Stuck in the Middle: Who should announce a college graduation?

Q: Should the parents of the graduate, or the graduate, address college graduation announcements? Although announcements aren’t considered invitations to send a gift, in most circumstance that is what they imply. Our daughter does not want to lend the appearance of ‘tooting her own horn’ if she addresses them, but as parents, we don’t want to lend the appearance of soliciting gifts, either. We will only be sending them to immediate family and close friends.

A: Recipients of any kind of announcement are not expected to give gifts, although they may want to send a congratulatory note or card. Generally speaking, parents are the ones who issue an announcement (unless the graduation is from graduate school or beyond, thereby assuming that the graduate is an older, independent person) but if you are both uncomfortable doing so, either add “No gifts, please” at the bottom of the card, or forgo sending them entirely.


    • Jody

      Kewper, I disagree with your response. It’s not rude to write “no gifts please” at the bottom of the invitation. It makes it clear that the parent/graduate isn’t sending out announcements as a gift grab.

      • kewper

        Yes. It’s rude because you are telling people how to act/behave. Why would someone think a graduation announcement is a gift grab? That is their problem.

        • Jody

          Still disagree, it is not rude. By your logic, all etiquette is “telling people how to behave.” Requesting an RSVP is “telling people how to behave.” Telling people that a party is starting at X time is “telling people how to behave” by telling them what time to arrive.

          Some people view all invitations/announcements as gift grabs, whether they’re intended that way or not. I take it on a case-by-case basis. If I wanted to send somebody a gift and was debating what they’d like, a “no gifts please” line on an announcement or invitation would solve the whole problem.

          • Scarlett

            There is a difference between an announcement and an invitation. An announcement is not an “occasion.” Its purpose is to deliver news of some sort (i.e., graduation, baby, new home, etc.). What the recipient of that news chooses to do (or not) is up to them. The notion of gifts should not even factor into that equasion.

            As for invitations, I am in the camp that finds any mention of gifts to be impolite, because such statements reveal that the sender/host/guest of honor has entertained the thought of gifts, which in and of itself is tacky and rude. It also sends the message to invitees that you are telling them whether – or how – to spend their money, which is also rude. (This also applies to those suggestions of “in lieu of gifts, please make a donation to XYZ charity.” But that is a whole other subject . . ..)

            The phrase “no gifts, please” is problematic at best. It’s a conundrum which often leaves the recipient of the invite wondering, “do they really mean it or are they just trying to give the appearance of not being greedy? Should I bring a gift anyway?” It’s a quandary, and it shouldn’t be. Many people end up ignoring the request, making it totally ineffective, anyway. If someone really wants to bring or send a gift, they will do so whether or not they have been instructed otherwise. So why bother mentioning it at all?

            I understand that seeing “no gifts, please” printed on an invitation is a relief to some invitees, but at the same time it can also take the joy out of it for the rest of us who would be inclined to bring one.

            Bottom line: I think this is one subject where people will just “agree to disagree,” but for me the “no gifts, please” language falls into the category of things that are better left unsaid.

  1. Elizabeth

    I agree with Scarlett that the “no gifts, please” is better left off of the announcement. I don’t view it as “telling people how to behave” – it’s just simply confusing to some. I am a person who would like to send a gift for any ocassion – a birthday, a graduation, a new home. There are many other people who feel the same as I do. While neither the daughter nor the parent may wish to appear as a “gift grabber”, they should either accept that their close friends and family love and support them enough to send a congratulatory gift, or decline to send announcements at all.

  2. Dona

    Do you think it is tacky for a graduate school student to send out formal announcements? My daughter went straight to grad school after earning her Bachelors degree, and will continue on into the Peace Corps next. We are proud of her accomplishments and her goals, but don’t want an announcement to seem too boastful or like a request for money and gifts.

  3. Karissa M.

    I’m graduating from college this spring and have found myself in this quandary. I’ve ultimately decided to send out a double sided announcement, the front looks fairly traditional (school name, year, degree, date of grad, etc.) but the back is a brief thank you note to all those who supported me. I’m only sending it out to close family and friends. I’m graduating in three years, not four, so it’s important to let everyone know I’m moving on. I think a ‘thank you for your support note’ muffles any perception of self-congratulatory snideness and should also prevent gift sending. Hopefully this is helpful to others who are trying to figure out what to do. It isn’t an easy etiquette question to answer and I think we all have to approach this one within the confines of our unique situations. Good luck to all of you!

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