Gifts are wonderful to receive and always much appreciated. The age-old question, which not everyone is eager to discuss openly, is exactly how much is the correct amount to give, if one is giving a monetary gift. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how people decide. In most cases, family members receive more than complete strangers, and close friends’ children also have their own category.
Often, couples marrying who are the children of “wealth” receive larger amounts than the “average” young couple. Whether or not that is right or makes any sense is for the reader to decide. Another conundrum is that people tend to invite many extended acquaintances from shul, work or the gym. What is their obligation when it comes to gift giving? So many times people complain about an invitation. Perhaps one should think more clearly about who is invited.
In researching this subject it became obvious that in the Jewish world gift giving is on a higher plane than in a different cultural environment. Allyson Johnson, a writer for the WeddingWire Group, wrote in June 2018 that one “should avoid a check of less than $50. The old adage of matching the cost per head is obsolete; your gift should not be about reimbursing the couple for their wedding day.” On average, according to Tendr, guests will spend between $75 and $150 on a monetary wedding gift. Tendr states that the national average is $160, depending on if it is a couple or just one person attending. For close friends or family, according to Johnson, one may want to consider $200 or higher, if that is affordable. For others, $100 to $150 is more than okay.
There are few couples today that are not registered with one or more bridal registries. An easy way to avoid a monetary gift is to contribute directly to the registry, affording the celebrants the opportunity to either make use of their choice of gift or receive the money. Actual physical gift giving has almost become a thing of the past. Ask a young couple what they want and they may sheepishly admit that cash is preferred. How many menorahs, kiddush cups, challah boards and covers do they really need?
Let us all continue to make many semachot and be faced with these decisions for years to come.
By Nina Glick