What’s the Protocol for Office Baby Showers?

Office baby showers can be somewhat awkward. Oftentimes, you’re invited to the shower of a parent-to-be that you don’t know well. What’s the protocol?

There are a few simple rules you can follow when attending an office shower to make the event a success.

Bring a Gift

Many offices will ask the guests to contribute to a group gift, making things a lot easier. If you’re attending a shower without that option, though, it’s always a good idea to bring a gift.

In some cases, you’ll have a registry to pull from when looking for gift inspiration. However, it’s not always an option when a recipient wants to reserve their registry for their friends and family.

In a BabyCenter.com forum, one individual said that she didn’t have a registry because her mother-in-law was throwing a baby shower later for friends and family, and she didn’t want all the gifts to be purchased at the office party. “They gave us a bunch of gift cards and some smaller things like bibs and books,” she said.

When you’re working without a registry, you could choose gift cards and other impersonal items, but it’s better to try to stand out with a custom gift. It’s difficult to customize your gift when you don’t know the recipient well, but something simple like a monogramed baby gift hamper, a blanket with the baby’s name embroidered into it, or a beautiful nursery decoration can make your gift stand out.

Greet the Guest of Honor

Whether or not you’re well acquainted with the guest of honor, you should take a few minutes to greet him/her sometime during the party. If you know the individual well, say hello, give a hug, exchange pleasantries, and ask about things you have in common. This is one of the best ways to show your support.

If you’re not familiar with the individual, introduce yourself. If there’s time, make small talk or try to find similar interests. This move will not only dispel any awkwardness, but it will also introduce you to a new coworker at work. It’s a win-win!

Don’t Bother Dressing Up

If you were attending a baby shower for a friend or family member, you would likely dress up for the occasion. However, this isn’t necessary at a work baby shower. Typically, the event will occur during the lunch hour or at a slow point in the day. Your everyday work attire is adequate for the occasion.

You may choose to dress up a little more if you’re well-acquainted with the guest of honor. That’s your choice, and there are hundreds of trendy resources to help you choose the best outfit for the occasion.

Expect to Be Asked to Chip In

Usually, baby showers at work are funded by co-workers. One person will collect money to pay for food, decorations, a group gift, etc. You will likely be asked via email or in a meeting to chip in for the event.

If you work with the individual, the polite thing to do is contribute to this fund. You don’t have to give a lot—$10 to $20 is enough to fulfill your obligation.

If you don’t want to contribute money, you can politely decline. “If you knew and liked the [mom or father-to-be]…there would be an argument for chipping in if you could afford to simply because it’s a warm gesture, but even then you wouldn’t have an obligation to,” says Alison Green of AskAManager.com.

If you choose not to contribute, you can probably simply ignore the request. Most people at work wouldn’t bother you about it a second time.

Baby showers at work can be awkward, but now that you know what to expect, you can dispel awkwardness and enjoy the occasion. Simply relax and enjoy the festivities—it beats working on a dull afternoon!