pen rainbow

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday's Mini-Post: Critter BFFs

Animals have BFF's, too!  This vid was taken at Busch Gardens, Tampa, posted 23 December 2011 — Enjoy!  

Wednesday—Good For You, Good For the Home: Graduation Etiquette

1980 UC Berkeley, Linguistics
Graduation Gift Etiquette 

It's graduation time!  Whether it is from high school or from college, graduation is an important time in anyone's life.  Little kid graduations are special, too, but they represent childhood accomplishments, and let's face it, those tend to add up.  Growing up is not the same as graduating.  

High school graduation represents a formal transition from childhood.  College graduation represents an achievement at an adult level.  Advanced degrees not only represent the next stage in someone's career, but they signify that the graduate intends to make a serious contribution at a professional level.  All are worthy personal achievements and deserve the proper recogition.

When my kids were graduating from high school, I was pretty clear on graduation etiquette:

A.)  Send out announcements;
B.)  Friends and relatives send back graduation cards and small monetary gifts;
C.)  Thank you notes are returned

dontstealmypen jr. 2006

Easy-peasy!  But, after a while, things started to get complicated.

•  Should I send grad money to obscure relatives I've never met (e.g. step-children of in-laws)?

•  Are immediate family members (aunts, uncles & grandparents) obligated to send grad money?  If so, how much?

•  What about my old high school pals?  Should I expect my best friends from high school to send cards & money for graduations?  What if they have a lot more kids than I do, and I've never met any of them?  Do each of them get money?  If so, how much?

•  Since I've sent grad money, wedding presents, and baby gifts to the children of friends and relatives for the past several years, shouldn't the friends/relatives reciprocate when my kids graduate?

•  If my adult child doesn't want to send announcements, should I drop hints with the relatives, anyway?

The safe answer is YES to all of the above, except for the obscure step-in-laws.  In that case, it's in poor taste to send announcements to anyone who really does not have a relationship with the grad or with his/her parent.  But, if there is a congenial, family relationship between the grad and at least one parent, an acknowledgement is in order.  The same goes for long, lost friends with whom you've lost touch.  It's uncool for them to send you a grad announcement, but if they do, you are under no obligation to respond.  If you want to keep the friend, send a card and money, anyway.  Let the value of the friendship guide your response.

I checked various etiquette websites for the basics on graduation gift giving— Emily Post, Miss Manners,, College Confidential, Fox Business, eHow, and Yahoo! Voices.  Here's what I came up with:

Proper Etiquette
To Give or Not to Give
There seems to be general agreement that receiving a graduation announcement does not mean that you have to give a gift.  A card without money is a nice acknowledgement—cheap, but nice.  A card with money is really the gracious and more socially acceptable response.

If you receive an invitation to the graduation ceremony or to a grad party, you should give either cash or a small, thoughtful gift, whether you can attend or not.  Why?  Because an invitation to the event is a more personal sentiment than an announcement.  A small bouquet of flowers or a Hawiian lei given at the ceremony, in addition to the gift, is a classy touch when you have a close relationship with the grad.

Don't forget about the graduating boyfriends, girlfriends, and best friends!  Again, the closeness of your relationship to the significant others is what guides the amount.  Just don't give them as much as the grad, if he/she is your family member.

How Much?
$25 is an acceptable amount for a high school grad, $50 if the grad is a close family member or close friend (best friends of your kids, kids you've worked with, nieces & nephews).  There seems to be general agreement that $50 is the acceptable amount for a college graduate, whether you know him/her or not.  For advanced degrees, $100 is appropriate for close family & friends.  

If you're not sure about the amount, consider the relationship that you have with either the grad or with the grad's parent(s).  Think about the message that you'll be sending if you cheap out.  Will it matter if you go with the smaller amount?  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, "Yes, it will."

dontstealmypen high school grad 1975

Rules of Thumb

•  High school grad — $25 if you don't know the grad that well; $50 for close family & friends
•  College grad — $50 whether you know the grad, or not
•  Advanced degrees — $100 for close family & friends

Stick with the above rules, and you'll be fine.  If your close friends &/or family don't reciprocate when your kids graduate, don't send anything the next time you get an annoucement.  The rules of etiquette work both ways!

Congrats to all of this year's grads!