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Family Pictures – at the Office

family pictures office decorHere’s an office decor question we haven’t talked about in years: when are family pictures at the office “too much”? Weddings, babies, parents, friends — are they ever appropriate?  Here’s a question from Reader E:

I was wondering if you or your readers have any thoughts about office decorations. I am a new mom and I recently brought a framed 5 x 7 picture of my baby into my office. I like having a picture to decorate my office, but I wonder if this makes me seem less professional. I have heard the advice that working moms should not talk about their children too much.

Over at CorporetteMoms we’ve talked about when to talk about your kid at the office, but I think using family pictures as office decor is a different issue.  IMHO, the quick answer is yes: pictures of your loved ones are fine, with the caveats that the pictures be framed if they’re on display (not just taped to your monitor, cabinet, or drawer), tastefully sized (5×7 is fine — gallery-size canvas prints, maybe not so fine) and that in the picture you aren’t wearing or doing anything you’re going to regret colleagues seeing.  I also am a fan of digital pictures, either as a slideshow for your monitor or a desktop background (more on this below).  That said, though, here are some thoughts more in depth:

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Should You Buy a Wedding Gift for Your Assistant if You’re Not Invited?

wedding gift for coworkerIf one of your coworkers is getting married and you’re not invited to the wedding, should you give her a gift? What if it’s someone really important — for example, should you get a wedding gift for your assistant anyway? Reader L wonders…

My secretary is getting married very soon, and I’m wondering whether I should get her a wedding gift and, if so, what I should get her. She’s in her 40s and this is her second marriage (she has adult children). She’s just having a small wedding at home, so I didn’t get an invite or anything, I was just thinking it would be nice to get her something but I have no idea what. It’s not like she’s in her 20s and just starting out, so I’m kind of at a loss. Hoping you and/or your readers can help.

Interesting. I see a lot of questions from commenters about what to gift, when to gift, and so forth, so here are my $.02… (Note that my advice is the same if your admin is a man, as well; but because Reader L has a female secretary, let’s use the feminine…)

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Tales from the Wallet: Wedding Finances

Money Milestones: How Your Wedding Affects Your Finances | CorporetteWhat are the financial implications of getting married — and how does your wedding budget affect your overall financial health? What other major milestones affect your financial health?  I’ve often read that how you handle a few major milestones in your life — wedding!  grad school!  baby!  buying a house!  divorce!  retirement! — can have a significant impact on your overall financial health.  So I thought we’d start a series on Money Milestones.  (We’ve already talked about how where you live affects your finances, as well as what a general money roadmap, through life, should look like.)

First up:  the financial implications of getting married.  The question to everyone who’s been through this: what choices did you make that affected finances? What would your advice be to someone just going through it (either for the first time or again)? To those of you who decided NOT to get married because of the financial implications — please share some of your thoughts with us!

For my $.02, these are my best tips:

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What to Wear to Officiate A Wedding

Suzi Chin for Maggy Boutique Ruched Faux Wrap DressWhat should one wear if you’re officiating a wedding? Reader W has a unique question, so I thought I’d tackle (even if it is a bit farther than our usual topics)…

I suppose because I’m an attorney and all-around upstanding citizen, I’ve been asked to officiate the wedding of a very good friend this summer! I’ve actually performed one wedding already and I wore a somber black suit that was appropriate for the occasion. However, this time around the wedding and reception will be held during the day at a Northeast yacht club in July (meaning WARM) and the dress code is more of a summery semi-formal. Probably not a black wool suit occasion! I was hoping for your advice on what would be appropriate dress. Naturally, I’ve asked the bride what she thinks and was no help at all (“Wear whatever you want!”), but I still want to be respectful of the bride with NO possibility of upstaging/distracting and taking into consideration I will be feature in the ceremony photos. My initial thoughts are no wacky colors, sleeves or a blazer which can be removed after the ceremony, and minimal accessories. Does this mean I should wear a shapeless beige sack? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

First, congratulations; I think that’s quite an honor. I might first ask what the wedding colors are, and if the bride wants you to work within those parameters. Here are my tips:

1) Wear black. Here in NYC, most women wear black for everything, including weddings, but I know in other parts of the country it’s poor form to wear a black dress to a wedding.  I’d talk to the bride about it if you feel uncomfortable — considering that the groom and his men will likely be in black tuxes, it will be a nice visual for all the pictures. [Read more…]

Love, Marriage, and Pre-Nups

Reader C has a great question about how to deal with her fiance, who wants her to sign a pre-nuptial agreement…

After 7 years of dating (since my junior year of college) and one year of being engaged, my fiance just brought them up. Both of us have advanced degrees but he’s in finance and I work in public interest law. I am significantly less financially secure than him and will make significantly less in my career. But we’ve always functioned like a team. We’ve both made moves and career decisions for each other. He’s my best friend. But I’m really hurt. Our wedding is only a month and a half out and this feels very rushed to me. We both have said we would never get divorced (and after 8 happy years together, I truly believe we’ll make it), but his phrasing is that “he analyzes risk for a living and he just wants to be extra secure that in the unlikely event of divorce, he is prepared.” I think that even having a pre-nupt opens the door to divorce and don’t understand why if he says he doesn’t believe in divorce that he’d request one. This feels like the biggest breach in our relationship ever. Advice? Am I being ridiculous? Is he? How many corporette readers have pre-nupts (statistics I found said 5-10% of marriages but that includes second marriages and marriages with children from previous marriages where I think it makes more sense)? Can anyone help me get on board with this or am I right to be freaking out (after all, a pre-nupt can only hurt me)?

Interesting question.  I’ve seen articles that say pre-nups are on the rise (even though the oft-quoted statistic that 50% of couples divorce isn’t really true).  Personally, I come to pre-nups from the other side of things: even though I’m wildly in love, as well as Catholic and of the “divorce is not an option” mindset, I’m the one who brought them up with my husband, R. I broached the subject with this little speech:  Good Kat and Good R are marrying now, and we love each other and of course would want to take care of each other (or at least be fair to each other) even if something were to happen and if we were to divorce.  But — if we actually WERE to divorce, that would be a sea change (because we love each other so much right now and can’t possibly imagine it!!) and, in that event, we’d probably be dealing with either Bad Kat or Bad R or both.  And my point was that if we really loved each other now, wouldn’t it be a nice thing if Good Kat and Good R had agreed to the terms of the divorce — and not Bad Kat or Bad R, who probably would have hurt feelings and maybe a bit of blood thirst. Furthermore, even though the pre-nup terms we discussed were very close to New York state law, something else I liked was that if the law changed, or if we moved to a new state, we wouldn’t have to deal with new information — the terms of the divorce would always be a known quantity.

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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.) [Read more…]