29 answers

Is a Graduation Gift Required?

Hi all! Getting into graduation season, I really thought I only knew one kid who was graduating (our neighbor kid down the street, who is such a gem). But then I started getting more graduation invites- one from a sometimes co-worker who's son I've never met, one from my step-mom's neice who I rarely see, etc. I'd like to send them a card, but money seems like a bit much too me for kids I barely know (or don't know at all!) Not to mention the fact that we can't really afford to send money. The kid down the street we're not even giving money to, I'm making all the mints for his graduation party, that's our gift. So is "just a card" appropriate? Or should I just not send anything at all?

What can I do next?

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The economy suck right now and people are starting to tighten their belts and learn to "do without" these days. I think it would be acceptable if you didn't give money to all. I'd send a card to those distant to you. Family, I always spend a little more, and for distant family, I do $25. close family, I do $100 which is usually very generous. Nephews, Nieces, Cousins, I do $50.) For a neighbor, I'd probably do $20 or so...especially if you'll be attending and you like them. If you don't attend...A card will work with $10. That's sort of how I do it. But, to each his own.

1 mom found this helpful

I would send a card and a token gift. Even if it was just a $5 gift certificate to McDonald's or Dairy Queen. You could also given them a home made gift, like a smaller package of the mints you are making for the other graduate. I would at least send a card even if you don't give them anything else to at least acknowledge the invitation you received to their party. It would be rude to at least not do that much.

A card is enough for those who are not family or close friends. And it is presumptuous if they expect anything more. Just a congratulations.

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The economy suck right now and people are starting to tighten their belts and learn to "do without" these days. I think it would be acceptable if you didn't give money to all. I'd send a card to those distant to you. Family, I always spend a little more, and for distant family, I do $25. close family, I do $100 which is usually very generous. Nephews, Nieces, Cousins, I do $50.) For a neighbor, I'd probably do $20 or so...especially if you'll be attending and you like them. If you don't attend...A card will work with $10. That's sort of how I do it. But, to each his own.

1 mom found this helpful

I would send a card and a token gift. Even if it was just a $5 gift certificate to McDonald's or Dairy Queen. You could also given them a home made gift, like a smaller package of the mints you are making for the other graduate. I would at least send a card even if you don't give them anything else to at least acknowledge the invitation you received to their party. It would be rude to at least not do that much.

H.,
Personally, if it were me who had a child graduating, I wouldn't expect a gift. The reason I invite people to my children's parties is just as an act of friendship. I feel that gift giving should be your choice. If you do feel that you need to give something, how about an inexpensive, little something, like a neat bookmark, maybe even one that your boys helped make (drew or colored a picture on).

I didn't get a chance to read all responses so forgive me if this is a repeat...I think a card is sufficient, but can understand the uncertainty and mixed feelings. However, if you want to get a little something, you could always get a "graduation" picture frame for the graduate- you can find those for around $10-15. Good luck!

If you are going to the party, then yes. (Creative gifts where they don't know how much you spent are the best.)

If you are NOT attending the party, send nothing. Kids are usually in it for the money and a card with nothing in it will make the trash can in a matter of seconds.

Hello, Many good responses to this issue. Our family has been invited to two graduation parties for neighbor kids who we don't know at all. I felt like the parents were trolling for gifts for their graduate. I also felt very resentful for even being invited when we really didn't know the families. I both cases we had given a cash gift because we didn't want to feel guilty & look like the cheap neighbor. Well lesson learned, we didn't even receive thank you cards in return. I would agree with some of writers saying to give a $5 gift card to somewhere. You're not out much and it's something. Like another writer wrote, if you do attend the party you are eating the food. I wouldn't go overboard. I would give something very small. Good luck!

I don't think you should have to give a gift but I bet some people do. I would feel obligated to give a gift for fear of looking cheap. How about a $5 gift card to a coffee joint inside the graduation card?

I often make special occasion gifts, I am a scrapbooker/card maker (I sell CTMH - and teach the skills too). These gifts are often more memorable than a $10 bill. For a friend's daughter's 1st Communion I made a 12X12 scrapbook page and put it in a custom made frame - everyone loved it! I love that you are making mints for your neighbor, everyone gets to enjoy that gift!

Perhaps you could send some homemade cards along with the one you send them and then they can use them as they see fit (if they are going away to school - they will have pre-made cards to keep in touch with mom/dad and their friends)

Also, I remember how hard it was to choose who to send out invitations to, I did not want to forget anyone and have them run into someone else that did get invited and feel shunned. I know that I was not looking for gifts but for people to help me celebrate my special day, even though I knew some could not attend (age, $) but I also felt good for remembering these people. Perhaps, your pt/co-worker did not want to leave you out, especially if they invited other co-workers they may know more personally. And as far as family goes, how would you have felt if others in your family were invited to a step ? grad and you were the only one who was not, this may not have been sent out of greed but out of politeness - just a thought!

A card would be nice but no gift (money or other) is necessary. You don't even need to send a card to the kids you don't know, when they open it they won't even know who it is from and more then likely not even care. Gifts should never be expected.

A card is enough for those who are not family or close friends. And it is presumptuous if they expect anything more. Just a congratulations.

My husband and I are both teachers. My husband recieves countless graduation announcements. What we do is a little different, but is catching on with people around the area where we live.
My husband buys $1.00 scratch off lottery tickets and puts 2 of them in their graduation cards, which we make on the computer (less cost). It is a fun gift, we have had a couple students who have won $50.00, most win a dollar or two with their tickets. It is only a $2.00 investment, but it is fun for the graduates to recieve.

No, don't worry about it. I only send a gift to someone if I really want to. It is impossible to give something to everyone for every occasion. You don't even have to send a card. Just wish them a sincere good luck in college, or whatever their next step is.

I just send cards to all but the closest of friends (kids that "lived" with us through part of high school or are children of my best friend). For them I include a little money or small gift. In MN graduations are a much bigger thing than in CA where I grew up. Here they invite everyone, hold big open houses and such...it gets much to expensive to give money or gifts for all the invitations you'll receive. I try to attend the open houses of our closer friends too, but that's all and it seems to work out just fine.

SAHM of seven

I think for the family you are making the mints for, you could just give that kid a card. When I go to a grad party, I just throw $10 in a card. After all, you do eat their food and stuff. If it's family, I give a little more.

I would say if you would like to send them a card go ahead, but you should not feel obligated to do it. It would be a nice gesture though.

I would check to see if anyone else in the neighborhood wants to go in on a "neighborhood" gift. Try to get a few to toss in five bucks. (more than likely, you will be eating snacks and such, so five bucks should not be unreasonable)put it in a money card, and sign everyones name to it. Easy. Same with the step relative. See if your siblings or such want to do a family gift. I do not think that a group gift of $25 is a bad idea and I am sure fellow family members feel the same way. Same thing with the coworker. Get a group effort going and I am sure that many people will be thinking that you are one that thinks of everything. All three would total $15 and you wont be called cheap! Works in my family and neighborhood!
Have fun and enjoy and do not forget to invite all of these people to your kids graduation in many short years!

I would not be concerned with a gift. The graduate is honestly not going to remember in the future anyway who gave them how much or what.

If you feel obligated then do the lottery tickets. Those were my favorite gifts when I graduated from highschool.

No, you don't have to get a gift - a card is sufficient to say congratulations. If you aren't close to the person graduating, there is no obligation to buy a gift. If you are invited to a party offer to bring a dish to pass - that's always helpful. Do what you feel and in financial times like we are in now, they will understand.
Those also whom you don't know very well, politely decline an invite to a party - you can't possibly go to them all especially if they aren't people you would normally socialize with.

If you don't know the kids very well, I think I would just give them a card. I don't think I would give money to kids that I don't know well or have never met.

It is actually in poor taste to invite someone to a child's graduation whom that child does not know. VERY poor taste. Send a card but not money. The general rule is: give money if you have it. Give congrats when you don't.

Graduations are not fundraisers, they are celebrations.

H.,

Please do not feel obligated to send a gift of any kind to someone you do not even know. A step-mom's niece is pretty far down the family tree and my guess is they are simply pulling names out of anywhere to get money. This is extremely rude on their part by trying to lay a guilt trip on good people like yourself. I think your offer to make the mints for your neighbor's son is a wonderful gesture and will mean more to him than any gift card or cash.

Depending on how you feel about your step-mom or pt/co-worker, I'd say send a card to be polite. They have simple 99 cent cards or go to a Dollar Store/Tree/General. They have very nice cards and are usually 2 for $1.00. If you feel angry that they are only after gifts and/or money. Send nothing. This in itself will send the message that you don't appreciate being invited only out of 'greediness' on their part. This approach, however, may cause hard feelings for people you must interact with on a regular basis.

I know this is a lot, but hopefully will help you sort out who gets a card or gift and who doesn't. For any occasion. I'm guessing your boys get invitations for birthday parties, too. Those require a gift, but moneywise depends on the friendship between your son and the birthday boy/girl. Parents today spend an awful lot on their kids parties with goody bags, pizza, cake, entertainment and the list goes on. Don't feel your gift has to match that, go simple and age appropriate and a nice card (even handmade by your son.)

B.

It amazes me how parents invite everyone under the sun to graduation parties. I remember when I graduated, my mom had me fill out the invites to those people that I knew, not who the parents knew. I had lots more fun that way because it was my party and not my parents. Doing the mint for your neighbors son's party is more that enough but I would also include a card for him. As for the others who you don't know, nothing and if they ask you if you got the invite, just tell them that you got so many that you couldn't make all of them.

if you are going to the grad party, a card with money or small gift is appropriate...if you will not be attending the party and do not even know the kid or parents well, send nothing. i think it is would be a bummer for a kid to get a card with nothing in it as most of the time the money or gift is something for college. if the kid or family doesnt know you that well, they probably wont even miss it. just my opinion...

A card with a nice greeting written inside is just fine.

You are under no obligation to give gifts to kids you hardly know. And, if you don't have the money, you don't have it.

For relatives, co-workers and friends you see regularly, a gift is in order for both political and protocol reasons. However, for co-workers and loosely associated friends such as neighbors, I wouldn't feel obliged to give money nor anything pricey. A gift valued at $10 or less would be fine. Ideas such as a small keepsake charm for a bracelet, a small stationary set, a tiny but nice picture frame, a mini-scrapbook etc. You can find things like this at a pretty reasonable price at craft stores like Michaels, or JoAnn Fabrics, also check out your neighborhood pharmacy if they have a small gift shop.

For relatives, even you don't see the child often, I'd still get them something nice. If your budget is tight, don't stretch yourself thin. It's the thought that counts. Get something that has meaning rather than cost behind it. A nice book with words of wisdom about life, a nice pen, anything that might be useful when they go away to college. If you're not sure on a specific gift, a cash gift of $20 or more would be nice. After all, your children will be graduating, getting married, having birthdays etc. one day also. You wouldn't want any slights today, to affect relatives' feelings tommorrow.

I am having my grad party from college this sat. I expect no gifts ir cards only to celebrate with family and friends. If you are not going I would not do anything.

I've never been one to feel obligated to give gifts myself, but I do think it's nice to send a card with your heartfelt congratulations, and nothing more.
If you're going to any of these parties, I have a gift idea that's cheap and really cool!
The gift is a pizza cutter (who doesn't need one of those when going off to college?).
You wrap it in an actual take out pizza box from Pizza Hut (or wherever...).
Inside the box, draw a circle right on the bottom to be the pizza, and glue some quarters to it as the pepperoni. The whole thing would cost less than ten bucks (using just a few dollars worth of quarters) and it's something they'll always remember.

I don't like graduation parties. I think the grad is usually only worried and thinking about how much money am I getting. I've seen kids easily get over a grand in a few hours. Yes they should be congradulated but it seems like it's this big rush rush eat a little and go on to the next party.

They are going to expect money from you so even $5 dollars works in my mind for those you hardly know and a more for the kids you really like or know well. If your not attending the party then nothing works.

If you don't know them much, I'm assuming you wouldn't be going to the party. In that case, I don't think a gift is required. I think a congratulations card will suffice, if you even want to send one.

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