Baby gift logistics/etiquette
December 4, 2017 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Buying a baby gift for a colleague/former boss whose partner is due after the holidays. Is it better to order stuff off the registry and have it shipped to them, or give it to them at the office? And, what's an appropriate amount to spend?

I realize these questions are sort of "anything goes" but my anxiety is cropping up and I just want someone to tell me what to do. They were a truly excellent boss and we have a friendly relationship. They've been an important advocate for my career and I'm very appreciative. Is $100 right? $200? Office shower is soon but baby is not due until after the holidays; they are registered. Is it better to buy stuff off the registry and have it shipped straight to their house, or to package it nicely and present it at the office? Not planning on getting anything particularly bulky/heavy.
posted by acidic to Work & Money (14 answers total)
I'd go with the registry, and spend what you can comfortably afford. $100 seems pleasantly generous and will pay for a bunch of diapers and onesies.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:36 PM on December 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

Have it shipped to them. $100 is very generous.
posted by Dolley at 12:38 PM on December 4, 2017

Depends what you get - if it's a small thing, easy to take home, at the office is fine, if it's bigger, then just ship to their house and give them a nice card at work. I would only give it to them at the office if there's a formal shower planned, otherwise just ship to their house (unless you are picking something personal like a few baby books or something). A nice card is always appreciated in person though.

As a baby-haver who had an office baby shower, I really, really didn't expect anyone to give me anything, but gifts around the $20-40 mark seemed to be standard, the lower range for people junior and the higher for people senior. I think $50 is generous and $100 is incredibly generous - but that may depend on your field/social strata. Like, if you're in finance or internet stuff I might guess people spend more than, say, non-profit workers (my field). Thinking back - colleagues gave me things like crib sheets, cute outfits, a wet bag for diapers, a Nose Frida, etc. (Actually, don't laugh, but hands-down the best colleague gift in terms of sheer usefulness and lasting was a penguin-shaped humidifier, which we are still using 3.5 years later, and which my child now calls Penguin Friend. I'm quite sure he just picked something off my registry in the price range he wanted to spend, probably about $30!)
posted by john_snow at 12:40 PM on December 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

$100 is VERY generous. It would be fine to spend $50 honestly and still be quite nice. I think it's only worth bringing to the office if it's one of those items that's more cute than it is useful if there is a chance they would be opened at a shower kind of thing (eg bring adorable onesies and teensy hats to the office to be oohed and ahhed over; have crib sheets or bottle warmers or diaper pads shipped straight to the house)
posted by sestaaak at 12:47 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am currently pregnant and recently had a coworker throw an office shower for me. At least based on my small sample:

1. People were pretty split in purchasing something from the registry versus gifting a favorite baby book/cute outfit/gift card not on the registry. Personally, I have found registry items and gift cards to be the most helpful, although obviously all gifts are appreciated! In any case, you definitely cannot go wrong with selecting something from the registry, since you know for sure that it is something they need/want.
2. People who came to the shower (which in my case was outside of work hours) tended to bring a wrapped gift; people who couldn't make it sent things directly to our house. We did not open gifts at the party, intentionally, to avoid people feeling weird about what other people had purchased -- you might ask the organizer of the shower whether there will be an organized gift-opening time (in which case bringing the wrapped gift would be nice) or not (in which case it doesn't really matter).
3. I would guesstimate that most coworkers spent around $25 on their gift, but I also work in a non-highly-paid job. YMMV if everyone is wealthy. I personally would have felt very awkward receiving gifts in the $100-$200 range from coworkers, just because I know that would be a really big amount of money for most people in my line of work. The people who have bought us big-ticket items like that are primarily family members. Perhaps there would be different norms in a big corporate law office or something, though. If you have a couple of people you can ask what they are getting, that might help you gauge the norms for your office.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:49 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I agree that $100 is very generous, and it depends on the line of work. In our office, around $25 is considered standard.

In your shoes, since you're close, if I were you I'd probably spend $75 and have it shipped directly to their home.
posted by onecircleaday at 1:02 PM on December 4, 2017

Previous workplaces have generally done a lunch or cake for the expectant family, pool cash for a for gift card from everyone, one person picks up cute stuffed animal/gift off registry to open. $50, max $100 seems appropriate if doing it as one person.
posted by typecloud at 1:25 PM on December 4, 2017

I'll second rainbowbrite; the grandparents were the only ones that spent 100+ on my kid, and I would have been pretty uncomfortable with anyone not solidly in the "family or chosen family" circle spending that much (ymmv, I'm in academia). My group gift at work was in that range, from 5-10 people all together.

Somewhere in the 50 range would be my max for a coworker-friend. If people are bringing individual gifts at the shower, I'd do that, but if there's a group gift happening I'd send it separately. (As for gift ideas: my colleagues got me a good-sized gift certificate to a bakery I liked that was a block from my house. I used it for months, appreciated it a lot, and felt that it was more work-appropriate than a bunch of onesies and similar.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:27 PM on December 4, 2017

i would order from the registry to be delivered to their home. $100 is what i would spend on a relative, it would feel extravagant for a coworker, let alone a coworker's partner.

i do find it a bit odd that the office is having a baby shower for someone who doesn't even work there, though.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:23 PM on December 4, 2017

If there's an office shower coming up, why wouldn't you present the gift at the shower? If you won't be attending the shower, I would ship the gift to their home.

Given how important the expectant father has been, and continues to be, to your career it might be a nice gesture to give two gifts. One would be off the registry, in whatever price range you consider appropriate. The other would be something a bit more intimate and memorable. A keepsake, perhaps, that the baby will hopefully keep and cherish for a lifetime. Think a coin from one hundred years ago, an antique baby rattle, a handmade (by you or an artisan) mobile.
posted by DrGail at 3:00 PM on December 4, 2017

Thanks all! Bought and shipped something in the range suggested by most of the responses.
posted by acidic at 3:34 PM on December 4, 2017

Poffin boffin, really? You think only the person actually giving birth is becoming a parent, is deserving of recognition, and who needs gear? I think it's awesome OP's work is treating the non-birthing parent as someone deserving of celebrating a major life change. (My work has baby showers for birthing and non-birthing parents alike.)
posted by john_snow at 7:31 AM on December 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

no, that's not what i think, but please carry on writing weird fanfiction about me.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:20 PM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Poffin boffin, I generally really respect and agree with your comments so I was really puzzled. I just can't figure out another way to read "i do find it a bit odd that the office is having a baby shower for someone who doesn't even work there, though." The OP says their colleague's partner is having a baby. The only way I can parse your comment is that you're not seeing the colleague as also having a baby. I'm seeing it as partner is the birthing parent and the colleague is the non-birthing parent, but they are both equally parents. Can you explain what you mean? I'm asking sincerely, not snidely! (Are you reading former boss as the person no longer works there? I thought OP meant the structure had changed and they now have a different boss, but still work together.)
posted by john_snow at 10:01 AM on December 11, 2017

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