Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift Amount: How Much Money Should You Give?
How much money should you give for the upcoming Bar Mitzvah?
The million-dollar question (pun intended)…
… What’s too much money? What’s too little?
… Can you give a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah gift instead?
… And what’s the deal with the whole “multiple 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?
You should give the Bar Mitzvah money in multiples of $18. The number 18 translates to “Chai” (חי) or “life” in Jewish numerology. Essentially, you’re blessing the young boy/girl with a long & successful life.
For example: instead of giving $50, give $54. Instead of $100, give $108 and so on…
“OK, but how much should I give EXACTLY”?
First of all, keep in mind that a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is NOT a wedding…so don’t be in a rush to take out a mortgage for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah cash gift.
Remember: You’re getting a gift for a teenager. They don’t need a lot of money, nor should they get used to getting lots 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 of 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 at the Hilton, then that gift amount can cause you to lose your “favorite uncle” status.
A good rule of thumb is to take the amount you would’ve 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 line with the “multiples of 18″tradition).
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 might technically be able to “get away” without sending anything. But ask yourself this: “If the situation was reversed – would you like it if someone close to you didn’t attend your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah, AND didn’t send a gift on top of it?”
Per Person or Total?
Claire asked a very good question in the comments: “Is the gift amount given per person?”.
The answer is: usually, yes… but it depends:
- What if you’re attending with kids?
- What if it’s a distant relative?
- What if he’s having his Bar Mitzvah in his backyard?
Obviously, there’s no one answer. That said, in most cases, you’ll multiply the gift amount X headcount.
Confused? Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re invited to a Bar Mitzvah ceremony of a distant relative, and he’s having it in a nice event hall. You’re planning to attend as a family of 4 (husband, wife and 2 kids)…
If we follow the rules of thumb above – then we fit the “Distant Relatives or Acquaintances” bracket, which means we can settle for anything between $50 – $100 per person. To keep things simple, let’s go with $72.
Now, because we’re attending with 2 kids, then it’s totally acceptable to give somewhere between half and 2/3 the amount you’d give as an adult: let’s settle for $54 per child.
So, finally, our “complicated” math formula equates to: $72 x 2 + $54 x 2 = $252.
(Ugh, I hate math).
$252 is the amount I’ll withdraw from the ATM… or, perhaps write a check?
This leads us to the next question…
Cash or Check?
Bar/Bat Mitzvah or not – don’t forget that at the end of the day – it’s a teenager we’re talking about here. And let’s just say that teenagers aren’t exactly famous for their intelligent fiscal policies.
If you’d rather give the money to the parents and have them decide how to invest the money – it’s better to go with a check, rather than cash. Kids at the age of 12-13 normally don’t carry checks, and they’ll usually need the help of their parents to cash it. In effect – you’re ensuring the money goes through the parents first.
On the flip side, if you do want the Bar/Bat Mitzvah to spend the money as they see fit – then cash is the preferred choice.
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?
In fact, if you know the young Bar/Bat Mitzvah, then perhaps you’re better off getting an appropriate Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah gift instead.
Think about it – a big part of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Memory is the gifts you received from your friends and family… Trust me – no one remembers the guy or gal who gave money in increments of $18, just like everyone else did (unless you give a ridiculously high amount, in which case they’ll never forget you).
If you already know the young Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you probably know things like:
- What do they like (and don’t like)?
- How religious are they?
- What kind of gifts will their parents appreciate?
Think about that before you decide to give them cash or a check.
Tip: Another great idea I’ve seen people do in the past is to get the Bar/Bat Mitzvah a nice Tzedakah box, and chip in the first $18 (or more, depending on how generous you feel that day). That way, you get to have the cake and eat it too. Plus, you teach them a valuable lesson about the importance of giving Tzedakah.
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 follow the guidelines I laid out in this article, give the kid a decent Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift amount (in multiples of $18) – and you should be golden.
59 thoughts on “Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift Amount: How Much Money Should You Give?”
OMG! I am so very grateful for this article. I am an African American mom with a kiddo who has a lot of Jewish friends. We are headed to our third Bat Mitzvah next week and I am always so conflicted on what to purchase my daughter’s friends. We have been giving $100 and even one kiddo received a Tiffany’s charm, this can become pretty pricey especially coupled with graduations and other birthday parties. Thank you for clearing this up.
Yep, Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies can cost you a lot of money if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Well, now you know 🙂
This article is very helpful. Just to clarify though, are the amounts given a guideline per person? I ask, because we are invited as a family of 4.
Usually – yes.
But the devil is in the details. Like I mentioned in the article – it depends how close you are, where the Bar Mitzvah is held, the social habits etc’.
For example, if it’s your first cousin, and the Bar Mitzvah is held in the Hilton – then yes, it’s best to give Bar Mitzvah money on a per person basis.
But if it’s a third cousin who’s having their Bar Mitzvah party in their backyard – then less cash will do.
This is awesome, thank you so much!
You’re very welcome Summer 🙂
Ok. It is my kid that’s invited and I don’t want to sound crazy but I would barely spend 20$ on a gift for my son’s friend so $50 sounds insane. Is this really the expectation when one 12 year old celebrates another 12 year old?
There aren’t any hard rules about how much money you should give. However, keep in mind that a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is more than just a typical 12th birthday party, and so it’s customary to give a little more.
Besides, you could always give a cheaper gift (check out my Bar Mitzvah gift guide for some ideas)
Hope this helps!
my cousin’s grandson is being bar mitzvahed at the kotel in israel( we live there)
i was wondering how much i should give ,i am only close to my cousin ( the grandmother) we are 2 adults .
i was thinking $ 300 is that too much?
would appreciate your answer soon- thanks in advance.
Generally speaking, $300 is pretty generous.
That being said – every situation, family, and social expectations are different… so I obviously can’t tell you exactly whether that’s too much or too little without knowing the little details.
To figure out how much you should give, ask yourself the following questions:
How much do you think you should give to evoke that reaction?
And Remember: it’s best to give money in increments of $18. So instead of $300 (or whatever sum you decide on), give $288 or $306.
Hope this helps (and put a note for me in the Kotel) 🙂
thanks for the quick reply because i need your help again.
the money goes to the bar mitzva boy doesn’t it ? his parents will know but will the grandparent (my cousin) get informed about the amt. i gave.?
my two sons got married here , she sent $100- but of course due to the wedding being here in israel she couldn’t attend. which was very nice of her.
there is a dairy luncheon after the bar mitzvah.
when they open the envelope i want them to be happy and think that is a nice amt.
so maybe $200- for two adults is enough ? what do you think ?
oh i will – already preparing the notes to put in the kotel. thanks!
Yes, it does go to the Bar Mitzvah boy. Whether or not the grandparents know depends on if they ask or if the parents voluntarily tell them (you know, we Jewish people like to talk ? ).
It seems that anything between $200-$300 would be perfect.
How much exactly? That’s up to you to decide 🙂
thanks so much
oh one last thing i wasn’t sure of who do i give the envelope to ? the bar mitzvah boy or his parents?
here in israel we have this big box( which is actually a safe) where you slip the envelope in and at the end they open and count the money.
thanks again for all your help
There’s a good chance there will be a big safe at the luncheon (that’s usually how it goes in Israel).
If not, give it to the parents. Would you trust a 13-year-old with a bunch of envelopes filled with money? 🙂
Glad I could help. Enjoy the Bar Mitzvah!
Hi, I really appreciate this!
One question for you. We are invited to a small Bat Mitzvah of twin girls. My daughter is good friends with one of the girls but barely knows the other. I am friends with the mom and dad. Should I give a $ gift to both girls? Say $54 to each? My original thought is yes because the invitation is for the service and luncheon for both. What are your thoughts?
If I were you, I’d give the same amount to both. For two reasons:
1. If you decide to give $54 only to one of the daughters, the parents might interpret it as $54 for both girls – $27 for each (which is quite low)… because like you said – it is a service and luncheon for both.
2. I wouldn’t want to offend any of the girls, or the parents.
But that’s just my personal opinion 🙂
My husband aren’t attending a Bar Mitzvah.The celebration is in Jan and the reply must be back in Dec, when do you send the gift to the child?
Anytime between the reply and the celebration day should be fine. Ideally, the closer it is to the celebration day, the better.
Whatever you do – avoid sending it after the celebration.
Hope this helps 🙂
Whist I absolutely agree that what you give is heavily influenced by your relationship and how close you are to the child and family; I have to be honest I find the weighing up of what kind of party they’re having not only irrelevant but distasteful. If we are invited to the bar mitzvah of close family friends and one can only afford a garden tea and the other can afford a flash dinner dance, then I would still be giving the kids the same gift. Why would I reward/punish the kid based on the the party their parents are able to give them? The only thing other than the relationship that influences what I spend, is what I can afford. Oh and on the very odd occasion I may adjust my spend to not let the receivers feel uncomfortable or pressured to reciprocate similarly.
You don’t “punish” the kids based on how flashy the party is. Quite the contrary. People who are close to the Bar Mitzvah and his family will usually do their best to please them – regardless of where the Bar Mitzvah ceremony is taking place or how expensive it is.
But for people who aren’t as close – how much you give isn’t as clear-cut or obvious.
There are lots of nuances that come into play: social expectations, future reciprocal gifts (like you mentioned), and yes – also the cost of the event. Not necessarily the cost per-se, but the cost as a proxy for the impact on your future relationship with the boy and his parents.
We don’t like to admit it – but comparison is a natural human tendency. And since we’re talking about money here – there’s only one dimension you can compare – “how much did he/she give?”
It’s different if you choose Bar Mitzvah gifts for example. Because then – the “Less is Better” rule from behavioral economics comes into play – people compare your gift relative to the category of your gift, as opposed to comparing it to each other (Kahneman and Tversky did a whole study about this and wrote about it in Thinking Fast & Slow )
What if you don’t know if you fit in “Friends and Classmates” or @Close Friends and Family”
Ask yourself: do you consider them to be a close friend? Or an “OK” friend?
If you’re still not sure – you can always settle for the middle ground 🙂
Lots of helpful advice here! Thanks!
We have decided on the cash amount to give to the young man on his bar mitzvah and I would like to present the cash to him in an interesting way. I don’t want to give him a tzedakah box nor am I keen on folding it into some origami something.
Would it be acceptable to bundle the cash into 12 groups of $18, meaning paper clipping a 10, a 5, and 3 1’s together for the “good luck blessing” and having 12 bundles of same for $216? In my mind I’m thinking it’s standing out as 12 times the luck. I would then put it in a card and write a personal message and take to the parents home vs giving at the actual party.
Thanks for your thoughts!
That sounds amazing Hiott! Way to be creative and for going the extra mile!
You certainly have my blessing 👍 (don’t forget to report back on how they reacted to it).
By the way – check out our Bar Mitzvah card wishes article if you need help crafting your personal message. It’ll give you plenty of ideas not just for one card, but for the entire 12 bundles 🙂
Thank you for your guidance, Rafael!
I have just one more question… I promise it’s the last one!!!
As you suggested, I read your section on “Bar Mitzvah card wishes” and I would love to include the passage from Isaiah 40:31 in the Old Testament. However, I am Christian and want to be both correct and respectful on this very important occasion. Should I perhaps not write this verse in the young man’s card since we are of different religious beliefs (ALTHOUGH the Old Testament is in the Christian Bible along with the New Testament)?.
Thank you so very much for your help.
I personally don’t see any problem with that. But you know better than I do if that’s appropriate or not depending on your relationship with the family.
Thanks for the info!!!!
Hi, We are going to my daughters friend’s Bat Mitzvah and while we parents are friendly & chat when dropping off the kids, we are friends, but not very close friends. However, our daughters are good friends. We are Christian not Jewish, so I am not completely aware of all Bat Mitzvah customs. My husband and I are attending with our daughter, so I was thinking $50 for each of us because I know how expensive these celebrations are to throw?! (Esp. in Los Angeles) So is $150 too much for the three of us or would $100 be more in line? Or should it be $90 or $108? Your advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
$50 per person is definitely OK. I personally wouldn’t go for less than that… especially since you mentioned it’s in LA (which makes me believe it’s a relatively expensive event).
And yes, try to make it in multiples of $18 (i.e $54 instead of $50)
We are invited to a b’nai Mitzvah of my daughter’s two friends from her sports team (they’re siblings). We know their parents pretty well, but I wouldn’t consider us close friends. The party is hosted at a very nice venue in town, and judging on the invitation it’s going to be very fancy. According to your guidelines we should be giving 2x$108 (for me and my husband) + $54 for my daughter, which comes to $270, but there’s Bar, and Bat Mitzvah, so we would be giving… $540 total? Are my calculations correct, or is it a bit too much? Also, should I use one, or two cards (and write separate checks)?
Hmm… I never attended a joint Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration, so this is a hard one.
On the one hand, you don’t want to “punish” the siblings and give each of them less money, just because they’re celebrating together. On the other hand, I doubt that the event costs the parents twice as much as it would if it were only a single Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
What I would probably do in this situation is (gently) find out what the other parents/guests are planning to do, and then do the same. Not necessarily amount-wise, but I’d want to find out if they’re planning to give money as if it were two independent events, or treat it as if it’s a single event. That should give you an idea on which path to take and how much to give.
As for the cards (and checks) – both options work. But if you ask me, I’d probably go for two separate ones… so that each sibling can keep their personal Bar/Bat Mitzvah card (by the way, check this out if you need ideas on what to write in the cards).
Hope this helps!
It’s my close friends son’s Bar Mitzvah, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to give. I don’t see them often, maybe a few times a year. Not sure what you suggest.
You’ve got two options really:
1. Money (check out the table above to guide you on how much to give)
2. A gift
The good thing about money is that it’s easy – you don’t have to spend time worrying if the boy will like your gift (especially if you don’t know him all that well). Just give him money and let him (or his parents) decide how to use it.
The good thing about gifts is that they’re much more personal and meaningful than simply “writing the kid a check”.
There’s no “right” or “wrong” here. Ask yourself: which option do you prefer?
Hope this helps 🙂
Thanks for this article. My daughter was invited to a B’Nai Mitzvah for sisters. On the invitation, it is suggested that instead of gifts, to donate to a foundation chosen by the girls. If we donate to the foundation, is it still expected to give a gift to the girls? Or should she just bring a card to the celebration? My daughter is classmates with one of the girls and not familiar with the other girl. The celebration is in Pennsylvania. Thank you for your advice.
Usually, Mitzvah projects and Bat Mitzvah gifts are two separate things.
That’s why I find it odd that the invitation says to donate to a charity instead of giving a gift.
If possible, try probing if that’s what the parents actually meant. If that’s too uncomfortable, try finding out what the other parents are planning to do and follow suit.
You want to avoid being the only one who doesn’t bring a gift. That’s bad for business 🙂
My daughters friend is having a small service here and then another in Israel – no kids are invited to either. I’d like to acknowledge the occasion however. Suggestion on amount of gift? Thank you!
The amounts I mentioned in the table above should be fine
Any thoughts on region? I’m originally from the NY area where gifts given (and parties) are much larger. I now live in southeastern Wisconsin, where gifts tend not to be as extravagant (I think). One person I asked said $25 and another said $75!
Region definitely matters… that’s what I meant by:
That being said – if you stick to money (gifts are a different story), in most cases you’ll still end up in the ranges I mentioned above.
Any advice on how much someone should give a classmate if they can’t attend the Bat Mitzvah?
Ideally, you’d want to give the same amount you’d give if you were to attend (or at least close to it).
I’m curious about the money amounts. I know the table is above for reference. My son is a classmate of a boy who is having a Bar mitzvah. The whole class is invited. They are not friends, but classmates. I see the parents once a year at the holiday play. We purchased a gift(the boy is having a bowling party at night) , but is also having the religious ceremony in the morning and lunch. Are we expected to hive a gift of money at this morning ceremony?
If you already got him a gift, there’s no need to also give money. It’s usually either a gift or money, not both (unless you’re the boy’s grandparent or something).
And no, you don’t give money at the religious ceremony. In fact, it’s not even allowed to bring money to the prayer service if the ceremony is held on Saturday (even during the week it’s frowned upon).
Hope this helps!
My husband and I received a computer B’nai Mitzvah invitation from his niece in another city. We haven’t seen her twins since they were 1 year old and never hear from them. We will not be attending due to health reasons. How much should we send the boys? The Bar Mitzvah is at the end of the month.
In most cases, you’d want to send the same amount (or maybe a little less) even if you’re not attending. That being said – if you’re not attending for health reasons, it might be considered an “extenuating circumstance”.
But again, there’s no rulebook for these kinds of scenarios. At the end of the day, how much money you send (or whether you send any at all) is a personal choice; a choice you will have to make.
ok hes my oldest great newphew, my nieces son, my neice and i were close until my sister past away and unil she was kind of rude to my husband about our dog eating the crap her kid threw on the floor at the beach, I love her, and i love my GN they live in TX we are on the East Coast, the party is at the schul after the sat am service and there is a family meal friday and sat night at restaurtnas Pay your own way. She got divorced about 2 years ago , hes a jerk but she has plenty of baggage, I am also escorting my 90+ yo dad from FL there and back. and my husband was invited but elects not to attend anywayt. At first i though I would do the bond thing like was done when j was Bar mitzvah but that was 1963 and the stand far was $25 for a friend $50 for a relativie and $100+ for a close relative.. i dont know i was gonna do cash $ 234 (18×13) or 564 what dio you think.. I can afford it but is it PUSHY?
Actually, the numbers you mentioned aren’t that far off from the numbers I mentioned in the post (the only exception is the $25 for a friend). You could, of course, give more… I’m sure they’ll appreciate it 🙂
I have a b’nai mitzvah to go to, not a super fancy place but it is being held at a nice place. We are a family of 4, do you think 108 for each child is ok?
$108 per child is more than OK 🙂
Hello. I am the teacher of a young man who will bar mitzvah in the next month. I’m not family, but I’m not a peer. Do you have any suggestions? Would a gift be more appropriate?
As I mentioned in the article – they both work. A gift does have more of a personal vibe than money. I would say this: If you know what the young man likes, or if you prefer giving him something a little more personal – consider getting him a gift (here are a couple of suggestions. If you don’t know him all that well, or you prefer to remain “neutral”, then go with money (remember – in multiples of $18).
My nephew had an impromptu Bar Mitvah during Corona where we watched via zoom. How much money should I send? We are a family of 6 and very close.
These are indeed unusual times. Never in a million years did I imagine that Bar and Bat Mitzvahs would be celebrated via Zoom… but there you go.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a special rulebook for pandemics. That being said, if you’re close – personally, I would stick to the amounts I listed in the table above.
My son is attending a zoom Bar Mitvah and the invite mentioned they will hopefully be hosting an in person celebration at a later date. Should we mail our gift (money) now? If so, should we plan that we will be giving another gift later?
I would suggest asking the parents what they prefer – that you mail a gift or wait for the in-person Bar Mitzvah event.
There’s no official Covid playbook for times like these. Parents will understand.
Our dear friend’s eldest daughter is having her Bat Mitzvah via zoom. (My daughter is besties with her little sister.)
As the party has not been scheduled due to covid, would $180 (we are a family of three) and a Chai bracelet be a nice gift?
If not sufficient, could we give that now amd give another envelope at the party when scheduled?
so going to a Bar Mitzvah for my husband’s high school friend’s daughter.
dilemma: we are going with our 2 kids in Orlando and they are really going all out…Dinner Friday night, Lunch at their place on Sat, Big party on Saturday and brunch on Sunday (and yes they can afford it LOL) but the hubby and I are arguing what to give as a gift???? thinking $360 is enough but he thinks we should do more…Any advice??
My neighbor’s son will be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah soon. We don’t associate with each other, maybe a wave if we see one another. He left us a bottle of champagne with a note letting us know of the big occasion and said not to worry there won’t be loud music. I plan on dropping off a card and want to know if I should put money in it & if so how much. I want to do the proper thing and not offend, any help would be appreciated.
My daughter is invited to her friends bat mitzvah. The invitation is for her friend and twin brother. She does not know her twin brother. Does she give a gift to both or just her friend?