Everything You Have To Give Gifts For As An Adult

While etiquette and decorum may be dying art, the 6,000 things you have to purchase gifts for as you get older does not seem to be ceasing. Before you graduate, you don’t notice it so much, as you’re still largely in the receiving end of things. But shortly thereafter it begins creeping up on you. Oh, a wedding, surely there’s only one gift required there. Then there’s babies, and housewarmings, and anniversaries, and then other people’s graduation. And you’re left standing there thinking, alas poor money, I once knew you.

So to keep these things from sneaking up on you we’ve compiled a master list of all the shit you’re going to have to buy gifts for now that you’re an adult. And because we’re nice, we’re also throwing in a few suggestions of what’s “appropriate.” It may not get you ready for royal etiquette, but we’ll do what we can.

 

MARRIAGE

Engagement Party

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Probably.

Suggested gift: Items from the couple’s registry, kitchenware, cute (monogrammed?) wine glasses, decorative sofa pillows.

Bridal Shower

Will a card suffice? No

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Sadly no, this is where you’re going to have to hit the registry.

Suggested gift: A gift specific to the bride off the registry.

Bachelor/Bachelorette Party

Will a card suffice? No

Can I just give cash and be done with it? No, but if you’re in the wedding party you should chip in for the party.

Suggested gift: For a bachelorette—all things penis themed (or boobs if it’s a penis-free wedding). 

Bridesmaid Gift

Will a card suffice? No, go for something more personal.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Probably. But something personalized is a nice touch.

Suggested gift: Their favorite magazine, candles or bath products, a framed picture, a monogrammed robe, matching pajama sets.

Wedding

Will a card suffice? Only if it comes with cash

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Yes.

Suggested gift: Something off the registry, something heartfelt/personal if you are very close with the couple. If you’ve already given multiple gifts, it’s up to you whether to bring another one, but it tends to be expected.

 

BABIES

Announcement

Will a card suffice? Yes.

Do you even have to send a card? A phone call, text, Facebook message with a “Congratulations!” are probably OK.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? If you give a gift, cash seems kind of weird for this one.

Suggested gift: If you feel compelled, a children’s book or stuffed animal is appropriate.

Gender Reveal Parties

Will a card suffice? Jury’s out. This phenomena still seems strange to us.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Probably would be weird here.

Suggested gift: A gender neutral gift, because come on.

Baby Shower

Will a card suffice? Nope. The purpose of a shower is to get stuff.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Cash and gift cards are a new parent’s dream.

Suggested gift: Stick to the registry or a really personal handmade item. Bath supplies they registered for, great! Hand knitted blanket, so sweet! Random stuffed animal and funny onesie you picked, eh.

Birthdays

Will a card suffice? Depends on the friend—how close are you?

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Gift card is the generic gift of choice.

Suggested gift: If it’s for the kid, always consult the parents first. If it’s your BFF, well you should know this already.

 

HOMES

Housewarming Party

Will a card suffice? No.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Yes. People tend to buy a lot of shit when they move/are broke from moving.

Suggested gift: Home essentials, like pots, pans, etc. Flowers are also a great option to spruce up someone’s new pad.

Hostess Gift

Will a card suffice? It would be weird, but a thank-you card after the event is old school polite.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? “Thanks for the food, here’s a $20 for your trouble”… probably not.

Suggested gift: Flowers, bottle of wine, or something for the occasion.

ANNIVERSARIES

Your Parents

Will a card suffice? Yes

Can I just give cash and be done with it? No. They raised you for God’s sake, don’t be crass.

Suggested gift: If it’s a big anniversary, sorry, but you should probably shell out some dough and send them somewhere, even if it’s just to a nice dinner.

Your Partner

Will a card suffice? Depends on how you like to give gifts, but I’d err on the side of no.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? No. Anniversaries should involve something more personal. But a card (especially a handmade one) is a nice touch!

Suggested gift: A homemade version of their favorite dessert, a memory box/tokens from your relationship, a date night in a box (or a jar of date ideas for future use, which you can make together), a home-cooked dinner.

Employee work anniversaries

Will a card suffice? Yes, especially for smaller milestones.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Yes, but check your corporate gift policy first. Some companies have rules about the dollar amount for gifts employees can receive.

Suggested gift: Small gift card to their favorite coffee shop, personalized note, photos of your co-worker and your team (especially from their early days), logo merchandise for your company, flowers, a decorated desk on their anniversary day.

Friends

Will a card suffice? Yes. If you were at the wedding, send them a card or write a nice note on their sappy Facebook post.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? For once you don’t have to buy anything!

Suggested gift: None!

 

GRADUATION

Will a card suffice? Yes

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Yes. Actually, it’s probably preferred. Recent grads are broke.

Suggested gift: As previously stated, money is usually preferred by recent grads. You can also go with a graduation-themed photo frame or something with an inspirational quote on it. Just don’t give them a copy of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” They probably got 12 copies from various relatives.

 

RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES:  

Baptism

Will a card suffice? If you are not close with the couple, yes.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Cash or savings bonds are awesome and a traditional gift.

Suggested gift: Something sentimental, like a classic children’s book, Bible, engraved frame, or special piggy bank.

First Communion

Will a card suffice? Yes.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Bonds or checks are always a good idea here.

Suggested gift: If you’re a godparent, go with the cash. No one needs 20 Bibles lying around.

Confirmation

Will a card suffice? If you are not close with the person/family, yes.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Absolutely.

Suggested gift: These kids will get a dozen Bibles and girls will get a thousand cross necklaces. Unless you’re close family, stick with cash.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Will a card suffice? No.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Definitely.

Suggested gift: Jewelry (maybe a bracelet or necklace with a Jewish star or hamsa on it); or a fancy menorah.

 

LIFE EVENTS

Illness

Will a card suffice? Yes. People often don’t know what to say or do when a friend or a loved one gets sick with cancer or a chronic illness. After beating cancer, Emily McDowell designed these kickass empathy cards. These emotionally direct greeting cards say the things Emily wanted to hear when she was ill.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Cash seems weird for this life event. Unless it is a serious illness with a GoFundMe, avoid monetary gifts.

Suggested gift: If you are close with the person a care package would be thoughtful, or a good book to read during the illness.

Funerals

Will a card suffice? Yes.

Can I just give cash and be done with it? Again, cash seems weird for a funeral unless it is a donation to a memorial.

Suggested gift: Flowers are tried and true. If you are close to the family then a shadow box can be touching (funeral bulletin, obituary, picture, etc). When I was dating my husband and his grandpa died, I made a shadow box that he put his grandpa’s glasses in. Meal delivery is also a good option, to take the burden off the family.

Contributions by Gretchen Sprinkle, Tricia, Allie, Kristin U., Emmy, and Katie 

 

Gretchen Sprinkle

Gretchen grew up in a small farming community in Northern Illinois, an area in which she still resides with her husband, son, and their mutt, Maverick. She likes cooking, volunteering at church, and most of all loves children. It's a quiet life, but a good life.
Gretchen Sprinkle

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