating, and anyone who needed to leave was able to bow out gracefully at 5:00.

    • Wishful thinking :

      Maybe there’s a correlation between offices where 4:30 is nearing the end of the day and offices where such parties are acceptable. At my office, 4:30 is basically lunch time and office-hours parties are unheard of. I’m quite jealous.

      • Anonymous :

        Mine is in the middle– most of us work 7 to 7 and have plenty of time for a group celebration once or twice a year. It’s not a big deal for the attendees to chip in and stand around smiling, but it’s a big cheerful supportive deal for the person going through the life event. We also sign a card and chip in for flowers/donation when someone experiences a loss. We do not consider this an inefficient waste of time and intellect but a part of living life.

  33. We get the department together for lunch, and have a card, a few presents, some good wishes, maybe a cake. Everyone has fun and goes back to work afterwards. It does not need to be more complicated than that.

    We are a male dominated office too (although that is changing) but moms-to-be and dads-to-be both get lunches, and everyone attends.

  34. “Wow, I am so thankful to work in an office with collegial and friendly coworkers who genuinely like each other, and have been happy to celebrate our colleagues’ life events. The workplace Kat describes sounds like a miserable and joyless existence.”

    Maybe that’s a part of why Kat left the practice of law? Just a thought.

    At my mid-sized NYC law firm, we hold baby showers all the time. I’m not invited to all of them, just when I’m friends with or work with/have worked with the honoree. People typically chip in for a big gift, and lots of folks buy small individual gifts as well. There’s always cake, sometimes decorations, and men as well as women are invited (though the guests are usually overwhelmingly women). I have yet, however, to see a baby shower thrown for a man whose wife is pregnant, and our firm is still old fashioned enough that any male honoree of such a party would probably be teased mercilessly by his male colleagues.

    Sometimes I think these celebrations are a bit over the top, but nobody is obligated to attend, and it’s understood that work comes first so if you can’t go, you can’t go. But overall I’m glad to work in a place where shared time together during the work day to celebrate these important life events is supported.

  35. Dallas MBA :

    Baby showers are almost expected in our office – men and women are invited, cake and other food is served, and you’re the odd one out if you don’t attend. I have no problem with the shower for the first-time expectant mother, but one of my co-workers recently hosted a shower for a co-worker who was having her second child…less than a year after the first one was born. Does anyone else feel this is completely unacceptable – in any environment?

    • Yup – baby showers with gifts are traditionally for the first born. I can see doing lunch or cake, as celebrating any life event, but the additional gifting is rude. Kind of like someone have another wedding shower within a year of getting of married (Hello – Kim Kardashian, take note)

    • Generally agreed, and the short time-frame in this scenario doesn’t help matters. But I’ve seen people throw showers for a second/third child if the new baby is a different boy and the mom previously had all girls, or vice versa. Or where there is a large gap in time between babies to the point that the parents got rid of all the previous baby stuff.

  36. This sounds like it’s a regional thing. I’m in a west coast office of a national law firm and we do baby showers. Not everyone is invited or expected to come, it’s kept the group- i.e. if the person is a patent prosecutor, they would not expect litigators to come. I think it’s really sweet and thoughtful and they only invite people who work closely with the person and/or are personal friends, so I have never felt pressured to attend when I didn’t want to. If I had to miss because of work obligations, i’ve sent an email saying congratulations, and if it was soemone I really liked, gotten either a card or a small ($15) gift. Events like these are nice, IMO, because I wind up spending around 12-14 hours a day in this office, so I’d like to be able to connect with at least some people on a more personal level.

  37. My government office has wedding and baby showers all the time, but I can see Kat’s point. They happen SO often that they can get very annoying, especially when you end up being invited (and expected to bring a gift) to the shower of a coworker you barely know every few weeks. It also gets very expensive very quickly.

    They also pretty much run the gambit from “group gift certificate and cake” to everyone bringing an individual gift. In the case of wedding showers, many many more people are invited than those invited to the actual wedding. Sometimes elaborate refreshments and some decorations are provided, sometimes the coworker’s spouse is invited, but we have never ended up playing games — I think the line is drawn there, even in this atmosphere.

    However, even though necessity and custom has pretty much relaxed my view toward office wedding showers, I was a bit insulted when an acquaintance/friend invited me (via Facebook, no less) to her bridal shower and not to her wedding. That didn’t seem right — it seemed very “please bring me a gift, but I don’t want to see you at my wedding” inappropriate. I didn’t end up going or getting her a gift, but I felt a little bad that my response may have been innapropriate.

  38. Skirt Envy :

    I want to echo what several people say- I value my relationships with my coworkers and would never want to work in place where Kat’s views were rampant. First, the amount of time/billable hours/FTE spent on a shower pales in comparison to the ongoing football pool . Second, I genuinely want an opportunity to shower my coworkers for their marriage or birth of the first child. On the other hand, I’m a Southerner now living in Dallas- so perhaps this is a perfect example of the regional thing.

    Dallas MBA- I totally agree- one shower per person for the first child.

    • While I get what you mean by the shower for the first child only, I’m not sure what you mean by “one shower per person.” I had four baby showers for my first child. I was lucky enough to have four totally separate groups of people who wanted to throw a baby shower for me (not my idea to have any shower at all). I was the guest of honor at all four showers, but no other guest was invited to more than one shower. I can’t imagine saying to my aunts who were excited about their first great nephew’s impending arrival, “Sorry…I know you want to throw me a shower, but my friends already threw me one.”

      • Skirt Envy :

        I phrased it incorrectly. To clarify: An employee gets one company sponsored baby shower (perhaps or usually related to the birth or adoption of their family’s first.

        I’m with you- if multiple friends or family members want to throw showers, you would be crazy to turn them down. We had a crazy 5 showers when our son was born.

  39. Anonymous :

    My office threw an out-of-office baby shower at lunch for the women in the office ONLY. I really hated this idea. I think it’s rude to segregate it to just women, it should have just been something small in office for everyone. Anyway, I didn’t go. I know people got annoyed at me, but I was more annoyed at the idea of a women’s-only extended lunch get away. My supervisor is male and I didn’t think it was really professional. I could not picture myself strolling back in at one or two o’clock with a ridiculous goody bag. That said, I now pretty much have a policy of boycotting all out of office, during work hours events. Have to be consistent.

    • Anonymous :

      I hear ya. Our office celebrations are modern coed, but the women-only thing is a sweet tradition, too, and let people who are into it (not me) tell and hear the tales of the sorority of wifedom and motherhood.

  40. In a professional environment, I’d rather get someone a present & a cake for winning a motion, closing a deal, or landing a client. I’m happy to support my co-workers’ professional accomplishments, which all of them can hope to have sometime, but once you start celebrating babies, weddings, etc., you are treating people specially based on personal events that not everyone will have and that endorse a particular life choice as worthy of celebrating, to the exclusion of any others (unless you also throw showers for pet adoptions, moving in together, etc.)

    If you want to celebrate personal milestones, I think it’s best to do so on personal time.

    • Ooh! showers for pet adoptions! yes, please! furry loved ones need schwag too!

    • Anonymous :

      What personal time? I think work celebrations, like em or not, are natural and kind given that most of us spend most of our time at work, together with our coworkers, with whom we (hopefully) come to share a bond and fondness. If you’re spending most hours of most days and most years of your life with people, I hope you can come to appreciate and enjoy them. Otherwise, life is both too short and way, way too long…

  41. As a young, single person, I have found it annoying when I was expected to chip in or buy a present for coworkers I barely knew.

    • Notalawyer :

      Me too. It gets very expensive.

    • I was always annoyed that the lowest paid staff was expected to pay the same as the partners, but that was more in smaller firms. We don’t do that kind of stuff in the big firm where I am now.

    • Anonymous :

      Ours was throw your cash into the envelope, or not. It adds up either way and we buy a giftcard or big gift with what’s there. There’s no audit or judgement.

      • I prefer Anonymous’s method. It’s still a nice gesture and everyone can get together if they want to, plus the gift is always going to be something good. And it cuts down on the “I have to coo over yet another itty bitty pair of socks” problem that one of the commenters mentioned earlier.

  42. I trained in a male dominated field in residency. We definitely blurred the lines between personal and professional life. If someone was getting married, there was a group celebration of it (party or evening at bar) with the expressed understanding that not all of us (or any) would be invited to the wedding. For me, these events were our ways of celebrating our personal life experiences because we weren’t going to be invited to the wedding. Also, baby showers were a rare event, but did happen. My was after hours, female residents and spouses of male residents (doesn’t that seem slightly backwards? oh well). Low key, small gifts, totally optional. Where I’m working now, if I had a baby shower it would most likely be thrown by my support staff, which would make me totally uncomfortable as my financial situation is so much better than theres. It would be too weird.

    • Hmm, @EC MD. I don’t see the class distinction in the baby shower scenario (law firm partner vs. secretaries, surgeons vs. nurses, CEOs vs. admins). Baby things can be found at all price points…And I’ve always been surprised by how much support staff *and* my peers want to wish me well. And the same is true when the shoe is on the other foot and I’m the one ooh-ing and awe-ing. It’s really about the celebration of an exciting new journey of the birth of a child. Cute pink or blue blankies, pacifiers, mobiles, booties, well-wishes, all that good stuff. Oh well. Didn’t realize how differently others see these things. (shrugs).

  43. At my firm (with 75 people), the staff usually holds a lunch shower. Basically they order lunch, and chip in $5 for a gift card so employee can get what they need for wedding/shower. It’s a great excuse for us to actually take lunch instead of working through and an excuse to eat cake. The only ones to give individual gifts are the lawyers to their assistants/paralegals. There are no games or decorations just lunch, cake and socialization. It’s great for team spirit.
    I am one of the youngest girls at my firm and am the only one going on Mat leave in the past 4 years, the ladies at work are exciting to have another “grandchild” and want to celebrate.

  44. I think short and simple is the way to go, but after reading the above comments I have to say every office is different. Three years ago my office learned the hard way.! They rallied around a new hire (a man), and threw him a HUGE baby shower. I was kind of mortified as it was out of character. I barely new him and didn’t contribute any money. Smart call on my part. A month later he told some people he wasn’t going to marry her (snap), and they were breaking up (double snap). After that, I don’t get too involved in any hoop-la unless I know the person well. The people who throw the party can do as they wish.

    • Did you mean to say that they threw him a huge wedding shower? I can’t see how the marital status of the parents impacts a baby shower.

      • No, it was a baby shower. He had a baby with his girlfriend (an accident apparently) as he later confessed. It wasn’t his marital status that made it so inappropriate. It was the fact that they have never done something this extravagant for any of the “lifers” who work here.

  45. Diana Barry :

    So odd to think that people would be required to chip in their own $$ for the food for the shower.
    For my wedding, work (biglaw, small dept) had cake and one work gift (silver picture frame).
    For kid #1, work (diff biglaw firm, small dept) had cake and a whole pile of gifts – mostly from staff, but some from the attorneys (some of the other attorneys sent me gifts after baby arrived). They invited my husband and it was a total surprise – I thought I was going down the hall to witness a will. Very sweet of them – my assistant organized it.
    Both times, the partners (all older men) showed up late, but did stay for 5 minutes and have cake and pretend to be enjoying themselves.

  46. I had both! I worked as an HR Manager for a manufacturing facility. My coworkers threw them for me. They only invited certain people to my wedding shower – people they assumed would be invited to the wedding, but I hadn’t intended to invite. I ended up inviting the extra anyway. It was an out of town wedding, so I figured they could politely decline without any issues (which most of them did!)

    As for the baby shower, it was the most awesome thing. They put a big branch of a tree in there, and then people pinned money to it – whatever they felt like contributing, or nothing if they wanted. It was a money tree! So amazing. We were an informal place, though, and lots of people skipped my shower(s) if they were busy, and there were no issues.

  47. We usually have a cake and other treats and everyone will buy a small gift to add to a basket for the co-worker to open. There is no pressure to spend a lot of money.

    For weddings and engagements we all chip in for a present, again no pressure to spend a lot of money.

  48. I work on the taxpayer dime, so no, I think this thing is entirely inappropriate. Also, you’re kind of sending a bit of a toxic message to single/child-free workers that they aren’t “worth” celebrating. Nope, not in my office! Keep your personal life personal people!

    • Kind of sad :

      I know plenty of single, childless people who don’t feel it’s “toxic” to celebrate other people’s marriages and children. I don’t have a huge house/ fancy car/go on exotic vacations, but I have coworkers who do. It doesn’t make me question my own “worth.” I’m happy for them and tell them congratulations. Sorry if my marital status and children make you feel bad.

      • Anonymous :

        She didn’t say your (whatever) made her feel bad. You said that. Why do you think that’s true?

    • Anonymous :

      Are you a real person? Doubt it.

      • I don’t doubt it. She just has opinions that differ from yours. Such people exist you know.

        • Yes, I am a real person! Unlike many people, I don’t really cherish the thought of sharing everything in my life with my colleagues, and neither do most of my colleagues. If a group of people who are office friends want to go out and have a wee party somewhere after work, great! Go fer! But perhaps we are directly accountable to taxpayers and most of us barely have time to scarf down a sandwich at lunch (let alone cake) celebrations are just not our bag. FYI, I am not the boss or in a position of authority.
          For me personally, I would rather celebrate life’s special moments with my close friends, far far away from work.
          And, to be fair, baby showers and marriage showers really can hurt people’s feelings; try being infertile, or being gay and constantly reminded of what oppressions you face. Maybe one or two showers wouldn’t do it, but after a while, a steady stream of them could start to seem like we’re celebrating “heteronormalcy”.
          I think it’s hilarious that simply because my views aren’t popular I might not be a “real” person. Jeez!

          • Too many young’uns with no real world experience telling everyone what’s what.

          • Skirt Envy :

            While I understand where you are coming from, I just have to say- I’m gay- and married- and have a child. (And before you go there- no, I’m not trying to fit into a “heteronormal” box.) My office celebrated both of those things with me. If people want to feel alienated they do, or they suggest things like- “Hey- Marcy just got a new puppy, why don’t we put together a basket for her” or Elaine just ran her first marathon, lets do something to celebrate. As someone who does manage people, fine, not everyone wants a public recognition of an event, but people do need to feel valued. Showers have been a way over time to show employees you value them and to celebrate with the people with whom you spend most of your time. In the work place, we are definitely shifting to figure out what your employee wants and try to meet that, but I personally don’t want to throw this baby out with the bathwater.

  49. Before I even read the comments, I must add my own! I know of no other kind of shower than the kind where I am obliged to buy a full-on present for someone for no other reason that I work with them. I can’t fathom any other kind.

    And colleagues who want it over quickly so they can get back to work? Never have worked with those folks either. I’m more familiar with the support staff who conduct a separate assessment – oops, I meant voluntary collection – for party decorations to be purchased on work time, and who book the conference room for an entire day. So I am equally unfamiliar with a boss who would try to keep it short to be considerate of those with actual work to do, who when they do celebrate, would prefer to do it with friends.

    Grrrr.

  50. We had done showers at the home of a co-worker and, I have to admit, it was just way too much. I threw one of them and it was expensive and stressful. For the last two baby showers, we have had cold buffet (no standing in line to heat up at the microwave) fuss-free potluck lunches with cupcakes at work. Everybody gets to join in for the lunch part even if not everyone brings a gift but enough people bring gifts that it qualifies as a shower. All in all, really easy and fun and less stress.

  51. I never heard of doing this when I lived in NY or LA. Now I live in the midwest and the women-only showers are pretty common. I find the whole idea incredibly tacky when it takes place during the workday – it creates a sense of obligation, and the single sex thing is just gross and presumptuous. But I happily go to the weekend showers of coworkers who are also friends.

    • Anonymous :

      How nice of you to spend time with the little people at their tacky little mid-country homes.

      • Not sure where that came from. Are you OK? Need to talk? Hug? You can share.

    • partypooper :

      I’m with you. A single-sex shower at work is just like a work-sponsered all male golf outing. It creates networking opportunities and excludes some people on the basis of sex. FWIW, I live in Chicago (which is still the midwest, last time I checked).

  52. In House Lobbyist :

    The small regional firm I worked for is a big believer in showers. I thought it was awarkard when the managing partner and other male partners had to look at butt paste (I’m not joking for those of you without kids) and baby clothes. These were all for staff. When my time came, I put them off so many times that they finally gave up. I just felt weird asking staff to buy presents for me. My assistant and the partners I worked for gave my lovely presents but I was glad to not have the shower. Luckily, I work for a large company now but three states away from the home office so don’t have to worry about this.

    • Why is butt paste a big deal? It’s clearly for the diapered baby and not you

  53. The sweetest thing just happened as I was typing my comment. A girl in our dept. is getting married (new hire) and her fiance just came into our department totally catching her off-guard with a bouquet of flowers! Our boss told her she needs to leave and go enjoy herself. Apparently the fiance called in advance to surprise her. We were going to lunch tomorrow to celebrate, but this is the best surprise ever. How romantic is that? :)

    • partypooper :

      I’m afraid my knee is jerking about this one.

      I imagnie her boss knows that she doesn’t have any deadlines today, but what if she’s trying to get a head start on something? Or trying to polish up a piece of work that will go to someone in the organization she’d really like to impress? Her boss *sending* her home ‘to enjoy herself’ suggests that the boss doesn’t take her very seriously.

      • Skirt Envy :

        Really? If I’ve had an employee kicking a$$ and taking names and I knew they have a light day, I would definitely say- “, why don’t you get home early today. I would say this because I value his/her talent.

        • partypooper :

          I may be misreading the tone here, but the OP says the woman’s boss *sent* her home. Furthermore, the proximate cause of being sent home wasn’t that it was a light day and she had been kicking a$$, but that her fiance visited her at work.

          I didn’t mean to make it sound like I never leave early, or judge others who do, but the situation described by the OP sounded like the employee isn’t really being taken seriously.

  54. I’ve never seen bridal or baby showers at work here. It’s mostly like a birthday; the person with something to celebrate brings a sweet or cake to have during your coffee break, you congratulate him/her and that’s that. In my previous job we all chipped into a ‘special occasions piggybank’ monthly and one person on the team would buy gards and small gifts. On my current job, the practice head and your managers sign a card and you get flowers for the bigger events.

  55. I know this comes along much later than the last date on this thread, but what about the following scenario? Instead of a card and money pitched in from everyone collectively, my oil company pretty much expects everyone in the office to attend baby/wedding showers AND people individually buy gifts that have been registered. Well, how would you feel if upper management buys all the big items with their big salaries and you, quite lower on the totem pole cannot afford the extravagance so that you are relegated to lower priced items. So you either look like a cheap skate, or if not that, it’s still obvious that what you purchased was significantly less in cost, and to make matters worse, every card and person that contributed that particular gift is read out loud. If you don’t join the shower, you can stand out like a sore thumb for the wrong reasons, but if you do attend, you feel like you better contribute something…i have no problem contributing something at all since we are like a small family, but i have been a single mom and struggling. Why should I feel obligated or put under pressure? And although a co-worker in the same boat and I have thought about splitting costs together, I actually think it points out the obvious in more pronouncedly!

  56. That’s why I love weddings and baby showers because gift overflow and the feeling is so overwhelming. Love it!

  57. Also Anonymous :

    I too agree whole heartedly with Kat, Party Pooper and others ….there are lines between private and office lives that need to remain separate.

  58. too blunt :

    I just went through this today. Balloons, food, presents, it was an all day event! I had a serious problem with this. I’m at work! The fact that it was forced on everyone was totally irresponsible on the bosses part. I did not like to feel pressured to chip in for a gift. Frankly, if done on personal time I would not have attended any event for a coworker who I have ZERO personal ties to. I did not chip in for any gift and I am pretty sure I’ve raised some eyebrows, but at the same time, other coworkers wished that they had the guts to not contribute either. Lets move on to the men in the work environment. None of them contributed food, and very few offered money for a gift. They see Baby Shower and run for cover (if they could). Needless to say, I kept a low profile and could not wait for this day to end. Don’t do this to your coworkers, it really is inappropriate work practice.