It’s always a good idea to recognize expectant parents and treat them with a gift, even if you aren’t very close with the family. The issue of giving a baby gift to someone you don’t know very well comes up most often in a professional setting, where it’s important not to cross lines of familiarity while also maintaining a friendly working relationship.

Giving Baby Gifts to Work Colleagues

Throw a Whole-Office Shower Before Maternity Leave

When the coworker in question is also the pregnant mother, you’ll want to plan any celebrations in advance of her maternity leave date. Don’t ask her for this information, though. Let her tell you herself. If she’s keeping this information closely guarded, tell her you and everyone else inthe office wants to host a small baby shower for her before the baby arrives, and ask her when she might be available for this to happen. Give her the power to choose the date. Take a similar approach with the father, since he might be taking paternity leave and may not be back in the office until a few weeks after the baby arrives. And remember that some people may not want to make a big deal of the pregnancy at work. If a coworker graciously declines your offer to host a baby shower, respect his or her wishes and don’t take offense. Everyone has the right to decide how their personal lives are discussed in the workplace.

Focus on Useful and Gifts That Aren’t Too Personal

Remember that professional boundaries should stay in place with gift giving. You don’t want to buy a nursing garment for the mother, for example, as this can be seen to violate some standards of propriety. Stick with gifts that focus on the baby, like a multipack of onesies, or gifts for the whole family, like a picture frame the parents can use to display their first baby photos.

Don’t Give an Extravagant Gift to Your Boss

If your boss is expecting a baby, he or she shouldn’t expect to get gifts from subordinates, but you may feel obligated to give a gift anyway. Be very careful when giving your boss a gift for a baby or other occasion. Anything too showy will look inappropriate, like you’re trying to bribe your boss to gain favor. It’s best to just give a card or something very small and inexpensive, like a little stuffed animal. The one exception to this is if everyone on your team or in the office -everyone, including people you may not like or actively work with- comes together to buy a group gift. This way, you avoid the appearance of seeking favor while also showing your boss how much everyone respects and is happy for him or her. These rules may not apply in every culture, though, so ask around with your coworkers and see if any of them are planning to give individual gifts.

Shop our baby gifts section to find some great gift ideas for coworkers. Personalized gifts are a great idea, especially if the parents have already shared the baby’s name.