Where I work it is normal for colleagues to bring in treats on their birthday or when they return from holiday.

I'm in the situation where I've just paid my mortgage off, at the age of 31. Obviously I'm really proud of this, but also modest enough to know that I've been very fortunate and not many people can become mortgage free at 31.

I've never seen someone celebrate by bringing in treats for meeting such a milestone, but I don't know whether that is due to etiquette or whether it's because it's a rare occurrence.

My question is, is it appropriate to bring treats in to celebrate paying off your mortgage?

  • 6
    I wonder what is the reason to think about a celebration at all. Do you want others to know about that? If so, what for? I don't need someone know about my mortgage situation so I'd not go for a party even without giving a reason because this event also rises questions. They won't like you better for your success - perhaps they dislike the way you show it. Be careful to not step into long term problems, this is a good chance to make people talk behind your back.
    – puck
    Oct 16, 2019 at 15:13
  • Consider that many people only pay off their mortgage with the estate of their remaining parent.
    – Tom W
    Oct 16, 2019 at 20:32

6 Answers 6


Although I congratulate you on your achievement, IMO it's not appropriate. The same would apply to winning the lottery, receiving an inheritance, hitting a jackpot in the casino, getting a big chunk of tax-returns or buying a house on the Cayman Islands.

Financials should be kept private and shouldn't be rubbed under the noses of coworkers. The reasons for keeping it private are quite obvious:

  • They could be jealous
  • If they are not as priviledged they could feel bad about themselves
  • Others could get the impression that you are bragging

That doesn't need to necessarily create a toxic work environment, but definitly has the potential for people subtly turning against you.

However, sharing it with your family and close friends should give you enough confirmation of your success and monetary skills. The only exception I would personally make is when a coworker is a close friend of mine as well, but in this case I would celebrate it with him/her/them outside the office though.

In addition, as mentioned by @delinear in the comments, you don't necessarily need a reason to do something nice and bring in treats for your co-workers. Take the treats in anyway, and just tell everyone you were in a good mood and wanted to share it.

  • 66
    I fully agree with all of the above, however I would also add, you don't necessarily need a reason to do something nice and bring in treats for your co-workers. Take the treats in anyway, and just tell everyone you were in a good mood and wanted to share it.
    – delinear
    Oct 16, 2019 at 11:07
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    @delinear Excellent point, I'll add that ;)
    – iLuvLogix
    Oct 16, 2019 at 11:13
  • 3
    winning in the lottery seems like a way better reason than this though Oct 17, 2019 at 0:01
  • I would say winning gambling is an okay reason, as that isn't proper bragging as you just got lucky. Unless you keep on about your "system"
    – WendyG
    Oct 17, 2019 at 15:47
  • If I won the lottery, I certainly wouldn't be back to the office to celebrate. I'd just quit over the phone or an email while on a beach figuring out how to use that money wisely.
    – Laurent S.
    Oct 18, 2019 at 7:50

I've only experienced this once in a workplace, and it was from someone of a more typical age to pay off a mortgage (about 55 as I recall), but it struck all of us as somewhat unusual. [Edited to add: our culture was also that there are "cakes in the usual place" for birthdays etc. I have been in the workplace (various companies) about 20 years.]

In your situation -- being that much younger and it's a relatively unusual achievement -- I think it would be perceived in most cultures as either bragging, rubbing other people's noses in it (as a couple of the other answers suggested) or possibly worse, a kind of crass virtue-signalling where you are implicitly saying "look at the sacrifices I've made, that you haven't!"

Another consideration is that if it gets out that you no longer 'need' the job as much (as it will probably be perceived) I don't think that would be positive for how committed you are seen in projects etc, or indeed when it comes to review/promotion time whether you are unconsciously passed over due to not 'needing' the money.

  • 2
    I tried to upvote your answer, especially for your last paragraph that adds a new context, but unfortunatly my vote-cap has been reached already ;)
    – iLuvLogix
    Oct 16, 2019 at 14:43
  • @iLuvLogix - I laughed when I saw this comment, because there's always tomorrow, or in this case 9 months later in case you still want to upvote this and haven't yet. :)
    – TTT
    Jun 30, 2020 at 16:50
  • 1
    @TTT Thanks for the reminder - but I upvoted the next day ;)
    – iLuvLogix
    Jul 1, 2020 at 12:48

Why not? I see colleagues celebrating happy things in their life with their coworkers all the time. Marriages, children, birthdays …

You don’t have to mention how much money the mortgage was. You can simply say that you’ve finally payed back your mortgage and because you feel happy and relieved about being debt free you want to celebrate with a cake.

I’m from Austria but I can’t imagine it being different in the UK.

  • oh yes it is, it would be considered unbelievably bragging. When I paid of my mortgage in my mid 40s I always crouched it is such deprecating terms if I ever mentioned it, "oh i was so lucky my husbands job is so seasonal I got panicky every winter" etc. I would actually say I apologise for it.
    – WendyG
    Oct 17, 2019 at 15:50

It depends on the environment you have at work.

If your coworkers are just casual acquaintances you happen to see on a daily basis, then I'd say no, for reasons others have stated (bragging, etc).

However, if your coworkers are more like friends, where you share personal stories, things about your lives, hang out outside of work, and so on, then I see no problem with this. It's another life milestone, like getting married, having a kid, etc that you may normally celebrate in the office with coworkers. Plus, who doesn't like free cake, for any reason? ;-)


There are two answers right now: yes and no.

So I'm going to be contrarian and say: it depends!

How did you raise the money? How fast? If it is luck or something out of your control (lottery, inheritance, bitcoin) then you are celebrating "look at how lucky I am" which is not something to celebrate outside your closest family and friends.

If you worked hard for it, lived soberly and this is the culmination of a dream for you (especially if you mentioned it to coworkers before) then yes, of course, celebrate away.

And of course you can take the middle road: toast the good times in general and if people ask mention that you had a windfall lately and wished to spread the mood.

  • 12
    Actually, it does not depend. It is a clear NO. Read the answer provided by @iLuvLogix.
    – virolino
    Oct 16, 2019 at 13:23
  • 9
    Yes and I disagree with that answer (and kilisi's) so I gave my own.
    – Borgh
    Oct 16, 2019 at 14:23
  • Are you English?
    – WendyG
    Oct 17, 2019 at 15:52

It's always appropriate to bring in treats. You don't have to give any reason whatsoever. So if you want to spread some good cheer, do so.

If you want praise and drama as well, then mention your mortgage triumph (well done by the way) as the reason. Don't worry too much about others feelings etc,. it's your party.

  • 24
    "Don't worry too much about others feelings etc," That is terrible advice
    – user180146
    Oct 16, 2019 at 10:51
  • 5
    I seem to have missed the "I am a show-off that desperately wants to embarrass himself" in the question, to which not caring about others feeling would be a good advice ;-) I'd strongly prefer simply the option to bring something without much of an explanation.
    – puck
    Oct 16, 2019 at 15:00
  • 6
    Ignoring the "don't worry about others" portion, I feel this is the right answer. People bring in treats for all sorts of reasons; often they don't even say why unless asked. I've been known to bring in treats simply because I want a treat. If you want to celebrate, do so. Too many overly sensitive people in the world, who respond to kindness with aggression, IMO.
    – Ghotir
    Oct 16, 2019 at 17:09
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    Are people not catching the sarcasm in the second paragraph? I mean, who wants drama?
    – Justin
    Oct 16, 2019 at 19:16
  • 4
    I agree with this. In most workplaces, nobody really cares why the treats came, and you don't need to explain.
    – Mohair
    Oct 16, 2019 at 20:32

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