Due to travel restrictions, a wedding I’m attending is now going to be held over Zoom. What’s the gift-giving etiquette in this type of situation?
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Q: I was supposed to be attending a friend’s destination wedding in Spain next month. Due to current travel bans, the ceremony won’t be happening overseas but in the couple’s living room, with guests attending on Zoom. Now that their reception is cancelled, do I still give a gift, and if so, how much should I spend?
A: The cost of a wedding present — during a pandemic or otherwise — is determined by two primary factors: How close are you to the couple and how much can you realistically afford.
In these unprecedented times, additional considerations include: have one or both members of the couple been furloughed from work or lost a job? Have you?
Providing you are financially able, your generosity should be no different than if you were sipping sangria and picking on paella under the stars in Valencia. Your gift represents your well wishes to the newlyweds as they begin their new lives together. It is not a quid pro quo based on how much they did or didn’t spend on a reception. As for what to give, money or an electronic gift card could be your best bet during this unsettling era, particularly if the couple is facing economic uncertainties.
If you insist on giving the gravy boat they were crushing on when they set up their registry, order it as soon as possible. With many retailers experiencing shipping delays, the longer you wait, the longer it will be before the couple can stow your gift in their china cabinet.
Back to you, though you’re foregoing a dream trip to the Iberian Peninsula for a livestream at your kitchen peninsula, give what your heart tells you to give and save your travel credits for a trip to España once the coast is clear.
FROM A DISTANCE
Q: Living three hours from my parents’ house, it’s always difficult for me to get home to see my mom for Mother’s Day. This year, of course, it’s out of the question: I don’t want to risk getting my parents sick. How can I show my mom I love her even though I legitimately can’t be near her?
A: Usually when someone says they can’t be in the same room as a parent — let alone the same house — it’s for entirely different reasons. This year, the concept takes on a new meaning. Due to distancing recommendations and travel restrictions, moms around the globe will be spending their special day minus the hugs and kisses of their offspring.
The downtime created by the pandemic provides an excellent opportunity to put pen to paper and write your mom an honest-to-goodness letter expressing how much you love her. Share some favorite memories. If you have children of your own, involve them by having them make drawings or write notes for their grandmother.
Consider including a homemade gift certificate for a special experience the two of you can enjoy once it is safe for you to see one another again—perhaps lunch at her favorite local restaurant or a spa day. When Sunday rolls around, you’ll want to call her, of course, and if your parents are tech savvy enough, set up a video call.
And though none of this is a substitute for your family celebrating mom in-person, you can still ensure it is a celebration that makes her feel way more loved than a nicely wrapped “World’s Greatest Mom” coffee mug ever could.
Mister Manners, Thomas P. Farley, is a nationally regarded expert who appears regularly in the media to discuss modern-day etiquette dilemmas — from how to split a check fairly to how to get a word in edgewise. Follow Thomas on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @MisterManners. And for more insights, listen to his brand-new podcast, “What Manners Most,” which will be focused exclusively on Coronavirus-related etiquette for the foreseeable future.