The etiquette of how much money to give as a gift

Even though gift giving is more personalized, cash is the most appreciated present you can give.

Birthdays, graduations, weddings, christenings—it seems that every time we take a breather from one occasion, here comes another! Even though gift giving is more personalized, cash is the most appreciated present you can give. There are those of us, however, who don’t have a clue as to how much money is appropriate to give when making a financial gift.

Here are a few rules of etiquette to follow when giving money as a gift:

For whom is cash not appropriate? Well, according to etiquette experts, it is certainly not a good move to give a significant other cash for any occasion (don’t beat me up, I’m only the messenger). Giving your mate cash or even a gift card tells them that you took the easy route and were too lazy and inconsiderate to actually give their present some real thought.

How much should you give? When giving cash as a gift, there is always that question of how much. Well, the answer is a simple one, do not give more money than you can afford just because you think a certain amount is expected of you.

Here is a general guideline for how much money to give for a life event:

A wedding–A distant relative or co-worker should give $75-$100; a friend or relative, $100-$125; a closer relative, up to $150. If you are ‘livin large’ then give more if you want but don’t feel pressured to do so.

Destination wedding–While your inclination might be to skip the gift, given how much you’re spending to attend the wedding, tradition states that any wedding invitation comes with the obligation of sending a gift to the couple. If the wedding is particularly expensive, you can opt to send a lower-cost gift as a token of your good wishes, instead of the usual amount you might spend for a non-destination wedding.

A graduation– Consider giving a cash gift in the range of $20-$100 depending on how close you are to the graduate.

A birthday— Here are some customary money gifting suggestions you can choose to follow:

  • For sisters, brothers, and cousins—upwards of $25
  • For grandchildren, nieces, or nephews—13 and under, $25 to $50; age 14 and up, $50 to $75 
  • For sons and daughters–$50 to $100
  • For parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles—gifting $50 to $100 can help many older relatives with the purchase of medicines or groceries
  • For friends–$25 for those who are acquaintances and upwards of $50 for close buddies

A retirement party– It may not be required or expected to offer a gift to the retiree, but it is good manners. Experts say it is best to celebrate the conclusion of a long career with a retirement gift instead of money, give them something that recognizes their passions and hobbies. Dig a little into their likes or future plans and gift accordingly.

A christening–How much you’re expected to give as a christening gift often depends on the closeness of your connection to the child. If you are to be his godparent, you might be expected to give a significant gift of $100, $150 or even more if you can afford it. If you are another close relative, $50 might be the ticket.  Again, give what you can afford. If $10 or even $15 is a generous amount for you to give in your circumstances, it will be gratefully received. You could choose to give the money in a memorable way like inside a cute piggy bank that can be a keepsake for the child.




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