A Guide to Office Showers

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Celebrating milestones at the office, when done correctly, can be a great way to build morale. However, if people feel pressured to buy gifts or are not invited to the party, it could generate resentment and bad feelings. Birthdays are pretty easy, as everyone has one and they typically just include a cake and a song. But when it comes to an office “shower,” it is a little trickier.

Management should establish some written (or unwritten) rules to ensure fairness to all—how much time should be spent planning, decorating, attending the party and how long the party should last (typically it’s an hour). If they don’t, these are a few tips to keep in mind when considering an office wedding or baby shower held at work.

• Keep it simple and consistent. If one is a potluck lunch, all should follow the same format; potluck typically keeps it fair and fun. People can spend what they want and, at the same time, share their special culinary skills or simply pick up something from a store.

• No one should feel pressured to buy a gift. Ever. The host/office should establish a few options and allow the individuals to purchase (or not) what they feel is appropriate. It’s never OK to make someone feel they MUST contribute to a group gift, especially if a manager (direct report) is collecting the money.

• Finally, remember that this is to build morale and support a co-worker. Keep it light and simple as this is more about acknowledging this special time in his or her life rather than buying an expensive gift or throwing an over-the-top party.

Suzanne Willis is the founder of Willis Consulting & Communications in Naples, which specializes in contemporary business, social and children’s etiquette. 

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