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

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?


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.


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?



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


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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Rebecca B. A. R.r

Thursday 20th of March 2014

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.


Friday 7th of March 2014

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?


Tuesday 4th of March 2014

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?


Tuesday 4th of March 2014

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. ;)


Tuesday 4th of March 2014

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.


Monday 3rd of March 2014

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.


Tuesday 4th of March 2014

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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