6 Do’s and Don’ts of Wedding and Graduation Gift-Giving

Quick Answer

When you’re celebrating a season of weddings and graduations, sticking to a budget with gift-giving is important. Consider reducing other expenses, organizing group gifts, giving investments, giving things besides cash, shopping off the registry and avoiding going into debt for gifts to maintain your financial health while you celebrate.

Guest giving red packet to newlywed couple

With wedding and graduation season upon us, your shopping list may include many gifts to give. But shopping for them all could put your budget at risk. Use a few shopping strategies to help you give meaningful gifts at a lower cost so you can celebrate all the happy occasions coming up in your social circle.

Check out these do's and don'ts for some simple gift-giving budget guidelines this season.

Do Cut Costs Elsewhere

Being a wedding guest, and especially a member of a wedding party, can get pricey. According to The Knot, people spend $460 on average to attend a wedding. Traveling for graduations similarly can stack up costs.

If you want to increase your budget for gifts, decrease spending in other areas to keep your finances in check:

  • Put outfits to multiple uses. Rewear outfits when you feel comfortable doing so. A quality suit or dress can look classic wherever you go. Accessorize differently for each event to get the most out of your ensemble.
  • DIY your own hair and makeup. Stylists can be pricey.
  • Save on transportation. Drive yourself, or carpool or ride-hail with a group. Ride-hailing on your own can get expensive depending on how far you have to go.
  • Wrap it for less. Get wrapping materials from a discount store instead of paying for store gift wrap. With a few bow-making tips found online, you'll give a beautifully wrapped present for a fraction of the cost.

You may want to cut back on your budget in general during these months to free up more cash. Use less air conditioning, eat out less and swap some name brand grocery items for store brands to avoid overspending.

Do Go in as a Group

There's safety—and savings—in numbers. If your nephew needs a new laptop for college, get all the aunts and uncles in on it together to send him with the tools he needs at a price you can all afford.

Group gifting is a common practice for big events and can take the pressure off family and friends by purchasing together.

Do Invest in Your Loved One

Opening an investment account for your loved one as a present can be a gift that keeps on giving thanks to compounding interest.

You don't need a huge startup amount. Just opening an account that will grow or gifting bonds with a nice return is a thoughtful gesture.

Don't Feel Pressured to Give Cash

Weddings and graduations are big life-changing jumping-off points. It can feel like there's an expectation to give money to help start the receiver's new phase of life. But don't feel pressured to give cash, especially if the expected amount is beyond your means.

Giving within your budget by finding a nice present on sale or going for sentimental and less expensive gifts like a framed photo of you and the receiver are ways to save that still show the recipient you care.

Don't Just Stick to the Registry

While registries are a way for folks to tell you what they need and avoid getting duplicate gifts, shopping exclusively off a gift registry can mean restricting yourself to presents above your price point.

Consider instead gifting something in your budget that has meaning or is uniquely handmade. Registries are not requirements, they are simply requests. That said, an on-sale registry item could save you the stress of coming up with another gift while also helping you save money.

Don't Go Into Debt to Pay for Gifts

Though gift-giving is a natural part of wedding and graduation season, avoid going into debt to show you care. If you know you can pay off gifts you charge to a credit card before the purchases start accruing interest, it could be a good way to earn some credit card rewards. But if you think you'll be paying for your generosity for months to come, it's best to steer clear of charging gifts.

Buy now, pay later may be one affordable option that allows you to stretch out payments. Also remember that with both weddings and graduations, you're not obligated to provide a gift the day of the event. If you have several events in one month, consider which gifts you can send a few weeks later to spread out the costs.

Congratulate Yourself on Saving

Ideally, you will have set some funds aside to plan for upcoming celebrations. But if you haven't, it may be best to slash your budget elsewhere so you can celebrate weddings and graduations without overspending.

Giving less expensive, meaningful gifts is one great way to offer congratulations without putting yourself in a bad position. Your financial health is worth just as much celebration as some of the bigger milestones out there.