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Mitzvah Gift Giving

April 30, 2019

TELL ME HOW THE MITZVAH GIFT GIVING THING WORKS…

Here is the question that I get asked time and time again… “What do we give the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child for a gift?”, “How much do we spend and what kind of gift is appropriate?” My response is always, “You should give what you feel comfortable with.” That being said, here are some fun gift ideas that may help you in your quest for that ‘right’ gift. The gift of Chai, traditionally the amount is a multiple of 18. The reason for this is because the number 18 signifies the word “Chai,” the 10th and 8th letters of the Hebrew alphabet. “Chai” is considered lucky and means life. Guests wish the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child luck and long life by giving a derivative of Chai; $18, $36, $54…you get the idea.

Hot gift ideas include gift cards to Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, electronics, jewelry/watches, leather goods (such as handbags or wallets) and local store or mall gift cards. If you really know the Mitzvah child then it is also nice to give a personalized gift…something that aligns with their interests. For example, a personalized hockey helmet or a dance bag with their name on it, experiences such as a concert or tickets to a sporting event. Less popular, but still memorable are Judaic pieces. Give things that are small and that you won’t mind getting more than one of, such as a mezuzah, Kiddush cup, Shabbat candlesticks, or a tzedakah box. You can even put $18 in the tzedakah box as a start. A Star of David or hamsa necklace would be a good option as well.

According to a survey from Mitzvahlist.com, gifts change according to the geographic location you are in or coming from. Moving here from Detroit, the gift-giving standard is much different. The first gift we ever gave, not knowing, was on par with what a close family member would’ve given in Minneapolis. I quickly had to change our gift-giving strategy to adjust to a more relaxed gift-giving culture. I will share with you some of the different information that they found in their survey. I found it very interesting, I hope you do too.

Detroit

Most kids give their friends $36-$50. If a couple is invited without kids, $118. If an entire family is invited $180-$250.

South Florida

Kids typically give their friends between $36 and $72. If a couple is invited without kids between $150 and $200. If an entire family is invited, the average gift is between $250 and $300.

Chicago

Friends give between $36 and $72. A couple without kids gives $180. If the entire family is invited, $250 and up.

Cleveland/Columbus

Friends give between $36 and $50. Close friends usually give a gift, but sometimes give $75. A couple without kids gives $150. If an entire family is invited $150 to $200, depending on the relationship.

Philadelphia

Friends give between $36 and $50. Close friends give between $50 and $72. If a couple or family is invited and they are good friends, $250. If a family is invited and they are very close friends, $300 to $336.

Long Island and Manhattan

Kids typically give $50-$54. Single adults $150. A couple without kids $300. A family of 4, $500.

Baltimore/D.C.

Friends $20-$36. Close friends $54-$108. Couples give between $118 and $180. Families start at $180 and go up.

Disclaimer: Minneapolis/St Paul is closer to the Detroit gift-giving amount, but tends to be less than that. If you are considering giving a monetary gift, please use this as just a guideline.

Another common gift question is, “If I’m invited, but am not attending, am I required to give a gift?” The answer: it is always nice to acknowledge the invitation and depending on how close you are to the Mitzvah family/child, it is at your discretion. My advice, for what it’s worth, is if you can do something nice for someone, why not do it? It is not required, however, to do so.

Last but not least, what happens if you are invited to a B’nai Mitzvah or a Mitzvah for twins? What is the gift-giving etiquette? If you are invited for twins, the gift should be the same for each child. If you are invited to a B’nai Mitzvah for 2 different families, it is only necessary to give the child of the Mitzvah that you are invited to. I hope this helps with the Mitzvah gift-giving questions.

Photo by Chime Costello

We hear lots of them here at Twin City Mitzvahs and are very happy to help if we can.

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