How Much Should You Spend on Gifts for Special Occasions?

When a loved one chooses to share a special moment with you, you may choose to share the joy with gifts. Even if you’re casually invited as a friend to attend a wedding, you may feel like you should bring a gift to celebrate. But the question is: how much to spend?


There’s a fine line between wanting to show how much your relationship to someone is worth, and feeling the need to overspend on an extravagant gift.


We’ve got some helpful tips.. Let’s break down the top 3 gift types and discuss how much to spend on each.

Infographic describing how much to spend on graduation gifts, wedding gifts, and birthday gifts

How Much to Spend on Graduation Gifts


The National Retail Federation, a membership organization that advocates for policies relating to the retail industry, partnered for a research study with Prosper Insights & Analytics in 2018. They found that the total gift spending for graduation season in 2018 was expected to reach $5.2 billion. Yep, billion.


Their research found that the average person would likely spend approximately $102.51 per graduation gift. The most popular gift types were cash, gift cards, clothing and electronics.


So, how much should you spend? And, what should you spend it on?


The answer may depend on your relationship with the graduate and your personal finances. If the graduate is a close family member, you may spend a larger amount. Take note of your budget and plan accordingly. A personal, heartfelt card or other gift of sentimental value can also take center stage, instead of cash.


How Much to Spend on Wedding Gifts


Who doesn’t love a beautiful wedding ceremony? If you’re a guest of the newlyweds, you likely want to show your well-wishes to the couple with a gift. Traditional wisdom once said to take into account what the hosts will spend per guest (e.g., dinner, drinks, etc.) and use that to calculate your gift. Today, that may not always be the case. The Spruce suggests a modern wedding gift be between $50-$175 depending on your relationship to the couple.


Smart Asset states that $50 is the minimum gift size, whether you’re close to the couple or not.


So, how much should you budget for a wedding gift?


For us, it all goes back to your personal finances. What can you fit into the budget without making major sacrifices? You’ll want to take note of other wedding-related expenses you may have (especially if you’re in the wedding party) like engagement party gifts, shower gifts, and wedding gifts.


Think smart and budget wisely.


How Much to Spend on Birthday Gifts


CreditLoan notes that one of the big problems with birthday gift-giving is that people often buy at the last minute. They noted from a 2016 survey hosted by Quick Surveys that 53% of gift givers purchase their present the week before the birthday.


Last-minute gifts, plus an internal feeling of needing to impress the recipient or make up for time not spent together can lead to overspending.


Keeping this in mind, different birthdays may call for different gift strategies. For kids, recommends a $25 “sweet spot” price range. For your boss, $10-$25 is appropriate. For your Mom, you may choose to spend a bit more (or less, on a meaningful experience or homemade gift).


So, how much should you spend on birthday gifts?


The total cost of your gift may vary by recipient, occasion, and your budget. $25 is a great baseline, but never forget the value of a beautiful handmade gift either. No matter the price, a meaningful gift delivered from you will always have value.


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