Gifting Money at Parties

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health teacher
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Gifting Money at Parties

Post by health teacher » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:34 am

I am interested in learning how other bogleheads decide the appropriate dollar amount to gift at celebrations/holidays (HS graduation parties, weddings, birthdays, etc.).

Currently, it's the wife and I, our 2 yo and our 5 mo. Unless it is immediate family, we give $50 for weddings, $30 for HS graduation parties and around $20 for birthdays (sometimes a gift, gift card, or money). We are both teachers.

1. Are we being too cheap?

2. Do you have a strategy for these types of things? If so, please elaborate.

eta: We live in a LCOL area.
Last edited by health teacher on Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

UpstateNY86
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by UpstateNY86 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:20 am

50$ for weddings ? Is this when both of you attend ?

BigPIcture
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by BigPIcture » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:27 am

For weddings, we try to at least pay for what it cost the couple to host us. In other words, most weddings are around 75-100 per plate, so we give at least 150-200 to cover the cost of wife and I attending.

Income is a bit higher than 2 teachers, but 50 seems low for a wedding -- the wedding couple is likely subsidizing you at that point.

livesoft
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by livesoft » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:30 am

I agree that we like to cover the cost of hosting us at a minimum. Then it depends on other things such our relationship to the hosts. Our niece will get more than a work colleague's daughter.
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Dolob
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by Dolob » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:52 am

Depends where you live. In NY, $50.00 is too cheap. Most weddings are $125.00+ per plate, so as previously stated, its best to try and cover the cost to host you (if possible). Also, a lot of people keep a mental note of what others have given you, so its easier to reciprocate properly.

Family or close friends wedding - cost of plate * 4 people
Friends wedding - cost of plate * 2 people

I often hear from friends out of state that they get $50.00 at their weddings often, so... it all depends.

stoptothink
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stoptothink » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:53 am

BigPIcture wrote:For weddings, we try to at least pay for what it cost the couple to host us. In other words, most weddings are around 75-100 per plate, so we give at least 150-200 to cover the cost of wife and I attending.
What kind of weddings are you going to? This is another topic that I tend to not agree with most bogleheads on. We went to the wedding of one of my co-workers on Friday. Our gift: $10 towards a group gift with a bunch of other co-workers. A little different if it were a direct family member, but not $150-200. At our wedding we received less than $5/per attendee in gifts, I don't think 20x that is customary outside of this board.

stan1
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stan1 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:54 am

For kids it is really great if you and the group of parents your kids are friends with can develop a "no gifts" policy. My mom and aunts had a no birthday gift policy when my cousins and I were growing up (we did exchange Christmas gifts). During pre-school and elementary school years gifts can become a significant expense. When I was growing up inviting more than 10 kids over for a birthday party would have been a huge event. Now parents often invite every kid their kid knows (entire class plus more) to a party so its not uncommon to see parties with 30+ kids. Elementary school age kids can have 1 or 2 birthday parties almost every weekend.

For a wedding we attend we'd do at least $100/person. We do not attend every wedding we are invited to.

stan1
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stan1 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:02 pm

stoptothink wrote:
BigPIcture wrote:For weddings, we try to at least pay for what it cost the couple to host us. In other words, most weddings are around 75-100 per plate, so we give at least 150-200 to cover the cost of wife and I attending.
What kind of weddings are you going to? This is another topic that I tend to not agree with most bogleheads on. We went to the wedding of one of my co-workers on Friday. Our gift: $10 towards a group gift with a bunch of other co-workers. A little different if it were a direct family member, but not $150-200. At our wedding we received less than $5/per attendee in gifts, I don't think 20x that is customary outside of this board.
Do you still live in Utah? Weddings there are an outlier. My brother and sister in law live there. Many of her cousins and nieces/nephews get married when they are 20-22 years old and the reception consists of punch/cake at the church after the ceremony.

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anonforthis
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by anonforthis » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:04 pm

It is $250 per person for family and $100 per person for friends not including the kids. If we can't attend, we send a check. We do not buy gifts, cash only. It is our culture.

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Clark & Addison
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by Clark & Addison » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:14 pm

We are a teacher and nurse in a low cost of living area. Most weddings we attend are in the $15-$20 per plate price range. $50 for non-family members is typical for us.

stoptothink
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stoptothink » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:15 pm

stan1 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
BigPIcture wrote:For weddings, we try to at least pay for what it cost the couple to host us. In other words, most weddings are around 75-100 per plate, so we give at least 150-200 to cover the cost of wife and I attending.
What kind of weddings are you going to? This is another topic that I tend to not agree with most bogleheads on. We went to the wedding of one of my co-workers on Friday. Our gift: $10 towards a group gift with a bunch of other co-workers. A little different if it were a direct family member, but not $150-200. At our wedding we received less than $5/per attendee in gifts, I don't think 20x that is customary outside of this board.
Do you still live in Utah? Weddings there are an outlier. My brother and sister in law live there. Many of her cousins and nieces/nephews get married when they are 20-22 years old and the reception consists of punch/cake at the church after the ceremony.
Yes, but my wedding was not in Utah (Houston, Texas), not in a church, nor were we in our early 20's, and we received less than $5 per attendee in gifts, and did not expect more. Almost all of my family is in Southern California, similar deal. Also, the wedding we attended Friday was not at the church and the bride was 31- all of us ~25 co-workers contributed $10 to the group gift. Give what you want to give, and it is obviously different depending on a number of different factors (ie. who the bride/groom are to you, etc.), but there is no way gifting $75-100 per attendee is customary around the country.
Last edited by stoptothink on Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John3754
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by John3754 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:24 pm

stoptothink wrote:We went to the wedding of one of my co-workers on Friday. Our gift: $10...
How much do you think it cost the couple getting married for you and your significant other to attend their wedding?

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stoptothink » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:28 pm

John3754 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:We went to the wedding of one of my co-workers on Friday. Our gift: $10...
How much do you think it cost the couple getting married for you and your significant other to attend their wedding?
I fail to see how that is relevant, it also never crossed the mind of all my other co-workers. Do you ask the bridge/groom weeks prior how much they intend to spend on the wedding so you can decide how much to gift? What if their parents paid for the entire thing? I didn't buy my daughter's friend a more expensive gift because they rented a bounce house and had expensive cupcakes at the party. I fail to see the logic and also, based on my experience, it is not normal to do so.

I did give my brother a wedding gift several times the value of what I gave to my co-worker, and his wedding (in Southern California) probably set them back a fraction of what my co-workers did. As far as I am concerned, who the bride/groom are to you is the only factor to consider.
Last edited by stoptothink on Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

The Wizard
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by The Wizard » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:35 pm

The few weddings I go to anymore are for nieces and nephews and I typically gift several hundred $$ which more than covers their expense.
Couples can generally use a cash infusion at that point so that's a good thing...
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John3754
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by John3754 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:53 pm

stoptothink wrote:
John3754 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:We went to the wedding of one of my co-workers on Friday. Our gift: $10...
How much do you think it cost the couple getting married for you and your significant other to attend their wedding?
I fail to see how that is relevant, it also never crossed the mind of all my other co-workers. Do you ask the bridge/groom weeks prior how much they intend to spend on the wedding so you can decide how much to gift? What if their parents paid for the entire thing? I didn't buy my daughter's friend a more expensive gift because they rented a bounce house and had expensive cupcakes at the party. I fail to see the logic and also, based on my experience, it is not normal to do so.
Maybe its a regional thing, but this is how I was taught to gift at weddings, its how pretty much everyone I've ever known has done it. You don't need to ask the bride/groom how much they're spending, you make an educated guess. We'll have to agree to disagree.

UpstateNY86
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by UpstateNY86 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:07 pm

Around here, 150$ per couple is good. I think generally most weddings I have been too are 25k plus to put on . I guess saying what if mom pays for it ? Well , open bar , a decent steak , along with music/ friends etc... Is worth more than 10$.

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stoptothink » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:12 pm

John3754 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
John3754 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:We went to the wedding of one of my co-workers on Friday. Our gift: $10...
How much do you think it cost the couple getting married for you and your significant other to attend their wedding?
I fail to see how that is relevant, it also never crossed the mind of all my other co-workers. Do you ask the bridge/groom weeks prior how much they intend to spend on the wedding so you can decide how much to gift? What if their parents paid for the entire thing? I didn't buy my daughter's friend a more expensive gift because they rented a bounce house and had expensive cupcakes at the party. I fail to see the logic and also, based on my experience, it is not normal to do so.
Maybe its a regional thing, but this is how I was taught to gift at weddings, its how pretty much everyone I've ever known has done it. You don't need to ask the bride/groom how much they're spending, you make an educated guess. We'll have to agree to disagree.
The average cost of a wedding is nearly $30k these days (and I have been to a few that were obviously several times that), do you honestly think you have ever been to a wedding where the gifts the bridge/groom received were anywhere remotely close to that (except in cases where they received large gift from parents)? Definitely regional and cultural factors in this discussion, but if you show up with your wife to a friend/co-workers wedding and provide a gift of ~$200 in almost any circumstances, I would bet that you are being significantly more generous than the average attendee.

Call me cheap, but I don't feel it is my responsibility (as an attendee) to cover the cost difference because a bride chose a $10k dress over a $500 one or spent $20k on flowers.

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by John3754 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:29 pm

stoptothink wrote:
John3754 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
John3754 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:We went to the wedding of one of my co-workers on Friday. Our gift: $10...
How much do you think it cost the couple getting married for you and your significant other to attend their wedding?
I fail to see how that is relevant, it also never crossed the mind of all my other co-workers. Do you ask the bridge/groom weeks prior how much they intend to spend on the wedding so you can decide how much to gift? What if their parents paid for the entire thing? I didn't buy my daughter's friend a more expensive gift because they rented a bounce house and had expensive cupcakes at the party. I fail to see the logic and also, based on my experience, it is not normal to do so.
Maybe its a regional thing, but this is how I was taught to gift at weddings, its how pretty much everyone I've ever known has done it. You don't need to ask the bride/groom how much they're spending, you make an educated guess. We'll have to agree to disagree.
The average cost of a wedding is nearly $30k these days (and I have been to a few that were obviously several times that), do you honestly think you have ever been to a wedding where the gifts the bridge/groom received were anywhere remotely close to that (except in cases where they received large gift from parents)? Definitely regional and cultural factors in this discussion, but if you show up with your wife to a friend/co-workers wedding and provide a gift of ~$200 in almost any circumstances, I would bet that you are being significantly more generous than the average attendee.

Call me cheap, but I don't feel it is my responsibility (as an attendee) to cover the cost difference because a bride chose a $10k dress over a $500 one or spent $20k on flowers.
The idea is not to cover the brides $10k dress or $20k in flowers, its to cover the food/drinks you're personally consuming. In other words if it cost them $150 for you and your significant other's dinner, then you should try to cover that expense. It's meant as a rough guide not a hard and fast rule. Again, perhaps in most places this is not how its done, but it's the way I was taught and I assumed it was a pretty universal thing, I could certainly be mistaken.

stoptothink
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stoptothink » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:37 pm

John3754 wrote: The idea is not to cover the brides $10k dress or $20k in flowers, its to cover the food/drinks you're personally consuming. In other words if it cost them $150 for you and your significant other's dinner, then you should try to cover that expense. It's meant as a rough guide. Again, perhaps in most places this is not how its done, but it's the way I was taught and I assumed it was a pretty universal thing, I could certainly be mistaken.
Again, going back to my first point (and I feel like a pest at this point), but you attend weddings where you think the cost is $100 or more per plate? That is a very high end restaurant.

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by retiredjg » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:48 pm

Things have certainly changed since the day of my wedding and those of my friends. Back then, you had a wedding and a reception (mostly punch which might or might not be spiked mostly according to religious preferences and cake along with yummy finger food) and called it good an hour or 2 later. The almost wealthy folks had a party with a band and only the truly wealthy folks had a full on open bar party with a sit down dinner.

What was spent on the wedding was entirely up to the people getting married (mostly the bride's parents) and had no effect that I ever knew about on what gift and/or cash was expected.

Fastforward to the 90's and even modest folks had a dinner and people pinned money to the bride's dress during the money dance I think it was called. Head scratcher for me, but now I guess I get it.

I understand the concept of at least covering the cost of your plate, but to me that is completely voluntary and should not be expected. In my mind, if they want to pay for a big party that's fine and I'm happy to attend. But to me there is no obligation to help out with paying for their choice of an expensive party (although it is entirely possible that I might want to).

stoptothink
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stoptothink » Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:04 pm

retiredjg wrote: I understand the concept of at least covering the cost of your plate, but to me that is completely voluntary and should not be expected. In my mind, if they want to pay for a big party that's fine and I'm happy to attend. But to me there is no obligation to help out with paying for their choice of an expensive party (although it is entirely possible that I might want to).
Exactly my thoughts. As far as I am concerned, there are no customary "expectations", and the numbers being thrown out in this thread sound crazy (at least in my part of the country, apparently).

Mike Scott
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by Mike Scott » Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:04 pm

A gift is what you choose to give. There is a big difference between getting an invitation to an event and being asked to pay for admission.

John3754
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by John3754 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:09 pm

stoptothink wrote:
John3754 wrote: The idea is not to cover the brides $10k dress or $20k in flowers, its to cover the food/drinks you're personally consuming. In other words if it cost them $150 for you and your significant other's dinner, then you should try to cover that expense. It's meant as a rough guide. Again, perhaps in most places this is not how its done, but it's the way I was taught and I assumed it was a pretty universal thing, I could certainly be mistaken.
Again, going back to my first point (and I feel like a pest at this point), but you attend weddings where you think the cost is $100 or more per plate? That is a very high end restaurant.
I don't know where you live but where I live most people have their receptions at catering halls or hotels and $75-$100 per plate is very typical.

dbltrbl
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by dbltrbl » Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:25 pm

Even in low cost of living areas caterer runs $ 25 per plate not to include chairs table and hall. At minimum 50.00 per person. ( Just had wedding of our son on May 31st.) So if you give the gift, include at least that amount. To us it was more important that friends and family showed up not necessarily what they gave in gift. Also, if you drove or flew to wedding, less is ok. In town be generous.

marstaton4
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by marstaton4 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:34 pm

For a typical wedding of a friend I would do $100 per person. Probably more if it were a high end wedding, to help cover the cost of my attendance.

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:59 pm

I'm old enough so that weddings are no longer happening much in my social vicinity. I have always thought the bridezilla/groomzilla incredibly expensive weddings are crazy, and am glad to say that never happened in my family. I certainly would not subsidize it.

Wedding gifts were something from their registry, price depending on how close I was to them, probably $50 to $150. I don't think I've ever been invited to a non-family member's wedding. I am now thinking what are the implications of that :D but it is the norm in the circles I move in.

Graduating high school going to college were $1000 checks, as there are a lot of expenses for college.

tim1999
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by tim1999 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 3:14 pm

Weddings, I try to at least cover the cost of my meal and booze (~$50 for fire hall style weddings, $100+ for fancier venues) and I will sometimes also give the bride or groom (whomever I am closet to) a thoughtful gift of minor (under $100) value.

Birthdays, I'd only give money if it's for a kid ($20-$50?), but I don't get invited to those. I would not give money to an adult for their birthday.

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by pshonore » Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:46 pm

I've been to weddings where there was a cash bar or no bar at all. Should I have given less? Of course not.

From the Huffington Post on wedding etiquette:
Interestingly, there's a myth that continues to circulate among some guests. They're under the impression that they should base the cost of the gift on how much they think the couple is spending on food and entertainment. This modern myth is simply not true. Again, the amount you spend is strictly a matter of your budget, how close you are to the bride and groom, and what you think is an appropriate gift.

UpstateNY86
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by UpstateNY86 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:22 pm

Actually , if I knew ahead ( which I have before ) , I would give less. I was married two years ago and realize the expense it is , even while trying to budget .

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wander
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by wander » Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:06 pm

BigPIcture wrote:For weddings, we try to at least pay for what it cost the couple to host us. In other words, most weddings are around 75-100 per plate, so we give at least 150-200 to cover the cost of wife and I attending.
+1. Some cases are easy. We look up our record to find out how much their parents gave us at our wedding, then use that as baseline + extra.

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by nordlead » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:11 am

Skipped most of the replies, but I disagree with giving $125-200 (cost of plate). I'm in upstate NY, and we paid ~$25/plate for a nice wedding dinner, and I didn't expect people to give me anything at all, but I was thankful if they did.

We typically give $70-100 for a wedding, but I haven't gone to one in years, and at the time that was a lot of money for us. I didn't estimate costs they spent on us, as that is immaterial to my decision. Now if I went, I could justify giving $200 to close friend/family, but they are all married now.

For other gifts (graduation, birthday, etc...), I typically give/spend $25-30. Every once in a while I spend more, but that is my starting point.

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stoptothink » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:14 am

dbltrbl wrote:Even in low cost of living areas caterer runs $ 25 per plate not to include chairs table and hall. At minimum 50.00 per person. ( Just had wedding of our son on May 31st.) So if you give the gift, include at least that amount. To us it was more important that friends and family showed up not necessarily what they gave in gift. Also, if you drove or flew to wedding, less is ok. In town be generous.
And what about weddings where the family prepares the food, often for less than $10/person (such as mine was)? Or how about weddings where there isn't an actual sit-down meal (three of the last four weddings I attended were like this and the cost of the food eaten by my wife and I was $0)? Do you simply provide a much smaller gift based on that? As the etiquette article linked earlier said, basing your gift on what you think the cost of the plate was doesn't make a whole lot of sense and isn't actually customary these days. The real factors should be who the bridge/groom are to you, and what you feel comfortable with given your budget - to my brother I provided a significantly larger gift than I did to my co-worker, despite the latter's wedding very obviously costing several times more (no meal at my brother's).

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by N1CKV » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:18 am

I just got married less than a month ago.
We are in our mid-lower 30s.
Small wedding (~50 people).
1st marriage for both, living in the deep south
wealth of friends and family ranges mostly in the middle class range (from the very bottom end of the spectrum to the very top.)

We received gifts in a wide range, but in general couples gave:
~$100 from some family (my siblings and god parents)
$20-50 from friends


I don't see where the cost to host has anything to do with the gift amount. The gift is for the newlywed couple to help get their lives together off to a good start. We only invited those people that meant a lot to us - so much so that it was our pleasure to host them regardless of the cost. Gifts were similar from other people who were not even invited.

Edited to add:
I usually give $100 to the couple, regardless of relationship. If I thought any less of the couple I wouldn't bother attending.
I have two young nieces and one young nephew. I imagine when their day comes I will be overly generous.
Last edited by N1CKV on Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by Groundhog » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:27 am

We recently attended a nephew's wedding. We gave $250 and plan to give the same to other nephews/nieces in the future. Small or large wedding, expensive or not, or whether we attend or not probably wouldn't affect what we give.

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by letsgobobby » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:58 am

This is going to vary so much by region and culture.

We received $30,000 in gifts from 150 wedding attendees. All cash. That's my wife's family's culture.

We give at least $100 per adult and $50 per child when we attend a wedding, whether within that culture or not, and we don't live in NY. We gave $400 when our nanny got married and our kids were just babies. $200 to a coworker and we weren't even invited to the wedding (out of state) but I wanted to honor her important day and she was a friend. $500 each to 3 of our 4 sisters, not to mention $300 or more to a 529 for each of our nephews (five so far).

I do think stoptothink's numbers are far too low for upper middle class weddings almost everywhere. If it's a fruit punch in the backyard in Lima, Ohio deal, I have no idea what the cultural expectation might be.

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tyrion
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by tyrion » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:17 am

letsgobobby wrote:This is going to vary so much by region and culture.
And age of the givers. And whether it's a first or second marriage. And....


There is likely a socioeconomic / cultural / regional norm. You're not going to get that asking a diverse and self-selecting audience on bogleheads. Instead, ask your peer group who are attending the wedding. Adjust as needed for your relationship with the couple, your place in life, etc.

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anonforthis
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by anonforthis » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:19 am

We have a few inside jokes about inviting Americans to our traditional weddings. I am not sure if cheap is the right word to use :mrgreen:

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stoptothink » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:22 am

letsgobobby wrote:This is going to vary so much by region and culture.

We received $30,000 in gifts from 150 wedding attendees. All cash. That's my wife's family's culture.

We give at least $100 per adult and $50 per child when we attend a wedding, whether within that culture or not, and we don't live in NY. We gave $400 when our nanny got married and our kids were just babies. $200 to a coworker and we weren't even invited to the wedding (out of state) but I wanted to honor her important day and she was a friend. $500 each to 3 of our 4 sisters, not to mention $300 or more to a 529 for each of our nephews (five so far).

I do think stoptothink's numbers are far too low for upper middle class weddings almost everywhere. If it's a fruit punch in the backyard in Lima, Ohio deal, I have no idea what the cultural expectation might be.
If you feel like giving your nanny $400 for her wedding that's great, but it is not customary. The huge majority of families in this country can't afford a nanny, let alone dream of giving them more for their wedding than what food costs them for their entire family for a month (using my firmly middle class experience as an example).

This (gift-giving) is one of those topics which makes newcomers really intimidated on this board.

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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by Matt48Ritchie » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:31 am

I've never heard of the "cover your cost to the host" rule of thumb.

We got married in the Philly suburbs last July and a typical reception venue charged $100 a plate. We ended up doing a brunch reception so it was a little under $65 a plate. $100 was probably about the average cash gift received from a couple that attended. Several close neighbors and church families gave $200-$500. We didn't really have expectations of what people would give us and overall we were very pleasantly surprised with how much cash we received.

We haven't landed on how much we'll give at a wedding yet. I imagine it will increase as we get older and our incomes increase. Right now my guess is we'd do $50 as the bare minimum, $75 as a standard gift, $100 to closer friends/family, and probably more than that for very close friends and immediate family.

TheRightKost87
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by TheRightKost87 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:42 am

stoptothink wrote:
retiredjg wrote: I understand the concept of at least covering the cost of your plate, but to me that is completely voluntary and should not be expected. In my mind, if they want to pay for a big party that's fine and I'm happy to attend. But to me there is no obligation to help out with paying for their choice of an expensive party (although it is entirely possible that I might want to).
Exactly my thoughts. As far as I am concerned, there are no customary "expectations", and the numbers being thrown out in this thread sound crazy (at least in my part of the country, apparently).
I'm glad I read through this thread. I thought people everywhere in the country knew to cover the cost of the plate in their gift. At least if I invite some of my friends from other parts of the country to my wedding, I won't be completely dumbfounded if I open up a check for $10 as a gift from a couple that each took down a steak dinner and enjoyed the band/drinks as well.

I'm a very cost-conscious person and try to save a dime anywhere I can. But if I were planning on giving a gift of less than the variable cost of having me for a wedding (i.e. the dinner plate) - I would just not go; and send my regards instead. I'd prefer that rather than forcing the newlywed couple to have to pay for the majority of my dinner at a time when I'm sure they have plenty of other expenses to pay for.
"The problem with diversification is that it works, whether or not we want it to"

nordlead
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by nordlead » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:54 am

TheRightKost87 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
retiredjg wrote: I understand the concept of at least covering the cost of your plate, but to me that is completely voluntary and should not be expected. In my mind, if they want to pay for a big party that's fine and I'm happy to attend. But to me there is no obligation to help out with paying for their choice of an expensive party (although it is entirely possible that I might want to).
Exactly my thoughts. As far as I am concerned, there are no customary "expectations", and the numbers being thrown out in this thread sound crazy (at least in my part of the country, apparently).
I'm glad I read through this thread. I thought people everywhere in the country knew to cover the cost of the plate in their gift. At least if I invite some of my friends from other parts of the country to my wedding, I won't be completely dumbfounded if I open up a check for $10 as a gift from a couple that each took down a steak dinner and enjoyed the band/drinks as well.

I'm a very cost-conscious person and try to save a dime anywhere I can. But if I were planning on giving a gift of less than the variable cost of having me for a wedding (i.e. the dinner plate) - I would just not go; and send my regards instead. I'd prefer that rather than forcing the newlywed couple to have to pay for the majority of my dinner at a time when I'm sure they have plenty of other expenses to pay for.
If it actually made sense to pay for your own food then why don't bride & groom send out invitations with a $ amount on the food choices and a "make payable to" field so people know where to send the money? It would simplify everything and everyone should be grateful and appreciative of how easy the bride & groom have made things for them. Also, people should only do cash bars, again in the name of convenience for the guests. No more having to guess how much they owe, just pay what they consume!!

I'm yet to see anyone do that, so it must be in bad taste to charge your guests to come to your wedding. If it is in bad taste to charge your guests for food, then why do we expect them to give presents greater than the cost of food?

bigred77
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by bigred77 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:58 am

Our wedding a few years ago cost us right around 30k for the ceremony and reception. About 250 guests. Open Bar, Very nice venue.

We did not register anywhere and asked our parents to communicate we only wanted cash. We had less than 5 gifts that exceeded $100. All we're from well to do friends of my parents. We did not feel shortchanged at all.

I always give $100 per wedding and everyone in my age range as always expressed they thought that amount was VERY generous. Maybe I need to run in more well heeled circles?

stoptothink
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by stoptothink » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:05 pm

TheRightKost87 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
retiredjg wrote: I understand the concept of at least covering the cost of your plate, but to me that is completely voluntary and should not be expected. In my mind, if they want to pay for a big party that's fine and I'm happy to attend. But to me there is no obligation to help out with paying for their choice of an expensive party (although it is entirely possible that I might want to).
Exactly my thoughts. As far as I am concerned, there are no customary "expectations", and the numbers being thrown out in this thread sound crazy (at least in my part of the country, apparently).
I'm glad I read through this thread. I thought people everywhere in the country knew to cover the cost of the plate in their gift. At least if I invite some of my friends from other parts of the country to my wedding, I won't be completely dumbfounded if I open up a check for $10 as a gift from a couple that each took down a steak dinner and enjoyed the band/drinks as well.

I'm a very cost-conscious person and try to save a dime anywhere I can. But if I were planning on giving a gift of less than the variable cost of having me for a wedding (i.e. the dinner plate) - I would just not go; and send my regards instead. I'd prefer that rather than forcing the newlywed couple to have to pay for the majority of my dinner at a time when I'm sure they have plenty of other expenses to pay for.
In a day where a lot of wedding receptions don't even include a meal, how does this way of thinking even make sense (according to the earlier linked etiquette article, it doesn't)? I'm at the age where almost all of my peers are getting married, I've been in 5 wedding parties in the last 18 months or so and been to countless others. Even if we just limit it to family members and the gift to $100/piece for my wife and I, we are talking well more than two mortgage payments per year. Can you imagine the reaction from some regular, actual middle-class, Joe reading this thread would be?

spectec
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by spectec » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:06 pm

It is interesting to see how differently people view this tropic. For us, it's usually $50 for graduation gifts to children of friends & family, $50 - $75 wedding/shower gifts for friends, $100 -$150 wedding/shower gifts for family. We often give cash, but will get a useful gift if the bride (or mother-to-be) is registered. When we have knowledge of a situation in which there is special need, such as a young couple starting out marriage or a birth with few resources, that's when we will increase the amount to double or more.

All that is to say that our gift giving isn't event-driven. If someone can afford a lavish weeding celebration, we are content to give them our standard gift. Our extra generosity is reserved for those who have a genuine need, not those who want or expect it as some sort of repayment.

In thinking about this, my most important frame of reference is our own daughter's wedding over 17 years ago. As I recall, we spent about $25,000 - $28,000 for the reception & party (not a sit-down dinner). Common sense told us there would be gifts & cash given, but our most important consideration was that friends & family enjoy this time of celebration with us. Some of them could afford to give more, some not so much. But frankly, we appreciated the simple cards & encouragements with no money just as much as the $250 gifts as long as they enjoyed themselves as much as we did and honored our family by being there. (We appreciated their presence more than their presents)
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Will Rogers

TheRightKost87
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by TheRightKost87 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:10 pm

nordlead wrote:
If it actually made sense to pay for your own food then why don't bride & groom send out invitations with a $ amount on the food choices and a "make payable to" field so people know where to send the money? It would simplify everything and everyone should be grateful and appreciative of how easy the bride & groom have made things for them. Also, people should only do cash bars, again in the name of convenience for the guests. No more having to guess how much they owe, just pay what they consume!!

I'm yet to see anyone do that, so it must be in bad taste to charge your guests to come to your wedding. If it is in bad taste to charge your guests for food, then why do we expect them to give presents greater than the cost of food?
Yes, while getting everything down to the exact penny and itemized out on the invitations would be great, it would tend to be a little awkward to put on the invitation and very difficult to estimate beforehand. But luckily before you took it a step further, I was just suggesting a rough estimation to make everyone happy. If you want to break it out to the penny - go for it.

Your portion of the cost will obviously be well above the cost of the food you eat. (If say 150 person wedding, your portion would be 1/150 of the band, 1/150 open bar [if applicable], 1/150 of the invitations, 1/150 of the venue, etc.) I think given the rest that is getting paid for by the couple, paying for one's own food plate isn't unfathomable. I merely said cover the plate - it's not necessary to go greater than the cost of the food such as you suggest (unless you feel like giving a bigger gift).

Again, I'll jump through hoops to save a buck at the store or something, but trying to cheap out on friends/family that thought highly enough of you to invite them to their wedding is in bad taste in my opinion. And even if I could personally justify giving a $10 gift (I'm not really that close with them...I'm kinda strapped for cash right now...They only have a chicken option and I dont like chicken... etc.), I just wouldn't want to be known as the cheapo that stiffed the newlywed couple on their wedding night. At that point I just wouldnt go.
"The problem with diversification is that it works, whether or not we want it to"

Wellfleet
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by Wellfleet » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:17 pm

We live in Boston, are in our late 20s/early 30s and attend many types of weddings. We generally give $200 for spouse and I. The amount we give is based on family/friends anecdotes, nothing scientific.

I would think $100 per couple would be fine in a LCOL area.

MathWizard
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by MathWizard » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:23 pm

We usually give $50 at a wedding, $75 if family.

I agree things have gotten out of hand. At our wedding 32 yrs ago, about 1/3 of the gifts were cash,
which amounted to $300 total. We were glad to have it. Neither family was rich, and the cost was borne
about 2/3 by my wife and I, and 1/3 by the bride's parents. Nobody was rich by any means.

Total wedding cost was under $2K.

Reception in the church hall, no booze, no band.

Church members served cake, coffee, punch and a light lunch, as we did when others
from the church got married. Family members cleaned up the hall after we left.

Most everyone knew each other and we had a good time. People who had not seen each other for a long
time caught up with each other.

TheRightKost87
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by TheRightKost87 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:25 pm

stoptothink wrote:
In a day where a lot of wedding receptions don't even include a meal, how does this way of thinking even make sense (according to the earlier linked etiquette article, it doesn't)? I'm at the age where almost all of my peers are getting married, I've been in 5 wedding parties in the last 18 months or so and been to countless others. Even if we just limit it to family members and the gift to $100/piece for my wife and I, we are talking well more than two mortgage payments per year. Can you imagine the reaction from some regular, actual middle-class, Joe reading this thread would be?
Well ok, it looks like we may have been thinking about two different types of weddings then. I've been to a bunch of weddings recently (I too am getting to the age where a lot of peers are getting married), and have yet to go to a reception that doesn't include a meal, but I'll trust you that they exist. In that case it's pretty easy then, huh? If you didn't have a meal, then go ahead and give your $10 gift and while I may give more, I couldnt really fault you for doing so.

As for the average middle-classer (which is what I consider myself, by the way), I would say this is the same as any other extravagent activities. If you want to go on vacation - you need to pay for you flight/hotel/etc. If you want to buy/lease a car you need to pay for the car/gas/insurance/etc. If you want to go enjoy yourself at a wedding, you need to give a reasonable gift. Now, if you know the hotel and airfare for vacation is more than you can/want to pay - you dont go. If the car you want to get guzzles gas and costs a ton to insure - neither of which you can afford - you don't buy the car. If the cost of a reasonable gift to attend a wedding is more than you can/want to pay - then its as simple as not attending the wedding. Going to more weddings than you can afford to give an appropriate gift at is living above your means just as any other activity can be.
"The problem with diversification is that it works, whether or not we want it to"

EnjoyIt
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by EnjoyIt » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:31 pm

It depends on the location.

I give about $100/person for weddings.

I think $10 bucks is way too cheap. Unless the venue is chili's.

$50/person may very well be appropriate in many locations in the US.

letsgobobby
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Re: Gifting Money at Parties

Post by letsgobobby » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:36 pm

Stoptothink, you are hardly middle class in your values. You advertise spending less per month on food than many will spend at a nice dinner out, and literally never go out to eat. Is it possible your own frugal biases color your perspectives on gift giving and cultural norms?

Let me put it this way. At our wedding, only three couples gave less than $100, all of them my wife's mother's coworkers. That was ten years ago, and our guests were not rich.
Last edited by letsgobobby on Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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