When you get an invitation to a bridal shower, how much you should spend on a gift will narrow down and guide your choices. A gift is expected at a bridal shower, as the "shower" refers to raining down gifts upon the bride (or couple). You should not come empty-handed, no matter what your budget may be.
Deciding What to Spend
The typical range for a bridal shower gift is a value between $25 and $75. Your personal budget and how important the bride is to you will guide how much you are able or willing to spend. Close members of the bride's family often spend a little more for the perfect gift.
Keep in mind that this is but one of several expenses you'll have as a wedding guest. If you give a bridal shower gift, you are still expected to give a wedding present as well. You might also need to pay for travel, wedding apparel, and an engagement present. A good rule of thumb is to use the guideline of allocating 20 percent of your total gift budget for the shower. For example, if your total budget is $200, you would spend $40 on the bridal shower gift, leaving $160 for the wedding and engagement presents.
At some bridal showers, the hostess might have suggested a specific gift on an individual basis or a contribution to a larger gift fund. Crowdfunding accounts are becoming more and more common and may have a suggested donation. In this case, it is still best to bring a small gift to the shower so you aren't arriving empty-handed.
Be sure to note whether the bride has a registry wishlist of items from a local store, national chain, or online store. This makes shopping easy as you will know the price ranges for these gifts and be assured there aren't duplicates. You won't be bringing the fifth toaster to the shower.
Usually, the same registry can be used for both the shower gift and the wedding gift. It can be fun to make them related, such as giving coffee mugs for the shower and the fancy espresso machine for the wedding.
Some bridal showers are designated as personal (lingerie) or for the home. If that's the case, follow that direction. Be sure to exercise good judgment if you are giving a gift that might be considered risque. There may be more conservative relatives or children at the shower. You might save that for the bachelorette party.
If there are no registry, theme, or suggestions, you will have to rely on your knowledge of the bride. That's easier if you are close, but if you are an acquaintance, consider politely asking a family member or a friend for some great gift ideas for the bride. Think about what types of gifts will be useful after the wedding, such as items for cooking, entertaining, bed, bath, or travel. You can also choose a gift for the couple rather than just the bride. Whether it's a kitchen appliance or new nifty gadget they'll both use, a shared gift for the couple is a good choice as they start life together.
Gifts of Services
While you have to give a gift, you don't necessarily need to buy something. You can include services you are willing to perform as your gift. Include these as a gift certificate for the bride to redeem, perhaps wrapped up in a box or in a basket with some useful items. You can price them according to what these services go for in your community, but generally you will try to aim for a $75 value rather than the low end.
For example, if you are a beauty professional, give gift certificates to do haircuts, styling, or nails. This will certainly be welcome in the days before and after the wedding. You can offer to housesit, petsit, mow the lawn, take care of plants, or walk the dog while the couple is away on their honeymoon. If you have organizational skills, give your services as the bride's personal assistant during the week of the wedding, following up on important details. Another thoughtful gift is to be the tour guide for out-of-town guests before or after the wedding. If the couple is moving, a certificate redeemable for help in packing, loading, unloading, and organizing is bound to be appreciated.
Passing on a family heirloom or making up a photo collage or scrapbook can be a treasured shower gift. If you are a cook, some homemade preserves or special recipes are a good gift idea. You can also knit, crochet, cross-stitch, or embroider keepsakes for the bride or couple.
Whatever you give, let it come from your heart. Don't break your budget, but give something that will carry your best wishes to the couple.