Offices have become friendlier places over the years and with the growing camaraderie, it’s become more common to host baby and bridal showers for co-workers. In fact, with our greater push to gender equality, showers have been extended to the groom or father-to-be, not just to the women in the office. When I was 8 months pregnant with our first child, my husband’s office threw him a baby shower. I was contacted by one of the organizers and extended a secret invitation to attend the event. I’ve never seen my husband look more surprised than that day when he walked into the conference room where it was held, and realized it was his shower. We were both very touched by the thoughtfulness of his co-workers.

Of course, given the more professional nature of the environment, the do’s and the don’ts for office showers are a bit different from family and home showers. So here’s some tips for organizing a baby or bridal shower in the office.

Preliminary Steps

Enlist the assistance of one or two other co-workers to divide the tasks. One person can be in charge of organizing refreshments and the other in charge of collecting contributions.

Get management approval if you plan to host the shower in the office, instead of in a restaurant.

Check with honoree’s supervisor to make sure employee will be available at the planned time.

Important Considerations

* Try to schedule the shower during lunchtime when it is easiest for employees to take a break.

* Keep the event to under an hour.

* If it will be held in the office, you can have everyone contribute an appetizer or salad to the refreshments, or you can collect money for purchased refreshments such as a deli tray.

* Attendees can purchase their own gifts, or contribute to a combined gift. Under NO circumstances should it be mandatory that people participate. Therefore, the person responsible for collecting contributions needs to be very low key when approaching co-workers.

* If you work in a large corporation, your guest list should be limited to honoree’s department and close friends in other areas of the company.

* If financial contributions are on the low side, then limit the food to a cake served and festive party goods. Of course, if interest and contributions are low, you might want to re-think whether to hold the event at all! Not everyone is beloved by his or her co-workers.

* It may be difficult to choose an appropriate gift. It’s often hard to know what a co-worker needs or has already purchased for the expected baby or new home. In that case a gift certificate to a baby store or favorite department store or catalog is a good choice.

Final Details

If the shower will be held in a restaurant, make reservations at least two weeks prior to the date. At one-week prior, one of the organizers should speak with the manager to confirm the details.

It will be unlikely that you can fit shower games into your schedule. But if you’d like to try a game, keep it simple, short, and more dignified than the type you’d play at home.

Keep decorations simple, you may not have much time for setup. A cluster of festive, helium balloons and a banner honoring the guest of honor will help to set the party mood. Add the appropriate party goods, and you’ve probably done as much as you can in an office setting.

Alcohol is inappropriate in an office setting. Serve a non-alcoholic punch instead.