How to find the perfect maternity leave gift for a work colleague

Senior Advertising Creative and Mother Angela Farrell sheds some light on what happens in workplaces she’s been at, what’s worked well, and what’s TOTALLY not cool!

As a co-worker, boss, or office manager, it can be damn tricky to navigate the sea of leaving-gift options... especially when the gift is for a woman heading off to have a baby.

You might find yourself asking; What’s too personal? What seems like it has no thought behind it at all? Are there no-no’s when it comes to maternity leave gifts at the office?

When pregnancies are announced in the office, it’s a time for high-fives, claiming that ‘I knew it - you haven't been to any staff functions lately!’ and planning for roughly 6 months down the track when they head off on their leave. But for their boss or office manager, this announcement comes with the often unwanted bonus of finding the perfect leaving gift for them.

Let's start with the no-no's. What should you NEVER EVER get a pregnant co worker for a leaving gift?

  1. Feeding bras: Obviously in that dangerous territory of ‘too personal to open in front of newbies (strangers!) in the workplace’, what size is she, what size WILL she be when her milk comes in, does she even WANT to breastfeed? Seriously, too hard.
  2. Disposable nappies: this might not be her choice for parenting, and this gift is not at all about her as a woman or staff member - it's about changing stinky poos. Nice gift!
  3. Mums and Bubs yoga classes? Again, high risk. Do you even know where she hangs out or if she likes yoga? Maybe she's a pilates girl - or a popcorn and movie girl. Better leave the fitness classes off the list too.

What are the SAFE (but slightly boring and predictable) gift options?

  1. Chocolate. Yes, anyone could get chocolate, and when she devours the whole box on night 3 of breastfeeding, who will she be blaming? You!
  2. Booze. They say you can never go wrong with a bottle of nice bubbles for any occasion, but the cruel thing is she will have to wait weeks before she can enjoy it, and she will have to share it with everyone else!
  3. Clothing for the baby: It looks cute upon opening, but workmates might not even get to meet the baby - therefore the gift should be about the woman
  4. Photo frame: Hmmmm… maybe if you’re a data entry company with zero imagination then she may appreciate this. Otherwise don’t go there.

So what are the BEST ideas for a maternity leave gift?

  1. Luxury Hampers: There are boxes filled with luxurious items like hand cream, candles and goodies she will not be budgeting for once she becomes a Mum
  2. Food Delivery voucher: Hands down the best thing you can bring to a woman after birth is home cooked food. And the next best thing are services such as or, where fresh, gourmet meals are literally dropped to your door to enjoy.
  3. New Mum Hampers: Ideal for getting delivered to the workplace before her leaving day, saving office managers and receptionists the ordeal of shopping retail. Plus the company gets a handy little tax invoice too. All the thinking work is done for you, it's wrapped ready for her to unveil.

Have you been in charge of sourcing a maternity leave gift at your workplace? We'd love to hear your thoughts on what worked and what bombed!

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