How much money should you give for the upcoming Bar Mitzvah?
The million dollar question…
What’s too much money? What’s too little?
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?
If you decided to go the money gift route, then now the question remains – how much should you give?
It’s a common Bar Mitzvah tradition (and a Jewish tradition in general) to give money in multiples of 18. In Jewish numerology, the number 18 means “Chai” (חי) – which translates to “life”. Basically, you’re blessing the young boy/girl with a long & successful life with this gesture.
Although not mandatory, it’s a good idea to stay in line with this tradition. 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 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 keep 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 can technically “get away” with not sending anything… but if you can, these are the amounts you should send if you’re not attending.
Cash or Check?
Bar/Bat Mitzvah or not – don’t forget that at the end of the day they’re still teenagers. And teenagers aren’t exactly known for their smart financial investments.
If you’d rather give the money to the parents first, and let them decide how to invest the money – you might 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?
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 give a ridiculously high amount, in which case they’ll 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.