Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gift Giving Guidelines

Hmm, interesting thought. Roomie actually asked me what an appropriate gift amount would be for a wedding. He's going to a pretty good friend's wedding and wants to give a nice gift. This got me thinking, what are the actual dollar guidelines for gift giving.

I told him, my mom says the cost of your meal. He said he'd heard that before as well in his Muslim community, and wanted to check it was the same. Thus for this particular wedding, it's in NY, so I was thinking maybe $100 for him and $100 for a date. NY is not cheap.

But then we moved to birthdays and christmas. How much to spend on your friends and family? Do you have guidelines? I told him I think $20-25/friend for either Christmas or birthdays. He agreed but wondered if that wasn't a bit much? But I felt that if you were close enough to exchange gifts then it should be higher than $5-10 right? Tough call.

Then we discussed family. My grandmother's 80th birthday is coming up and she's visiting. It's actually also right before Mother's day, so I sent her a check for $100 for her plane fare, and I figure we'll buy her dinner at least a few times. Was this excessive? DH didn't care (he never does for family, although we rarely give to his side only mine). And roomie said it sounded high, but then acknowledged that he spent at least $50+ on his family. So there appeared to be some variation.

I think for family I try to spend $50 usually, but this time it was for plane fare instead of an actual gift. I also prefer to ususally give gift cards to restaurants or massages, or movies rather than gifts. Usually because most people have everything and I can never come up with stuff to give them.

So we were debating, is it tacky though to send a check? Or to give cash for something specific in mind?

I wonder why we have so many gift giving and "etiquette" rules. Why isn't it more simple, that cash is not crass, and it's the thought that counts?

What do you think are some gift giving guidelines for weddings, birthdays, and Christmas?


"Future Millionaire" said...

I say the amount you give is based on your current financial situation. I'd never ever want a friend or family member to feel like they had to get me an X dollar amount gift if it would mean they would go into debt (or deeper debt).

Personally, I give my mom and grandmother gifts of about $100 for Christmas and Birthday, but it really depends on what I think they'd want. The rest of my family and friends I usually spend between $20-40, but it really depends on what I think would be special to them. If a $50 concert ticket would make there day I'd give them that but if I know a $15 book would make them most happy I give them that and don't feel obligated to get them anything else to make up the amount range.

Part 2 - Is cash/check/etc okay. It depends. For a wedding I think that's totally fine, you're helping them to set up their life together. For other occasions I'd rather give them an actual gift that I think is perfect for them, if I can't find the perfect gift then a gift card for an experience etc is fine.

Sense to Dollars said...

Whatever you feel comfortable with, and that you can afford. A real friend or family member that loves you IS NOT GOING TO CARE. and if you put some thought into it, even a $5 gift can be wonderful.

That said, I give my friends a $30 budget for birthdays and my immediate family gets $50 for birthdays and $100 for Christmas each. I live far away from my family and close friends, so they get checks or gift cards through the mail--for anything they feel they WANT but not something that they NEED, preferably. (My mom in particular has a habit of spending gift money on toilet paper and such.)

Living Almost Large said...

I have to rant a bit here, I KNOW that someone is not going to care if you give them a gift or not. A thought counts more!

OKAY? I hate when people say it's the thought that counts. Yes, sigh. But if it were only thoughts then there should BE NO GIFT GIVING EVER! The truth is sometimes people like to give gifts even when they don't have to.

I do not feel obligated to give gifts for everything, but we can afford it and I LIKE it.

So Gift giving, nothing should ever be expected, and nothing needed but it's nice.

Anonymous said...

For weddings and first birthdays, we usually do try to estimate the cost of a head and give cash in at least that amount - we can afford it and luckily this ain't NY.
I give my sister $30 for her bday and she gives it back to me for my birthday. It's absurd, but it's fun. Did the same for my brother, but he just gives it back to me saying "no need".
For each parent, we spend about $50 for Christmas and bdays. For friends, usually I would take them out for their birthday. Now that they're living in a different state, I'll probably ship a gift or order something online. Probably will spend about $50 per friend since I don't spend as much going out since they're not here. (Also spend about the same on their Christmas presents.)
Nieces, nephews and little cousins bdays and Christmas, we usually spend about $35 per kid, cash plus a toy/clothing. We don't usually buy for most adults at Christmas.