Graduation – Begging for Gifts?

by Cindy Post Senning on June 7, 2013

This post originally appeared at my parenting blog The Gift of Good Manners. I will be cross posting some of my favorite content from that blog here at the Etiquette Daily. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Every year at this time we get questions about graduation from high school seniors or their parents. Probably the most common one concerns gifts, invitations, and announcements. In our book PROM AND PARTY ETIQUETTE, Peggy and I included the following in a special box:

Begging for Gifts?

“Even if the school does not place a limit on the number of invitations you can send out, you should not send invitations to people who are already included in the ceremony.  Usually gifts are given by people who receive an invitation, so it might seem like you are begging for a gift by sending invitations to teachers, parents of other graduates, or family members who live far away and are not likely to attend.

On the other hand, there is no obligation to send a gift associated with receiving an announcement. People who receive an announcement may send a congratulatory note or card (or perhaps a small gift if they choose). So, announcements are a nice way to let people know about your accomplishment without it looking as if you’re begging for a gift!” (page 77)

From PROM AND PARTY ETIQUETTE by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

judy June 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

If you are given a graduation gift,money. You thank the person as they give it to you.are you required to send a written thank you note?


Winifred Rosenburg June 12, 2013 at 10:03 am

Yes, you should send a written thank-you note as well.


Claudia July 5, 2014 at 11:28 am

My son graduated a month ago and sent graduation announcements to all of his Aunts and Uncles on both sides of the family. 6 siblings on my husband’s side and 3 on my side. My son has only received one response from my sister who flew down to FL to attend his graduation because she is also his godmother. He has not received any congratulatory notes or cards. I am a little appalled and upset. My children are the youngest of all of my husbands’ siblings’ children and we have always sent a card and a monetary gift to each of his nieces and nephews who have sent us graduation announcements. Am I being outrageous for feeling slighted?


Winifred Rosenburg July 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

Although gifts are not required to be given by those who receive announcements, congratulations are. So no, you’re not wrong to feel slighted.


R. July 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm

No, your feelings aren’t outrageous IMO. I believe there should be a certain amount of reciprocation from your siblings and your husband’s siblings since the two of you recognized their chikdren’s announcements. Even a quick card or call to your son would be better than silence.

However, EPI is very clear in the original post that an announcement does not automatically mean a gift or card will follow. I don’t think there’s anything can be done about this. If I were in your shoes, I’d keep this in mind the next time your siblings or your husband’s siblings have any sort of an event (birthday, anniversary Christmas, etc) and scale down your recognition accordingly, especially if your monetary gifts for graduation were $100+ per niece/nephew.


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