When Invitations Become Money Grabs

money grabIn the last year, I’ve noticed a trend among the invitations I’ve been receiving in my mailbox: Rather than being simple invitations to celebrations, they are becoming thinly disguised money grabs. I have been invited to weddings and told (not requested, but told) to give cash. I’ve been invited to a “going away to college shower” right on the heels of the high school graduation party where I gave the graduate a check that I assumed would be used for college expenses. I’ve been invited to a Sweet 16 party and told to give cash to contribute to the birthday girl’s car. I was invited to a baby shower for a fifth child (I always thought the baby shower

...

[Continue Reading at SavingAdvice.com]

This entry was posted in Personal Finance, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to When Invitations Become Money Grabs

  1. debmc says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS! I was starting to feel if I was the only one who felt this way, so violated, so used, so annoyed…. I’ve been saying for years that this stuff has to stop, and have tried stopping it, as much as I can, from my end, but you know what? Nobody seems to cooperate, and I’m like the black sheep for wanting to do so.

    I’m doing what you are; and I’m also making a general announcement in my circle that I welcome no gifts on my birthday, Christmas; it’s not necessary, and that folks should save their money and just say a prayer or think a nice thought for me on those occasions. I’ve cut down on the gifts I give, as well, and try instead to give something I baked or cooked, or something relatively inexpensive but carefully chosen for the recipient.

    I actually saw an obituary a few weeks ago which asked that in lieu of flowers, anyone moved to do so could give cash donations to the family.

    Unbelievable. Not even “cash donations would be appreciated to offset funeral costs,” just “give cash donations to the family.”

    Yikes!

  2. MOllyJ says:

    I really agree that this is the way it’s going these days. My husband’s cousin TOLD us what gift to buy her second baby. A $300 teak bassinet. Sorry honey, but baby showers are for first babies and since your oldest is only 18 months, you should still have your old bassinet. Of course, when our baby was born, we didn’t get so much as a card from them!!

  3. Debra says:

    I can understand the registry for a baby shower or wedding because logically people need the things they need and attending either type of shower is supposed to show the guests’s support and sense of community. But beyond that, I don’t see that you’re under any obligation to give what they want or anything. If they say they want money for college, go buy a EE savings bond and hand that over. Let them snub it since it is exacty what they claimed they wanted. Otherwise, if you don’t want to give what they want, either do a charitable donation in their name and then say to them, “Oh, I was guessing that you probably still have baby things from little Schmobie but those poor people who lost their homes in the Hurricane…” Let them argue with that. Or bring a bouquet of flowers and hand it the hostess. Or just bring nothing. If the invitations stop coming, that might be for the best anyway.

  4. debmc says:

    So, Molly, I guess I’m not the only one, huh? Family is sometimes the worst, don’t you find? And it’s even harder within the family because, well… they’re family, lol.

    It just needs to stop. And I guess it won’t if people just continue to go along with it. I’m not going to be one of them, and as I said, I’m slowly but surely making that known.

    What my mom and I also do to cut things down is to split a gift, such as a bond, which you can buy now and is worth much more later. And it looks like more, lol. And generally, I don’t give cash, because when you give cash, you have to give more for it to look like something, I’ve found.

    And here’s another pet peeve of mine — all the “new” occasions for gift giving that have popped up. Remember the days when it was just a shower and a wedding for a first marriage? Now it’s an engagement party, a baccelaurette/bachelor party, a shower, a wedding, and not just for a first marriage! It’s also every birthday, communion, bar/bas mitzvah, grammar school graduation, middle school graduation, high school and college graduations, and not just for people in your family or close friends, but for friends of friends… of friends.

    Honestly, it’s just ridiculous. And I won’t participate, and don’t expect it coming my way, either. In fact, I actively discourage it, as I’ve said. :)

  5. David Mitchell says:

    Jennifer — This is another great article. Thank you for sharing!

    Cheers!

  6. AM says:

    MollyJ: I wonder what gifts they request from the closer relatives?

    It shouldn’t come as a surprize why we have such a high credit card debt problem. There’s not enought money in your budbet to keep up with all of these ASSAULTS on your money.

    There for a while the restaurant invitation was a big deal but I don’t see that so much anymore. It was money for the gift, money for your meal, and also money to help pay for the person’s special day.

    When I know something is coming up, I sometimes go ahead and tell the people that I won’t be able to attend so they don’t waste sending me an invitation.

    I know one of our family members that was given an invitation to his nieces wedding and when he told her he wouldn’t be at the reception she came over and picked up the RSVP for the reception in order to give it to someone who would go.

    As for the baby’s college fund; that’s why he or she has parents to provide those funds. As for the college bound; again that’s why he or she has parents unless they’re really down on their luck. I know college bound people who get jobs to pay for their own expenses.

  7. Marissa says:

    I’m going to sound like an old lady, but, the way I was raised, asking for gifts (or, even worse! money!) was considered tacky.
    You sent invitations to the people you WANTED there, and it was nice of them to bring you a little something… if not, they were welcome, too…the idea of a celebration was to spend time together, not get stuff!

  8. t says:

    What rubs me wrong is not receiving a thank you card when I give a sizable amount of money at wedding.

  9. princessperky says:

    I send out invitations to birthday partys requesting that folk NOT bring a gift..I sometimes wonder if that cuts down on the kids invitations, folk figure if I don’t want gifts I wont be giving them? (I do, usually an inexpensive book for kids)

  10. Patrice says:

    First off…what kind of friends do you have? You might consider ditching them.

    Second, I believe that every new birth should be celebrated. Usually after so many kids, its traditionally called a diaper party. Because while you may still have that old carseat and stroller, diapers are always appreciated (and maybe formula).

    Third, the divorce party… I’ve heard about those. It’s a way to get the wife back on her feet. While you shouldn’t get her something from Tiffany’s (that’s absurd), a toaster wouldn’t hurt :).

    As for the college party shower, after the graduate already had a high school graduation party…the sweet 16th get my child a car party…and anything absurd teenager related thing… skip altogether. And you might want to reclassify your friends.

    Of course you can always throw a party yourself… a trying to fund all these others parties, showers, and birthdays… Party. Please send cash… :)

  11. Chris says:

    How about invitations to ‘parties’ that sell stuff? I hate to see people sell out their friends w/MLM.

  12. Senshi says:

    What I’ve started doing is, when there’s a gift giving occassion (Xmas, my birthday), I round up all the potential gift givers and tell them I don’t want a gift. I’m 22 and employed and I don’t need you buying things for me. Instead, take all the money you would have spent on me, and donate it to a charity, preferably Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play.

    Otherwise, if I’m having another kind of party, I expect nothing more of people than to come, eat our food, play video games with us, and have an enjoyable time.

  13. Sharman says:

    I love this article!

    You are so right. I have a 10 year old daughter, so you know that everybody and their mother wants to give their child a party, so that means gifts. I told my daughter when she was young, I’m not spending every weekend at parties and buying presents for kids that may not like you, or you may not even like them.

    She goes to about two b-day parties a year…yeah! I’m happy!!!

    The world will separate you from your money if you allow it. If we’re not celebrating:

    secretaries day
    valentines day
    mother’s day
    father’s day
    grandparent’s day
    love your boss day
    Labor day
    President’s day
    Christmas
    Easter
    New Year’s

    Then they will make up something else to celebrate. I think you get the point. No wonder America is in debt!

  14. fern says:

    I think that asking for money, or even having a gift registry, is INCREDIBLY TACKY and PRESUMPTIOUS. How times have changed. What expectations people have. If i want to have a party, i call up my friends and tell them to come over; i don’t waste time on printed invitations, let alone suggest cash or gifts from a certain store.

  15. leslie says:

    I once got an announcement for a wedding (that had not taken place yet). The announcement kindly included the registry information. The wedding was for the brother of a friend of mine. I had not seen the brother in over 15 years (nor talked to him) and the friend and I were not terribly close anymore (kept in touch through e-mail but that was about it).

    Clearly a case of just asking for a gift. Of course, I did not send one.

  16. justme says:

    sad but true story;

    my daughter was out of town visiting her grandmother came home recieved a phone call from a class mate her birthday party started an hour ago and the girl had neglected to call earlier but wanted my daughter to come so daughter ran changed quickly and i drop daughter at the party

    fast forward to the beginning of the school year ,another mother told me how offended that childs mother was that my daughter did not bring a gift! What?

  17. Lady says:

    Amen!!!
    The lack of manners these days is appalling. Thanks for reminding everyone.
    And by the way…you’ve received some seriously psycho invitations…I’d be tempted to email those people etiquette reminders from Emily Post. Someone should, right??

  18. Des says:

    I totally agree with this. However, I would suggest not being TOO hard on people that include registries in invitations. When I got married, I assumed you were supposed to include this information because that’s what everyone always did -like exchanging rings and cutting cake. It didn’t occur to me until years later that some folks (particularly those from…ahem…previous generations) would find this offensive or tacky. Being from a more recent generation, I am at a loss when I receive an invitation WITHOUT registry information. With these, I check target.com, bedbathandbeyond.com, etc. until I find where they are registered. It’s just much easier if I know what the happy couple needs rather than trying to guess (or worse, have to try and get in touch with their parent(s), people I don’t even know, to get this info.)

  19. jane says:

    lol. Thank You, Jennifer. Thankfully, the small circle of friends I have do not do registries or indulge in any blatant “bring a gift/money” silliness. People are just rude. smh.

  20. Anne says:

    I agree with Des- I do think that the culture in general has changed when it comes to including the registry information in invitations- and by registry information, I mean, a simple line about where they are registered. Times have changed and calling up someone’s mom isn’t as easy as it used to be in our highly mobile society (I’ve had friends from college where I would have no idea how to reach their mother!).

    However, the question of politeness and wording actually caused a lengthy disagreement when my husband and I were getting married. Due to our circumstances, we could not receive large gifts out our reception- we were honeymooning and moving in one fell swoop and had no room. He felt it would be appropriate to flat out request cash in our invitations, and I felt that would be tacky and rude. This went on for quite a while without finding a reasonable compromise. We finally settled on a small note enclosed that said, “Cards only at the reception please. Gifts may be mailed to (my parent’s address).” Some may still think that’s a problem, but actually it goes back to an older tradition when everyone knew you don’t bring the gift to the reception, you mail it to bride’s parents!

    Both of us felt our family and friends (of whom we really were only inviting the closest ones) would understand and understand why, due to our upcoming move.

  21. IVSPORT says:

    Just another example of Americans expecting handouts. So John and Jane Spender buy nice new cars, take fancy vacations and eat out all the time and then wonder why they have no money to send their kids to college? If people started thinking about long-term savings and security instead of how to move up a class level and buy nicer things, this economy wouldn’t be so screwed.

  22. Patsy says:

    Thank you T for saying what i wanted to say If i have to search for a gift for people who ever I really think a thank you card is called oh i know the thing to do. I thank people who bag my grocerys cant anyone send a thank you card

  23. Pingback: Festival of Frugality #145-The Gratitude Edition | Value For Your Life

  24. Pingback: Frugal Babe » Archive » Festival Of Frugality Favorites

  25. April says:

    @Fern–Don’t be too hard on people who register! I did not plan to register for my wedding, but so many of my guests were requesting a registry that I finally gave in to appease those guests who like them. Personally, I like to shop from them as a guest because I don’t know what someone has in their kitchen, but I try to personalize it, too with little extras.

    That said, I did not put a mention of the registry anywhere. Guests who inquired were given the information.

    I only find discreet registries acceptable for wedding and baby showers. Anything else is ridiculous.

  26. Gail says:

    Wow am I glad I don’t have friends like that! But then we only have a small circle of friends. Even though I am all for education (as much as possible in as many ways as possible) asking for money for a college fund for a baby that hasn’t been born yet is ludicrous. What happens to that college fund when the child is born without the um (how does one say this nicely?) intelligence to even be accepted to college? I keep seeing college funds in any financial article as this huge absolute necessity when I think about how many of those kids might be drop outs from high school–but that is a whole other topic.

    A gift is a gift. It should be given because the giver has a heart for the person they are gifting, not because some Joe Blow invited you to a party for their 2nd cousin twice removed. Nor are you obligated to go. And thank you notes are always appropriate. I have absolutely cringed at parties when someone (not even the party giver) gets up and says that the gift receiver shouldn’t have to send a card and that their thanks at the party is sufficient — what about those folks that sent a gift and didn’t hear the verbal thanks? And what is so wrong about writing a thank you note within weeks of the party.

    I still remember one Christmas when my then husband and I were a bit more flush and were able to afford ‘better’ presents, my ex-MIL made a snide remark about how this year at least we spent more money! Even though we didn’t have much, most years I had spent my time making suitable presents for this huge extended family.

    Wedding showers used to be small parties where the bride to be got dish towels and other mundane housekeeping items. Now if you don’t spend at least $50-100 your gift looks like nothing. Then you go to the wedding and have to spend even more on a present.

    I’m so glad I’m out of that rut anymore especially the office present rut, and even more the rut to collect for the millionaire boss’s gift and he doesn’t even bother giving us a Christmas bonus/gift!

  27. so deeply disturbing. i was even uncomfortable registering for my wedding. a college shower? a divorce shower? what is the world coming to?

  28. evie says:

    BRAVO! Have you seen the Seinfeld episode where George gives out “donations given in your name to The Human Fund” slips. Of course the Human Fund is completely Bogus. Maybe we could do the same thing. Make up certificates and send them to those who feel we should contribute to their wish list.

  29. ThiNg says:

    I totally agree with this article. You are spot on and this stuff has to stop!!

    BuT, let me offer an alternative explanation for some of the ‘offenders’ out there.

    When I send out an invitation to ‘distant’ relations and friends, and friends of friends (good example – my kid’s babysitter’s neighbour who I have spoken to 2 times), I am not expecting a gift. In fact, I am assuming that having those extra people there will cost me money. When I want to save money, I invite less people. But, What I want to do is SHARE MY WEALTH with as many people as I can. I want to host. I want to provide drinks and food. I think nothing is worse than having a party to celebrate with your friends and family for a massive occasion (My dad’s 50th birthday for example) and having only eight people show up. When I throw a celebration, I want everyone there. That is the GENEROSITY of my heart.

    Mind you, I don’t send requests for cash or registry lists either.

  30. Marcia says:

    Thank you for this post. I really really enjoyed it. We registered for our wedding because a friend requested it “you HAVE to!” I have seen friends take it completely out of control trying to “upgrade” all of their stuff.

    On the flip side of weddings, there are people who WANT to be invited and are OFFENDED when they (or their kids) aren’t. I remember getting married, and it can easily be $30 to $100 a person, so you have to be ruthless. When your second cousin, twice removed wants to bring their 5 kids…yikes!

    We’re getting hit with kids’ birthday parties. 10 this year. I LOVE the parties, but honestly, when we had our son’s party, it was just to see our friends and their kids, and we even said “no gifts!” Especially if you do the math on $10 to $20 per kid times 10 parties…

  31. Tiffany says:

    Wow, you have some rude friends, er, acquaintances! I have never in my life heard of a college shower or a divorce shower. Those are outrageous and I would decline an invitation to such things on principle. And the person who told you that you were ruining her daughter’s day…what a crock! You’ve never even met the girl!

    I think you are doing the right thing to go to the parties/events that you really want to go to, and where you feel genuinely invited to attend, rather than genuinely invited to bring a gift.

    I’m not really opposed to baby showers for 2nd, 3rd, etc. children, but I definitely think they should be much more low key events, and that the registry should reflect the fact that they’ve already had a child…so no asking for a crib, a bouncer, a baby bath, etc. I’m especially forgiving if the child is of a gender that they haven’t yet had.

    I have a good friend who does a great job of making the folks she invites to gifts feel welcome. She tells them that she wants to see their faces, not their gifts.

  32. MamawW says:

    I don’t know which made me the maddest an invite to a cousins third wedding when I never received a thank you for the present for number one or two. or a neighbor’s invite to her daughters wedding that was grown and gone before we moved into the neighborhood so I didn’t know she existed.

  33. Pingback: How Being Anti-Social Saves Me Money - SavingAdvice.com Blog

  34. Rush says:

    I agree with this article 100%.

    But, in my experience I have faced the exact opposite problem.

    I am of Indian extraction and in our culture we do not hold parties and then expect people to pay for their own meals. So, when I have my annual birthday party, I always foot the bill for everyone. I used to make no mention of that but people get embarrassed on the day if I haven’t mentioned it in advance so now I say, casually, ‘its on me’.

    In most cases when I was living in Sydney, people come happily (and I only ever invited people I had genuine relationships with) people came empty handed and not even brought me a birthday card. I am not a materialistic person and I couldn’t even tell you want I want for Christmas but it surprised me a little that I was not considered special enough to even think of for a birthday card. Most people happily came and then didn’t even bring a card and many of these people didn’t reciprocate the invitation when it was their party a few months later.

    I have never, ever included requests for presents or registries or any such thing, far too tacky!

    For weddings of people who are a bit older and have many possessions I can see the sense in giving cash rather than toasters and towels that they already have but, again, I would never ask for that.

    Since leacing Sydney, I have met much more genuine people and such stinginess and mean-spiritedness has not been a problem.

  35. Pingback: Why I Force My Kids to Contribute to Birthday Party Gifts - SavingAdvice.com Blog

  36. chrissy says:

    I am loving this web site and am glad that there are people with some sense. My bf’s family does BIG HUGE EXTRAVAGANT gifts. We get expensive shoes, fragrances, jewellery, electronics and lots of them. His sister, who is in college, in debt, and can barely afford any gifts spends hundreds of dollars on christmas gifts for each kid. My bf and I took a stand. We got everyone a little something – ONE toy for each child (and by no means expensive – but educational and fun), socks and scarves for the adults cos’ it gets cold in the winter. We save our money and gave cash to the other less well-to-do family members – a single dad with 3 kids, of which one is ill and has spent money on medical bills.

  37. Nicole says:

    Hi I dont know if this is in the mentioned. But do you think that I have done wrong? Let me explain.

    A few years back I lost a very close friend. She died from breast cancer. Later on I had a party and everyone wanted to know what to get me. ( I am a hard person to buy for since i dont want alot)
    I asked for contributions to help find a cure.

    Was I wrong? I feel bad now?

    This is an actual concern not me being a sarcastic jerk.

  38. Gail says:

    Nicole, certainly no problem with that. If people ask you what you want and you ask for donations towards a charity that is near and dear to your heart that can’t be a problem. Problems come in when people go and solicite gifts, or try for multiple wedding, baby showers, etc. just to collect as much money as possible. Most of us understand that weddings and baby showers, etc. a gift is expected, but in this day and age it has gotten out of hand and some people are hitting up the same ‘friends’ over and over again to line their own pockets.

    In your case, a very nice thing you did! No need to feel bad.

  39. ami says:

    I have to agree with Des (post 18), while I eloped to the courthouse (and thus had no registry or invites) I do appreciated knowing what someone wants for their wedding.

    Nicole I think that’s great! It shows that you aren’t being greedy, quite the opposite really.

  40. Sam says:

    Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with gift registries for weddings, baby showers, etc. It lets you know what the couple or expectant parents need and I find them helpful. You simply go to the store and pick out something on the list and buy it and you’re done. It also prevents duplicating gifts because whatever is bought off the registry is marked off (or supposed to be) so the next person who comes in won’t buy the same thing. But, that said, it’s not carved in stone that you have to buy something off the gift registry. If you can’t afford any of the items on the registry or just prefer to do your own thing then just buy them a gift, whatever you can do, include a gift receipt and if it’s something they don’t want or need they can be responsible for taking it back and exchanging it. I only buy for people that I know well, are good friends or close family members. Getting invitations from people who are only acquaintances or people I barely know go straight to the trash can. And believe me, I have gotten quite a few of these types! A couple of years ago I threw away an invitation to a wedding for my husband’s cousin’s daughter whom we didn’t even know and had never met. Just because it’s family doesn’t necessarily mean it’s someone you are close to and this was a good example. We never heard from these people unless they wanted something, bridal or baby shower. As for this “going away to college party” deal that’s ridiculous. If you have already given the high school graduate a gift then that should be the end of it. What’s really tacky to me is telling people (not requesting) that we want money as a gift for any party. At my house that kind of junk would go straight to the trash can also. I don’t personally believe in having baby showers for second or consecutive babies either but I’ve gotten a few invitations for those as well. I didn’t have a shower for my second child but the people I was close to who knew I was expecting did buy gifts for my second child as well. Bottom line, if people want to give something they well. But why make people feel obligated to do so? If you want to give, then give and if you don’t or can’t then just don’t worry about it, don’t worry about what people will think and don’t stress out over it. ;)

  41. Jennifer-Lee says:

    Wow. I think this is really a cultural issue? I actually asked a lot of people around my age (i.e. under 30) and they said they find nothing wrong with asking for certain gifts in the invitation. In fact, they would rather this happened so they that don’t waste money buying something generic, and that if they were the ones throwing the party, they would rather have $10 than a $10 gift with no thought put into it. And I agree.

    I had a friend who recently requested that she just wants people to show up and that’s enough of a present for her, but if they really wanted to give gifts, monetary gifts would be appreciated. And once again, I find nothing wrong with this! She’s pretty much saying ‘hey, what I really want is for you guys to be here! But if you REALLY feel like giving me a present I want, this is what it is’

    Times have changed. It’s not like people ask for money everyday. And the people who have requested money in their invites are doing it for a reason! Isn’t the best present to help them out?

    I’m Samoan (polynesian) and this whole money in the invite thing is not a big deal, especially if you’re requesting politely and not demanding.

  42. Kathleen says:

    I thought I was the only one. It is a grab plain and simple now a days. I got one today, was so mad it is taking all I can to not leave a rsvp saying “Get your own stuff!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>