Last week, I was organizing my office and found more than a dozen invitations stacked and stashed on my desk. For each one, there was a reason why it was still there. In some cases, the event hadn’t taken place yet, but there were a handful that were events that took place months, if not years ago, and it is these invitations that plague me as they are reminders to send a gift. To find out why these gifts aren’t sent, read on!
The Complexities of Gift Giving
Whether I attend an event or not, I do still send a gift, which isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds. While it’s my pleasure and greatest joy to help find the perfect gift for each recipient, there are many variables that can be considered when determining what to give.
Gift Giving - What To Consider
1. Do you base your gift on how lavish the party is?
2. Does the amount you gift change based on the number of family members that attend the party?
3. Do you give a gift if you aren’t able to attend the party?
4. Do you take into consideration the amount you’ve spent on ancillary events (engagement parties, showers, or rehearsal dinners)?
5. If you’re attending a destination party, does the cost you incur flying your family across the country impact the amount of your gift?
6. Do you consider the norms of a community with respect to gifting versus your own comfort level?
7. Do you reciprocate what was given to you if you hosted a simcha in the past?
8. If you’re participating in a group gift, does everyone need to contribute the same amount? Who should lay out the money and organize the contributions?
9. Is cash an appropriate gift?
Gift Giving - How I Go About It
People have many different views on what is and isn’t an appropriate gift, and I’ve developed my own philosophy regarding gift giving. Yes, there’s a going rate or range, and of course it should be in line with financial means. While many etiquette experts suggest that a gift should be based on the per person cost of the meal served at the party, that has always seemed to me to be a very strange guideline. Whether a celebration is a black-tie party, a backyard barbeque, or an extravagant destination event, it doesn’t change my relationship with the family, my feelings toward them, or the amount of the gift I give.
I may adjust the amount of my gift depending on the number of people in my family attending. If only my child is invited to the party, I would give a smaller gift than if my spouse and I or my whole family is invited. However, if I’m invited as a couple and my spouse doesn’t attend, I don’t believe that the gift should be half of what I would normally give.
Here are a few of my favorite gifts for a few different popular gifting categories:
I like a personal gift, but with a caveat.
The most important thing is knowing your recipient. For example, if they live in a small apartment, do NOT send them a large, monogrammed couch, unless you know there’s space for it.
Consider a gift for the mom, not just the baby. After all, she is the one who needs it. Here I recommend services over actual products. For instance, an appointment with a mobile masseuse, manicurist, or facialist who can come to the house, so she can enjoy / or just keep up with maintenance while the baby sleeps.
Matching pajama sets or loungewear are another great idea. The mom is usually spending more time at home and it's one of those things we don’t often buy for ourselves. Two of my favorites are Eberjy Pajamas or Tashka by Beatrice.
I love giving sports memorabilia to fans. If you know their favorite teams or players, this makes a memorable gift that is always well received. These items are often at a higher price point and perfect for a chip in from several friends.
If giving jewelry, consider chipping in with other guests to get something that can stand the test of time. While there are many cute and trendy things for tween-age girls, the best pieces are more timeless…yes more expensive but well worth it. Some great options for jewelry are Rachie Shnay mazal collection very apropo for the occasion.
Liv and Precious Jewelry has a beautiful selection of jewelry perfect for now and later.
There’s a reason people register, ‘nuff said.
If you must go rogue, a check is always appreciated (consider #1- 9 above re: amount).
If you know the couple very well and want to do something more personal, a mezuzah or kiddush cup for their new home made from the glass that they break under the chuppah is a meaningful gift. It just needs to be planned in advance.
Shop the glass here.
One of my favorite gifts for any occasion: a personalized Tic Tac Toe board with the recipients initials and a fun graphic. My go to for a Lucite Tic Tac Toe board is Jax Gifts.
I’ve given this to newly engaged couples, bar or bat mitzvah kids, friends moving into a new home and countless other occasions.
Coffee Table Book (especially if they’re moving to a new place or from somewhere and there’s a book from the destination). Assouline offers so many beautiful coffee table books. There are books related to travel, design, fashion, food, luxury brands, and photography. I love to give these because I find its often an item people don’t really buy themselves. One of my favorites that I have recently added to my collection in my office is the Amalfi Coast book.
I also love the BMS books, coffee table books with a little extra bling.
Juniper custom book sets are beautiful gift for an avid reader or design lover.
A watch makes a great gift. An Apple Watch is always in style.
Luggage/ luggage tags are a great present for someone who may be headed on business trips for their job. Luggage is always a good investment. Tumi is pricier but they are top quality and can last a lifetime of travel.
A Wet Vac can make a great gift for people moving into their first or any new home. You may laugh at this one, but I can’t tell you the number of times I have loaned mine out to friends dealing with a floor in the middle of the night.
You may also consider personalized stationery with the new address. The art of letter writing may be dying but everyone appreciates beautiful paper goods. You can find so many options for stationery from The Write Gift by Jen on her Instagram or website.
Time with a professional organizer! A day or even a few hours with Barbara Reich from Life Organized is truly a gift that keeps giving. It is cheaper than (most) therapy but equally effective.
Mention LisonLife for a discount.
Sometimes it’s not about the gift: it’s about the message
A heartfelt handwritten note can be the gift in and of itself.
Or if the way to your recipient’s heart is through their stomach, homemade or their favorite bought baked goods are always a kind gesture along with a gift or even be the gift itself.
What are some of your go-to gifts?
Check out various Gift Giving Ideas.