October 7, 2005

Q: What Gift Would Impress You, Mr. VIP?

Here's the situation:

You are a big swingin' D at the office; lots of direct reports, you have the CEO's ear on things that matter. You hold many peoples' livelihoods and professional fates in your hands. And yet, you're surprisingly tolerable. People even wish you well. Now you and the wife are having a baby. One well-wisher wants to give you a gift. He works for you.

What gift would:
a) you find useful, thoughtful, and appropriate
b) impress you with his insight and gift-giving acumen
c) raise his stock in your eyes [NOT that that's the point, you understand, I was just asking...]

Especially early on in the pregnancy, we found little things like newborn onesies--maybe a nice one, or a little pack--that actually helped make the "baby" aspect more tangible than the "nausea and getting fat" aspects were very much appreciated.

If you're going the book route, I'd steer clear of the big handbooks--they'll have plenty of those already. I'd go with either a clearcut dadbook, like Be Prepared [if he's at all got a sense of humor] or a much giftier book like Crib Notes. If design is important, there's the useful AND goodlooking Baby Owner's Manual, too. Maybe because I don't like referencing sperm at the office, I'd steer clear of that other dad guidebook, My Boys Can Swim!


Good advice from an emailer:

"Everyone else will get something pretentious and suck up -- find something that unexpectedly worked for you, and it will probably be the hit item."

Two items that I think are really great gifts that never fail to impress -- one is a "Me Too" seat, which is a travel-friendly high chair type of thing that you can attach to a table. The other is a good baby backpack -- for someone who doesn't do a lot of hiking, I personally found it useful, and everyone we every gave one to loved it and used it.

Mind you, these are not "brand-new-baby" items, but they will be used and you will be well regarded for thinking longer term than weeks 1-6.

A 3-Pack of Dr. Brown's bottles, a Bumbo Baby Seat, and some 3-6 month onesies/basic clothing items (NOT white).

I think nice bath stuff is good too. They can always use it (I appreciated not having to buy baby soap for a good year after my first was born) and you don't have to worry about clashing with someone's personal style, whether it's clothing or interiors.

Best gifts I received: Gift Certificate to TRU/BRU (worked for me; you could get certs from cooler store of your choice) and packets of 3-6 and 6-9 month Carters' snap crotch thingies (in white, so practical).

Also liked the gift subscription to Baby Bug magazine. There are lots of kids 'zines to choose from. It's never too early to stockpile chewing materials for those 6-12 month teething frenzies. And then, if the 'zines survive, toddler can page through them and make you read them over and over again.

As a VP with 30 member staff - I only told my boss and 3 direct reports (and that was a week before she was due. I didn't want anything from my slaves - it's tacky to give gifts at work, seriously)

If you want to give him something worth a damn - what about an ipod nano?

Blanket (David Fussenegger polka-dots)
Hand-knit booties (some Italian jawns)
Photo Album (no one ever actually uses them anymore, but they think they will)

The best gift from the office:

Bliss spa retreat and gift bag for Mom. The magic potions, massage and personal care are just what an exhausted new mother dreams about. A relaxed and happy wife is priceless.

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