To gift or not to gift?
July 17, 2014 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm invited to an engagement party. From preliminary research, it appears it's up to me whether or not to give a present... But I need some help figuring this out. Old friend, just meeting her fiance, casual engagement party, will not be invited to wedding.

So the bride is a childhood friend of mine, and we were neighbors. Our families were close when we were growing up, but once college age hit we didn't see much of each other. Additionally, she's spend much of the last few years abroad, met her fiancé abroad, and will be moving there permanently.

Because their wedding will be abroad, this engagement party is the US celebration of their wedding (which is in September). I'd like to give her something, since our friendship runs so far back, but I don't really know her taste anymore, and I won't meet her fiancé until the party. I fall on both sides in terms of gifting according to etiquette blogs -- there are reasons for and reasons against. Additionally, since they will be flying home, material gifts would be difficult for them. They've asked people to bring food to the engagement party potluck style as well, so is that intended to substitute for any gift giving?

My best idea so far is to knit them a blanket and send it to them as more of a wedding present. The complication here is the price -- her fiancé is a textile designer, and I would be ashamed to use anything other than high-quality (and thus expensive) yarn, and I blanket takes quite a lot. I also don't know their styles, and don't want to put weeks and weeks of work into something that would be tossed in the back of a closet.
posted by DoubleLune to Human Relations (14 answers total)
Don't knit something they won't appreciate; give a different gift.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:27 AM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd go with just bringing something for the engagement party potluck --- heck, that's what they've asked for, plus it solves both the hauling-stuff-home-on-a-plane and what-do-they-like problems.
posted by easily confused at 11:40 AM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

If it were me, I would bring something for the potluck and a bottle of champagne.
posted by lyssabee at 11:45 AM on July 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

Potluck contribution, sweet card with personal message and a gift card inside.

Definitely don't knit something for someone you don't know.
posted by arnicae at 11:55 AM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Prepare something elaborate and/or especially delicious for the potluck! Is there something that you can remember her enjoying back when you were neighbors? Anything that would remind you two of a shared memory?
posted by lakersfan1222 at 11:57 AM on July 17, 2014

Seconding food for the potluck and a bottle of champagne (or other liquor, as long as it's small enough/loved by them enough to be drunk quickly-- having just moved a bunch of whisky across the country, having to throw away a wonderful gift because it couldn't be consumed in time is the worst.) If you wanted to do something beyond food for the party, you could get a brunch basket/food hamper made up and delivered to them after the party, or get a gift card for a local gourmet place in the new country so they can get food while recovering from moving.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:57 AM on July 17, 2014

Food and liquor and leave it at that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:48 PM on July 17, 2014

Do you have any photos from the old days?
posted by SemiSalt at 2:58 PM on July 17, 2014

posted by hippychick at 4:12 PM on July 17, 2014

Best answer: I just wanted to echo what others are saying about not knitting a blanket. I can see why you thought of it--her husband is a textile designer, so it is even thematically appropriate! But I recently received an EXTREMELY labor intensive handmade gift from my (very nice) sister-in-law who I have seen fewer than ten times in my life, and man did it cause me some stress. Now she has given me a gift that I don't think I can ever adequately reciprocate, and it makes me feel weird.

Since you are already on the fence as to whether a gift is even necessary, a very expensive and/or labor intensive gift is almost certainly inappropriate.
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 4:33 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd buy a nice (in your price range) bottle of wine and, if you would like to do something a little sweet, knit them a tiny wine bottle sweater. Make it tacky on purpose. Then you can say you wanted to make them something and you thought it would be so cute if it was a tacky sweater, given that this would be the extreme opposite and it was your cutesy gesture - and tell them to feel free to regift or donate it, because it was about the giggle. That's the sort of thing I would do, but I sometimes give my friends little jokey things, in combination with something nice. You could say you wanted to get them some dressed up champagne, but this was all you could afford. Only works if you have a jokey kind of relationship, I guess, but I would think it was cute.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:10 PM on July 17, 2014

something for the potluck and a nice bottle of something they can keep or drink or share as they like.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:14 PM on July 17, 2014

Response by poster: They don't drink and at previous parties like this (i.e. her sister's wedding reception) did not have alcohol, but specifically asked for gluten-free dishes, so I'll be making some gluten-free mini cupcakes and leave it at that.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:53 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you really want to knit something perhaps a set of coasters from the high quality yarn.
posted by yohko at 7:02 PM on July 18, 2014

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