Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Host: An Office Baby Shower

At my regular 9-5, I was recently asked to help out with throwing a baby shower for a male co-worker.  In the past, the office has taken up a collection, given the parents-to-be a gift card, had some cake, and called it a day.  This time around, word on the street was that the couple needed a lot of help getting ready for the baby's arrival.  Sooooo, I put on on my party planning hat and suggested that we throw a real baby shower with some decorations and lots of  necessary, useful, and helpful gifts to open.  We usually invite the wives, so I figured if she was going to trek over in the nasty D.C. summer swamp-like conditions with only 2 weeks to go (eeks!), the least we could do was make it worthwhile.

The biggest consideration in planning an office baby shower is that your boss and male co-workers will be in attendance.  This is NOT the time for women to trade war stories about their birthing experiences.  Secondly, if you are hosting your office baby shower on company grounds/property, you probably won't be able to decorate quite as much...so scale way back from the bajillion shower ideas you've seen floating around Pinterest!  Otherwise, here are a few of the do's and don'ts for hosting a successful office baby shower!

Posh Purpose Do's and Don'ts for Office Baby Showers  

1. DON'T play shower games.  I hate shower games to begin with, but they are usually completely inappropriate for work.  Also, while your boss may be willing to take time from the work day to celebrate a co-worker's pending bundle of joy, he/she may view games as a waste of company time.  Or, like in my case, my boss would rather throw himself off the Key Bridge than play a shower game.

2. DO take up a collection for the gift (as long as company policy doesn't prohibit it) and make sure to buy items off the couple's registry or baby care items that you know they can use (diapers, shampoo, wipes, etc).  Let each employee make an individual decision on what they are comfortable contributing rather than saying each person they must contribute X number of dollars.  You don't want to alienate co-workers who can't afford to donate and to be honest, who would want to fork over a mandatory contribution for a co-worker they can't stand?  Also, try to pick a theme of gifts to buy so that they aren't getting a bunch of random junk.  For my co-worker, we knew they had been gifted a crib, but didn't have any other bedding items.  So, we purchased the crib mattress, mattress pad/cover, and two crib sheets.  We didn't have enough money left after those purchases to buy another big ticket item, so we used the last of the funds to buy diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream.

3. DON'T buy anything related to nursing (i.e. breast pumps, nipple cream, modesty covers, etc).  Chances are you will have at least one male in attendance and you don't want to make him squeamish.  In addition to an assortment of male co-workers, my boss and two of the three managers are male.  They most certainly do not want to think about a female co-worker or an employee's wife and her future lactation efforts.

4.  DO wrap each item separately so there is more to open.  Also, try to match the wrapping paper to the decor if you can manage it.  The overall presentation will be much better and the pile of gifts will add to the decor, especially if your decorating budget is small, your office space limits the amount of decorating you  can do, or your office space isn't worth decorating (hello nasty outdated fluorescent light bulbs and cube farms).

Aqua + Pink = OK!
5. DO make sure everyone signs a card to send the couple and baby best wishes.  Gifts are wonderful, but a card gives the employees who couldn't afford to contribute to the gift collection a chance to show their support and participate in the office event.

6. DO ask the bakers in your office to bring a baked good in to share at the shower rather than spending part of the gift donations on cake and other refreshments.  A baby is coming people!  Another set of diapers for the new parents is waaay more important than you eating fancy cake.  Depending on your office size, 5 types of treats should be plenty.  We have less than 20 people in our office, but 6 people provided a lemon pie, fresh fruit, mini cupcakes, an assortment of tea cookies, a homemade candy, and raspberry brownies (check back this afternoon for my super easy and inexpensive recipe!).

7. DON'T have a super feminine shower theme if your co-worker is expecting a girl.  Men tend to be uncomfortable around too much pink and lace.  I suggest brightly colored and coordinating tablecloths, plates, and napkins.  You can still use pink, but be sure to add in other colors like yellow, green, blue, aqua, or purple.  I recommend the Spritz line at Target - cheap and cute!  Polka dots, stripes, chevron, and plaid are all fun and festive without being too girly!

We went with multi-colored polka dots!

8. DO use what you already have in your party pantry.  Since we host a lot of shin digs, I'm always picking up paper napkins and plates.  I dug through my party pantry (i.e. the useless cabinet above my apartment refrigerator) and found paper goods to go with the event.  If you  have absolutely nothing to work with, find a coupon and head to Michael's craft store.  They usually have a variety of party wear to choose from for all sorts of occasions!

Plates are from HomeGoods and napkins are from Michael's
9. DO find flowers for the mother-to-be to enjoy at the shower and take home with her (if you can manage it).  This wasn't something I was able to accomplish for my shower.  I couldn't figure out how to transport the gifts, food, and flowers on the metro without having a nervous breakdown.  I think this is an especially lovely touch for any type shower, but especially for all the pretty mamas-to-be.  Not only will the flowers jazz up the shower, no one will feel the need to send flowers after the baby is born  (added bonus, the mama will likely enjoy the flowers much more before the baby is born than after when she is sleep deprived).  These do NOT have to be expensive blooms.  First, ask your co-workers if they have any flowers growing in their yards, as they would obviously be free.  I know when I worked at a bank in college, there were some very lovely ladies who had very lovely peonies and hydrangeas growing in their yards.  My next suggestion would be to look for the cheapest flowers in season.  If I had been able to transport flowers, I would have gone with sunflowers ($3.99 for 3 huge stems!) or carnations (always cheap!).  Don't bother spending money on a vase - wash out a pasta sauce jar!  If you are pressed for time, the Dollar Tree always, always has vases.  

10. DO play soft music in the background (if you have access to the appropriate music and a way to play it).  Invariably, you are going to have awkward pauses in conversation at an office event, so it's a good idea to have some type of noise to mask the awkwardness.  Playing upbeat music (softly!) is a way to distract and detract from any moments when the room goes dead silent (which usually happens right before someone says something completely inappropriate just to fill the silence!).  Find an elevator music or oldies radio station as they won't offend most people in the office. 

That's it for our Posh Purpose How to Host Tips!  Sorry I don't have more photos to share Posh Purpose readers!  I got sick the day of the shower and I had to leave before the party (blogger fail).  I can tell you that all my planning and the help of some wonderful co-workers made it a great success!  Not only was the father completely appreciative, but my boss dropped by my office to tell me it was the nicest office event he has attended!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Little Upgrades: Patio Tables

Mr. 3 and I loooove sitting out on our patio and entertaining with our friends (check out our Patio Party posts here and here).  We've been looking for some very small side tables to put on either side of the outdoor daybed to set drinks.  The daybed is pretty deep, so sometimes it's a bit of a stretch to lean forward to put a glass or plate down (I know. First world problems).  We also want to free up some space on the coffee table for when we are entertaining outside so that it's not so crowded when we eat.  I've been eyeing some garden stools since last summer, but at $60+ each it's a little bit hard for me to swallow.  

Finally, when I was at Target a few weeks ago stocking up on cleaning supplies and a month's worth of TP (you know, as one does in the big city), I spotted these:
Rubberwood Beverage Stand with Steel Frame
$19.99
Image Source: Target
Although this is intended to be a beverage stand for one of those aluminum tubs, I thought the size, height, color, and price were all right for our patio.




The white framing on the stands tie in the with stripe on our outdoor pillows, the white in the rug, and also the trim on the apartment.  I don't mind the lighter colored wood, but I could probably stain it one day if I ever get bothered by it.  For parties when it's really hot outside, I can also keep the drinks close at hand by putting an aluminum beverage tub I already own on the stand (it's similar to the one featured in the Target ad - mine is dark turquoise and I got it on clearance 2 years ago for $7).  During the winter time, I can easily use one of these stands inside the apartment.  In the past, I've always just set the tub on the kitchen floor, but it would be nice to put it on the carpet and set up a drink station for better party flow.  Finally, once patio season is over, I can easily fold these stands up and put them in our storage closet for protection against winter rain and snow.

I paid $40 for these two tables, which is less than any of the garden stools I was contemplating.  I think we are all done decorating and outfitting the patio for now.  I have some wind chimes to hang up, but otherwise this patio is done!  I think this is a perfect example of how you can re-imagine the original use of an object for a purpose that suits your needs...and all at a budget friendly price!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

I had a brief scare yesterday that my phone was no longer charging. My first thought was "no way am I buying another phone before the new iPhone comes out." My second was "oh no! how will I document my thrift store finds?!" Good news is that my charging cord was the problem, not the phone, and my sister is loaning me a functioning one for the time being.



This cool floor lamp was slightly overpriced at $10. It needed a bit of polishing but the wiring worked, so yay for that.


These pretty flower shaped candle trays were $3 each. If I liked brass, I would have bought them. But (gasp!) I'm not a huge fan.


This dresser was $45. The veneer is chipped at the top, but the drawers are dovetailed. The leg has some damage as well. Overall, $45 is still a good deal.


This $50 tv console/dresser also has some damage across the front, and the top is stained. The inside had really cool drawers and shelves intermixed. And check out that hardware. I love interesting hardware!

Want to see more thrift store finds? We have a whole category just for that! We would love to see your finds, so feel free to share in the comments section or holler at us on twitter or instagram.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Buy

Even though I don't have my own Nordstrom shoe guy, I did get to have some fun with the Nordstrom Anniversary sale. I bought a few plain shirts (because apparently I never have shirts) and a fun skirt. But my favorite purchase of the sale is this Topshop dress below.



For $34, this dress is an awesome buy. I'm pretty sure I won't be pairing it with the black suede booties seen in the model picture, but I am thrilled that it is a piece I can wear almost all year round in Florida. The colors aren't definitively summer or winter and the sleeveless bit will go a long way on a 85 degree November day.

***We were in no way compensated for writing this article.  We just like to share our opinions on all things shopping when we can!***

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Man Every Girl Needs

Pre-Mr. 3, I read a book on relationships and it described the different type of men women need in their lives regardless of who they are dating.  I don't remember the exact quantity or all the characteristics, but every girl needs a man who can fix things, a man who can dance, etc.  Your husband may fill many of the roles, but after this week, I've also decided every girl needs a Nordstrom shoe man (which probably isn't your husband or boyfriend).

I'm always going to the Tysons Corner mall and I tend to do most of my shopping at Nordstrom when I go. This past week, I swung by to check out the anniversary sale and see what's new for fall.  I walked over and I spotted the man who has helped me with all my shoe purchases over the last couple of years.  I've bought a few pairs of flats, wedges, and sandals from this man.  He spotted me too and even though I haven't bought any shoes in months, he ran right over to greet me.  He remembered my size (6.5 wide...aka the unicorn of the shoe world...or the more common 7) and promptly went to go grab the shoes I was admiring.  Now, Nordstrom is known for good service, but I swear I have never, and I mean never, had a salesperson at a chain store recognize me, let alone remember my shoe size.
This is what came home with me...6.5 wide!
Vala Bootie
Vince Camuto
$89.95 Anniversary Sale Price
$138.95 After
Image Source: Nordstrom

I decided to get the shoes to take home and try on with some outfits and my salesman told me if for any reason the shoes were defective or needed to be stretched to bring them back to him and he would take care of me without any issue.  Nordstrom has an amazing return policy (they will take anything back...tags, no tags, worn, not worn), but the salespeople don't generally broadcast its leniency.  He also told me that if I needed help picking out shoes, he could put suggestions together for me and have them waiting in my size to try on when I came in.  I feel like usually this type of service is reserved for the $200+ crowd, not my measly $90 pair.  I've also worked with other salespeople at Nordstrom and none have ever offered me this service.

Clearly, this man is a prince among shoe salesmen and made my shopping experience so easy.  I can't tell you how nice of a feeling it was to be remembered, especially since I'm not a big spender.  I doubt I will take him up on his personal shopping offer (evidently he offered this service to another customer and she walked home with 17 pairs of new shoes...that just sounds dangerous!); HOWEVER, this man knows his merchandise and it would be oh-so-helpful if I could have him point out the shoes available in my unicorn sizing.  I would be much more open to higher heeled shoes if I knew I could get them in a wider width.  Anyone else have a Nordstrom guy?  Share below!

***We were in no way compensated for writing this article.  We just like to share our opinions on all things shopping when we can!***