We’re experiencing a bit of a baby boom at Skillcrush and could not be more excited about it.

A sampling of responses to a recent birth announcement in our team chat:

  • “OMG WE HAZ BABY!!!”
  • “omg he’s so cute i’m DYING”
  • STAP IT RIGHT NOW HE IS PERFECT
  • omg get that baby in a skillcrush onesie omg omg

To give us an outlet for our excitement and, you know, support the new parents, our CEO suggested we start hosting remote baby showers. Over the the last few years, it’s become one of my favorite Skillcrush traditions!

Baby showers work surprisingly well in a remote context. They celebrate a really happy occasion, while removing the elements that can make traditional baby showers less than fun. In our version, there’s no guilt or obligation to attend, it lasts a half hour instead of a whole afternoon, and there’s no risk of embarrassment via silly shower games.

And yet, when I mention that baby showers are one of my favorite ways to bond as a remote team, I often get confused looks. So I thought I’d share how we host remote baby showers at Skillcrush.

How we host remote baby showers

We have a cross-team “culture committee” at Skillcrush that takes point on hosting fun events like this one.

Shortly before a team member is due to go on leave, the committee does the following:

  • Designates a baby shower “host” to take point on the planning. This takes about an hour.
  • Schedules the shower at a time that works for as many team members as possible, usually on a Friday.

Prior to the shower, the host:

  • Sends a gift to the new parent.
  • Arranges for baked goods to be delivered the day of their shower.
  • Plans a simple activity for everyone to play during the call.

We keep both the planning and the shower itself fairly low key. We chat about the baby, share encouraging advice, drool over the baked goods, watch them open our presents, and play the game.

Our baby showers are short, super casual, and a lot of fun, but having a “host” to take point and handle transitions between activities really helps.

Buying Gifts

We reach out to the new parent’s family a few weeks ahead of the shower to ask if there’s anything in particular they need. Sometimes we end up choosing off of a registry, and other times we treat the parents themselves to a gift certificate for spa services or house cleaning.

Of course, no Skillcrush baby shower would be complete without a little swag! In addition to the actual present, we use iron-ons to make Skillcrush onesies for the new baby, and t-shirts for any older siblings. (Being left out is no fun!)

The host wraps everything up and mails it ahead of the shower, along with a strict ban against peeking. 😛

Playing Games

Baby shower games are SO hit or miss and can often be attendees’ least favorite part of a shower. We keep things light, easy, and embarrassment-free. (No chocolate diapers here!) We also try to plan activities that allows people to discreetly opt out, like a guessing game.

For a recent shower, a coworker asked team members to submit their baby photos ahead of time. She got about a dozen responses, which she threw into an ADORABLE slide show, and we had a good laugh trying to guess who was who.It was fun to see just how recognizable most of us were even as babies!

Pro Tips

  • Ask the new parent in private if they’d like a baby shower before planning one. If they’re not comfortable with a shower, for whatever reason, consider sending a nice card and gift after the baby arrives instead.
  • Don’t leave out parents having their second, third, or sixth child! We’ve heard from parents on our team that there is often a lot of fuss over first borns and subsequent kids don’t get the same amount of support. Embrace the fanfare!
  • Same goes for parents who are adopting, fostering, or otherwise growing their family! “Parenting” comes in all forms and, when in doubt about whether someone would like a shower, ask.
  • Order enough baked goods for the whole family. There will be a delivery minimum anyway. 🙂

Conclusion

Remote baby showers do not replace the formal benefits that new parents need to be successful at work. We’re always looking for new ways to support the parents on our team, and plans to expand some of our more formal benefits are definitely on our roadmap.

In the meantime, iterating on policies and building in places for informal support is an easy way to continue that work. We’ve really enjoyed celebrating new parents in this way so I encourage you to give it a try too.

Throwing a remote baby shower for team members who want one is a fun, low-lift way to support the parents on your team.