The Wedding Gift Question

I got married over a year ago. Which means, in theory, I should have received gifts from everyone on our guest list. I have not.

This isn’t a huge surprise. With every wedding there are some guests who don’t deliver. I don’t know if they don’t think they have to, or it slips their minds, or what. I assume that it’s usually a case of forgetfulness—either they think they’ve already given you something or they planned to do it just after the wedding and then they totally spaced.

I’ve been thinking about this because a friend of mine—let’s call her Phoebe—was in town this weekend. Phoebe wasn’t able to attend our wedding and hasn’t gotten us a gift yet. She is horrified at this fact. Much moreso than I am. She actually tried to buy us a gift when she visited last time but there was a credit card mixup and the charge didn’t end up going through (long and not-that-interesting story).

While we were hanging out (read: making cleanse-approved broth), we got to talking about the gift thing. The “rule” is that you should get a couple a present within a year of their wedding.

“I’ve actually seen a friendship fall apart because one guy didn’t get the other a wedding gift,” Phoebe said.

It seems a silly thing to lose a BFF over. But one small misstep snowballs into bigger drama, until suddenly there’s built-up resentment rotting the whole relationship. (To be clear, my friendship with Phoebe is not falling apart. In fact, she told me what she’s getting me. Fun!)

With Phoebe, I really don’t mind. (As to the handful of guests who fall in the no-gift category, I have varying degrees of annoyance. It’s case by case.) She knows, she’s apologetic, whatever. Her friendship is more important than her gift. And it’s not like I invited people to the wedding just for presents. You invite people because you want to celebrate with them and because you want them to witness your special day.

So the question is, does traditional etiquette apply when it comes to close friends?

Take the thank you note. Personally, I couldn’t care less about receiving them. When I do, I read and throw away. The best gift I can give a close friend (along with the actual gift) is to let her off the thank-you-note-writing hook. “Part of my gift is that you don’t have to write me a note,” I told my new-mommy friend earlier this year. “You saw me, you said thank you, that’s enough.” She looked as if I’d given her a pot of gold.

When I send a friend a gift, all I need is a quick email or a text saying, “I got it! I love it!” Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. A thank you note seems so formal, and close friendship is about comfort and informality.

Phoebe totally disagreed. “If I go to the trouble of buying a gift, I want them to take the time to write a note.”

It comes down to where you fall on Emily Post-style manners line.

For me, when it comes to close friends, traditional thank-you notes are unnecessary. I don’t need ’em. As for wedding gifts, I say people should follow the one-year rule. Will I end the friendship if they don’t? No. Will I notice? Yes.

What do you think? Should close friends adhere to old-school etiquette? What are the exceptions?

44 Comments

Filed under 21st Century Friendships

44 responses to “The Wedding Gift Question

  1. Rosanna

    I should have lived in the Jane Austen times because I think old-school etiquette should still apply (maybe I’m just pining for Mr. Darcy). For example the thank you note. I LOVE getting thank you notes from close friends and I equally enjoy sending them. I know easier modes of communications such as BBM or email are the quick way to say “Hey got your gift. Its great! Thanks”. I think to some level these avenues are acceptable but doesn’t it excite you to open your mailbox and see a handwritten card there waiting from your BFF who lives in a different state? Maybe its just me but when I get something handwritten in the mail a part of me jumps for joy, like you with a text. In my opinion a card means my BFF took the time to sit down, think about me, and put in that extra piece of effort in a way a BBM or gchat just doesn’t convey; we BBM everyday so after time it becomes the norm. I know life is hectic and writing notes does take more time but that is why I think it is more meaningful, especially from a close friend. I don’t want to diminish the text or email because those modes do take some consideration but I think in a fast pace world, such as the one we live, going that extra step with a thank you card can brighten someone’s day more than a text.

    • Lorrie Paige

      I agree with you Rosanna totally about the handwritten response.

      Generally speaking, if doing nice, thoughtful things for a friend–especially a BFF–is stressful or a pain, then maybe one should not have a BFF, because they are probably too busy in their life to make quality time for one.

  2. How did I miss this amazing news about the cleanse? Dude, you are so brave! I now need a “cleanse update.”

    I was raised to send thank-you notes but now I tend to send thank-you emails. Saves the planet you know. (ha, bullshit–it’s because I am lazy.)

    It’s a silly thing to ruin a friendship over, in my opinion. I mean, really?

  3. I find the whole “gift giving and receiving” process extraordinarily stressful. At my wedding (marriage didn’t last) we received plenty of gifts. Who cares about the friends who didn’t buy me anything? They came to my wedding and celebrated with me. Things don’t make a friendship in my mind, time does. I’m not the best gift-giver either though. I’m always feeling like I’m getting it wrong.

    After my wedding, I sat and dutifully wrote thank you notes that didn’t mean much to me, because I’d already said “Thank you,” at the time. How many times should I have to express my appreciation?

    I’m a much bigger fan of the “just because” gift, and the “I was thinking of you,” card. With those, I’m not fulfilling some obligation, I’m giving because of the love I have for my friend.

    • Ellen, I agree with you on the gifting “just because” anyway – gifts given out of obligation are, by nature, less meaningful. And when I get one of those, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m writing a thank you note!

    • Jess

      I agree with you Ellen – I find the whole thing stressful too! To be honest, most of the time I’d rather not receive gifts than be obligated to handwrite Thank You Notes. (I don’t mind writing thank you emails, though.) And I definitely don’t ever expect gifts (sometimes people are just financially strapped or too busy) or written thank yous.

      But my BFF is very big on Emily Post style etiquette. I do make an effort to send her handwritten Thank You’s in the mail, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Then I know she’s disappointed with my emailed gratitude and I feel badly. I wish there weren’t “rules” for this kind of thing, and think that ending friendships over gifts (or lack of gifts, or thank you notes, etc.) is very sad.

  4. I don’t think a wedding gift is something to ruin a friendship over, but I have dealt with an interesting conundrum on that. The friend who calls me her BFF got married 2 weeks before I did (in a previous life, of course). I was her Maid of Honor and gifted her at both showers AND her wedding.

    I received a blender from her at my first shower. Nothing after. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding. Not that big of a deal except:

    About 2 months after her wedding she complained to me that someone who had attended her wedding did not send a gift. When I reminded her, “Well, you were IN my wedding and didn’t give a gift,” she huffed, “I thought the $80 blender I gave you at your shower was a pretty nice gift!” ‘Nuff said, reason she’s not MY BFF.

    Regarding thank you notes, I don’t really care that much what they say, it’s more just so that I can rest easy that the couple actually received my gift. E-mail it, text it, skywrite it, I don’t care.

    I mean, what if I went to the trouble to buy the gift and then the card fell off, so I’m in the “no-gifter” hot seat and don’t even know it? If 6 months pass after the honeymoon and no note, I usually just send a quick, light, non-accusatory, “Just wanted to check to make sure you GOT the gift,” email.

  5. Gifts are nice, but they don’t make a friendship and worrying about who did and didn’t give you a wedding gift just seems petty to me. My boyfriend and I didn’t buy one of our close friends a gift for her wedding this past March, but she and I still talk nearly everyday, confide in each other and have a wonderful friendship despite my clear lack of etiquette. Her wedding came at a time when everything else in my life was extremely chaotic, so it did slip my mind to get a gift. Being my friend and all, she understood what was going on and was happy that I could even attend the wedding.

    When and if the time comes for me to get married, I could really care who does and doesn’t buy gifts. I’m not having a wedding to receive gifts or evaluate my friends on whether or not they buy me anything – it would be to share a celebration with all of the people that mean the most to me. I’d be happier to be surrounded by people I love than to have a new toaster. Like Ellen said, time is more important than things in friendship.

  6. I am totally anti-thank you note. Maybe it is because I’m ridiculously unsentimental and barely even manage to keep the really sweet and meaningful cards my husband makes for my birthday or Valentines Day. I don’t even know that I really read them before throwing them away, I just glance and toss. I think they’re a waste of the sender’s time and money and I could care less about them, particularly if the gift is given in person where the giftee can say thank you. Some sort of acknowledgment is nice if the gift was not given in person, but really only so that I know that the gift arrived and didn’t go missing somewhere.

  7. For me, it depends on the formality of the situation. I kind of expect a thank you note for wedding gifts, and wedding and baby shower gifts. Anything else – a verbal thank you, text message, or email is a-ok in my book. But I think you should formally acknowledge a wedding or shower gift…

    The whole not getting a friend a wedding gift is sort of odd to me. The only times I have not sent a gift is when I did not understand why I was being invited in the first place. Like a HS classmate that I wasn’t friends w/ in the first place invited me to her wedding. Yes, I came from a small town where you tend to invite everyone, but we hadn’t spoken in years so I didn’t feel like it was necessary for me to send her a gift… But I would NEVER show up to a friend’s wedding empty handed… or send a gift a year later if I was unable to attend…

  8. Virginia

    I love getting thank you notes, but only manage to send them sometimes. For everyday gifts, birthdays and thinking of you, I don’t expect a note and it’s a nice surprise. More formal occasions, weddings and showers, I do expect a note and would probably notice if I never received one.

    As far as presents, that is a touchy subject… I feel like people can be so greedy about gifts. Just because they’ve invited me, doesn’t obligate me to make a purchase (especially if I feel like I don’t know them well enough to warrant an invite)! If I don’t attend, I don’t feel like I need to send a gift, just a card. Reality check- I don’t have an unlimited budget. It’s like Carrie on SATC- as a single person, I spend so much on throwing showers, drinks at the bachelorette party, wedding shower gifts, wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, gifts when you meet the baby, housewarming gifts, etc… I’m happy people are reaching these stages, but do I really need to finance each and every one? The idea that if I don’t pay the price, I’m not a good friend, offends me. Maybe I should set up a shoe registry.

    • Amanda

      I completely agree about the situations in which I do/don’t expect a thank you note, close friend or not.

      I was in a fairly close friend’s wedding last December and have yet to receive a thank you note or even any form of acknowledgment that my gift was received/opened/appreciated/whatever. I also spent a good amount of money on a gift for the lingerie shower (in August 2009), and never received a thank you for that either. I did, however, get a letter recently from this girl asking for donations for the 3-day Susan G. Komen walk that she did. It’s not something worth ruining a friendship over, but I’ll admit that I think it’s kind of rude, and I do judge her a little for it.

  9. Joy

    So there were guests/friends at your wedding who did not give a card and/or a gift? Isn’t that just plain rude?

    We eloped just because the whole white wedding and accompanying expenses did not appeal at all to us, however if we *did* have a wedding and reception and we didn’t receive a gift from a guest(s), I would think that very strange indeed.

    Formal etiquette? I’m a fan. I like to send thank you notes and feel slightly offended if I do not receive a thank-you — whether a phone call, email, or thank you card. Maybe that’s partly the reason why I don’t have a BFF?! My expectations are too high.

    I give Rachel lots of credit for not severing ties with Phoebe — but she did explain herself and I suppose that makes all the difference. It’s the thought that counts!

  10. I have no clue whether people who came to my wedding got me gifts. It’s a non-issue for me. Personally, I do remember gifts that I didn’t register for that I didn’t want. And I’d rather someone gave nothing than something I’ll have to bother getting rid of.

  11. Edie

    As far as weddings go, I invited the people I wanted to share the day with. I stayed within my budget, and I made sure I had what I needed to live. If someone gave me a gift, great (well, most of them were great…), but since I wasn’t depending on receiving these gifts as income, I didn’t care if I got them. Who knows what the financial situation of my friends was at the time. As for thank-you notes, wedding gifts aren’t usually hand-delivered, so some acknowledgement is necessary, but I don’t care how. We ended up sending some thank-yous well over a year late, with a note apologizing for losing the notes behind a big old desk in the office (found them when we moved!)
    Now that I’m in the children’s birthday party stage, I’m more aware of sending some kind of thank-you for gifts. Many parties don’t include opening presents, or are at places other than the family home, and this helps people know that their gift was received and appreciated. Plus it helps teach writing and gives the kids REAL MAIL, which can make their whole day.

  12. Janna

    Um, I don’t know how to say this nicely, but the very first thing I thought of when reading this post, the point that jumped out in my mind IMMEDIATELY after the first paragraph is that gifts are just that: gifts. I.e. something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation. To expect a gift or say that someone who was important enough to be invited to be a part of a special event in your life didn’t “deliver” because they didn’t give you a gift seems really….crass. And not typical of this blog.😦

    I’m sorry, I had to say it.😦 Especially because a lot of commenters seemed to not notice or maybe agreed. But who knows, maybe I’m crazy in thinking this. I get it how it can be frustrating to go through the trouble and expense for someone else’s wedding, and not have them do it for you, but if again – it’s a gift! IMHO, gifts shouldn’t be given with strings. I.e. – they shouldn’t be given with a hidden agenda or the expectation, even subconsciously, that “I better get a good gift when I get married!”

    But, I come from the school of thought that too much emphasis is placed on gifts in a lot of celebratory situations. Just my two cents, for what it’s worth, but a perspective I thought should be just stated perhaps more bluntly.

    Oh, and I’m a stickler for thank you’s – probably in part because I truly truly don’t think gifts should ever be obligatory, so it’s important to recognize when people do something nice that they didn’t have to do.

    • Nah, I don’t think her was the intention to say that an invitation to a wedding is a demand for a gift. But after doing research on the etiquette myself, I have found that by accepting an invitation to a wedding, it is considered proper to bring a gift. Emphasis placed or not, that’s just the way our society is.

      If bringing a gift is economically challenging, a heartfelt card is equally acceptable in my book. But to not acknowledge the occasion at all? I think THAT’S crass.

      • “her was the intention?” I meant, “her intention was to say”

        Dang it.

      • Janna

        Oh agreed that it should be acknowledged! Pretty sure etiquette is that a gift is not to be expected, but is often customarily given. However, to me, it read like it was an expectation (maybe softer than a “demand” – but definitely expected) – sorry! I think it was the “they didn’t deliver” line that got me.

        That’s the tricky thing about blogs vs. face-to-face conversations, you can’t ask for clarifications or take in inflection or tone! But, it sparked discussion – which is the general point of blogs. My two cents is that gifts – are nice be should never be expected, and thank-you’s should always be given. 🙂

    • Matilda

      ‘crass’ to expect someone invited to your wedding to get you a gift? mmmmmokay. i know there are different customs when it comes to weddings depending on one’s location/religion/social circles, but tell me where getting a gift to someone’s wedding that one is invited to is not standard operating procedure. your comment sounds really nice in la la land, but you’re joking yourself if you’re saying you wouldn’t (or didn’t) expect a gift from everyone you would invite to your wedding (or did invite). I’m sorry, I had to say it.

    • I’ve already weighed in on this, but wanted to say that I agree with you, Janna!

      What bothers me is this assumption that attending a wedding means you “have” to give a gift (in this line: “I don’t know if they don’t think they have to, or it slips their minds, or what.”). You don’t. People often re-arrange schedules, travel, find a sitter, and even buy a new dress/suit (it happens if you don’t attend formal events very often – I went through a 4 year wedding-free period prior to last summer!) just to attend weddings, so often, a gift can be a lot on top of that.

      • Matilda

        Completely agree – going to weddings can get very pricey very quickly. but have you ever not given a gift to the bride and groom? have you ever thought that you didnt have to give a gift? right or wrong, a wedding invitee is expected to give a gift. That being said, one of my closest friends in the world did not get me a gift for my wedding which was over a year ago. no doubt i expected a gift, but it has never crossed my mind to hold any resentment or hard feelings.

        • Right, I think there’s a difference between something being unexpected and something causing resentment.

          I did go to a wedding earlier this year where I didn’t give a gift. I did, however, help her plan her bachelorette party (as she lives out of town) and spent 2 days and my own money baking about 12 dozen cookies and cupcakes for a small reception after the ceremony. I had a lot of other things going on at the time, so it just never crossed my mind to give a gift. I’m not saying the cookies were a substitute for a wedding gift, but I don’t feel like I showed up completely empty-handed.

          The idea that it’s common etiquette and courtesy to give a gift, no matter how small, to a bride and groom at their wedding doesn’t bother me at all. That’s how I was raised, and I think it’s a good idea. What bugged me was the overall tone of this post, especially the first 2 paragraphs, and a few of the comments, which sort of make it sound like (and this is just my interpretation) a couple is entitled to wedding gifts simply for inviting you to their big day. But as has already been mentioned, it’s hard to decipher tone and inflection online (I don’t want to offend Rachel because I really do enjoy the blog, but this post did rub me – and others, it seems – the wrong way).

          Did you and your friend ever talk about why there was no gift? It sounds like you’re okay with it anyway, which is probably better for the friendship.

          • Janna

            Anne – My sentiments exactly! Love the blog in general, but this post and subsequent comments seemed to hold the tone that you described, which to me was off-putting. Hence my comment(s). 🙂

  13. Janna

    Hi Matilda! Actually, I am married. I did have a wedding and I do not believe I received gifts from everyone, based on the fact that I didn’t send out as many Thank You’s as I did invites (we had a small wedding, too). I completely did not and do not mind. Sincerely.

    And yes, I don’t think gifts should be something that is expected, ever. They’re not gifts then. I do think it is a bit crass to say, as my original comment noted, that someone did not “deliver” because you didn’t get a gift at your wedding. I did also note that etiquette is never expect a gift, though it’s often customary that they’re given.

    You don’t have to apologize for expressing your opinion (I’m referring to your sarcastic “sorry, I had to say it” reference), but please note that I’m not attacking you or anyone else, it’s just my opinion on a blog. It’s good to have different opinions.🙂

    • Lorrie Paige

      I agree with you Janna.

      I find in general there are WAY TOO MANY “yes-people” ad nauseum, saying things they feel the author wants them to say, instead of just being honest.

      Different opinions does not mean being rude or disliking the person, as you say Janna.

      • Matilda

        Yup love the different opinions. This blog and its comments challenge my preconceived notions all the time, which is why I keep coming back. Janna, you too should feel no need to apologize for expressing your opinion, as you did in your original comment. If I knew how to include a smiley face, I would have at the end of the previous sentence rather than writing this sentence.

        • Lorrie Paige

          For smiley face, it comes up automaticlly when you type

          : and ) (without the “and” of course)

          is🙂

          I think it also does it for

          : and – and )

          is🙂

  14. Lorrie Paige

    Although close friends don’t have to adhere to etiquette rules, if they are close friends, it should come quite naturally they they would *want to*.

    I guess it depends on the kind of people you choose as friends, but I personally as a friend would have done the etiquette thing (thank you notes are a bit formal–I agree with you there in just a quick thank you in acknowledge of receiving a gift is enough) and heck would have given you gifts/friendly notes throughout the year anyway because that’s the kind of friend I am (I think I got my generosity from my parents as they were–now deceased–HUGE givers). If I see something I like while shopping that I feel you would love, I’d get it for you. That’s something my boyfriend and I do for friends.

    Of course it’s not worth losing a friendship over, but I would take notice of how the reciprocity has been doing within the relationship to see are we both giving of ourselves nicely in the relationship(it doesn’t have to be always material giving; anything else giving, including emotionally and/or spiritually giving), to see how things are going. If our friendship is a healthy one, although I would expect a gift, I wouldn’t make a big deal of it.

  15. Laura

    Since 2007, I’ve attended approximately 15 weddings–out of those, 14 friends received weddings gifts from me, plus engagement party, bridal shower(s), and bachelorette.

    The one friend who hasn’t received a gift knows that I’m fully aware that I’ve neglected to give a gift. I mention it to her and her husband each time I see them because I’m kind of embarrassed and have no real reason for why I haven’t gotten them anything. During the year after their wedding, I had more and more celebrations to give and fell behind with theirs’ in part because of finances and also because I flaked out. I’ve since told my close friend that I PROMISE her that she & her husband will receive a gift from me before their baby is born in the winter. I intent to keep my promise.

    Do I think my lack of a gift will end our friendship? No. Do I think that occasionally, they might talk about their flaky friend, “Laura”? Absolutely.

    What I do want engaged and newly married women to realize is that when close friends become in engaged, part of that year or more is spent buying gifts for the various celebrations leading up to an including the big day and after a while, it burns a major whole in the wallet. One of my engaged friend’s is having an engagement party and put “No gifts, please.” on the invitation. I’ve never been so happy and relieved to see those words in my life! I don’t really understand the purpose of engagement gifts anyone.

    Sorry for the ramble, but those are my thoughts.

    • One of the most interesting things to me about engagement gifts is that it seems to be a regional thing. In the midwest, from what I can tell, engagement gifts are not given. But on the East Coast they seem to be more common. I wonder why that is.

      When I got married I didn’t have an engagement party for the very reason you mentioned–we lived far away from our friends and since people would be traveling for the wedding we didn’t want to add costs like more travel or gifts. The last thing we–or anyone I imagine–wants is for people to resent them, and their whole affair, before the wedding even takes place!

  16. I might be confused if a good friend didn’t give me a wedding gift, but I wouldn’t be angry. A lot of people who came to our wedding didn’t give us gifts, which was fine. (A lot of people who did give us gifts gave us expensive stuff that we will never use. Is that really better?)

    I always write thank you notes for gifts received as well as for people going above and beyond on a task.

    If someone can go to the trouble of purchasing a gift (especially if it’s one that is thoughtful), I can go to the trouble of writing out a quick note to say thank you for thinking of me, this is how/when/why I plan to use/display your gift.

    Admittedly, there are some that are difficult to write something heartfelt, but those are few and far between.

    As an example for a task: a close friend threw me a birthday party. She went all out, but overbooked herself. Another friend spent about six hours helping her get things together. I wrote thank you notes to both.

    As a person who has a box of notes, letters, etc. I appreciate receiving them, especially from people I am close to.

    And finally … if I didn’t hand you the gift myself, I would like some acknowledgment that you received it: phone call, e-mail, TY note, whatever.

  17. Jen

    I think that whenever a gift is given, or whenever a kindness performed, a thank you note is required. I don’t care how well you know the person, how long you’ve known them, if “they know I’m thankful for the whatever.”

    My college roomie did not send me (or anyone else that I know of) a thank you note for the wedding gift that I gave her and her husband. It’s been over a year now, and I don’t think it’s coming. I did move shortly after the wedding, and thought that maybe the card got lost in the mail. Upon checking with other friends, they didn’t get cards either.

    Oddly enough, no one’s heard from her SINCE the wedding. We’d been sort of “touch & go” friends since college and chalked it up to “That’s how she is.” Before her shower (which was a few months before the wedding, and I DID get a thank you for that), I hadn’t seen her or heard from her since my own wedding two years before. (This is despite me reaching out…)

    I am miffed at the lack of a thank you note especially since I traveled two hours out of state, got a hotel room, had to travel to another location far from the hotel to get to the wedding, as well as giving a gift. I gave her 3x as much as she and her then boyfriend/now husband gave to me and my husband. I don’t want to play the comparison game, but it does come down to that in the end. I knew that she didn’t have a lot of money and couldn’t spend the night at my wedding–but I still wrote her a very sincere and personal thank you note.

    That’s all I ask. For someone to be thankful for my presence at their event, and to thank me for the gift that I might have had to sacrifice to give. (And it was a stretch, we were less than a month from closing on our home.)

    Oh and they took almost a month to cash the check!!!!!

  18. Erica

    With my friends, it’s never a question of whether or not a gift is being given – people haven’t shown up empty-handed. But the amount of the gifts is getting ridiculous. That people are actually trying to give a gift equivalent to their cost at the wedding is over the top and misses the point of having a wedding. If the wedding hosts can’t afford to spend $100 or $200 or more per person, then they need to plan differently. It’s not up to me, the guest, to repay them for my attendance. My gift should be something I can and want to give, not an obligation.

  19. Rema

    I love thank you cards! I love any cards!! I also think its very unlike Phoebe to wait this long – but I bet the gift will be worth the delay:)
    LOVE THIS BLOG

  20. Ana

    Wow so many comments! I guess this one struck a chord in people!

    A friend not giving a gift at my wedding…like you, I notice but I wouldn’t dissolve the friendship over it. I agree with Erica that the gifting (especially at weddings) these days has gotten over-the-top with registries and large price-tags and all. What happened to choosing a simple token to celebrate the couple?

    I know you shouldn’t “keep score” but you can’t help but feel warmth towards the friends who were thoughtful enough to send a nice wedding gift, baby gift, etc… I don’t keep score on how expensive the gift was, and in fact I’m a little embarrassed by extravagant gifts and especially appreciative of something meaningful or handmade. I’d honestly rather get a) no gift or b) an inexpensive simple gift than an obvious re-gift or something tacky and CLEARLY not my style from a friend.

    I always send thank you cards. Always. And while I don’t care particularly if I get a thank you card for a gift, I am EXTREMELY peeved if I don’t get any kind of thank you (in person, phone call, email, text, SOMETHING to let me know they got the gift & appreciated it). I sent my sister some splurge-y cute clothes for my baby niece and nephew in the mail and she never acknowledged them until I asked. That was the last time I did that.

    In the end it boils down to thoughtfulness: in giving a gift to celebrate the special occasions in your friends’ lives and to thank those who chose to remember you and celebrate with you.

  21. Karen A.

    New bride from a small town in the MidWest, very sheltered, handsome groom born and raised in New York City, a musician. Gift: small packet of white powder (bride had to ask groom what it was). Clearly, not from the registry. I sent a very very nice Thank You note for the “unusual and memorable gift”, seemed like the right thing to do. Still enjoying wedded bliss 25 years hence.

    So perhaps no gift is better than one that can get you arrested🙂

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