This is my blog for topics of general, Jewish interest, named for the magazine I launched in 2005. I have additional blogs for other areas. Follow on Twitter or on Google+ under Ariella Brown. Please note that comment moderation is on, which could keep your comment from appearing right away.
do think about what they are likely to want or need. So don’t give people wine decanters because A) most people don’t use them and B) they probably have already been the less than enthusiastic recipients of two or more. One sometimes overdone gift is a mayim achronim set. My husband and I got four – two of them silver, one ceramic, and one brass. We also received numerous silver mezuzos. That is an OK choice, because it has potential functionality. However, we only got around to unearthing from their boxes close to a decade after we were married.
Another overdone gift is the glass serving platters. You know the ones I mean. They are sold in a local discount store for $12-$20, yet all givers persist in hoping to pass them off as having been purchased for higher prices elsewhere. Face it: you’re not fooling anybody. And your intended recipient most likely already has at least three. Other gifts that could backfire include: tablecloths – they may be the wrong length and clash with the dishes; colored glassware – they may not correspond to the new couple’s taste or china pattern; havdalah sets and/or besamim boxes –we received too many of those; any number of objects you may have picked up at a department store on sale because when the recipient brings it back, she’ll find out that you only spend $19.97 on that set of crystal candlesticks and that she’ll have to contribute her own money to get what she wants in exchange. It is almost impossible to appear generous unless you are so in fact.
The obvious choice for those for whom generosity speaks of their thoughtfulness is the universally accepted cold, hard cash , or a check if you prefer. That allows you to let the recipient know exactly how much you are spending on the gift with no guess work involved – a very good choice for the truly generous. This type of gift allows the recipient to make her own selection for purchase at your expense, eliminating the need for you to psyche her/him out. You don’t even have to worry about which store your recipient is likely to shop in because legal tender is accepted everywhere. It is even accepted as payment for rent, utilities, and gas. It may, in fact, be put to one of those uses by a young couple who finds they have all the home accessories they need, but would like a home to keep it in. So long as you trust the recipients to exercise their own discretion in how to spend your gift and do not feel a need to be personally remembered by the object in their breakfront that requires regular polishing, this may be a fine way to show your generosity.