How Much Money To Give?
This is the question I receive most frequently.
People are stressed about this topic! They want to know what’s appropriate to give a friend for a baby’s Red Egg and Ginger Party and whether the gift should given entirely as cash in a Chinese red envelope or divided between cash and a physical baby gift.
Unfortunately, the “right” amount for your Red Egg and Ginger Party gift will be different for everyone. It’s a function of how close you are with the baby’s parents, where the party is being held and your own budget.
After many conversations with friends and family, I’ve got the answer down to this basic framework. If you’re family or close friends with the baby’s parents, then you should give a gift equivalent in value to a wedding gift. If you are a casual friend, perhaps you’re an in-and-out-of-touch college friend or a work colleague, then at a minimum you should cover the cost of your attendance at the party.
Here’s a bit more detail.
Let’s start with an average wedding gift of about $100. (If you’re unsure, check your friend’s old wedding registry or current baby registry to get a sense for price points you would be comfortable giving.) Double this amount if you’re attending as a couple and you arrive at roughly $200 for your Red Egg and Ginger Party gift. I’ve heard of this amount going up to $400 for a couple, if we’re talking about lifelong friends, and down to about $150 for a couple, if you’re only a few years out of school.
A good benchmark is to assume a Chinese banquet meal at lunchtime is about $30 and at dinnertime is about $50. The goal here should be to cover your cost of attendance, at a minimum. That means, if you’re invited as a couple, a good Red Egg and Ginger Party gift amount would be between $60 and $100 for a couple, depending on the meal time. You could adjust this figure downward slightly if the party is held at home or if the meal is a less expensive buffet setup. Check your invite.
Of course, these guidelines are subject to your own budget and comfort, but hopefully this gives you a helpful framework to think about your gift.
I suppose it’s both easiest and most traditional to just give a red envelope with cash, but these days most people are dividing their gift between cash and a physical baby gift because it feels a) more fun and, b) more substantial. Typically, it’s up to the family to handle gift accounting, to associate your red envelope with you and then recognize your gift with a thank you card. However, giving a physical gift lets you slip the red envelope into a Western greeting card signed with your name, making all of this a bit easier for all parties (alternatively, you can discreetly sign the back of the red envelope itself).
My suggestion? Choose the total gift amount you are comfortable with, then pick a gift that you love from our gift guide and put the balance in a red envelope that you can either pin to the baby as it is presented around at the party or include in the greeting card you leave with your gift at the welcome table. Easy.
Finally, don’t forget this basic red envelope etiquette: Choose new bills, don’t ever include coins and these days checks are OK. Avoid the number four because of its resemblance to the word meaning death. And, optional, but $88 (8 rhymes with the word for good luck) and $99 (for longevity) are positive symbolic amounts.
Talking about money and gifts is tough business! But I hope this Q&A guide has been helpful. To recap, the amount of your gift is a function of your relationship, the party venue and your budget. Close friends should give an amount equivalent to a wedding gift; casual friends should cover the cost of their attendance. For a couple, this will likely be an amount between $60 and $200 (and potentially higher for really close friends), subject to your discretion. It’s OK to give your entire gift as cash in a Chinese red envelope, though definitely divide your amount into cash and a physical gift, if that’s your preference!
Still have questions? Want to share your perspective? Leave a comment below!
Need a Red Envelope?
Lucky money in a Chinese red envelope is the easiest, most traditional gift for babies at a Red Egg and Ginger Party. Here are a few of our favorite designs, all of which are available from Amazon.
These red envelopes wish the baby a life filled with happiness. Script characters, oranges and a traditional longevity knot express the hope that all of the baby’s wishes come true.
These red envelopes wish the baby prosperity as springtime blossoms bloom. The decorations include good luck symbols like the Chinese character for good fortune, springtime blossoms and gold coins.
These red envelopes wish the baby a life filled with abundance. The decorations include good luck symbols like the Chinese character for good fortune, gold coins and swimming fish.
Luck and Riches
These red envelopes wish the baby enduring luck and prosperity. The decorations include good luck symbols like the Chinese character for good fortune, oranges and gold ingots.
Joy and Prosperity
These red envelopes wish the baby good fortune and prosperity. The decorations include the Chinese character for good fortune above an image of the Chinese God of Wealth bearing a tray of gold ingots.
These red envelopes wish the baby a life filled with good luck. The decorations include a garland of blossoms and many different variations of the Chinese character for good fortune.