Pinings: Gift-Giving Season
A few years ago, a reader wrote to ask a sort of etiquette question
about gift giving. The woman heard from a friend that a wedding gift
should be worth at least the cost of the meal she ate at the wedding.
She had no idea how to figure out that cost and wanted to know if I
thought that was true. Was there some standard by which she could
measure how much to spend on a gift?
The gift-giving season is right around the corner, so I thought this
would be a good opportunity to discuss the tender subject of gifts,
money and etiquette.
About the wedding gift question: Iím not sure who came up with that
rule, but itís just a bunch of baloney. Gifts, wedding or not, should be
based on more than just money. Even if money is the gift, a hand-written
note should be included.
A wedding gift should be something the couple needs, wants or will
appreciate. It should also be something the gift-giver can afford.
Nowadays, couples register for all kinds of gifts ó china, housewares,
vacations, mortgages. Regardless, gift registries are not the only
option. Iím horrified by shower invitations that include registry
information. That kind of information should be passed by word of mouth.
I also think asking for money for buying a house is tacky. Buy your own
house! If couples really donít need any home furnishings, china or
flatware, money is a great gift. What they do with it is their business.
During the holidays, we have a tendency to go nuts and spend money we
donít have. And we often do it to give gifts people donít need. Itís
important to write a budget, as corny as it sounds, and make a list of
those you must buy for. Start now to avoid last-minute, budget-busting,
impulsive spending. This doesnít have to be about being Martha Stewart
and making all your own gifts out of recycled milk bottles. Itís just
about being practical, planning early and remembering what gift-giving
is all about. A gift should not come as a result of a demand, and it
should not be solely about money. A gift should come from the heart,
with the recipientís tastes and needs in mind.
Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers. Contact her via e-mail at