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Baby-Shower Etiquette

Q. My coworkers are planning to throw a baby shower for me, complete with cake, balloons, and a poster announcing the afternoon gala to my entire department. I appreciate their generosity, but I'm concerned the hoopla will make me seem less professional. Can I tactfully decline?

A. It would be ungracious -- and unnecessary -- to nix the event, says Susan Crites Price, coauthor with her husband, Tom Price, of The Working Parents Help Book. Though pregnant women should maintain their businesslike image, there's nothing wrong with celebrating this milestone with office friends.

Consider your company's tradition, says Tom Price. "If it's not uncommon for cake to come out to commemorate a birth, marriage, or retirement, then relax." Otherwise, ask your colleagues to modify the plans. "Say you'd rather keep it low-key -- closest coworkers only," says Crites Price. Request that the shower take place during lunch or right after work, so that everyone's day isn't interrupted. Suggest an off-site location, or else a private space at the office, such as a conference room. That way you can enjoy your happy occasion -- without having to look over your shoulder.

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