Mitzvahs, both Bar and Bat.
All of these occasions are special times in peoples’ lives.
And they’re generally marked by large celebrations.
They are times for joy and sharing.
More often than not, they are also time for gift giving.
Much thought and discussion has been given to the topic of tipping on the blogosphere, but I really cannot recall anyone getting into the topic of giving gifts, so I’m going to.
Over the years, I’ve attended almost all of the celebrations mentioned above.
I’ve happily carried along a gift with me to each event I attended.
I never really gave it much thought until recently though.
It’s not so much the quality or value of the gift that bothers me, but rather the idea of giving a gift for every milestone.
That feeling of needing to do so even if you don’t know the people being honored by the celebration.
I’m pretty much talking about the Mitzvahs and weddings here, since relative strangers wouldn’t be invited to a baby shower, Christening (at least I don’t think they would be).
Although to be fair, at retirement parties, there are bound to be strangers since not everyone knows all of their coworkers in large companies.
It’s a pretty common for these events to number in the hundreds of guests.
More often than not the recipient of the party isn’t inviting many of those people themselves, especially in the case of a Mitzvah or sweet sixteen (even weddings).
The host parents generally have significant say as to who needs to be invited one the list gets past the friends of the honoree(s), and this is where I think it gets a little sticky.
I guess it’s kind of the same line of questioning as the tipping scenarios: do you give regardless because it is what society deems proper, or do you gift based upon relationship?
The problem as I see it is that many times business associates, co-workers, and friends of the parents are always invited to these events, even if they have never even met the people for whom the event is being thrown.
In those cases, how do you set the ground rules?
Do you show up to partake in he festivities simply because you were invited and do not want to offend the parents by turning down the invitation?
Do you arrive with a gift simply because society deems it the “proper” thing to do?
Personally, I have been in a couple of such situations.
In January 2013, my boss’s son got married.
I was invited but up to that point I had never met the son since he was living in Detroit on an internship.
My first thought was to make up an excuse not to go since I had absolutely no relationship.
But, some clients were going so I felt like I had to for business purposes.
Then I thought that if I don’t know this guy or his bride, should I be giving a gift?
I figured that it would eventually come back to my boss and that would be an awkward situation so I gave a little something.
At the end of May, I went to another wedding for two people I had never met in my life.
I was going as the guest of a woman I had been seeing, and I had committed to it a month or so prior.
This time, she preemptively told me that I did not have to worry about a gift since these were her friends.
She understood that I didn’t know them from any two people walking down the street (plus she already got them something).
Basically the question is when is it right, if ever, not to show up to a celebratory even without gift in hand?
Is it normal to simply abide by society’s norm that you should always anticipate giving a gift, or can you choose not to based on circumstances such as your relationship with the honoree?