The Right Amount of Money to Give for Weddings, the Right Gift for Funerals & Related Questions
In recent years, Hallmark has seen sales of greeting cards
that hold cash, checks or gift cards increase by almost 150
percent. Such gifts, though sometimes viewed as impersonal,
were actually the most desired among women for the 2006 holiday
season, according to Consumer Reports (men preferred electronics).
If you plan to give money as a gift, crisp, new bills
make an excellent presentation (and most banks will
exchange your old bills for new ones at no charge).
After all, cash suits everyone's taste, and you can personalize
it by adding a note about what you'd like them to use it for
(Here's $50 toward your new stereo system!). But the good
thing about money is that they are in no way tied to your
request, they can do with it whatever they please, and there's
no greater gift than that.
Giving a gift of cash or a gift
card can be tricky, however, as you must find the perfect
balance between generosity and practicality (to your bank
account). What are the "rules" when it comes to
Generally speaking, you should give more to your family
and close friends than to distant acquaintances
You should never feel obligated to give more than you
can truly afford
Now for the specifics ...
Weddings: The traditional view is to give the couple
at least the cost of your meal, which could range anywhere
from $50 to over $100 per person. However, you should also
take into account your relationship to the couple and whether
you are in the wedding (and therefore have spent money on
other wedding-related gifts and items, and may want to adjust
your gift accordingly).
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As for whether or not cash is an acceptable gift, the answer
is absolutely (the only exception being a colleague's wedding,
and then buying a gift is more appropriate). According to
etiquette guru Emily Post:
"With more second marriages and couples coming to
the altar with established households, there's not as much
need today for toasters, tumblers and table settings. For
many couples, money makes an ideal gift. And there are terrific
options in monetary gifting today; guests should consider
alternatives to cash and personal checks such as universal
gift certificates. I like the American Express Gift Cheque,
which comes attractively packaged in a gold envelope just
as a present should be."
Funerals: Gifts of cash may be accepted at funerals
in lieu of flowers to go toward the bereaved family or a charity.
Such funds are usually deposited into a single fund for the
family or designated charity, and therefore it's completely
up to you to decide how much you feel comfortable giving.
When you send a sympathy card, it is appropriate to mention
that you gave a gift, but not to state the amount.
General Gifts: According to a Hallmark survey, here
are the average amounts given as gifts:
When is a Cash Gift NOT Appropriate?
You should always include a hand-written note with
any cash gift to give it your own personal touch.
Certain holiday tips/appreciation should be given in the
form of a non-cash gift. This includes those to:
Your child's teachers (though gift certificates are fine)
U.S. letter carriers (U.S. government regulations prohibit
cash gifts, but they can accept non-cash gifts worth up
Private nurse and nursing home employees
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Emily Post Institute