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Etiquette or expecations for high school graduation invites?
Old 06-15-2011, 02:10 PM   #1
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Etiquette or expecations for high school graduation invites?

I recently received two different invites to friends and/or familiy who have a graduating senior in high school. I am unsure what the normal or expected way to handle each of the situations might be so I though I would ask you all for advice:

Situation 1 - Former college buddy of mine who was one of my better friends in college (we are now 43), has his oldest son graduating from high school. My friend lives about 5 hours away so I have only seen him about a handful of times since college, but we do trade emails once a month or so. I have seen his kids only once since they were small. Anyway, he sent me an invite in the mail to his graduation and a party that is actually on a seperate weekend. Due to how far away he lives and other obligations, I can not attend either. Should I still send a card to his son with money? If so, how much?


Situation 2 - A first cousin of mine has his oldest son graduating from high school. When I was a kid I lived near my cousin and we saw each other fairly frequently, normally around holiday events at my grandparents. Since we have been adults, we only see each other maybe ever 5 years or so. Not a very close relationship for a while now. I received an invitation via Facebook from my cousin's wife inviting me to their son's graduation party. I can't attend the party due to other plans. Should I send a card to their son with money? If so, how much?
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:15 PM   #2
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I wouldn't feel obliged to send anything more than a card. It would be different if you interacted with them on a regular basis and you knew the kids well, but that's not the case. A card or a congratulatory letter would be plenty, IMHO.
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:52 PM   #3
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Situation 1 warrants a card and probably some cash or a special gift of some kind.
I don't think a Facebook invitation warrants any sort of formal mailed response, just a "sorry we can't make it" on the invite page.
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Old 06-15-2011, 04:21 PM   #4
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Situation 1 warrants a card and probably some cash or a special gift of some kind.
I don't think a Facebook invitation warrants any sort of formal mailed response, just a "sorry we can't make it" on the invite page.
Same here.

How much for invite 1? If I am writing the check, I would give $25. If DW is writing, she would give $100. She is the generous one, so I let her write the gift checks. We are RE'd, you are 43 yo and still working so your situation is different.
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Old 06-15-2011, 05:16 PM   #5
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Situation 1 - Former college buddy of mine who was one of my better friends in college (we are now 43), has his oldest son graduating from high school. My friend lives about 5 hours away so I have only seen him about a handful of times since college, but we do trade emails once a month or so. I have seen his kids only once since they were small. Anyway, he sent me an invite in the mail to his graduation and a party that is actually on a seperate weekend. Due to how far away he lives and other obligations, I can not attend either. Should I still send a card to his son with money? If so, how much?
Situation 2 - A first cousin of mine has his oldest son graduating from high school. When I was a kid I lived near my cousin and we saw each other fairly frequently, normally around holiday events at my grandparents. Since we have been adults, we only see each other maybe ever 5 years or so. Not a very close relationship for a while now. I received an invitation via Facebook from my cousin's wife inviting me to their son's graduation party. I can't attend the party due to other plans. Should I send a card to their son with money? If so, how much?
$25 gift card to Home Depot, where they sell a nice "starter tool kit" for college dorm rooms.

Wal-Mart & Target are also good for these cards.
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:18 PM   #6
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$25 check or a $25 gift card sounds about right to me...
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Old 06-15-2011, 07:26 PM   #7
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50 to the first. The second depends on your family and extended family situation. Probably the same though.

IMO 25 is too low, 100 is too high.
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facebook invitations don't count
Old 06-15-2011, 07:31 PM   #8
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facebook invitations don't count

1) $25

2) $0
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:06 PM   #9
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One year we had a niece and a nephew (DH's sister's son and brother's daughter) both graduate from high school. The nephew sent the official announcement but not an invitation which was fine because they are 1500 miles away. I sent a card and $50 check. The niece did not announce anything but I knew she was graduating so I sent a card and $50 check. I got Thank You notes from both of them.

Six months later our younger son graduated from college. We didn't do any formal announcements but the immediate family all knew and I sent an email after the ceremony with pictures and a video clip because everyone on DH's side of the family is far out of town. A few in his family sent cards and some sent checks but this brother and sister (the ones who months earlier had kids graduate from high school) did nothing. I was surprised and disappointed by this because to me, college graduation is important and an accomplishment.

I'll admit to being pissed off! But I kept it to myself and would never say anything. Family is important and this is a minor issue. Despite their parents, when any of the nieces or nephews graduate from anything I will acknowledge with a card and check.

I don't understand inviting distant people to a kid's graduation. All of our graduations have had limited tickets to the event. Usually it's been 6 or 8 tickets and they are very quickly used up by parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.

As for your old friend from college and cousins kids I'd send a card and $25.

*rant*

As for my BIL and SIL, I will be remembering their omission. They are immediate family that we are in touch with all the time. No excuse. If you can't afford to send a check (and the way they live I know they can) then just send a card. But to "forget" completely left me pissed off.

*end of rant*
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:10 PM   #10
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I would send a card and cash to both. You will have to decide on the amounts based on your budget. You were invited to join their celebration. The minimum that I would give is $50 for a graduation.
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:02 PM   #11
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My recent experience;

1. I was recently invited (with the fancy engraved invitation) to the university graduation for the daughter of my college roommate. I see him every few years and talk to him on the phone about once a year. I have only met his daughter once, but thought she was a really splendid girl. I sent a card and $100. I did the same for her sister three years ago.

2. I have two nephews graduating from high school this week. I received a graduation invitation from neither. I sent them each a card and $100 anyway.

It's a big life event, they all need the money, and I can afford it.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:01 PM   #12
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One year we had a niece and a nephew (DH's sister's son and brother's daughter) both graduate from high school.

...

Six months later our younger son graduated from college.
FWIW, I wouldn't do anything for a college graduation, I would for a high school. A high schooler is just starting out with nothing, needs cash to buy stuff for college.

A college grad is, IMO, an independent adult, about to get a job, etc. etc.

Now yes, you could argue that the college student may have a ton of student loans, might not be able to get a job (also true of the high school student), etc. But I feel once one has graduated college, they're an independent adult and no gift is necessary.

Disclaimer: I got some high school graduation gifts, don't really remember getting any college graduation gifts.

High school and weddings are the two big ones I feel. Other stuff (college, baby showers, etc) are more minor.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:51 PM   #13
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FWIW our daughter got high-school graduation presents from all the "right" family & relatives, and IIRC most of it was cash or gift cards. Nobody wanted to fly out here, and it worked out well because she decided not to participate in the ceremony anyway.

But the gifts went very very quickly on first semester "expenses". It was an unpleasant surprise. Second semester she got her spending under control and she's done a lot better.

It's good to have friends in college. But it's very very difficult to keep up with the ones who have big allowances and big shopping/dining-out habits.

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I don't understand inviting distant people to a kid's graduation. All of our graduations have had limited tickets to the event. Usually it's been 6 or 8 tickets and they are very quickly used up by parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.
We've counted noses for May 2014 and (worst best case) we'd have as many as 12 people, including us and our daughter. Grandma & Grandpa will be 77 and 80 years old, and I'm not so sure I want to help them deal with Houston weather. But they're pretty hale & hearty.

We've pretty much decided to rent the biggest party house we can find, especially if it's within reasonable taxi/shuttle/walking distance of the graduation field, and with lots of room to avoid tripping over each other.

The house will either be filled with happy family who can come & go as they please, entertaining themselves while celebrating their relative's college graduation.

Or it'll be just my spouse & me with another "grownup" grandparent/in-law/cousin or two, and our daughter will have a bunch of her roommates partying with her at our place.

Or maybe both.
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Old 06-16-2011, 07:30 AM   #14
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Wow, I guess I am out of touch on proper inviting techniques. My reaction is that both of these invites are questionable solicitations. I wouldn't dream of inviting people I rarely see to my kid's HS graduation party. The fact that they are people I have kept in contact with would make no difference. It is like a wedding, the relationship needs to be close and current with me or with the child. Notwithstanding the above, I might (probably?) would send a card and check to number 1 but would chaff a little at the imposition. Number 2, no.

Am I too much of a curmudgeon?
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Old 06-16-2011, 07:35 AM   #15
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Situation 1 warrants a card and probably some cash or a special gift of some kind.
I don't think a Facebook invitation warrants any sort of formal mailed response, just a "sorry we can't make it" on the invite page.
That's what I/DW would do, in the same situation (however we would have a problem with FB, since we don't use it ). OTOH, we would have not received the invite ...
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Old 06-16-2011, 09:46 AM   #16
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After reading these posts, I just had a discussion with DW about the recent cards and gifts we've sent to HER relatives regarding graduations. All children of her nieces and nephews living far away and have never met. We got the invitations to high school graduations and have in recent years always sent just $25. Maybe we're too cheap. Never get a thank you. I just asked DW about our recent donation and if we ever got a thank you note. Her answer was NO but that he was "probably" too busy and would "probably" send one when he got back from his trip to ROME.
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Old 06-16-2011, 10:03 AM   #17
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Wow, I guess I am out of touch on proper inviting techniques. My reaction is that both of these invites are questionable solicitations. I wouldn't dream of inviting people I rarely see to my kid's HS graduation party. The fact that they are people I have kept in contact with would make no difference. It is like a wedding, the relationship needs to be close and current with me or with the child. Notwithstanding the above, I might (probably?) would send a card and check to number 1 but would chaff a little at the imposition. Number 2, no.

Am I too much of a curmudgeon?
+1 In my opinion 90% of invitations these days are mercenary solicitations for gifts. I ignore them. I most certainly will not give a gift to someone I would not recognize if met on the street.
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Old 06-16-2011, 10:20 AM   #18
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Personally I don't look at a graduation invitation as an invitation to actually attend the cermony but more of an "announcement" of the graduation. If I know the grad is going on to college they get some $$ to help them on their way. If the grad is getting out of college I give them $$$ because they are undoubtably broke after four years of being a college student. I have never received an invitiation/announcement from someone I don't know so have not ever felt that it was some sort of a solicitation for a gift.
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Old 06-16-2011, 10:25 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
Wow, I guess I am out of touch on proper inviting techniques. My reaction is that both of these invites are questionable solicitations. I wouldn't dream of inviting people I rarely see to my kid's HS graduation party. The fact that they are people I have kept in contact with would make no difference. It is like a wedding, the relationship needs to be close and current with me or with the child. Notwithstanding the above, I might (probably?) would send a card and check to number 1 but would chaff a little at the imposition. Number 2, no.

Am I too much of a curmudgeon?
+1

If I received these invitations and did not personaly know the young adults, I would respond with a "TY for the invitation, but sorry, can't attend due to prior commitments" and perhaps add a suggested reading list (finding a j*b, saving money, etc) for the graduates. If you are feeling generous, purchase a book for each and have it shipped to their addresses. It could help immensely. If the young adults do not read the books, perhaps your friends will. WIN WIN

Save some room for me on the bench (curmudgeon).
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Old 06-16-2011, 10:38 AM   #20
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I'd still send both a card and $50. It might mean more to the friend and cousin and the kids than you realize. But I also do not receive a lot of announcements that I'm surprised to receive. A friend whose DH had been boss of a lot of people over his career fanned out the invitations they received one summer for weddings of the former employees' kids that they had never met.

I'd be ticked too if I were SueJ and family members ignored my son's graduation--and I know you feel worse for him than for yourself.
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