How much money should you give for the upcoming Bar Mitzvah?
The million dollar question…
What’s too much money? What’s too little?
Can you give a gift instead?
What’s up with the whole multiples of 18 thing?
Don’t worry, this article will get rid of all your confusion…
How Much Money Should You Give for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
If you decided to go the money gift route, then now the question remains – how much should you give?
It’s a common Jewish tradition to give money in multiples of 18. 18 in Jewish numerology means “Chai” (life), so you’re basically blessing the young boy or girl with a long life with this gesture. Even though it’s not mandatory, it’s a good idea to follow this tradition. So instead of giving them $50, give them $54. Instead of $100, give $108 and so on…
OK, but how much? First of all, keep in mind that a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is NOT a wedding…so don’t take out a mortgage for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah cash gift.
Remember that you’re getting a gift for a young man or girl. They don’t need a lot of money, nor should they get used to getting a lot of money at such a young age (just my personal opinion).
When you’re trying to decide how much money to give, ask yourself:
- How close are you to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah or his family?
- What are the social & cultural habits in this family or community?
- How fancy is this Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony?
If you barely know the kid and his family, then $50-$100 (or $54-$108) is definitely OK.
However, if you’re their uncle and the Bar Mitzvah is in the Hilton, then that gift amount can cause you to lose your “favorite uncle” status.
A nice rule of thumb is to take the amount you would have normally spent on a birthday present and multiply that by 1.5. So, if you would’ve spent $100, then $150 sounds about right (or $144 to stay in the “increments of 18” lanes).
Here’s a table to clear out the confusion:
|Classmates & Friends||$50-$75
($54-$72 in multiples of 18)
|Distant Relatives or Acquaintances||$50-$100
($54-$108 in multiples of 18)
|Close Family & Friends||$100 or higher|
Tip: The same holds true if you’re not physically attending the ceremony. Sure, you can technically “get away” with not sending anything… but if you can, these are the amounts you should send if you’re not attending.
Should You Give Money to Begin With?
Even though a cash gift is a very popular one, it’s far from the only option.
So, what else can you bring to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
Think about it – a big part of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Memory is the gifts you received from your friends and family… And no one remembers the guy who gave money in increments of $18, just like everyone else did (unless you gave a ridiculously high amount, in which case will never forget you).
If you already know the young man or girl, you know things like:
- What they like and don’t like
- How religious they are
- What kind of gifts their parents will appreciate
Think about that before you decide to give them cash or a check.
Tip: Another great idea is to get the young Bar or Bat Mitzvah a nice Tzedakah box, and chip in the first $18. That way you get them a meaningful gift, and you get to teach them about the importance of Tzedakah & charity in Jewish tradition.
A Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is a big deal… and deciding how much money you should give can be challenging… But it doesn’t have to be.
Remember, it’s still a 12 or 13-year-old teenager we’re talking about here, so no need to go crazy and give away ridiculous amounts.
Just remember to give a decent Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift amount in multiples of $18, use the guidelines from this article – and you should be golden.