Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gift budgets

Lemme put it to a vote: How much would you expect to spend on each of the following gifts?

Wedding (nice reception)

Wedding (low-key, reception at home)

College graduation

High school graduation

Kid's birthday gift

(You'll note that Valentine's Day isn't listed. I bought some Tiffany crystal beer mugs. I think they're my gift to Mr. Tangerine and his gift to me. Holiday, shmoliday. I don't even get riled up about expecting a card any more.)

I'm asking about the gift amounts because a cousin of mine got married overseas, and I was not among the relatives who opted to travel to the wedding. The reception, such as it is, is an hors d'oeuvres–only open-house deal at my aunt's house, food made by the bride's mom and sister. My sister and I don't know what the standard expectation is these days. So?


Mignon said...

The only one I'll answer for is the kids' present: $20. You can get any number of cool kids' things for that.

For the rest, we've spent anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the need of the recipient and his/her relationship to us.

For your cousin, I'd pool money with your sis, maybe fifty each and get something off the registry.

Unknown said...

Wedding (nice reception) $80-$100, less if I gave something for the shower too.

Wedding (low-key, reception at home) $40-$50 off the registry, maybe throw in something hand made

College graduation $0 - who gives gifts for college graduation? Not anyone I know.

High school graduation - depends on the relationship - if it's a nephew or cousin $25. This is the only one where I'd give cash.

Kid's birthday gift - around $10

This is calibrated to central Illinois standards, not Chicago - it's a whole different ball park up there. I've been to baby showers up north where co-workers of the mother of the mom-to-be spent $300 on a baby gift.

JT said...

There are so many variables that could be at stake here. But if you're asking what I would do for each at a time when we're not required to spend 110% of our take-home pay on things like medicine and rent:

Wedding (nice reception): $75-125

Wedding (home, etc.): $75-100
(less on each if I also did a shower gift)

College grad: I don't know a lot of people this age range. If it were someone fairly close (niece/nephew-ish), I'd shoot for $50

HS grad: $35? I'd probably get something for the dorm room and/or make up a care package of goofy shit.

Kid's birthday gift: I shoot for $20 or under, but sometimes get carried away if there's something particularly perfect, or I just adore the kid. I also am a freak about including batteries if a gift requires them.

Please note that my estimates never include the disgusting amount of money I spend on cards, gift wrap, and accoutrements. I don't think gifts have to be lavish to be thoughtful, but boy I just love picking, wrapping and giving them. I usually wish I had the money to do more than I do.

Meredith said...

One of my big regrets in life is being talked into (by my MIL to be) having a “wishing well” type arrangement at our “pre-wedding party” (we essentially eloped overseas for the actual wedding), where we asked guests to put cards and cash contributions into a box rather than give us things. We did it because we were about to emigrate and didn’t want to weigh ourselves down with stuff, but still, it was really tacky, and people didn’t like it. Funny, when gift vouchers seem quite acceptable, but there you go. There are so many different sorts of weddings these days, it’s hard to know what to do. I’d probably cap at $50 (US$30) for a casual do.

theotherbear said...

Wedding (of any type): $50 for a cousin. But up to $100 if it is someone you're very close to.

College Graduation: I don't think I;d spend anything on this. Unless I was the parent. However I think we do things differently here.

High School Graduation: Ummm definately nothing.

Kid's birthday gift: $20.

And now I think I might be a cheapskate.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Kids Birthdays...I always spend around $20.

Weddings, across the board, not more than $50.

Graduations, $20-$40.

I think that officially makes me 'cheap'.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm not as cheap as I'd feared! In the past, I've usually spent around $50-75 for a wedding gift, depending on my relationship to the people getting married.

However, I'm moving away from buying people wedding presents at all, and moving toward buying people presents when they move out of their parents' home. Because let's face it, THAT is the time when you need someone to buy you a toaster or a set of knives or a 40-pc set of stoneware. By the time most people get married nowadays, they already have all that shit, and then you end up buying them useless crap like ice cream makers.

So more recently when people I know have gotten married, I've been spending very little, usually to make a little gift basket of some kind: a bottle of wine, some gourmet treats (spreads, olives, antipasto).

And then if they have a baby, I go nutters on the baby gifts. Because, again, THAT is a time when you seriously need some stuff that you don't already have.

DoctorMama said...

The amount has increased as my income has increased, but I do a calculation much like Mignon's. (And I agree with $20 for a kid.) I don't make any distinction between fancy weddings and low-key weddings.

When I receive presents, I hate it when someone goes over the top -- makes me feel guilty. I feel like "over the top" is over $100 for people who aren't pretty flush.

You forgot bar/bat mitzvah gifts, traditionally multiples of $18 -- which can get confusing for those of us with poor multiplication skills.

And if someone gets offended or snippy about what you give? Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

My gifting breaks down into two schools of thought: the gift for someone I know and love versus the gift for someone I don't know well.

Usually I spend more money on people I don't know well, simply because it's more difficult to think of what that person or family would truly want and need.

I don't buy birthday gifts for children. My sister has five children. I'm a poor Aunt in at least two senses of the word.

At holidays, I give my sister's family one or two *family* gifts -- usually a movie and a game that almost all of them (a 2-, two 4-, a 6-, and an 11-year old) can enjoy.

For weddings, I tend to spend under $50 (not including wrapping). I only give gifts to couples I know well. I peruse the registries, and if I find something suitable, I'll choose from that. Usually, though, I like to buy based on the couple's common interests -- entertaining, Sci-Fi interests, the great outdoors.

This is a good question! It drew me out of the woodwork.

Narya said...

I don't distinguish between fancy wedding and "at-home" or casual wedding. I probably expect to spend about $100 or give that in cash (even though I'd have a hard time affording it these days, if a lot of my friends were getting married). I hadn't even thought about graduations, as my nephews are young (almost 10 and 7). I do spend more money on them; usually about $50 each for Christmas and birthday. I tend to get them more practical things--a piece of clothing is nearly always included, but I usually manage to find something that will entertain as well (I gave the younger nephew a wind-up flashlight for his birthday in September, and he loved it), and I try to get clothing they'll like. I frequently buy from LLBean, because I have that credit card, which gets me free shipping, thus saving me at least $40/year in postage.

For another kid--say one of my stepson's friends--I think the going rate is around $30 or so? Dunno.

When I got married, I had a couple of friends who were as unemployed as I was (we'd worked together) and I informed them, privately, that I wanted no gift at all from them. I really didn't want gifts from any guests--their presence was what I wanted most--but of course people want to give gifts.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind, I live in NY.

Wedding - any reception - minimum $100 to 150, on up for close friends.

Graduations - no idea, I'm between generations for that right now. (When my brother graduated from Law School, I got him a gift (not $) around $100-200.

Kid's birthday gift - we try to keep it under $30, if we do gifts at all, but of course that's for sub-2-year-olds.

Anonymous said...

Wedding - $100-$150, more if it's someone very close to me. Graduation, college or high school - $75-$100. Kid's birthday gift - $35 or so. But for the situation you're describing with your cousin's wedding, I would spend around $75-$100 (small, no-meal reception, plus you're not attending it either.)

Anonymous said...

Wedding- It depends on how close I am to the person- my LARGE family- is extremely close so all 50-60 cousins would be considered good enough to receive a 100-150 gift... as would close friends - the best of which would maybe receive 200-250?
My Kids Friends- when they were young we would always throw a 20 dollar bill into a card if it was a friend we didnt really know- if it was a close friend- the friend would usually tell us what was on their wish list and we would usually end up spending between 35-50 dollars.
I came to this website to see what to spend for my nieces graduation gift- I am thinking of a round trip airline ticket to anywhere she wants to go- along with a couple of tangible gifts that she will be able to keep forever to remember the day... a book... maybe also a photo album for her trip... maybe a digital camera to take the photos? I just hope she has a friend that can go with her!