Do I use Christian curriculum? And how much do you give at weddings?

by Kristen on March 3, 2014 · 61 comments

in Q&A

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

Hi Frugal Girl,
Tis I, Stephanie (aka Intentional Girl).

I am ….ahhhh….considering….ahhhh…homeschooling. I have a 1st grader girl and a rising kindergartener boy in the fall (preschool now) and am rethinking public school education. As a follower of Christ I’m inclined to look for Christian education material but I’m not sure how good it is. I’m also checking with our state (PA) about their homeschooling rules before doing anything at all.

But my question is, as a Christian, do you use Christian education material or other? Either way, how did you decide what material to use?

Stephanie

I use a mixture of secular and Christian material.  In fact, a lot of the curriculum I use is secular…our vocabulary, grammar, math, handwriting, art, and spelling aren’t distinctly Christian materials. And our history curriculum, Story of the World, is written by a Christian author, but I wouldn’t say it’s overtly Christian. It’s just a really great, interesting history curriculum.

Here’s the thing about some of the Christian curriculum I’ve seen: A lot of times, it’s like the secular stuff, but with some Bible verses slapped on the pages (like a math page with some random, out-of-context Bible verse that uses the word “counting”). I just really kind of fail to see the point of that.

homeschooling

Also, some Christian curriculum is unbearably preachy and/or conservative in a legalistic sense, and that doesn’t fit us very well.

I’m not saying I’m across-the-board opposed to Christian curriculum, but it’s not the number one thing I look for when I’m curriculum-shopping.

When I choose curriculum, I’m looking for something that’s solid educationally and that is also as engaging as possible.  And to help me sift through the mountain of stuff that’s out there, I rely a little bit on my own experience as a homeschooled student and a lot on the opinions of experienced homeschooling parents.

To get an idea of what I use in the early grades, you can take a peek at a curriculum group I put together for second grade, and I’ve also done a post about what we use in kindergarten.

:astly, I’d just add that while I think it’s wise to carefully choose curriculum, the fact of that matter is that there is a LOT of good curriculum out there, and you’ll frequently be faced with choosing between several great options.    Fear of choosing the wrong one can totally immobilize you, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that there is only One Right Curriculum.

Hi Kristen–

I don’t know if you want to take this topic on, but I’m wondering, realistically, what do people spend on wedding gifts? We are invited to four weddings this year. Two are family events (my children are in one of the weddings) and when I look at the “expected” amounts recommended via Google, I wonder who is out of touch–me or them? We will not be able to attend two of the weddings but I anticipate that we will send a gift card. Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Kris

As you know, we discussed wedding gifts a bit in the comments on a recent post, where I ranted a bit about the over-emphasis some people place on gifts.

Mr. FG and I try to be as generous as possible within the constraints of our budget at the time (We don’t think it’s a good idea to put yourself in debt for a gift!).  So in the earlier years of our marriage, we gave smaller wedding gifts than we do now.

Back then, $25-$50 was about all we could afford, and now I’d be more inclined to spend $100 (or possibly more for someone I’m very close to.)

wedding bouquet

However!

I don’t move in super fancy groups of people, and the weddings that we go to haven’t been $400/plate affairs, so what I do may not be appropriate for everyone else.

Also, I think that if you give a physical gift instead of cash or a gift card, the amount you spend is slightly less obvious (although a bridge and groom could certainly figure out what you spent if they were motivated enough.).  So, you might want to consider going that route.

Honestly, as long as you’re being as generous as you can based on your budget, I think your conscience should be clear, even if your giving doesn’t meet Google’s expectations.

Hopefully the people who invited you to the weddings are gracious receivers and won’t stress over how much you spend!

Readers, can you help Kris out?  How do you decide on the amount to give at weddings?  If you feel comfortable disclosing your general geographical area, that would probably be helpful too (East Coast? West Coast? Midwest? Big city?  Small town?)

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Leave a Comment

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Holly H March 3, 2014 at 7:18 am

I live in NJ, where weddings are oftentimes a grand affair. (Watch those wedding shows on TV and you’ll see many of them are in NY/NJ area!) However I grew up in Maine. Generally if it’s a family member or someone I’d consider a very close friend, $100 is also my amount. If it is someone that I don’t feel close enough to attend their wedding I might send a check or a gift that’s about $50. I do think these figures are on the low end of the NY/NJ spectrum, but as a single woman and a teacher I hope my loved ones appreciate the gesture and know how tight my budget is, and that they don’t turn into bride (or groom)-zillas that think it’s not enough.

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2 Carrie March 3, 2014 at 7:42 am

I completely agree with your assessment on homeschooling and Christian curriculum above! We do use Apologia science for my oldest and SotW History but other than that, our Christian curriculum is the Bible.

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3 Marianne March 3, 2014 at 7:49 am

Perhaps the wedding amount also varies according to your local economy, but one of my kids got married last year and most gifts were $50-$100. If it was a friends child getting married we would spend $50-$75. Someone related to me $100 to $150 (not my kid though I spent way way way more).
I would also base what I did on their relationship. If they did not have any household items I would purchase from their gift list, if I knew they had 2 of every household item I would give cash.
I also think you should not give beyond your means, if I had 4 couples getting married I would budget accordingly. I don’t think anyone should be “expected” to do anything. It is the thought that counts.

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4 Liz @ Economies of Kale March 3, 2014 at 7:49 am

I usually give around $50 at weddings, but I am a student and that’s really all I can afford (luckily not many of my friends are getting married!).

But I agree that people should be gracious and happy with whatever you give :)

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5 Kasey March 3, 2014 at 7:52 am

I would LOVE to see a post sharing what curriculum you are using for your older two kids. I am in my 2nd year homeschooling and I have two 7th graders (I also have a 3rd grader and 4 year old.) Selecting curriculum for the younger grades does not intimidate me nearly as much as selecting material for my older kids!!!!! I would also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, (did I mention LOVE) to see a schedule of your day. Specifically how you spread your time out among your kids!!!!! I think being homeschooled gives you a unique perspective, I don’t often see on other blogs :)

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6 Michelle March 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I second this post. Would love to hear about older child curriculum choices and a look at a “typical” day in the homeschool life. :)

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7 Jessica March 3, 2014 at 8:05 am

I’m in the midwest (So. IN) and tend to spend $75 or so per wedding if I am attending both a shower and the wedding. Often, if only invited to the wedding I still spend $75. Very close friends or family I would spend more on. I’m not sure if this is typical for our area, but I believe it is average among our friends and family. I’m certain some folks in a different financial position spend more, but at this time $75 is our limit.

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8 WilliamB March 3, 2014 at 8:14 am

For weddings: it’s great that you know you’re going to so many so you can prepare in advance. Since you know you’re going to four, can you somehow combine your gifts to buy or make them for less?

A few thoughts about amounts: giving a thing obscures or overrides, to some extent, how much the thing cost. IOW, a $30 set of silicon spatulas seems like more than a $30 gift card. This is particularly true if the thing is well-suited to the person (you may have seen my recent comment, wherein I described giving my mother an empty box for Xmas and it was the best gift she ever got). If you give something handmade, then the cost is almost irrelevant; the time and thought far outweigh the financial aspect. A thoughtful gift is far more valuable than a pricy one: a friend of mine told me that one of his favorite gifts was a book by his favorite author, signed by that author (“Congratulations on your marriage” or something like that).

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9 Kris March 3, 2014 at 8:19 am

I’m the Kris who wrote the question–I should also add that for my niece’s wedding, both kids are in the wedding party (roughly a $200 expense for us), I am the soloist (minor expense with purchasing music) and I will be attending a shower. For my nephew’s wedding, we will be traveling 7-8 hours (gas money) and spending the night in a hotel (inexpensive at $80, but it all still adds up). I will not be attending their shower so to keep things “even” I plan on giving them a more expensive gift. Does anyone factor in these expenses when calculating a wedding budget? Thanks so much for everyone’s thoughts.

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10 WilliamB March 3, 2014 at 8:30 am

I factor in travel costs.

Allow me to note that, by formal etiquette, a wedding gift is not required, and this nonsense about gift = food cost is ridicuous.

I also think that performing in the wedding would be a gift. (Am I just out of touch on this one?)

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11 Kristen March 3, 2014 at 8:39 am

Sometimes if it’s a wedding I’d have been invited to anyway and I’m playing the piano, I just tell them to please not pay me and accept that as their wedding gift (If I am playing for a wedding I wouldn’t have been invited to, then I do charge for my services.)

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12 jean March 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I agree a service rendered gratis is a wonderful gift. For my daughters’ wedding gifts, they received video service from a friend, cake service from a cousin, one received photography service from a relative. Those were far and above what the people could possibly have given.

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13 Virginia Dare March 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

Ah etiquette. George Washington supposedly said something like Good manners show respect for yourself and others. Etiquette can be both freeing and restrictive. For example, I don’t think you’re “supposed” to figure in “overhead” when you’re shooting for a certain value on a gift. So, a $40 item with $10 shipping is not a $50 gift any more than a $50 gift + your $99 hotel room = a $150 gift.
That being said, I agree with everyone’s sentiments that these rules about dollar amounts are arbitrary and largely silly. They are also very regional. I’m from the South, but we were married where we live now, in the Northeast. I was, frankly, embarrassed by some of the dollar amounts given by people I barely knew–hundreds of dollars in an envelope, in addition to a gift in the $100 range! Maybe those people were going by the “gift to match the wedding” adage (our wedding was, um, not frugal).
It seems like your real “problem” is that you have **4** weddings in close proximity to one another. If there were only 1, or maybe 2, this probably wouldn’t be as much of a quandary. So, here are my suggestions for making this coincidence more affordable–this is how I did it when I was single and just started working and also had 4 weddings in one year!
- If it’s someone you’re old friends with, or you know is sentimental, look for something on their registry that is in your price range and you can write a thoughtful note about. I gave a friend I’d known since preschool a set of stainless steel mixing bowls and noted, “I got you these because I know they’ll last forever, like our friendship. think of me when you’re making eggs!” You might say, “Remember when we made that awful salad in Home Ec? here’s a cruet set so you can do it properly from now on.” Not only will they appreciate the sentiment, something like this is something they have indicated they *really need.*
- If someone has registered for things that are in sets, like china or dishes or cookware or towels, wait until about a week after the wedding and then go onto their registry and see if there’s anything you can finish up for them. Someone did this for me, and I in turn did it for someone else. If the couple have registered for 12 place settings and received 11, it might be difficult for them to justify or get around to finishing the set themselves. Again, you can note that when you send it.
- Space it out. You have a year, “technically,” but a couple months’ delay will hardly even be noticed, and might even be appreciated. This is especially true for couples who are paying for their own weddings. They may have been sacrificing a lot to pay for it, and still might be pretty cash-poor in the months following. There’s also such as thing as post-wedding let-down, where after it’s all said and done, you’re like, “well, now what?” Send gift certificates for a restaurant and/or the movies, noting, “sorry I didn’t get this to you sooner–have Date Night on me!” or something like that.
- If you’re trying to save money, like everyone else notes, avoid sending cash or a cash equivalent. It really is the thought that counts. A family friend (her daughter and I grew up together) gave me the “secret” recipe for the coffee cakes she makes each Christmas and gives to, almost literally, everyone they know. It was accompanied by a few round platters, suitable for serving or sharing the cakes, an apron, a very large mixing bowl (necessary for the recipe), and some lightweight tea towels (also necessary for the recipe). All were Christmas-themed, and all likely came from the dollar store, but this is one of my most treasured gifts because not only did it come from the heart, but the specialty “equipment” meant I was ready to make the recipe whenever I wanted.

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14 Amy March 3, 2014 at 8:43 am

I would factor that in. We tend to give less for weddings that we have to travel substantially for (usually that means flying, but in one case it meant driving 6 hours and staying in an area that had very few options so was more expensive than I’d normally pay). Also, being an unpaid soloist is a gift in itself.

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15 Kris March 3, 2014 at 9:28 am

I never really thought about considering my solo as a gift. As this is for a beloved niece, it’s an honor for me to do it, but if I were to do it for someone less close to me, I might think differently. I also think playing the piano for an entire service is more work than a 3 minute solo and should be compensated.

WilliamB, you crack me up. I also think the food=gift cost is ridiculous. On one of the websites I checked for gift etiquette, they advocated giving more for a formal dinner than for a reception involving eating “in a church basement”. My ornery little self would think, hmm, perhaps the couple with the modest reception actually NEED gifts more than the ones who can afford a blow-out wedding, and in my mind, it’s tacky to give a better gift simply because you “get” more out of the reception food (or because you “owe” the couple for the expense they put out in buying the food).

I am counting myself fortunate to live in the frugal and realistic midwest. Both my niece and my nephew are lovely people and I believe that having loved ones attend their weddings and participate with them in such a meaningful day is their true gift. Everyone’s comments are giving me food for thought. Thanks!

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16 Emily M March 3, 2014 at 11:20 am

Yowza’s, I’m feeling kinda cheap! :( Question – when you say whatever amount you’re giving, is that meant to be from your whole family? Like, $100 from you, your spouse, plus kids? I tend to give about $25-30, but it’s just me. ALSO – the past several weddings, I’ve also been involved. Not in the ceremony, but actually on the back end, assisting my cousin with whatever random things she needed the morning of (ie. mad dash to Target because the bridesmaids needed whatever). I personally felt like I spent a LOT of time and effort, and well, I just think/hope that was appreciated as part of the overall gift/well wishes to her and her husband….

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17 Jennie March 3, 2014 at 11:42 am

I usually give around $25-30 also. If I am very close to the person getting married, I’ll bump it to $45-50. To be honest, that is totally typical where we live. If we have several weddings to go to (one year we had twelve, all good friends, in a span of a few months), we start saving earlier in the year for gift expense. I think one should give according to their budget, and nothing else.

When I was married, I viewed the reception I threw as a celebration of my marriage and not as a bar set for how much my guests should be spending on my hubby and I.

18 Jen Y March 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm

I think expecting a gift is more a result of succumbing to wedding advertising than anything else. My son was married last fall & most of their gifts were around $20, those who were close to them gave more than one gift &/or cash anywhere from $10 into the $1,000′s, depending on the circumstance. Each gift, no matter how small was very much appreciated.

My husband & I usually give around $20 but it hasn’t been that long since we gave even less because of our budget. We went to 6 weddings last year & gave $100 at most of them, $50 at a few of them – all kids my husband had coached & he wanted to be generous. It depends on how close we are to the couple. We do give token gifts occasionally because we know it’s expected but it’s more like we’re paying to keep the peace than that we’re actually giving a gift. Sad but it’s the way things are sometimes.

Any time you give a gift, no matter the reason, I think the 1st question should always be your budget, not what’s expected. If a gift is expected, it’s not a gift, it’s a requirement to keep the friendship. Good friendships consider each others’ circumstances & appreciate whatever effort is made.

19 WilliamB March 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Kris – excellent point! Maybe the gift should be 10*(1/dinner cost)?

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20 Virginia Dare March 5, 2014 at 10:33 am

When my only sister, and then later on my only husband’s brother, got married (not to each other–you see what I mean?), we “gave” them several things that were not gifts in the strictest sense. They are both the younger sibling, and a little less far along in life. We “gave” (or “hosted”) for them niceties for their wedding that they would not otherwise have had room for in their budgets. For my sister, even though her wedding was in the same town where she lives, I paid for a hotel room the night before the wedding so she and I could be there together and for the night of the wedding, so she and her new husband could spend the night there (instead of just going back to their house, which was also full of out-of-town guests). For my brother-in-law, we hosted a “happy hour” at a restaurant near the venue after the rehearsal, because they were paying for their entire wedding themselves and the budget did not accommodate a rehearsal dinner. So, because of all that, there wasn’t a gift in white paper that said, “love, us” on the gift table; however, on each of their 1st anniversaries, we sent nice gifts in the $100-$200 range (we live in the Northeast and that would be considered a slightly-above-average dollar amount).

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21 Virginia Dare March 5, 2014 at 10:34 am

Husband’s only brother, not my only husband’s brother…well, I guess both are true. :-D

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22 Emily N. March 3, 2014 at 8:34 am

As an adult homeschool graduate from PA, I have a couple thoughts on your first reader’s question.

As far as Christian curricula go, I never liked any of the ones we used (aBeka for science, Bob Jones history, Light & Glory, and I can’t remember what else). As you note, a lot of them are pretty preachy and even as a kid I felt insulted by them–like they had to shove in my face how God was at work in the world because they thought I was too stupid to see it for myself. Also, the history texts in particular tended to portray America as God’s chosen nation and downplay a lot of the less than stellar moments. For example, they said that Columbus was primarily motivated by a missionary spirit and totally left out his greed and inhumane treatment of the native people. Maybe there are some better curricula on the market today, but as a kid 20 years ago I was not impressed.

As far as PA goes, it is one of the most strictly regulated states for homeschoolers. Each year you must submit an affidavit of intent to your school district, have your child evaluated at the end of the year by a certified teacher, and submit a portfolio of work and record of 180 instructional days to your school district. Some years also have required testing and physical exams. It sounds like a lot, but I think it’s a great way to keep people accountable, especially those few bad apples out there who might want to use “homeschooling” to neglect or abuse their children. For more information about homeschooling in PA, I highly recommend the Pennsylvania Homeschoolers group (http://www.pahomeschoolers.com/). They have a newsletter, review curricula, provide required testing, and can direct you to a local homeschool support group/co-op. Their founder did the end of year evaluations for my siblings and I, and both she and her husband are really great people and educators. For high school students they also have a great diploma program that is recognized by the state and offer online AP classes. Hope this helps–best of luck to you!

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23 susan March 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

Having hsed now for 13 years, I do know what you are talking about with the over the top Christian curricula. …But… things have changed so dramatically. It’s not even close to what it used to be.

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24 Emily N. March 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm

That’s encouraging to hear. Like I said, this was all close to 20 years ago. Which sounds so weird to say–how has it been that long? :)

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25 Kaitlin March 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm

An alternative to homeschooling in PA is using the K-12 program. In Pennsylvania it acts as a virtual charter school. All of the curriculum and a computer is sent to your home, and the parent is the one educating the child. There is a full-time teacher that corresponds with you weekly, or as you see need, to answer questions or offer assistance. A few advantages are home education, prepared lessons, and it’s free, since the local school district pays for it. My mom used this with my youngest sister for 3 or 4 years and they both absolutely loved it. My sister was able to explore areas in which she was especially interested to a greater depth, and she was challenged to excel academically.

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26 elizabeth March 3, 2014 at 8:45 am

Last year we were invited to 2 weddings of distant relatives. I hadnt seen my cousin in 5 years and we were never social. The other was my MILs (my FILs 2nd wife who has no children of her own) niece’s wedding. We had met once and we were definitely invited as fill. The weddings were out of state, would have required hotel stays and overnight babysitters. The registries were astounding. We would never have been able to afford it. I wrote each lady a personal letter expressing my regrets and wishing them a happy marriage. We also made them a few beautiful homemade gifts each. It wasn’t what they were expecting as neither of these ladies come from a diy world. I did get a thank you back from my cousin.

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27 Emily M March 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

That’s a great way to handle it!

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28 Diane March 3, 2014 at 8:46 am

Living on an extremely small budget, I have little to spend on gifts of any kind. Usually all my gifts are handmade, but I received a wedding invite from a former student who is also the son of a dear friend. Knowing I couldn’t spend much, I went to Anthropologie right after Christmas during their sale and found a lovely bowl in muted watercolor tones that was perfect. It cost under $10.00, but suited the 2 young people to a T and was a gift of quality.

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29 Megyn March 3, 2014 at 9:12 am

When we got married 8 years ago, all of the wedding gifts we received were in the $20-50 range in the Phoenix metro area. I think almost everyone who came to our wedding also came to our shower where they also spent between $20-30. I’ve only gone to a couple weddings and showers, and usually try to spend $50 between both. I can’t imagine spending much more! My husband was in a wedding about a year and a half ago, and I purposely missed the shower because the costs for him to be in the wedding were so high. He had to rent his outfit, buy new shoes, pay for gas to drive there, and pay for the hotel. Even though he was a close friend of my husband’s, I think we still only gave them a $30 gift card as we spent nearly $500 on the rest of the costs.

As for people who say you should pay for your plate, I think that is ridiculous. If you want a fancy wedding that’s great, but don’t expect others to pay for it. We had a low cost wedding (I think it was between $5-7k…my parents won’t tell me the exact amount, but we tried to keep everything low), and I never once thought that people should pay back for it (especially since my family paid for it). That sort of mentality makes me not even want to attend weddings–where’s the joy?!

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30 Skirnir Hamilton March 3, 2014 at 9:21 am

That was the followup question I wanted to know about weddings. If you have to travel and pay plane tickets and hotel costs, can’t one spend less on the gifts? I mean, in some ways, isn’t the presence of the person in question enough of a gift? Of course, hubby and I, didn’t tend to want gifts at our wedding. We wanted our friends and family there, but not gifts per se. We had already rented an apartment, had what we needed and didn’t have room for a lot of stuff that we wouldn’t use but a few times a year, etc. Yes, we were yelled at some for not registering, etc.

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31 Dreama March 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

As Mother of Two Brides last year (both my twin daughters married last Summer) I can say honestly never, not ever did we look at a check, or a gift and think “gee this should have been more”. We set a specific budget for both weddings (and stuck to it). They were both beautiful, large affairs and both couples received many, many generous gifts, some far more generous than we ever expected! But none less than we expected! They are after all, a gift!
Mother of the Brides
Central Ohio

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32 Allison March 3, 2014 at 9:27 am

I think the location of the wedding has a lot to do with the cost of the gift and also the relationship to the couple. I like to give gifts for this reason rather than money so as not to offend. We were in this situation last summer where we had a wedding to go to (involved some travel) of a former student of my husband’s. I didn’t know the couple well and we were unsure what they truly needed, so we gave a nice check. When I looked at what people give as a gift I was astounded. Far out of our price range. I will often use a registry as a guide as well. When my husband and I married we received several service gifts (the organists gift was her music, someone gave us flowers from her garden –enough for the wedding, someone else made us our cake). That to me was awesome. I still remember those kindnesses long after I remember who gave us money. I live in the midwest and feel that $50-$75 is a nice gift. If it is someone you are closer to, then by all means gift accordingly. Personally, if someone gets their nose out of joint over the price of a gift, are they really someone you want a relationship with?

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33 Maggie March 3, 2014 at 9:30 am

My husband and I married young, and at 21 and 22 we still aren’t what I would call “financially sound”. Because of that, we only send wedding gifts to friends and relatives that we’re very close to, and we generally pick something on their registry that is around $25-$30, or we send that amount in cash or on a gift card. We don’t send checks, because as we pay off our debt we are a paycheck-to-paycheck type family. When we get a little better off financially, we’ll probably cap our gift limit at $50. We’re from Wyoming, but we’re currently living on the west coast.

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34 April L March 3, 2014 at 9:32 am

We got married 6 years ago in Missouri, and most of our gifts were in the $25-$50 range, with a few $100 gifts from close family and friends. I’m fairly certain a couple people didn’t give a gift, but at the time I didn’t notice or care, because I was getting married! Anyone who would look down their nose at you for not giving enough of a gift doesn’t deserve a gift in the first place, in my opinion.

My very favorite wedding gift was from an old friend from high school and his wife (whom I had just met that day). She got a big picnic basket, put a couple of nice towels in it, some fancy soaps, champagne flutes, a bottle of sparkling wine, and a box of chocolates. I doubt it cost that much, but it was the most thoughtful gift, and I still use the basket and champagne flutes to this day. The wine and chocolates are long gone. ;)

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35 Skirnir Hamilton March 3, 2014 at 9:59 am

I think my hubby and I’s favorite gift was a tea pot and tea cup set from China. The gifter had been working in China for a few years, and gave us this gift at our wedding. Something we would never have thought of and wouldn’t be able to obtain as easily. We do love our tea.

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36 Kim W March 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

We give $50.00. Its what we can afford and I am not willing to take out of the food budget ( which any additional would come from ) for a wedding gift.

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37 Alice March 3, 2014 at 10:22 am

I live in Michigan and I generally spend around $50 for a gift. I spend more for close friends or family. If I am invited to the shower than I split that amount between the two gifts. As a single women I am on a budget and I often try to find a friend who is also attending the wedding to split the purchase of a larger gift. I have also given a gift that was something needed for the wedding such as a cake instead of money. The idea of spending $100′s of dollars on a gift seems ridiculous. If someone is expecting that kind of gift than they live a different lifestyle than I do.

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38 Barbara O March 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

I would like to weigh in on both questions, in reverse order. For a wedding gift, well, look at the definition of ‘gift’. If there is an expectation or obligation, then it is not a gift! Our finances come and go (whose don’t? depending on income, who’s in college, dental work, etc!) and so do my wedding gifts. I try to choose a thoughtful gift (usually from the registry, but not always) that is in my current price range. Of course, I take into account how close we are to the couple. When my son married a few years back, we would have been appalled to get an expensive gift from a struggling friend! And the wedding we gave was what we wanted and did not reflect in anyway what we expected from our guests! I do not have a set $$ amount.
We also homeschool, and I agree with Kristen and some of the other posters about “Christian” curricula. Just putting a Bible verse in there doesn’t do it for me, although if the curriculum lined up with my values and my goals for my child, I would use it. For example, there was a handwriting program once that used Scripture verses for practice. This I liked because I did want my children exposed to the Word routinely. We even used some of it as memory verses, which I also intended to do. And for handwriting practice it was fine.
That said, I have been careful to choose curriculum that lines up with our personal values and beliefs. For example, Sonlight is distinctly Christian, but not in the ‘add a Bible verse and you’re done’ way. We happen to line up very well with the author’s theology and views on education. His books are not all ‘Christian’(although some of them are, and he’s picky about those), and he chooses good quality, ‘secular’ books and gives good reasons why. Wonderful education.
So, review and know what the author intends, don’t go with trends just to do it, and also don’t assume that anything with the label ‘Christian’ has to be inferior. You are better served to think about the purpose of the curriculum and what the authors are trying to accomplish-their worldview. If it lines up with yours, pretty much, it could serve in your mission to educate your children. Any errors you can correct as you find them, and they make great talking points with your children and give you a chance to teach them to think! The beauty of homeschooling is that you know exactly what they are reading and studying and from which view it comes. Enjoy!

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39 Kim from Philadelphia March 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

We live in the Philadelphia suburbs, and my wedding/ reception experience is very different from the punch and cake casual receptions in other parts if the
country. Most are semi formal dinner receptions following the wedding. For two adults we would give $150- more if we are very close to the couple.

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40 Kristin March 3, 2014 at 10:54 am

I am from the East Coast, originally NYC and now live 2 hours north. As one other commenter noted, weddings in this region of the world can be grand affairs – I have read that the average wedding costs $35k! Gulp. My mom has always taught me that I need to at least give a gift that equates to the cost of the plated meal, which personally, I think is ridiculous. What if it is $1,000 a plate? My typical range is $200-250 (for 2 of us) – on the higher end for a close family friend. I have never factored travel costs into the gift amount since it is usually by choice for us to travel to a wedding. I have given gifts off of the couple’s registry which I prefer, but I have also given gift cards to places like EMS (outdoorsy couple) and Williams Sonoma. I never give cash because I feel strange about giving a check to people who are the same age as me.

Overall, I think you need to budget accordingly and spend what you feel comfortable spending. I think a thoughtful gift that the couple will use that didn’t put you in the poor house is much more appreciated than buckets of money.

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41 Susan March 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

I think the wedding gift should be what you can afford. The last couple of non-family weddings, we spent $150 for a wedding we attended(two adults at the wedding). We would probably spend more for a close family wedding and definitely less if we were not attending the wedding. According to Dear Abby, you are not required to send any gift if you are not actually attending the wedding. If you can’t afford a gift, what about something homemade like a cookbook or a shutterfly photo book?

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42 WilliamB March 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm

According to Miss Manners you’re not required to give a gift at all. That’s why it’s called a “gift” and not a “fee.”

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43 Molly F.C. March 3, 2014 at 11:21 am

Regarding monetary wedding gifts, I do use the price per dinner as a guide but don’t feel obligated by it. Husband & I generally give between $50-$75. I spend less on showers, in the $25-$30 range. On a related note, in the past few Springs I’ve had a group of HS graduates in which I’ve gifted checks for $20.12 & $20.13 respectively. Was all I could afford & was hopefully cute too.

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44 Annette March 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

I live in the rural midwest – when we got married 7 years ago, I would say that the cash gifts were between $25 – $100. Our family gifts were on the higher end of the spectrum, but my husband I were grateful for whatever amount someone could afford to give.

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45 susan March 3, 2014 at 11:33 am

There are so many excellent choices out there regarding hs curriculum, I am glad I am not a newbie! It is so overwhelming, I use to go nuts and buy so much curriculum, I could have run a school!:)
Even the newer Christian ones are excellent. I am a believer, but are pushing my kids toward the top secular colleges so I pick according to what they will need to be competitive there all the while making sure they get as much Christian worldview now while I have the chance.
I also hs in PA. It can be oppressive but I have found that as long as my standardized scores are stellar, they leave me alone. I hand in a portfolio about 20 pages (high school years) and they’ve never said a word.

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46 Crafty Ashley B March 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

I live in Louisiana and do not attend grand wedding affairs. That being said, I similarly give at weddings (and birthdays) based on what I can currently afford. For a number of years both myself and my husband were college students so we were excited to come up with a few extra bucks at the end of the week. When we got married four years ago, I was quite happy to get monetary gifts of $10 – $20 as I was to get gifts of $50 – $100. At this time, every small amount helped us as a newly married couple and we were very grateful to receive any type of gift.

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47 Lili@creativesavv March 3, 2014 at 12:07 pm

On wedding gifts, we give according to our personal finances combined with the couple’s current need. We might give more generously to a young couple, paying off student loan debts, than say an older couple who is marrying for the second time each, and/or are more established.

On giving, I think of Jesus’s account of the widow’s mite, found in both Mark and Luke. The widow only gave a tiny offering. Meanwhile the rich men gave large amounts of money. Jesus declared the widow to be a far more generous person, as she gave out of her poverty, while the rich gave out of their wealth.

If what you are giving, feels like a generous gift coming from your love for that person, then you should allow yourself peace on that decision, and ignore all the “rules” and suggested gift amounts.

On homeschool curriculum, I’ll go against what seems to be the tide, here. We did use Christian curriculum. We used A beka, and loved it. It had the two features we were looking for. It was a) Christian, and the local standard in the small private schools in our area, and b) for elementary school, it was rated very highly in thoroughness. I didn’t worry that I might be missing something.

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48 Pamela March 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I live in Chicago. Most weddings are quite expensive here. I strongly consider the cost of the plate/per person when coming up with an amount to give as a gift. Typically, if it’s my husband and me and it’s a formal wedding with sit down dinner we give around $200.00. I realize that each person has to base their giving on what they can afford. However, with that said, for a couple, a minimum of $125.00 is about as low as you should go. For a single person, at least $65.00.

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49 Megyn March 3, 2014 at 3:18 pm

That amount just seems a little ridiculous. Most couples I know have kids, so I would expect LESS from them than my single sister who has a good income that only has to support her. As a near vegan, I get angry when people expect me to pay for the plate of food I can’t even eat and the open bar full of booze I don’t even drink. To me, a wedding is a celebration, not something that requires the tit-for-tat strategy.

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50 Trina March 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm

I’ve solved this problem by giving gifts I’ve made (knitted lace table pieces). I admit that the size of the piece varies depending on how close I am to the bride and/or groom. Since the pieces take quite a bit of time to make, I tend to make them in advance so that when a wedding comes up, I’m ready.

Most people don’t knit, but many people have a talent worth sharing. Some of my most treasured wedding gifts are handmade. I think in general we put too much emphasis on how much a gift costs and don’t appreciate enough the time and effort a person put into giving a gift. And I don’t think nearly enough appreciation is given to the time and effort that goes into participating in the wedding celebration. Gifts should be given (and received) from the heart, not determined by obligation or formula.

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51 Corey Ann March 3, 2014 at 2:03 pm

I’m originally from the Philadelphia area where people spend quite a bit of money on wedding gifts. I’d say $200 is the average for a couple, not inclusive of any shower gifts. I now live in a rural area several hours south where weddings are less extravagant and gifts are typically less. I try to add a personal touch to any monetary gifts as well.

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52 EngineerMom March 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

On weddings:

My husband is from the Chicago area, and although I’m from all over, I’d definitely describe myself mostly as a city girl.

We live on a fairly tight budget, and here’s our wedding gift policy:

Immediate family members (siblings): $100
Close friends/family (cousins, college buddies, etc.): $50
Everyone else: a polite decline with a lovely card

We’ve attended weddings that ranged from being “catered” by a local gas station (that happened to have excellent wings!) to a 300-person affair in a huge ballroom that probably cost upwards of $40,000 in the Chicago area.

Our most treasured wedding gifts are on our bed right now – two handmade quilts, one from my aunt and one from a close friend of my MIL. Our wedding was a $20,000+ affair for 113 people in Minneapolis, MN, so handmade gifts aren’t out of place even in “larger” weddings! Another awesome gift we were given hangs on our wall – a friend took a lovely photo of us exiting the church, had a frame ready, and printed out the picture between the ceremony and the reception, so we had a picture of our wedding day to hang on the wall that night! It’s our favorite photo.

Another friend wrote us a lovely poem and framed that. Still another friend, an architect, made a watercolor sketch of the church where our ceremony was. That gift was actually given to us a few months later when I was in their wedding, but that kind of present would make an awesome gift for a wedding, too!

A friend of mine here received a gift she loved at her wedding – A friend offered to shadow-box a bunch of small items from her wedding (invitation, program, flowers, confetti from the tables, etc.), and included the sample fabrics from her veil and dress.

When I was in college, one of my roommates got married. A mutual friend, knowing neither bride nor groom really knew how to cook, collected recipes from all of us, then put them together into a cookbook for the new couple. She asked us all to submit recipes of varying ability level, and then she arranged them like that in the book, so the bride and groom could improve their skills by working through the book! The book itself was just a 3-ring binder with the recipes in clear plastic covers.

Just some thoughts on less-money-focused gifts.

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53 Sarah March 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Since most people nowadays have a registry, I go there and pick something that is within my budget.

I remember when I got married, I had registered for things that cost a variety of prices, with plenty of small, not-too-expensive things, because I have a lot of family who aren’t wealthy and I had a lot of friends still in college, all of whom wanted to give us something. People appreciated that, and sometimes we only got a spatula or a couple of pillows or towels that we had registered for. I was honored that our family and friends would help us to start our home and never felt that a gift was too small.

Personally, I feel like the point of having a wedding is to share happiness by celebrating together. Gift-giving is not an obligation; it’s an opportunity to bless people I love with something they need. If the amount I am able to contribute is unacceptable to the recipient, that’s for them to work out. I know that my value as a person is not decided by what someone else thinks about my financial situation. I have given as generously as possible, and that is my part.

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54 Caitlin March 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I try to keep the gift giving simple, but meaningful. If I know the person well I put more thought/money into. I just found a beautiful personalized cutting board on etsy for a wedding gift. It had a tree carved into and they also put int he bride and grooms initials, it was $40 shipped and I bought a bottle of mineral oil for it. It was $45 total and I felt like that was a good gift. Useful, meaningful, and not to expensive. Plus I was able to support a famil business. Win win win! My favorite gift that we got was a monogrammed silver pie server. At first I thought, seriously??? It’s way to fancy for us! but I treasure it now and use it so often. Useful and personal are two of my goals for a wedding gift, any gift really.

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55 Alice March 3, 2014 at 7:23 pm

For weddings, I tend to give around $75, and I absolutely factor in other costs and circumstances. Most people I know are getting married in their late 20′s/early 30′s, and have been living together for a while. I find myself being more generous when folks are younger and are just starting out.

I’ll sometimes give less if we’re not attending, or more if both of us go (rare, since flights and hotel add up quickly!) That said, we’re almost always within the $50-$100 window. We live in suburban FL, but the weddings aren’t – mostly in CA, New England and the broader DC area.

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56 Babs March 4, 2014 at 7:56 am

Living in the UK I tend to base wedding present cost on how close a relationship I have with the couple and how much we are able to afford at the time. I personally love to receive gifts with some thougth behind them so I remeber fondly one of my wedding gifts. The giver had taken the time to collect the grocery items that as newly weds we would never have thought of until we realised we didn’t have them. A Basket of items containing condiments, mint sauce, salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, a washing up brush, a dispenser of soap, a sink tidy, dish clothes, clothes pegs, a set of measuring spoons, baking pans, dustpan and brush, a pastry brush and cutters. These were just a few of the items that were greatfully received and many are still in working use after 25 years of marraige. I believe that as many have already said that the attendance of loved ones is more important than a gift.

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57 Sue March 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I think that wedding gift giving also depends on the culture you are raised in. I am Chinese and live in NYC. Growing up, in the Chinese community, we gave cash gifts for all occasions, weddings, birthdays, Christmas etc. We did not go to the mall to purchase a gift. My parents would put cash in a card and that was the gift. I was taught that for weddings, you should at least try to cover the cost of the meal. Typically growing up in the 80s, a Chinese wedding meal cost $50 per person so for our family of 5, my parents gave $250 which was a huge amount of money for my parents but that is our culture. With that said, we only went to weddings of people we were close with – family & close friends. My parents also taught us that anything we gave, will come back to us full circle.

My views are the same. When my friends got married, my husband and I gave anywhere from $250 – $300. If our friends registered somewhere, then we picked out an item or items to that amount. When we were married, we did not register and all our gifts were either cash or gift cards and what my parents said was true. Our relatives and friends indeed gave us large cash gifts.

Weddings gifts are expensive so we only go to weddings of our family members and close friends. We’ve had invitations to weddings for co-workers or co-worker’s children and we declined to go.

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58 Jill March 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I’m curious, do you use the same volume of Story of the World at the same time with all your children? Do you use the corresponding workbook or just as a read aloud?

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59 Kristen March 4, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Yup, we use the workbook. I find it to be super helpful, what with all the review questions and activities and map work.

I use the same one with Sonia and Zoe, since they’re only a grade apart. I think the books could span a pretty good age range, so if you’ve got kids who are close, you can kill two birds with one stone. ;)

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60 SarahN March 7, 2014 at 6:03 am

On gifts:
I gave very small ($ wise) gifts to out of town weddings. One was a mature age wedding, and we’d (my family) given her a table and chairs when she moved out of town. So she got a bathbomb without packaging in line with her eco ideals, and it’s romantic (bath together). The second was a couple from two different countries, living in rural Australia, so I got a second hand ($5!) oversized canvas print of an Australian native flower. I know many young couples have no art, so it worked on that front, and culturally. I spent more on the postage and 3M adhesive to send those cause I forgot to pack them!

Other weddings, I’ve given cash (in the currency of the honeymoon with a token book), cash around $100 for that couple I think? If I go to a wedding with my parents, I don’t gift as well. It’s wedding season at my age (29), thankful to not currently have any on the horizon.

For my own wedding, honest to goodness, I don’t want a dollar or a thing. I’m tempted to make it all a charitable giving, but I can imagine I’ll see the possibilities if it’s case… we’ll see Maybe a small wedding is the key?

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61 Rebecca B. A. R.r March 20, 2014 at 5:50 pm

For weddings, I always give the standard gift of a oil lamp and a bottle of oil, practical and romantic, and very cheap (around $10 total). For my brother’s wedding, though, we did get him and his wife an Aladdin oil lamp (over $100), but he is the only one who I would ever spend that much money on. Also, my standard baby shower gift is a Handprint Kit for the baby, and a rubber ducky (both end up being less than $10). I think that it is the thought that counts, especially since we have very little extra money to spend on anything.

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