The beginning of summer is full of poignant moments. It marks the end of the school year for many, and the beginning of “wedding season.”
Traditionally, these events come with expectations of gift-giving on the part of attendees. Most of these invitations arrive months in advance.
Before anything else, we recommend that you start by looking at each invitation and creating a budget for each event. We are going to share some ideas for sticking to these budgets when it comes to graduations and weddings to keep the event stress-free and enjoyable (the way they should be)!
- Wedding gift ideas. Most couples have wedding registries, usually online, which they’ll indicate in their invitation. If you choose to use this purchasing route, don’t wait until the last minute! Getting a jump start on the registry means you have a better chance of sticking to your budget, rather than getting saddled with a more expensive gift last minute. If you don’t want to give via a registry, other options for giving include a family heirloom (if it’s a relative), something based on heritage or culture, or something useful. If you know the couple has plans to move, buy a house, or go on a honeymoon, think of something that they might need or want during that time.
- Graduation gift ideas. For high school graduates that are heading to college, it’s generally easier to purchase a gift. Ideas include things they’ll need for living in a dorm (laundry necessities, sheets, towels, school supplies), gift cards to their college’s bookstore (if available), even a shirt from the college they will be attending. For college graduates, a useful gift might depend on their post-graduation plans- are they starting a new job, continuing their education, moving to a new town? Think about something that would be helpful for their transition. A sentimental gift may also go a long way, here are some ideas to inspire!
- Take into account travel. If you’re attending a destination wedding or travelling for a graduation, you’ll also have to factor in these costs. You might have friends or family attending the wedding/graduation, so one option is to travel with them, and split a hotel or stay with someone nearby. These events can be more expensive for guests than the cost of a gift, but with some advance planning, you can save some money on the travel and lodging. Odds are, others in attendance will want to save money as well, and will happily jump in on your suggestion! For more ideas to save money on the road, see our last blog post.
- Are you shopping for yourself? Many people like to use weddings and other special occasions as an opportunity to go shopping for new clothes. Before doing this, consider “shopping your closet” to find an outfit. If you’re still feeling uninspired, see if you can shop a friend’s closet. There are also some websites, such as Rent the Runway (for women) or The Black Tux (for men), that let you borrow an outfit for an occasion (especially if you know you’ll only be wearing it once), if you’re worried about wearing the same thing in every photo this summer.
Heading into graduation and wedding season with a budget in mind helps keep your other financial goals on track during the summer (an easy season to get derailed). Another bonus, when you have a budget in mind, it forces you to be a bit more thoughtful about gift giving. You’ll bring something to the table that goes above the usual “money in a card” and that is genuinely appreciated by the recipients as they start their next chapter.