We went to a wedding last week. Dear Husband’s cousin got married and it was beautiful and very touching. It got me thinking about gift giving and how culture influences it.
In Israel you bring a check as a gift to a wedding. This is the custom and I guess it has its preferences as it enables the couple in buying what they need or helps them cover the financial costs of that same wedding, and sometimes even leaves them with a surplus to use in their new life together as a married couple. When I just got here I had a bit of difficulty with this for mainly two reasons; one, that where I come from a gift is always given and two, how much am I supposed to give?
Regarding the second problem, I have found a great solution, this site called “how much money?” (in Hebrew) that calculates for you the amount you should be bringing, calculated on a set of parameters that you enter into the site.
The advantage of giving money is that it is easy. You buy a card and write a check or add cash. That is it. The disadvantage is that it is not very flexible. You give an amount of money and the receiver knows exactly if you were cheap, average or generous. What they normally don’t know is your financial situation at the time and what you are capable of giving. Also. It is not very personal.
Where I grew up, gift giving is the standard. Also this, of course, has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that it is much more personal and you if you know the person well you can really give him or him something that you know they will love. Another good thing about giving gifts, is that you be much more flexible with how much you spend.
Sometimes a great gift can cost a lot but it is certainly possible to give something great that didn’t cost much or even make something yourself. We still have presents from our wedding 13 years ago that I enjoy until today.
On the other hand, it often takes quite some time deciding what to get plus the time of actually going out and buying it. Another disadvantage is that you often end up with things that you don’t really like or doesn’t need. I guess you can always exchange them, though.
My solution for that wedding? We brought a check as well as an actual gift that was small but is something that I think they will like and has a bit of a symbolic meaning.