With wedding season around the corner, I’ve already been invited to two weddings and an engagement party. I usually have no problem with gifts. For engagements, there’s usually a registry and for most weddings, I opt for a monetary gift. The question is about my friend Janice and her soon-to-be-husband Larry.
This is Janice’s second marriage and Larry’s third time under the chupah. They have grown kids, their own homes, a cottage and a vacation condo in Arizona. They are separately financially quite well off. Giving them a cheque just doesn’t feel right.
Is there a proper protocol for this type of union when it comes to gift-giving?
Suitable Gift Idea
Dear Suitable Gift Idea,
Many would take the easy way out and just gift a cheque, so I commend you on wanting to do something more meaningful and appropriate for Janice and Larry’s circumstance.
A wedding is all about celebrating the union of two people, or in this case two families joining and committing their lives to each other. Why not give them something to celebrate that union together, something that they could enjoy together as a couple and create a wonderful memory?
Here are some suggestions: a membership to an art gallery or a museum, with or without a gift certificate to a trendy restaurant; a romantic overnight stay at a resort or bed-and-breakfast, with or without added spa or dinner reservations; a gift certificate to an airline; a donation to their favourite charity; tickets to see their favourite performer or a play; cooking or dance classes. If they are joining their two households, try something special for their new home, such as a swing chair or fire pit for the backyard or something monogrammed or engraved.
This gift requires more thought. It all depends on who they are and what they like. Think outside the box of a normal wedding gift. I’m sure they will love the uniqueness and effort you put into their new union as a couple and a blended family.
My family threw me a spectacular surprise birthday party for my 50th. There were more than 75 guests and it was at a lovely downtown restaurant. I’m feeling very selfish about even mentioning this, but when I got home, my husband unloaded our car, which was filled with a sea of gift bags, beautifully wrapped boxes and lots of envelopes. My husband said “no gifts please” on the invitation, but it seems everyone brought one anyway. At first it was a lot of fun opening everything and reading the cards, but then I realized I had tons of gift cards – Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Indigo were the top choices. The big question is: what am I going to do with all these gift cards that I’ll never use, even if I live to be 100?
What a Waste
Dear What a Waste,
Congratulations on your milestone birthday. I’m sure it gave your family great pleasure to create this special memory for you, which is no different than how every guest feels about showing you the love, too. Writing “no gifts” on an invitation is a noble gesture, but unrealistic. It’s a joy to give, often more than it is to receive. If the invitation had said, “In lieu of gifts, donations to [charity] in honour of [name] 50th birthday are welcome,” it would have solved both the giving and receiving dilemma, and given a boost to your favourite charity and a tax receipt to the guest. A win-win for all!
You can also donate those gift cards. There are many charities that will be more than happy to take them off your hands. If you’d like to sell your cards for a discount, you can use a card-swapping company.
Don’t forget to thank your guests for celebrating with you and for their generous gifts. It’s the thought that counts.