Who Pays for the Red Egg and Ginger Party?
The new baby has arrived and it’s time for the Red Egg and Ginger Party! But, wait, who hosts (and pays for) the party? Though the traditional approach is fairly straightforward, the answer in contemporary times can be more complicated.
Background. Most traditionally, the paternal grandparents host the Red Egg and Ginger Party. The maternal grandparents give traditional baby gifts at birth (a piece of jade or jewelry, and a toy) and perhaps a token cash gift in a red envelope at the party. Otherwise, however, the maternal grandparents are generally consumed by taking care of the new mom after birth.
Note: It’s only really outside of China that multicultural marriage and more contemporary norms have caused the etiquette around hosting the Red Egg and Ginger Party to evolve.
Because of the traditional etiquette involved, the following advice is from a grandparent’s perspective.
Case 1. Multicultural Marriage — Chinese paternal grandparents. If the paternal grandparents are Chinese, then they may initiate and host the Red Egg and Ginger Party in the traditional fashion. No special action is required from the non-Chinese maternal grandparents, though the gesture of an offer to help may be appreciated.
If the paternal grandparents host, the non-Chinese maternal grandparents may proceed in the traditional manner with respect to birth gifts and red envelope gifts at the party.
Case 2. Multicultural Marriage — Chinese maternal grandparents. Even though it’s not traditional, the Chinese maternal grandparents may decide to host, given that they hold the cultural connection. In this case, the non-Chinese paternal grandparents should an offer to split the cost of the party (and have their names on the invitations, etc).
If the maternal grandparents are hosting, but an offer of financial assistance is refused, the non-Chinese paternal grandparents should stick with the traditional gifts of jewelry and a toy at birth with a “token” red envelope gift of $20-$50 at the party.
Case 3. Modern Parents. If the baby’s parents decide to host the party themselves (perhaps so they have greater control over the party), then both sets of grandparents could offer to make a financial contribution to the party’s expenses, up to basically half the costs.
If the baby’s parents are hosting and an offer of financial assistance is refused, then grandparents should consider a “significant” red envelope gift (up to a gift which effectively covers half
the cost of the party). Now “significant” depends on financial circumstances and the size of the party. A party with 20 guests at $30 a head would cost roughly $600, so a “significant” gift might be $300
to cover half and a “significant wedding-gift” sized cash gift would be say $100-$200. It’s up to the grandparents to determine what feels “significant.”
Case 4. Someone Else Hosts. Perhaps the baby’s parents have a favorite uncle or a best friend from college who offers to host the Red Egg and Ginger Party. Though rare, because it breaks from family tradition, the grandparents could contact this third party with offer of financial assistance.
If a friend of the family is hosting and an offer of financial assistance is refused, grandparents may proceed in the traditional manner with respect to birth gifts and red envelope gifts at the party.
If any party hosting accepts an offer of financial assistance, then proceed with baby gifts at birth (jewelry and a toy), but give just a token amount of cash in a red envelope at the party and perhaps make the baby gifts less expensive than one otherwise would.