Top 5 Best Engagement Gifts (Plus Essential Gifting Guidelines)
Cause for Celebration
When two people get engaged to be married it is most certainly a cause for celebration. The union of two people, old or young, who are very much in love is a beautiful thing to see.
You may be invited to an engagement party to celebrate the good news. Do you need to bring a gift?
The answer seems to be no. If you want to just come to the party and celebrate, you will be welcome. If you do bring a gift, you may want to make the gift really simple, and follow the caveats below.
Etiquette experts—including Emily Post’s great-granddaughter Anna Post—say gifts are not required for someone invited to an engagement party.
"Engagement gifts aren’t required at an engagement party, though there is a trend toward giving them in many areas of the country. Traditionally, only very close family and friends gave the couple engagement gifts."
An Engagement Party Is Not a "Shower"
A bridal shower is a different kind of party entirely; it's generally planned by a friend or family member of the bride to “shower” the couple with things they need to set up a new household: kitchen appliances, dishes, linens, and such. There will often be a store registry to make sure guests don’t all give the same thing.
But the engagement party comes well before that level of investment in a household.
Essential Guidelines for Engagement Gifts
If you still want to give an engagement gift, that’s great. The gift you choose should meet these guidelines:
- Something that can be enjoyed in the near future: An engagement isn’t a wedding; alas, it isn’t necessarily forever. Give something that the couple can enjoy in the near future, something that won’t be worth fighting over or dividing if they happen to split.
- Something they can share: You may know only one of the two happy people well enough to know just what they like, so you can't be sure of pleasing both. The best you can do is give something that the two can share as an experience.
- Something modest: Finally, if you know the couple well enough to be invited to the engagement party, it is quite likely you will be invited to a wedding soon, and if you do, it’s quite likely you will want to give a present then—so, don’t shoot the moon right now and spend all your money. Dana Holmes at gifts.com recommends spending no more than 10-25% of what you would spend on a wedding gift.
So, given these constraints on engagement gift giving—something ephemeral, experimental, and rather small—what’s left?
Best Engagement Gift Ideas
- Cash or a gift card: The gift card should be for a place they both regard as an indulgence and a shared interest: for example, an art supply store, a poster store, a book store, or a restaurant.
- Something to eat or drink: For example, wine or a basket of snacks. Such a present can be consumed long before the weighty issues of a permanent commitment are settled.
- Tickets to a near-term event: How about a play or a sporting event? Choose an event they would both enjoy.
- A book or movie: Something they can enjoy reading or watching together.
- Something for their home: Keep in mind that this should be smallish, portable, and something they can enjoy before they move in. For example:
- Pretty rock, crystal, or shell
- Picture frame
- Small photo or poster, alluding to a place they have been, or experience they share
- Pair of soup bowls, coffee cups, or wine glasses
- Very small appliance, something to make a food at least one of them likes—a teapot, a croque-monsieur maker, a coffee maker, or a popcorn popper
- Flowers, a plant, or a pot of bulbs. If it’s fall or winter, the bulbs will give them something to look forward to in the spring.
Fun Book Idea
The bride-to-be may think she knows everything about the man she has chosen, but this little quiz book will show there is much more she hasn't learned about him, no matter how long they have been dating.
There's also, of course, a similar book for the groom: give the pair if you like. Small, fun, experimental, and ephemeral: a good engagement gift.
How Public Should an Engagement Be?
Talk about putting a girl on the spot. A man has his brother bring his girlfriend to the movies. After a movie preview, a special trailer comes on; as she watches (on camera), she realizes the trailer was made by her boyfriend, and shows him asking her father for his daughter's hand in marriage and then speeding to the movie theater, buying popcorn, and lurching into the auditorium. The entire family and all their friends are in the theater witnessing the wedding proposal, along with about 100 strangers just there to see the movie. It's funny, though most couples prefer to make their initial agreement more private.