General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Politely Refusing Work Baby Shower

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SPuck:
What about asking her in lieu of a baby shower you would prefer a going away celebrating? Or some better wording because you will eventually be coking back.

AreaWoman:
OP here -- thanks very much for the thoughts and responses.  I wanted to address a couple of items to clarify, because, as I frequently do, I left out some details.  And I know how sometimes those details matter, so I apologize for that.

I did already talk to the office manager about no gifts -- that didn't really help.  She wanted to "just make it voluntary," which of course made me worry about what they normally do!  I also don't have a supervisor.  And this unfortunately can't be a last-minute thing, as the powers that be require that any parties be scheduled well in advance (I want to say a month) to avoid conflicts with other meetings etc.  And probably the most important detail -- there is a staff member who is a couple of weeks behind me in her pregnancy, so I gather they want to do something combined.  Maybe that is my out -- make it just for her and leave me out of it?  I just don't want folks to feel bad.

I do really like the idea of something more like a "going away" or "maternity leave" party.  If there is no notion of a combined thing, I will definitely try that.  Thanks again to all!

auntmeegs:
Ugh.  I am in a very similar position right now and I don't know what to do either.  Our office always does a cake party when someone has baby or gets married and that person is presented with a (very generous) gift, paid for entirely with company funds, not a collection from the employees.  When I got married a few years ago, there was a party for me and  some the coworkers I am close to even gave me gifts, which was so nice.  Now here we are, three years later and they want to have another party for me before I go on maternity and I just feel so weird about it!  Like, come and celebrate AuntMeegs's life choices again at another party for her!  The coworkers I am close to say of course no one would think this for a second and if nothing else, its an excuse for everyone to take a break and have some cake!  I can't deny everyone cake by refusing the party!!!   But I can't hep feeling weird about it becuase I feel like we just had a party in my honor. 
I did agree to the party and its not that I don't appreciate it, I really do.  So anyway, I don't know if any of that helps you at all, but I totally understand how you feel. 

Oh Joy:
Congratulations on your upcoming leave!

Is this one of those opportunities to turn it around, and also emphasize what you do want instead of what you don't?  Like, instead of having a celebration in advance, ask that you be able to bring in bagels or cookies the week you return to thank everyone for covering for you?  You can play the 'I'm a supervisor and don't want obligate others' card, or the 'I'm superstitious about celebrating in advance' card, or the 'I'm not comfortable taking time out of the work day for this when I'm already taking a leave' card, or something else that works for your office dynamic and doesn't make the other coworker's celebration awkward.

Best wishes.

delabela:
Although I fully understand your reticence, and I absolutely respect where you're coming from, I think that there's also an element of needing to accept what others do for you gracefully.  It's entirely appropriate to ask that no gifts be given, since you have a supervisory role.  However, it seems to me that if they really want to do a small party, it would be best to accept - at some point the refusal makes it a bigger deal than it needs to be. 

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