Dear Crabby, Do People Still Give Graduation Gifts?

Dear Crabby,

Just the other day I went to my mailbox and was besieged with at least a half dozen graduation announcement/open house invitations. It’s been ages since I went to one of these things. Do people still give gifts? And what is preferred – money or an actual gift?

Thanks!
Alice Alumna

Dear Alice Alumna,

Ah, yes. I remember those days when all your valuable summer weekends were occupied with schlepping from one potato salad-filled party to another. Now that I think of it, these shindigs are almost like trial runs for when you attend wedding receptions. And nearly just as expensive!

Being older-than-dirt, I’m trying to remember if we even did open houses back in my day. I’m guessing not. The closest I got to any hoopla was maybe a nice gift either from my parents or grandparents. Nothing too fancy, mind you. Just something to mark the occasion. But I could just be remembering the past through rose-colored glasses. In reality, probably all I got was a card, handshake and a slap on the back for not being too big of a screwup. What can I say? Those were the days! (it helps if you imagine Edith Bunker from All In the Family singing that last sentence.). I know that all changed by the time my kids’ graduated.

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

Parties back then were practically pedestrian by today’s standards. Pretty sure there was a generic sheet cake that proclaimed, ‘Congrats, Graduate!’ along with streamers and balloons in either the high school’s colors or the colors of the university said graduate would be attending in the fall. And of course, these parties are all about pulling out the embarrassing photos you’ve been saying for years and putting them on display for everyone to enjoy. We thought our one daughter was never going to forgive us for the picture we blew up of her as a toddler naked in the bathtub (save for a few well-placed bubbles). It was the day she decided to make dirt pies. What else were we supposed to do – hose her down in the front yard? Nowadays, graduation parties are getting more and more over-the-top like birthday parties (thanks, Pinterest). There are themes. THEMES for crying out loud. The only time I ever thought about a theme is when I had to write a blasted English paper! Once you decide on your theme and colors, you can get crackin’ on your photo wall, creative guest book, food, and desserts. Honestly, it’s like I was saying earlier: this is a dry-run for a wedding reception. I’m so glad I don’t have to mess with this. But you asked about gifts. Well, buckle up because that’s just as bananas.

Using Google as my trusty guide, it appears that the gift giving has a direct correlation to the relationship significance you have with the graduate. So, it was suggested that you carefully consider your relationship status with this person and go from there. If you’re going to give money (which from what I can tell is the preferred gift), grandparents, aunts, and uncles are apparently expected to ante up between $20 and $50. And siblings should give $25 to $30. Really? I’d love for anyone to tell me if their sibling gave them a graduation gift, let alone if it was money because I find the idea highly suspect. If you’re not related to the graduate, $25 is suggested for a close friend or even the child of a close friend. Not so close? Knock off $5 bucks. I suppose you can follow the same guidelines when it comes to gift cards. And if you’re going to give a gift, just think it through. After all, there’s only so many life-affirming books an 18-year-old needs. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have just about recovered financially by the time you get these kids’ wedding invitations.

Hmm. Now that I think about it, I’m always telling people I graduated from the school of hard knocks. Maybe I should throw myself a party so I can get in on some of the gift-giving action. I’ll send you an invite.

Onward and Upward!
Dear Crabby

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at DearCrabby@rochestermedia.com.

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