– Ultimate Guide to Gift-Giving – When Do I Take a Gift?

With 2020 far behind us, you may find that your social calendar is filling up with celebrations both big and small. After years apart, we’re eager to gather to celebrate birthdays, graduations, and more!

When Do I Take a Gift?

This sudden influx of invitations might mean you’re shopping for something to wear, brushing up on your small talk skills, and most importantly: wondering if you need to bring a gift.

If your upcoming events are wedding or baby related, we’ve got you covered: check out our ultimate wedding gift-giving guide, and a whole post on when baby gifts are required.

For everything else, read on for advice on which events require presents, and which ones simply require your presence!

A note on gift budgets:

Keep in mind: there is no set amount you “should” spend on a gift. What you choose to spend depends on your own personal budget and your relationship to the person being celebrated.

The closer you are to the person, the more you might want to spend. But no matter how close you are, you should never feel pressured to spend more than you can afford. The budgets below have lots of flexibility, and are simply suggestions!


woman holding pink birthday cake | do I need to bring a birthday gift?


If you are not attending: Not necessary to send a gift, but make sure to call or text with birthday wishes on their actual birthday!

If you are attending: Bring a gift!

For children, use RegistryFinder.com to search for their birthday registry or wish list, and choose a gift that fits your budget. If no registry has been created, ask the parents for a gift suggestion, or let your child help you select a gift. This can be a “character building” experience where children learn the joy of giving!

For an adult’s birthday, a bottle of wine, a flower arrangement, or a personal gift that speaks to their interests or hobbies is always appreciated. If you don’t know the person very well, a gift card is a safe option.

Budget: $15-30 for a child, $50-100 for an adult


If you are not attending: Not necessary to send a gift, but make sure to call, text, or write your congratulations to the graduate!

If you are attending: If the graduate has created a registry, select a gift within your budget. If there is no registry, we’ve gathered some graduation gift ideas for you here. Another fun option for grads? A DIY gift bundle! Check out this post for creative ideas for creating a custom gift that makes studying, laundry, movie nights, and other activities a one-step process for any grad.

Budget: $50-$150


If you are not attending: Not necessary to send a gift, but make sure to call, text, or write your congratulations to the new homeowner! Consider bringing a gift the next time you are invited and are able to attend an event in the home.

If you are attending: Housewarming registries are gaining popularity! If they’ve created one, this is an easy way to find what they might need. In the absence of a registry, give a gift card to a store where they might be able to purchase items they need. First-time buyers might appreciate a gift card to a hardware store, while more established homeowners might benefit from a gift card to a furnishing/decor store or site.

Budget: $50-$150

Should I bring a gift to a dinner party? | Friends drinking wine

Dinner Party

If you are not attending: Not necessary to send a gift.

If you are attending: No gift is necessary, but you might offer to bring an appetizer, dessert, or side dish to complement the meal. If your host insists he or she has the food taken care of, consider bringing a hostess gift, like a bottle of wine, candle, or tea towel.

Budget: $25-$50

People Also Ask

What if the invitation says, “no gifts?”

Feel free to follow their directions! I do recommend bringing a heartfelt, handwritten note to the event for the person being celebrated. You could also send a thank you note to the host the week after the party.

What if we are splitting the bill?

If the event is being held at a restaurant and you know you will be paying for your own dinner, it’s not necessary to come bearing gifts. You might consider asking the person organizing the dinner if you can contribute to covering costs for the person being honored, or ask the waiter to put a bottle of wine for the table on your tab. Bringing a card, balloon, or small bouquet of flowers is a nice touch too!

When in doubt: write a thank you note

No matter what the occasion, whether it’s a formal event or a casual gathering, follow up with a thank you note to the host or the person who organized. It’s a thoughtful (and free) way to express your gratitude and appreciation!

Ready to get gifting?

The RegistryFinder GiveIt blog is filled with ideas for celebrating all of life’s milestones, like weddings, births, and graduations. Check out all of our gift-giving posts and subscribe to receive ideas in your inbox every month!

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