Ask the Readers: Giving Money as a Gift, How Much?

If you’ve ever given money as a gift, how much did you give?  This is a tricky question and probably something that not a lot of people talk about.  How much money is appropriate as a gift for various occasions?

For weddings, we typically give enough to cover the cost of our meal in addition to a monetary gift for the bride and groom.  For example, if the meal costs around $50 each, and two of us attended, then we would give $200 or so. Does that sound about right? Or what if you were invited to a wedding/reception, but didn’t attend?  How much do you give then if at all?

Birthdays/Christmas, it really depends on the person and how they are related to me.  Immediate family members get the most, then come good friends, then regular acquaintances.  I find though as we make more money, the gifts seem to get bigger.

New Babies, $40-$50 seems to be a pretty standard gift that we received.  I’m not sure if this is normal.  What do you give to new parents?

What rule of thumb do you use for monetary gifts?

Photo credit: Bill in Ash Vegas

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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Michelle
11 years ago

Thankfully my stepbrother is a professional photographer & his shots of people & scenery are absolutely beautiful. So I will be utilizing his skills for my wedding. I figure it would be fair to give him a gift in leau of payment?
I already have a wedding dress.. it was actually a $600 floor-length white dress that I bought for prom, but never ended up wearing.. so I will wear it for my wedding!
I’m thinking of saving money by making a reservation at a nice but not over-priced restaurant.. & then maybe going out to the bars afterwards to dance/party/drink. I think it would be a lot more fun than a stuffy reception anyways.

cannon_fodder
13 years ago

Nicole,

I would base the amount on two criteria – how close (emotionally, not geographically) am I to the couple (the closer, the higher the $ amount) and how expensive is the meal? If they go all out and it is $100/head, well that is your starting point and you go up from there.

Nicole
13 years ago

I am a Canadian now living in the USA and will be attending a wedding in a couple of weeks. Because I haven’t actually been to a wedding in at least 8 years I need to know the “going rate” for a monetary gift. After reading all the above comments I can see that there is actually a great discrepancy between the two countries’ idea of an appropriate money gift for a wedding. I was married ten years ago in Canada and the average gift of money was $100-$150 back then. (BTW- we had a $20 per plate meal (all food and desserts) and a fully stocked open bar-no cost to our guests). I now live in the mid-west and hearing some mid-westerners say they give only a $50 gift of money is very eye-opening. Maybe I need to rethink my $250 gift that I was planning to give and go back to the $100-$150 range. Hmmm.

dookie
13 years ago

Sarlock,
can I ask where you got married in 2004 (for $35/head)….I’m looking to get married in the Spring 2009 and desperately need a venue with good/decent food for under $50/head…possible???

p
13 years ago

people who think it’s appropriate to give 30 35 or 50 bucks as a wedding gift are ridiculous. That is so cheap.

students giving 50 is one thing but 75 minimum per person and 100 is good. I gave 300 recently and I admit it was about 50-100 more then I wanted to give but 100 per person is good.

ANYONE claiming 50 or less is average or normal is living in outer space. Reality check!

JM
13 years ago

I think there’s definitely different opinions on how extravagent a wedding should be. Personal finances, culture, city, etc all contribute on how you decide to spend that special moment. I’ve been to quite a few weddings, including my own, and regardless of how much they’ve spent, each one was very special.

I don’t know if this is odd, but we keep track of what we’ve received and what we’ve given for weddings. We usually give back what we’ve received as a gift as cash … so if a friend gave us a large cash gift, we also give back to them that same amount. We think of it as a micro-loan, especially when weddings can be so costly and when people need it the most.

nobleea
13 years ago

Curtis/Gates;

There is a wide disparity geographically in terms of what a certain price would get you for food. Gates VP lived in Edmonton, as I do, and 8.75 would not get you a hot meal. Probably just some sandwiches and wraps. But I’m sure where you live Curtis, it’s a nice enjoyable meal. And you’re very lucky to be in such a position.

While it is your special day (the bride and groom), it would certainly not be as special (to me at least) if the friends and family weren’t there. Most will have to take holidays and fly across the country to come to the wedding. Giving them cold sandwiches and pop would not be thoughtful. It is a once in a lifetime event after all.

Curtis
13 years ago

@Gates VP

Your comment:

Why on earth would you offer an $8.75 plate to someone who has traveled hundreds of miles to attend your wedding? Somebody is taking some of their very important time to be with you. In some cases taking their own precious vacation days and spending hundreds of dollars to travel. Your way of thanking them for their attendance is to provide an $8.75 / plate meal?

Thank you for proving my point. Obviously one that is so influenced by price is one that is superficial. What makes a $8.75/plate meal any less good than one for an outrageously high $30/plate? Do you have statistical (or concrete) evidence to back up your claim? Or…is it just because the higher prices makes YOU think it is better?

paulette
13 years ago

I really don’t give money as a gift. Instead i buy a present. For me buying a gift means a lot of expression like you really exert an effort to make that person happy with your present unlike giving a monetary value.

Becky@FamilyandFinances
13 years ago

I’m with Finance Girl. I also live in the Midwest, where wedding costs aren’t quite as high (but still outrageous, IMO). My wedding was about $15/plate (last July).

My husband and I are going to a wedding this weekend and we’re giving $50. Of course, we’re also paying all of the costs to get to Arizona. When my brother gets married this fall, we’ll give probably $100, but anyone besides immediate family gets $50 if we go and possibly $15 back with the reply card if we don’t go.

My family and friends avoid gift-giving for birthdays. None of us needs more “stuff” and it’s silly for me to give my friend $20 for her birthday and then for her to give me $20 for my birthday.

For wedding and bridal showers, I try to keep my gift cost to about $15.

Again, this is in the Midwest. I guess even gift-giving is cheaper here!