Graduation Gifts: Etiquette for Giving and Receiving
Graduation is just around the corner and that means presents! People are always concerned with the rules about gift giving – here’s what you need to know about the giving graduation gifts and receiving them.
If you receive a graduation announcement, it is just that: a statement of an accomplishment. Graduation announcements are usually sent to an inclusive list, meaning there are a lot of people on the list with varying degrees of social importance to the sender, so announcements are not a request for gifts. A gift is not required.
It is up to the recipient of the announcement on whether it’s appropriate to send a gift or if an acknowledgement of the achievement – like a greeting card — is sufficient. If the graduate is the daughter of a co-worker you once bought Girl Scout Cookies from, a card is a fine way to recognize the occasion. If the graduate is someone you know personally or the graduate’s parents are good friends, sending a gift would be good form. If you are invited to attend the ceremony or the graduation party, the social standard is to give a gift.
If a gift is in order, you have options. You can send a personal keepsake or something functional for their new dorm room or apartment. You don’t have to go big to make the gift count — toaster ovens and microwaves are useful gifts and things a graduate can keep for a long time. This goes for gift cards and money as well. You should only give what you are comfortable with or can afford. If everyone else is sending $1,000 and you can only afford to send $10, that’s OK; it will still be appreciated.
If you are not attending the graduation ceremony or party, sending the gift or delivering it in person is fine. Bringing the gift to the graduation or party is also acceptable.
If you are the graduate, you did a great job and recognition should be reward enough. Don’t expect gifts – no one is required to give you anything, even if you sent them an announcement. If you do get a gift, show your gratitude: that is polite.
Thank you notes should go out as soon as possible — don’t take more than a month to give proper recognition. Though getting out a note fast is important, a quick email for the $25 check isn’t going to cut it. For any gift, big or small, a handwritten note is necessary. Invest in a nice set of thank you cards. Because no gift is required, make your thank you count. Put thought into it with keywords like “generous” and “thoughtful.” It doesn’t have to be long – just a few sentences to show your appreciation.
No matter what the occasion or the season, gifts are a delicate detail when it comes to celebrations. When in doubt, a token for the festivities will be appreciated and it should always get a thank you note.