Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift Amount 2018: How Much Money Should You Give?

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 Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah gift instead?

What’s the deal with that whole “multiple of 18”?

Don’t worry, this article will get rid of all your confusion…

How Much Money Should You Give for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah?

Bar Mitzvah Cash Gift

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 take out a mortgage for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah cash gift.

Remember – you’re getting a gift for a young 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 in 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 keep stay in line with the “multiples of 18” tradition).

Here’s a table to clear out the confusion:

RelationshipGift Amount
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?

Bar Mitzvah Amount Calculation

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?

Which leads us to the next question…

Cash or Check?

Bar Bat Mitzvah Check

Bar/Bat Mitzvah or not – don’t forget that at the end of the day we’re talking about teenagers here. And let’s just say that teenagers aren’t exactly famous for their smart financial investments.

If you’d rather give the money to the parents and let them decide how to invest the money – you’d want 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 to the parents first.

On the flipside, 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?

Money Or Not

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 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.

Conclusion

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.

Mazel Tov!

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16 thoughts on “Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift Amount 2018: How Much Money Should You Give?

  • May 1, 2018 at 16:51

    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.

    Reply
    • May 6, 2018 at 14:05

      Hey Adele,

      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 🙂

      Reply
  • May 31, 2018 at 18:11

    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.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2018 at 20:32

      Hey Claire,

      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.

      Reply
  • June 2, 2018 at 02:42

    This is awesome, thank you so much!

    Reply
    • June 3, 2018 at 13:03

      You’re very welcome Summer 🙂

      Reply
  • June 5, 2018 at 18:15

    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?

    Reply
    • June 6, 2018 at 17:08

      Hey Susan,

      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!

      Reply
  • July 3, 2018 at 21:59

    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.

    Reply
    • July 4, 2018 at 03:37

      Hey Orit,

      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:

      1. How much did your cousin give you for a similar event? I personally don’t like this whole “bookkeeping” thing, but it can give you a safe range to aim for.
      2. Is it just a Bar Mitzvah ceremony in the Kotel? Or is there a Bar Mitzvah party afterward?
      3. If there is a party – what kind of party is it? Is it a small reception? Is it a big party? Parties are expensive, and especially in Israel – it’s common to give a generous amount.
      4. What do you want your cousin to think the moment they open up your envelope?
        • “Damn, Orit is generous!”
        • “Oh, that’s nice of Orit”
        • “Damn, Orit is cheap”.

        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) 🙂

      Reply
      • July 4, 2018 at 10:57

        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!

        Reply
        • July 4, 2018 at 14:00

          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 🙂

          Reply
  • July 4, 2018 at 15:27

    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

    Reply
    • July 4, 2018 at 16:43

      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!

      Reply
  • October 14, 2018 at 23:56

    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?

    Reply
    • October 15, 2018 at 00:16

      Hey Jill,

      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 🙂

      Reply

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