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!