A practical approach to wedding gifts

I was reminded of an article I once did on gifts in general by J Money's guest post at http://firefinance.blogspot.com/2009/12/wedding-gift-amount-how-much-money.htm

The article I wrote is archived on http://kallahmagazine.com/Advice.htm Here's an extract
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.


Anonymous said…
I was, and am, grateful for ANY gift. Of course, cash speaks the loudest, but all the wrong size tablecloths, candy dishes, and discount items are invariably get donated to schools running Chinese auctions and the like. (Public schools are much less finicky about things like this and much more grateful for any donations). And while 6 glass platters may seem like 5 too many, they do break eventually, and it's not a bad thing to have a few in reserve.
Frayda said…
well said! another practical way to give a wedding gift is to buy off the couple's registry. hopefully, they have many items in every price range.
Ariella said…
Of course, by definition, a gift is voluntary. But it is nice to give something that contributes to the household rather than clutters it.
Tesyaa, I did donate wedding gifts to a shop that was supposed to raise money for hachnosos kallah. And at least one of the platters I got did break. But I still had an extra glass platters left over. I just recently got rid of one by passing it on to a cousin who often has many people over -- part of the shlichus thing they do. One of the glasses set, I just gave away last time we moved. They may have even been expensive, but they were not quite my taste -- they were colored, and I like my glasses clear.
Frayda, I hear that more and more couples are not registering in Bed, Bath, & Beyond --for very practical and not overpriced items.
Ariella said…
Your comment, Frayda, reminded me of someone who suggested taking advantage of people with the registry. She recommended registering for dishes at a very expensive store (which, apparently would allow cash refund) so that the guests would have to shell out quite a bit for each place setting they were offering as a gift. Then she would return the dishes and collect the money. That way she was simultaneously hoodwinking the store, which took the time to set up her registry and deal with the customers coming to her wedding, and the customers themselves.
Lion of Zion said…
just give cash. the best and most useful present.
Ariella said…
LOZ, when we got married, I really appreciated the fact that some friends gave us money gifts. Even if the amounts weren't large, they were giving what they could afford and weren't trying to buy something that would be taken as worth more than it was. Some richer guests bought us ornamental stuff that may have cost more but has yet to be used.
miriamp said…
Hmm... still don't have a mayim achronim set (just as well, my husband washes for mayim achronim in the kitchen). We received no glass serving platters. No wine decanters. No tablecloths. No havdalah set. We did get two or three vases, two challah knives (one with challah board, one without) and two challah covers. One mezuzah case with (almost kosher) mezuzah inside. No Kos -- we had to go out and buy one. Many cash gifts, though, that we put to good use.

We usually give either sefarim or a gift certificate to a sefarim/judaica type store. Actually, now that I'm in the snood business, that's what I give, at least for those kallahs who I think will appreciate them.
Ariella said…
"One mezuzah case with (almost kosher) mezuzah inside" I love the "almost." We got several silver mezuzah case and one more artsy mezuzah case with a mezuza inside. I don't know if it was kosher or only "almost." We had already bought mezuzahs for our apartment, so we didn't use it.
My husband also washes mayim achronim in the kitchen, despite the fact that we were given more mayim achronim sets than we could ever use. He finds the cups in the set too small, in any case.

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