Going on maternity leave requires a present?

A colleague of mine is going on maternity leave. She has invited us round to go and have a drink at a bar on her last day. Now, 5 hours before the event, one of my colleagues has asked if we should bring something like flowers or a present. I had actually thought about it, but decided no, we go for a drink now and then when the baby is born we club together and get her a present.

The party is in three hours. So far, I’ve have responded what I said above, adding that if everyone else wanted to get something I would be in, as I don’t want to be the one to block it. One person has responded saying we should get something, but he has no time to go buy it*. The other 4 or 5 have not replied at all.

So just curious. Am I just a big meanie or is a present for the leaving drinks as well as for the birth a bit much? If it makes any difference, we are all on very low pay.

*I’m actually quite annoyed, separately, with the person/people who think we should totally do it but have waited to the last moment to raise it and/or now absolutely have no time to go get something. If I actually had thought this was the thing to do, I would have left myself the time to go and actually buy something. It’s like “yes, I care soooo much that I managed to fire off a last minute email, now someone else do something.”

Well, if you’re all splitting the cost of her share evenly, that’s what, a dollar or two more per person? If your budgets are extremely tight and that’s all you can really afford to do, then I’m sure she’ll understand, and will appreciate it. But if things *are *that tight, then I’d say that if you can manage it, spend a little more and get her a huge box of diapers. They were far and away our biggest baby-related expense, and we went through approximately eight million of them in the first few weeks. If this isn’t doable either time- or money-wise, then I think drinks are more than enough.

Hmm, just to clarify. Not sure if it is clear or not. I have totally nothing against buying baby gifts and I will and had already decided to. And maybe it’s a cultural thing, because I think in the States you do a “baby shower” before the baby is born, right? But here in Europe (or at least where I am) we give gifts for the baby after it’s been born. What I don’t like is giving a gift because she’s going on leave and then, like a few weeks from now, starting again with the baby gifts. Seems excessive to me.

At every office I’ve ever worked at (all in the US), people put in $5 or $10 for a gift or gift card, then there’s an afternoon meeting that turns in a surprise work shower and we all get cake at 2 in the afternoon. But that said, if your office doesn’t have a precedent of doing this then I don’t think it’s necessary to start. It would be bad if you had a work shower 6 months ago for Sally, and now Mary is going on leave with her first kid and she gets nothing, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case if you’re not sure how to handle it.

So I vote go out and have fun and everyone cover her share. It’s kinda late to throw something together anyhow without making it look last-minute. If you are planning to give something anyhow after the baby is born then I wouldn’t even worry about it.

It’s too late to throw something together. I would just go with taking her out for drinks. Caveat: If you ARE going to buy her a gift now, don’t buy it for the baby! Buy something for her, like a book or something. She’ll be swimming in baby gifts really soon.

But she’s just going on maternity leave. A big hug and well wishes should be enough.

In my office we either have an organized baby shower or a “diaper dump”, where people bring wipes and various sizes of diapers and sort of fill a person’s cube. Mostly the mothers get showers and the dads get diaper dumps.


Well, just ran into a colleague in town. She said she had replied the same way as I did, but privately. So perhaps that’s what the rest has done. We just think it’s better to save resources and buy something really nice for the baby. Btw, here (Europe, specifically Italy) we feel you shouldn’t give any baby gifts until the baby has been born as it would be tempting fate. So, as Anaamika said, the gift for tonight would be for her, not a baby thing. But it looks like the very silent majority has “spoken”: no gift now, baby gift once there’s a baby.

You’re taking the pregnant woman drinking? That’s enough of a gift right there.

If I were there, I’d probably pay for her tab at the gathering with some comment like 'You can buy me a drink when you get back!"

Ha! True. But in our defense, it was her idea.

I think you are being a big meanie. A token gift is a sweet gesture, and while its not “required”, there really isn’t any reason not to.

I also don’t think going out to drinks is much of a treat, unless she is adopting. P

It’s not customary, though. Heck, I’m used to the notion of not even giving any hand-me-downs other than the bassinet & other stuff that’s going to be needed right away… the presents come after the baby. I’m wondering whether the person who proposed it is one of those pains in the ass who on one hand want everything to turn into a BIG CELEBRATION (I’m sparing y’all the multicolored glitter) and on the other can never be arsed organize anything, or this is a one-shot.

There’s something to be said for not wanting to develop an office culture where you have a whip-around every time anything happens to anybody. The more often everyone gets together to give someone a gift for something the most often someone else will get hurt when they don’t get a gift.

It’s like weddings. If you invite 3 people, there’s maybe two people with hurt feelings. But if you invite 500, there’s another 250 wondering “What? So-and-so made list and I didn’t?”

True. But there weren’t meant or presented as being such. Pregnant lady said: “Hey, I’m not going to see you all for a few months so let’s meet up on my last day.” Knowing my place of work (which isn’t an office), if she hadn’t said that, probably nothing would have happened except a baby gift after the baby was born.

He’s Irish, and I wonder if that’s at the root of it. I lived in Ireland for 8 years and, for example, you never ever came to someone’s house without bringing something. I think Irish culture* can be all about this sort of attentive gift thing. Some of the other nationalities we have on the team, less so perhaps. I honestly don’t believe the lady in question (northern Italian) expects a gift; she just wants to say bye, I think.

As for the disorganization. This is typical for my place of work. We’re a language school with a lot of free lancers and without a teachers room. So people cross paths in the corridors and we otherwise don’t see much of each other. So when an email gets sent round, everyone tends to somewhat apathetically wait for others to make a move. But the lady in question is the secretary so we do all work with her a lot, so in that sense we do all care.

*Irish dopers feel free to correct my impression. And I did live in the rural west.

She’s getting European maternity leave - that is a gift unto itself!

My opinion regarding work-associate occasions:
[li]Illness/hospitalization - Everyone signs a card, maybe sends flowers, too.[/li][li]Going away/retirement - Everyone kicks in for something specially chosen for the departee, plus they all sign a card.[/li][li]Birthday - If you are close enough to the person, offer wishes or a card, but please don’t drag everyone into it. That way lies madness, and eventual hurt feelings.[/li][li]Babies - Same as for birthdays, as far as I’m concerned. And since I’m a grouch, I hate hate hate when people bring their babies into the office. If we’re close, I’ve already seen your baby. If not, no offense, but it’s just a baby, like billions of others.[/li][li]Death in the family - Everyone signs a card and kicks in either for flowers or a donation in honor of the deceased.[/li][li]Promotion - The person being promoted brings in donuts for everyone else.[/li][/ul]Recognition of life events can easily get out of hand and very expensive, especially in a larger office. Bottom line - it’s a workplace, not a social club. Your coworkers may not want to be your BFF and they may well resent being asked for contributions all the time.

I imagine those who are proposing that you get her a gift now are thinking that it’s in lieu of a gift later.

Well, in the end someone bought flowers for which we paid about 7 euros a head (about 9 dollars). AFAIK we are still buying a baby gift when the baby arrives. And I still think this is excessive, but I paid up without grumbling as I promised.

Is it normal for pregnant women to drink there?