Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Gift Giving 101

“It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”  - Mother Teresa

A common debate amongst my group of ladies who have all been hit with a serious case of Wedding Fever (it’s contagious) is about gift giving.  I cannot count the times I have had the same discussion about gift giving etiquette, and still I feel I might be missing the golden answer.  I thought I would share my thoughts for those of you also struggling.

Let’s face it, we are all very eager and excited to attend a wedding but no matter who you are, you can’t help but be daunted by the bottom line that comes with it.  After all of the pre-wedding festivities comes the main event which means yet another gift.  So what do you give??  I personally give cash.  I think no matter which pair you are celebrating, the reality is, that is what they want.  Many of my contemporaries feel that it is not personal to write a cheque or hand over cold cash but I’m not sure I agree.  You are investing in their future together.  Whether the money is put towards their first home, their honeymoon or sits in savings for a while, it is up to them how they choose to spend it.  How many vases and bowls does each couple really need?  I think money is the easy solution in terms of pleasing the couple as well as making your ‘gift hunt’ much simpler. 

That being said, giving money is not for everyone and the even bigger question lies about what the right amount is.  Well this, my friends, is a tricky one and I think everyone uses their own reasoning to find that number.  When my parents stopped signing my name on their card, I quickly learned certain rules people follow.  I have listed some below in no particular order.

1. Cover your plate (this is based on the food and drink portion only. This can be a good starting point for you to determine the amount you should give since you will likely have an idea of the type of event you are attending.  This will fluctuate whether you are attending with a plus one or going solo.

2.  Wedding party gives more.  This is one rule I have never understood.  When you are in the wedding party, you are without a doubt spending more so why does this obligate you to give more?  I’m not sure this is a rule I will follow however it is a rule practised by many.

3.  Consider the other gifts previously given.  You should evaluate everything that has been spent on the couple before choosing your amount.

4. Give everyone equally.  This is something Mr. X and I have been trying to do with some exceptions.  We have chosen our standard that works for us and try to stay consistent amongst the weddings we’ve attended. 

5. Give a gift off the registry.  The bride and groom chose these gifts so you really can’t go wrong.  In the case of a couple who did not have an engagement party or showers, this rule becomes more important because otherwise the couple might end up having to buy out their own gifts.

6. A meaningful gift trumps any dollar amount.  This is fairly straightforward and is best applied for a best friend or close family member.  Time is money and I believe that a thoughtful gift will outweigh any dollar figure.

7. A gift is not expected for a destination wedding.  I think when a couple plans a destination they know that their guests presence is their gift.  It can cost a couple thousands of dollars to attend a destination wedding and it is not necessary to give a gift on top of that.

I will continue to comment on gift giving regularly since this post has only started to scratch the surface.  What do you typically give when invited to a wedding??  I’d love to hear your ideas on protocol and what you think is appropriate.

Yours truly,


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