Knowing what to give each year for all of the weddings that you’re invited to can be exhausting.

There are some very simple ways to make sure that you’re getting them the right gifts and at the right value.

  • Buy off of their registry – Nearly every couple has a gift registry. They’ve done the thinking for you. Simply buy off of their list. In the best cases, their list will show what has been purchased so that they don’t 18 punch bowls on their wedding day.
  • Entertaining, kitchen, and bed and bath – Household items, like great kitchen appliances are perfect gifts. It’s the type of thing that you can struggle to acquire, particularly when you’re young.
  • Not less than $50 – Fifty dollars is the minimum that you can spend. The price-per-plate idea is bad. Even the wealthiest people in the world have begun to opt for less expensive affairs. Part of the guide to what to spend is based on where you live. As you know, $50 can buy a lot more in a rural area than it can in New York City.
    Coworker or distant relative – $50 to $75
    Relative or friend – Up to $100
    Close relative or close friend – Up to $150
    City-dweller – Over $200 won’t be too much
  • Go big – Gather your money and buy a really big ticket item. For example, a television, a cruise, or a great mattress are all possibilities if you pool your money. If you have an office with 30 people and everyone kicks in $50, you have a decent pool of money to buy one really large gift. Again, look at their gift registry for those items that they list that they put there as a bit of wishful thinking.
  • Personalized/customized – Gifts that are engraved for the couple are great, as long as it’s something practical that they can use. A personalized bath mat is much more useful than an engraved cake server. Think about what’s useful and give them that. The days of spare fine china and “good silver” are kind of gone. It’s a nice idea as an investment for someone, but it’s not something that they will use a lot (unless they live in the Hamptons). Think about their lifestyle to make these types of decisions.
  • Deliver in two months – Although it seems like a customary idea to bring gifts to the reception, don’t. The happy couple, headed to a hotel for the night or on their honeymoon are now having to worry about getting a lot of gifts to the house. Deliver, or have delivered, your gift within two months. Never let it go more than a year. If it does, just forget it and know that you missed the mark there.

The rules of what to give have changed. Even in wealthier circles, there is a move toward more practical gifts, but the spending rules are the same. Simply pay attention to giving a great gift that cost enough money to feel like you care.

Most importantly: Actually care and pay attention to what they need. For example, if it’s a teacher that’s getting married right after graduation, money to pay students loans or even a gift card to an office supply store can be a great gift. Since you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) deliver it at the wedding, you can visit and explain the logic of what you’re doing.

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