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JLeslie's avatar

Do you and your family give money as gifts?

Asked by JLeslie (47233 points ) September 17th, 2012

I am curious to know cultural differences, so please state where you live and your ethnic/national background and religion (even if you don’t identify with a religion if you were raised in a particular one I would be interested in that). I recently made some statements on a Q that Jews give money for everything, not that they don’t ever give presents, but that money is often given and it is perfectly acceptable and a common practice. I have also observed the Greeks doing it at weddings and some Catholics like the Italians. I have heard others say they don’t want to give money or think it is innappropriate or appears lazy.

So here are my basic questions, and please feel free to add more information. The questions are regarding giving to family and very close friends, or children of close friends. Not giving a gift to a teacher or coworker.

1. Do you give money for birthdays, Holidays (Christmas Chanukah, etc) or Weddings instead of presents?

2. If you received money for an event like a birthday or holiday as a child what was the expectation? Did you spend it? Save it?

3. When your children receive money for an event what do you teach them, and what do you expect them to do with it?

4. What do you presonally think about giving or receiving money for these events?

5. Do you give gift cards because you think giving cash/check is odd or innapropriate?

6. How do you identify ethnic/culture/countyry and religiously? Americans, even narrowing to your state of the region of the country might give some interesting information. Examples: Italian-American Catholic Midwest, Jewish-American, Southern American Christian, British Protestan, Australian atheist etc.

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29 Answers

DigitalBlue's avatar

1. Do you give money for birthdays, Holidays (Christmas Chanukah, etc) or Weddings instead of presents?

Not usually, but sometimes I will gift money for a wedding if I can’t think of a meaningful or personal gift. I give money for graduations. Never for birthdays, we don’t even give the kids birthday money, we buy gifts.

2. If you received money for an event like a birthday or holiday as a child what was the expectation? Did you spend it? Save it?

I rarely received monetary gifts as a child, but if someone gave money there were usually explicit instructions to “spend it on something nice for yourself.” Don’t tell anyone, but on the rare occasion that someone gifts me money now, I spend it on necessities. I don’t like to spend money on myself.

3. When your children receive money for an event what do you teach them, and what do you expect them to do with it?

This is difficult for me to answer, as I am in a co-parenting situation. I believe the money should be split between savings and a nice item (or items) for themselves. Usually they just buy whatever they want with it, though, because my husband and I are on different pages with that.

4. What do you presonally think about giving or receiving money for these events?

I think that money is a fine gift, I just tend to prefer things that are more personal. But I see nothing wrong with money, or gift cards, for that matter.

5. Do you give gift cards because you think giving cash/check is odd or inappropriate?

Nope. I like gift cards if I think there is a store that someone really enjoys, or for whatever reason, but I don’t feel that cash/check is an inappropriate gift in the first place.

6. How do you identify ethnic/culture/countyry and religiously? Americans, even narrowing to your state of the region of the country might give some interesting information. Examples: Italian-American Catholic Midwest, Jewish-American, Southern American Christian, British Protestan, Australian atheist etc.

I live in eastern Ohio, raised in an eastern European Catholic family. My husband is Italian and was raised Catholic, and is possibly even more comfortable giving/receiving monetary gifts.

zenvelo's avatar

My kids get money from their grandmothers, who are not quite capable of shopping for them. But their mother and I don’t do that. If they get money for Christmas or birthday, they’re to put it in the bank and use it for saving up for something big that they want.

They each usually give gift cards to friends for birthdays, but specific ones like an iTunes card or for a specific store.

We don’t identify strongly with a particular ethnic group other than we are northern Californian suburban whites.

My nephew recently had a quickie marriage and child, and asked for money, but that was generally criticized in our family. We don’t think it is appropriate for weddings or baby showers.

Seek's avatar

1. Gifts at a shower, cash at a wedding. The happy couple is about to run away for a week or more, and I’m more than happy to give them cocktail money for the honeymoon (it’s as close as I can get to the real tradition of supplying a month of mead). For the rest – gifts only.

2. Spend it.

3. Spend it on something they want, and send a thank-you note. My son just turned 4, and spent two days after his birthday making thank-you cards for everyone that came to the party or sent a card. Ian pooled all of his birthday money and bought a Game Boy.

4. Cash is okay, but I prefer a hand-picked gift. I also enjoy the process of creating or finding a gift for a friend or loved one.

5. I hate gift cards. I have one in my wallet from my son’s third birthday – a Bass Pro Shop card. What the hell do you get a three year old at Bass Pro Shop? Especially when we don’t hunt, fish, or for that matter, have a Bass Pro Shop store within a hundred miles of my house? So it’s still there, a year later…

6. White American of Irish Heritage, Atheist of Catholic/Protestant Christian upbringing.

filmfann's avatar

I give my kids cash or gift cards for Christmas and their birthdays, usually along with gifts.
I don’t like giving cash, but I know the economy is bad, and my kids are struggling.
I don’t control what they do with the money, but I do ask they not spend it on alcohol. It is their money, though, and they can do what they please.
We are crackers, and live in California.

SuperMouse's avatar

1. Do you give money for birthdays, Holidays (Christmas Chanukah, etc) or Weddings instead of presents?

Among the family of my birth we do not exchange gifts at all, we just send best wishes. Since we do not celebrate Christmas, our kids (and his grandkids) don’t receive any gifts from us. For birthdays we have it set up so each kid gets their choice of a $40 gift or dinner and a movie. We used to also offer cash as a choice but they were all just taking the cash or asking us to knock that amount off what they might owe us at the time so we took the offer off the table.

2. If you received money for an event like a birthday or holiday as a child what was the expectation? Did you spend it? Save it?

My grandparents sent us checks when we were growing up. Once we sent the thank you card we were allowed to do with it as we pleased.

3. When your children receive money for an event what do you teach them, and what do you expect them to do with it?

When my kids get money they are expected to save some and donate some and they are allowed to spend the rest.

4. What do you personally think about giving or receiving money for these events?

I don’t have a problem with gifts of money.

5. Do you give gift cards because you think giving cash/check is odd or inappropriate?

When I give gift cards it is usually because they feel more thoughtful to me than just plain old cash. At least with a gift card I had to put some thought into where the giftee might like to shop.

6. How do you identify ethnic/culture/country and religiously? Americans, even narrowing to your state of the region of the country might give some interesting information. Examples: Italian-American Catholic Midwest, Jewish-American, Southern American Christian, British Protestant, Australian atheist etc.

My family was Catholic on both sides. My dad grew up in Los Angeles and my mom is from Chicago, both sets of grandparents are from the mid-west. Both sides of the family immigrated from European countries.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr There are gift card exchanges, here is one, but if you google there are a few sites. You sell, buy, or trade gift cards. You “lose” some money, but at least you get something. I think regift the card to someone in the family who can use it. Although, at Bass Pro you can buy things like flashlights, blankets, shoes, even furniture, and other stuff you might need.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

1. I always presents, never cash.

2. We always received presents as a child. If cash was given, it went into my savings account, and a thank-you note was written explaining what the money would eventually go towards.

3. N/A (No children.)

4. If someone gives cash or a check, it may be due to various reasons: culture, not knowing the person well enough, sake of ease, lack of imagination. It doesn’t matter though; it’s the nod towards the celebration that counts. Or maybe they feel obligated. :)

5. Gift cards: I sometimes give them because I’m a bit out of touch with what the recipient wants, but I know enough to pick out a store that they like or need.

6. I don’t identify with any culture, other than being a US citizen. What jazzes me is finding out what the recipient wants or likes and selecting the gift based upon that. A niece recently married and asked for money for their honeymoon in lieu of gifts. In that situation, it felt fine to provide a donation.

Kayak8's avatar

1. Do you give money for birthdays, Holidays (Christmas Chanukah, etc) or Weddings instead of presents? Only as it relates to my nephew’s collection of various American and foreign coins.

2. If you received money for an event like a birthday or holiday as a child what was the expectation? Did you spend it? Save it? Money was typically from elderly relatives too old to shop or to know what “kids these days” might like as a gift. The expectation was that my parents would help me select an age-appropriate gift, then when I was older, I would select an appropriate gift.

3. When your children receive money for an event what do you teach them, and what do you expect them to do with it? I don’t have kids, but my sister has always been good about thank you notes (we were brought up that way) and has instilled this in her kids as well.

4. What do you presonally think about giving or receiving money for these events? I prefer homemade gifts the most.

5. Do you give gift cards because you think giving cash/check is odd or innapropriate? I don’t give gift cards, but not for the reason(s) stated. I am an artist and I make things just for the person receiving the gift. For my 3 year old niece, I made an illustrated book about her adventures with her older brother. She loves to have it read to her and recognizes that she is in the story.

6. How do you identify ethnic/culture/countyry and religiously? Americans, even narrowing to your state of the region of the country might give some interesting information. Appalachian

JLeslie's avatar

@Kayak8 The illustrated book sounds fantastic! I would love getting something like that.

Kayak8's avatar

@JLeslie She certainly seems to appreciate it and, when someone is reading it to her, her older brother (age 7) seems to glance over at the pages he knows he appears on, so I think it was a hit all the way around (my sister got teary).

janbb's avatar

Yes, in my culture and milieu it is perfectly normal to give money for weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. If the person is a close relative, we will sometimes give something more personal instead. Now that my sons are older and living in apartments, I will often give them money towards an experience such as dinner in a fancy restaurant with their SO as a gift.

Ron_C's avatar

We give our grand kids money or gift cards. They are getting older and it is impossible to shop for them so we gave up. Frankly, they have much more in the way of activities, technology, and toys than we did when our kids were growing up. Besides, I hate shopping.

wonderingwhy's avatar

1. Do you give money for birthdays, Holidays (Christmas Chanukah, etc) or Weddings instead of presents?

Weddings, sometimes – depends on the situation. I had a cousin who we gave money to, they’d registered for a bunch of stuff but had also just bought a new house, everyone pretty much agreed since they’d had some unforeseen bills the best thing to do would be collect the cash and pay their mortgage for a few months. Until then I wasn’t even aware that particular cousin was capable of crying much less in public like that.

Holidays and birthdays for family – yeah, cash happens, particularly for birthdays. Plus we frequently provide food and lodging for holiday events so the money that might otherwise go to gifts tends to go there so everyone can get together. For very close friends, there are only a couple we exchange with, with them it’s presents (and of course the same, or extended, food and lodging).

2. If you received money for an event like a birthday or holiday as a child what was the expectation? Did you spend it? Save it?

I usually saved it (with the intention of spending it on bigger things!) Not sure what the expectation was, though thinking back, saving it for retirement was probably at the top of their list.

3. When your children receive money for an event what do you teach them, and what do you expect them to do with it?

N/A; but if I had to guess I’d probably hope to teach them to enjoy it and perhaps a bit of strategic planning.

4. What do you presonally think about giving or receiving money for these events?

It’s handy when you’re short on time or ideas, I prefer to give presents, so generally I’m not a fan. If you want to give me something and don’t know just ask me what I want, I’ve got a list, a very, very, long list. But hey, if you want to give me cash, it’s all good, in the end I’m a firm believer in “it’s the thought that counts.” (Which may help explain why we have a giant pink stuffed cat adorned with a christmas tree tie and reindeer antlers.)

5. Do you give gift cards because you think giving cash/check is odd or innapropriate?

Nope. Gift cards suck. They’re the same as cash but with restrictions and possibly an expiry date, but somehow they mean more. How clever.

6. How do you identify ethnic/culture/countyry and religiously? Americans, even narrowing to your state of the region of the country might give some interesting information. Examples: Italian-American Catholic Midwest, Jewish-American, Southern American Christian, British Protestan, Australian atheist etc.

Mid-atlantic (with several years in Asia and a couple in New England) white American agnostic (My parents were catholic/christian but learned early on I wasn’t) mutt. Though I’m not sure how well I really “identify” with all that.

A couple more things.
I really like getting/making gifts for people and watching the process of their being opened. I tend to skimp/ignore birthdays (other than cooking for them) but go extra on christmas which tends to catch people by surprise, especially when they don’t really mention what they want. I do christmas shopping all year round for my wife and best friend and it’s a blast when they see a stack of random shapes all wrapped up and waiting for them. I also really love that people seem to genuinely appreciate that we’d rather spend the “gift” money on getting everyone together for an event than on individual things. And it’s always awesome when I overhear them comparing to the last one or trading stories from events past or making requests for the next!

I’m not sure where the idea that giving cash was thoughtless came from but it’s a load of BS. Next time someone gives you cash and you’re not feeling appreciated because of it, fine, send it to me. That was not at all directed at you @JLeslie, ‘twas just a general rant.

rojo's avatar

Texas and not religious
We give cash occasionally whether birthday, christmas, graduation etc, mostly when someone asks for that in lieu of a gift.
Or if it is a teen between 14 and 17 since they would rather buy something themselves and get exactly what they want instead of getting a “lame” gift and, lets face it, anything you buy for a kid this age is gonna be lame unless they buy it themselves.

Shippy's avatar

I have both received and given gifts of money. It depends on the persons circumstance. Some would prefer a gift some would prefer or need the cash. I use my discretion.

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy Circumstance meaning whether they need money?

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie Yes. I have friends who need the cash, and I have friends who have everything so it is better to get them a different kind of gift, like a “thing” or service.

prasad's avatar

Yes, occasionally. Occasions may vary such as weddings and other religious ceremonies.

It was common here to give money until recently that many gifts are now available. We usually enclose the money in envelope (possibly a decorated envelope) and then give it to the host. Amounts enclosed range like: Rs. 50, 51, 100, 101, 150, 151, 500, 501, 1000, 1001, etc. Depending on the occasion and the person, the amount may vary.

Another common practice followed here is giving gold and silver (e.g. jewelery). And that’s why gold and silver market in India always stays up irrespective of the recession.

serenade's avatar

I’ve ramped up the money gifts in the last few years, mostly due to temporary affluence. I like getting money at Christmas, because it is easily converted to lodging and lift tickets, whereas buying those things outright is risky for the giver.

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy But, what about family? I can see how giving cash to friends can be odd, even for me who grew up in a cash giving family. The only time I would give straight cash/check to a friend is a wedding probably; although, to their children I often send cash for special events like graduation, barmitzvah, etc. But, I don’t trade gifts much for Christmas or birthdays with friends anyway.

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie Yes sorry saw that afterwards, the question was regards family. My family were not big on gifts or giving cash. But having said that, if they saw I was cash strapped they would gift cash (if they were gifting at all). Or alternatively they would ask me what I would like. I never really got a surprise gift. All wrapped up. Even at Christmas we got things we needed like shoes and clothes, also not wrapped. With friends, I have very deep relationships that go back many years with some, and they would definitely at this stage of my life, gift me cash. Or take me to lunch. Not a gift. I only ever experienced gifting when I was dating. I mean wrapped beautiful gifts. One girlfriend gave me pure white cotton sheets, with matching pillow cases, wrapped in silver paper and a red long stemmed rose. It was truly gorgeous and I will never forget that gift. Another, when I woke up one morning said look under your pillow, there was a tiny beautifully wrapped box, and inside was a diamond ring. I think gifting is personal to the people you know and those who truly know you. If it were a random mate, I would never give cash no.

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy I didn’t mean to put you one the spot, just I found it interesting some answers talk about someone needing cash, and I think in my family it usually is not about need, but custom. Although, when someone is in need they might be more generous, or gift (meaning giving something when usually they would give nothing) when typically they wouldn’t give anything to that person.

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie I hear you. It made me think too, gifting should really be precious I think. But I guess economics also influences it much like everything.

dxs's avatar

1. Do you give money for birthdays, Holidays (Christmas Chanukah, etc) or Weddings instead of presents?

No. I need it for myself at this point.

2. If you received money for an event like a birthday or holiday as a child what was the expectation? Did you spend it? Save it?
Usually, I receive money from people in my non-immediate family. My immediate family usually just gets me a small gift for Christmas (the only time we annually give gifts). I save all of the money that I can. I am not big on birthdays, so I usually just get some money from my grandparents or some uncles/aunts every once in a while.

3. When your children receive money for an event what do you teach them, and what do you expect them to do with it?
I have no children.

4. What do you presonally think about giving or receiving money for these events?
I think that it is okay, since sometimes it’s hard to get an actual gift. Handmade ones are always good, too though. I avoid tchotchkes because those are pointless.

5. Do you give gift cards because you think giving cash/check is odd or innapropriate?
Sometimes I just give a gift card if it is too difficult to find anything else (especially with the picky relatives)

6. How do you identify ethnic/culture/countyry and religiously? Americans, even narrowing to your state of the region of the country might give some interesting information. Examples: Italian-American Catholic Midwest, Jewish-American, Southern American Christian, British Protestan, Australian atheist etc.
I am a first-generation American in my family and grew up in an Italian-American-Roman Catholic environment. Very traditional, though I certainly branch off from that.

tinyfaery's avatar

I only know my Dad’s side of the family and they are Mexican; my father belonging to the first generation born in America. From them, money is a more likely gift than a present; especially, from my dad. I think my Dad’s side of the family all hate shopping. They just slip some cash in your hand and wish you a happy whatever.

Leanne1986's avatar

My family often give money or gift cards as presents. I asked for money this year for my birthday as I needed help to pay for my course. My brother would rather have money than anything else and as he is so difficult to buy for most people are happy to oblige! When we were kids we were pretty much allowed to spend or save our money however we wanted. I was a spender and my brother was a saver!

My family are British some Christian, some Catholic but none really practise these religions.

Blackberry's avatar

Yeah, but not very much, anywhere from 20 to 100 for holidays and birthdays only (I’m not including random events like a baby shower or something, because I don’t focus on all the extraneous stuff).

The elders in my family are southern baptists, (we’re black, by the way) and the younger generations are kind of scattered. Most of them are baptists or some form of christian, with a few non religious in there.

My family is originally from Mississippi from what I know, but they live in Washington now.

I think younger people are expected to save the money when they receive it so they learn how to save money and not go out and buy something with it. Since the money is given during the holidays, people already get presents so they shouldn’t have to go and get more stuff. I guess that’s how it’s supposed to work.

I’ve missed a few holidays because I’m far away, but we give gift cards as well.

Coloma's avatar

I’ve given money to my daughter, and she has received cash gifts from other family members. Between the adults over the years gift cards, etc. but not cash, unless it’s the younger kids/adults.

plethora's avatar

1. Do you give money for birthdays, Holidays (Christmas Chanukah, etc) or Weddings instead of presents?

I give my sister money. She would have it no other way. I recently sent an Amazon gift card to my daughter. I had recently read on Yahoo that women love gift cards and men won’t give them as gifts. Of course, I have not gotten a thank you yet..:)

2. If you received money for an event like a birthday or holiday as a child what was the expectation? Did you spend it? Save it?

I spent it.

3. When your children receive money for an event what do you teach them, and what do you expect them to do with it?

I expect them to give it to me….but they never do. After 40 they never do what you tell them to do.

4. What do you presonally think about giving or receiving money for these events?

I do not like to receive money. Although I would love to receive an Amazon gift card, the bigger the better. I think one of the reasons I do not like money for a gift (to me) is that my mother used to always just write me a check….for $25.00, no matter the occasion. Well, maybe it was $100.00 for Christmas. But always a check. I used to think, damn, she could at least give me a NEW hundred dollar bill.

5. Do you give gift cards because you think giving cash/check is odd or innapropriate?

I give gift cards (and usually Amazon gift cards) because I think they are cool and you can get almost anything…and it can be delivered in a nice box.

6. How do you identify ethnic/culture/countyry and religiously? Americans, even narrowing to your state of the region of the country might give some interesting information.

Southern American Christian, raised in SC.

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