What's an appropriate gift for a bar mitzvah?

reading the torah at a bar mitzvahJennifer asks via Twitter:

Help! What gift does one get for a bar mitzvah?

Sometimes the gifts for celebrations like this -- weddings, graduations, confirmations -- can vary by what part of the country you're in. For example: at a lot of weddings in the Midwest, people show up with presents (blenders, toasters, and so on). On the East Coast, the go-to gift is usually money. (And at Midwest/East Coast weddings, worlds collide! Thank goodness there's cake.)

So, what's an appropriate gift for a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah in the Capital Region? Please share! And if money is a typical gift, please include a range. (It can be hard to guess these things.)

photo: Flickr user n0nick (cc) via Wikipedia

Comments

As a former bat mitzvah-haver, I can say that money/gift cards (not a ton--these are 12 and 13-year-old boys we're talking about here*) or something slightly nicer than you'd normally buy for a teenagers' birthday is totally appropriate (i.e. an engraved tie clip or money clip--that kind of thing).

For my bat mitzvah, I also received a lot of snow globes with unicorns in them (and one with a dancing rabbi, which I still have). That might NOT be the best thing to get a teenaged boy in 2012, but they were perfect for me in 1992.

*Unless this is for a girl, in which case you're going to a bat mitzvah, not a bar mitzvah.

Money gifts in multiples of 18 are traditional. $18, $36, $180, etc.

in the past decade i've given cash. $50-$100 depending on how well i know the family.

I was on Long Island but money is usually a good gift. My bat mitzvah gifts paid for my first year of college.

The classic stereotypical gift used to be a fountain pen. Now that they're back in style one might be a nice gift- I gave my nephew a handsome Waterman Phileas rollerball for his high school graduation.

The kid will hate it, but getting all those U.S. Savings Bonds for my Bar Mitzvah seemed to be part of some unspoken tradition.

It's kind of like a piggy bank for teenagers. Except the penalty for breaking open the bank is that you get less money. And those bonds, as annoying as they were at the time, would later come to serve as a security blanket. At the end of college, it was always good to know they were there.

Actually, I think I may still have a few buried away someplace. Maybe I should look into that.

I like a two-pronged approach. The monetary gift or savings bond usually go right into the college fund. Its nice if you can give that and something fun, like a gift card to a clothing store (girls) or video game store (boys).

An engraved frame with the date is always a nice touch. Kiddush cups for dudes. Cash is always appropriate, but savings bonds are better. We're into numerology, so multiples of 18 (meaning "life") are always classic.

Sadly, Daniel B., the US Dept of Treasury no longer (as of Jan 1, 2012) sells paper savings bonds. Only electronic now, which somehow doesn't seem like as nice of a gift. Plus you need to know the kids social security number and they have to set up a TreasuryDirect account. It really takes all the fun out of giving them.

I'd have to vote for a check in a multiple of $18.

I received mostly cash gifts for my bat mitzvah (it came in very handy when I bought my first car 3 years later). Gift cards or cash are the perfect gesture for the occasion.

Thanks to everyone! This is super helpful and I now have the perfect idea for a gift. I might have done the savings bond if not for the online-only rule. Also, thanks for the tip about the "18" - I really like that. :)

If you are going to give money in increments of 18, you should at least know why it is traditional.

Thank you wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chai_(symbol)

My son was invited to a bar mitzvah by a child he is not a close friend of. The boy has never been to our house or called him to hang out. My son did go to his birthday party because the mom told us he doesn't have many friends. ( this boy is over bearing & makes fun of many of the kids at school, telling them that he's the best at things and they stink at it). So if my son does go, what do you give to a child you are not close to at all?

My BM invitation is for the grandson of very good friends. I attended the parents wedding some twenty years ago. I met him the grandson once two years ago and they live over 1,500 miles away. I am obviously not going to be attending and will be sending my regrets but is a gift necessary or is just a card appropriate? If a gift should be given is $18 too little? What about $36? The family income is well over 6 figures a year... about 4 times what I make in a year. I don't want to offend my good friends but I wouldn't recognize this child if he came to my door.

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