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Proper gift etiquette: Is there such a thing?

November 19, 2012

With the holidays and Black Friday right around the corner, purchasing gifts can be a huge expense.  This month alone Mr. and I had a wedding, a birthday, and two baby showers to budget for.  The questions is how to keep gift expenses down?

Friends since high school

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

I always had a preconceived notion that if I go to a wedding I HAVE to spend $100, if I go to some kind of shower, the gift shouldn’t cost less then $40 or I would be perceived as rude and cheap.  After a good discussion with family, I have decided to throw that logic out the window.  Here are the reasons why:

  • No one should be EXPECTING  a gift.  I feel that there is no better gift then being able to spend time with people you love. When was the last time you needed a gift IN ORDER to be admitted to a wedding or a birthday party?  Didn’t think so.
  • If they defriend you because you didn’t get them a gift, what does that tell you about them?  It tells me that a gift is more important then our friendship and I never should have been their friend to begin with.
  • There are TONS of ideas for frugal “special occasion” gifts.  Pinterest has TONS of great frugal ideas. My sister-in-law recently told me about a DIY gift she made for a bridal shower: She painted about 30 different popsicle sticks and wrote on them different ideas for date nights.  She stuck the popsicle sticks in a mason jar and wrapped it with a cute ribbon.  What a thoughtful and practical idea! I previously wrote this post regarding fun and frugal birthday gifts.
  • Is there anyone you know who is actually in need?  For example, do you have any friends who are lacking the most basic things to survive: food, water, shelter or clothing?  The answer is probably going to be no.  If they are hurting in these areas, by all means help them out because they have greater issues then receiving a DVD for their birthday.
  • How about sharing an experience instead of giving a gift? For example: making someone breakfast, lunch, cookies; going to volunteer somewhere together; giving food and supplies to the homeless; helping someone out with a project they need done?  Those kinds of gifts change your heart.

I have made the decision to stop caring about spending a certain amount for gifts.  If the focus of gift-giving is more about the relationship and friendship and less about the money, both sides win 😉

Questions for you:  What are your expectations about giving and receiving wedding, Christmas, birthday, graduation and baby/bridal shower gifts? Do you have a price range for how much you spend per gift? Any frugal and creative ideas for gifts?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2012 10:33 am

    The date ideas jar sounds like a winner!

  2. November 19, 2012 11:31 am

    I hear what you are saying and it can get out of control. I know if we go to weddings we automatically just give cash at $125-$200 a plate which seems to be the norm around here. It’s that preconceived notion or what others might think that gets us into these gift giving ways. I agree that a gift is a gift and can be as simple as a DIY or as expensive as you want it, in the end the friendship is the most expensive gift of all, you can’t buy that. Mr.CBB Great post, posted on FB!

    • December 8, 2012 2:06 pm

      wow… give 125-200 per person???? Holy moly!!!! That’s so much money! Do you think your friends would be offended if you gave less?

  3. November 19, 2012 12:34 pm

    Preach it sister. It’s crazy that people go into credit card debt because they feel people have expectations about gifts. I’m really trying to encourage the idea of giving love without getting debt for the holidays.

  4. November 19, 2012 4:25 pm

    The only etiquette surrounding gifts is to give proper thanks when you receive them. Do take the time to write a thank you note or card, even if it feels old fashioned. It’ll mean the world to the person who took the time to choose a gift for you. As to the giving, there are social situations and holidays when we feel obligated to give gifts, and we do get pleasure out of being generous with those we love. Generosity doesn’t have to break the bank though. Give it some thought and you can come up with something that is both frugal for you and meaningful for the recipient.

  5. Lauren B permalink
    November 19, 2012 4:42 pm

    I agree, gifts should not be expected. DIY gifts are the best and to know that you put thought into something makes it more meaningful. In the past few years, I have changed my perspective on gift-giving and I don’t feel an intense pressure anymore. If it’s a wedding/baby shower, I like to use the registry and set myself a budget for total amount. I figure if people want expensive things, they can buy it for themselves. I’ll spent what I can, and if I can’t …. then I can’t.

  6. Lis permalink
    November 20, 2012 6:33 am

    At our wedding, my fiance and I asked only that people come. That was a asking a lot for most of our guests, since they all live out of state (and across the country). If people wanted to give a gift, they could choose from an amazon wishlist or giving cash. I love the idea of date night ideas! That might be what the young couples on my gift list get this year. 🙂

    • December 8, 2012 2:18 pm

      What a great idea!!! I feel like people don’t even know what to do when you tell them not to bring a gift and just bring themselves….they freak!

  7. November 22, 2012 5:41 pm

    Gifts used to be a big thing when I was in school – getting the perfect gift for your friends, and EVERYONE got presents from EVERYONE on their birthday.

    To be honest, I don’t give friends gifts on birthdays anymore. It’s hard enough usually to round everyone up in one place to get together and celebrate. I don’t give gifts but I don’t personally expect them either.


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