Cost of Gifts

(Misty asks...)

The cost of gifts this spring is unbearable. I can't afford to buy all these presents. There's graduations -- not only from high school, but preschool, middle school, and one from grad school. The wedding and wedding showers invitations are starting to come, too. I'm afraid that can only mean the baby shower and baby announcements will be here in a few months. Add in anniversaries and birthdays and .... I'm swamped. Do I have to give everyone of them a present? Is there a guideline for how much I need to spend on each one?

Coleen, your frugal editor replies:

An announcement is sharing good news. An invitation is asking for the pleasure of your company. Or, at least that is what they should be. Respond accordingly.

When someone you know and care about announces a graduation, wedding, birth, or other happy occasion, acknowledge the happy event or accomplishment. Depending on how you usually communicate with them, you can do that with a phone call, text message, email, or written card or letter. An announcement should not be construed as a request for a present.

When someone you know and care about invites you to something with an RSVP, you have an obligation to reply. (You aren't obligated to attend.) The person sending the invitation is asking you to join him in a party or other event celebrating the occasion. Again, they aren't (or should not be) sending the invitation just to ask for a present.

That frees you to give gifts that you can afford to those you want to give presents to. Giving a gift is something you should do because you want to do so. You shouldn't need to worry that the cost of gifts is going to break you.

Choose your gifts based on what you think the recipient would enjoy receiving -- and on what you feel good about giving. You can find meaningful gifts without spending a lot of money.

You can likely find guidelines that tell you gifts for certain occasions should cost a certain amount. Ignore them.

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