Are You Too Cheap? Here’s the Definitive Guide of How Much To Give for Every Occasion

Find out the right amount for the right occasion.

mother daughter celebrating mother's day
Updated July 18, 2024
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When it comes to gift giving, just how cheap are you?

It’s an important question to ask if you’re trying to stick to social norms. You might be worried about offending someone by not spending enough. Or perhaps you need to save more money and are on a tight budget.

Before you buy that gift or put some cash in a card, here’s how much you should expect to give someone for every occasion.

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Adult birthdays

insta_photos/Adobe happy senior couple celebrating Valentines day

Birthday gifts can vary widely depending on how much you are expected to give and the person being celebrated.

In general, around $25 is a good amount, but you may want to give more to family or good friends.

Kid birthdays

luckybusiness/Adobe little boy holding presents on birthday

You may have young children who are constantly getting invited to a birthday party for classmates.

For kids’ parties, it’s a good idea to give a gift of around $20 to $30. Consider including a gift receipt for an easy return if needed.

Weddings

Africa Studio/Adobe Table with wedding day gift boxes

Weddings can get a bit expensive, and you’ll have to consider factors such as the cost of traveling to the ceremony when deciding how much to give.

A good rule of thumb used to be to “cover your plates” (pay as much as you estimate the bride and groom paid for your dinner).

It can be a hard number to figure out if you don’t know how much the couple spent on their wedding, so you can also consider around $100 to $200 for a gift.

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Funerals

Mary Stark/Adobe wooden casket with colorful flowers

Funerals are not a celebratory gift-giving event, but you also may want to give a grieving family money to cover meals or donate to the deceased’s favorite charity.

Obituaries may say, “In lieu of flowers,” with a note on where to send cash in memory of a person, so use that as a benchmark. A nice bouquet can cost around $75, so that could be a good amount for a cash gift or donation.

Baby showers

Africa Studio/Adobe Wicker basket with baby shower gifts

You may get an invitation to a baby shower, which can be an exciting way to celebrate with parents-to-be.

Consider a gift of around $50 to $100. Consider practical options, such as a gift card for a baby clothing store or diapers.

Gender reveal parties

Drobot Dean/Adobe pregnant woman at gender reveal party

Gender reveal parties can also be fun celebrations, but you generally aren’t expected to bring a gift, especially if the expecting parents haven’t put together a baby registry yet.

A small gift is fine if you don’t want to show up empty-handed, such as a book for the new baby or a little something for the expecting parents.

Holiday gifts for helpers

ariya j/Adobe money with for you note

You may have a cleaning service that comes to your house every week, tutors that help your kids, or pet sitters who check on your pets year-round while you’re at work.

Gifts can vary depending on the type of help, but you may want to consider an “extra” payment for a job well done, such as an extra $100 for the holidays if you pay your cleaners $100 a week or an extra $50 to a dog walker for services.

Graduations

moodboard/Adobe Graduate videotaping graduated friend with family

Graduations are an important milestone for students. But you may not have to give as much as you would for other milestones. A $50 gift should be sufficient for most graduates.

Teachers

highwaystarz/Adobe Pupil Giving Teacher Term end Gift

The end of a school year is also a time to celebrate the teachers who helped your kids.

Teachers usually have plenty of mugs, pens, and anything decorated with apples. Instead, consider a $20-$25 gift card to a store or restaurant you know the teacher likes.

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Drazen/Adobe couple getting gift after making deal

Realtors can help you find the perfect dream house or lock in the sale of your home as you move on.

But the buying and selling process can already be expensive so you don’t have to feel obligated to add a gift to that, but a $20 to $50 option is plenty if you would like to give one.

Factor in the recipient

Quality Stock Arts/Adobe boss giving present to office staff

While these are general guidelines, you can adjust how much you give based on different factors.

For example, you may want to give a little more if it’s a wedding for a dear friend or a little less if it’s for a baby shower for a work colleague.

Factor in the occasion

sebra/Adobe little daughter surprises father with gift

Some occasions require you to have more flexibility when deciding how much to give.

You also need to factor in how big of a celebration it is. You can spend less money for a second child’s baby shower, for example, or spend more for a milestone birthday.

Factor in your budget

Prostock-studio/Adobe Father giving gift to daughter

Only give as much as you can afford, even if that is less than the recommended amount. After all, you don’t want to go into debt trying to give someone else a gift that you can’t afford.

If you know a major celebration is coming up, it may also be a good idea to save some extra money in the months leading up to the celebration so you have the cash you need for a good gift.

Bottom line

Home-stock/Aadobe mother congratulating daughter with birthday gift

Gift-giving can be a fun way to celebrate someone or a stressful prospect when you’re trying to save money.

Put some thought into the gift and find ways to be a savvy shopper. Start the gift-buying process sooner rather than later so you have more time to find good deals or discounts.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.