How Much To Spend On A Wedding Gift

by Grace aka costofcollege

June is a big month for weddings.  A recent CollegeConfidential discussion asked about the appropriate amount to spend on a wedding gift.  Opinions vary, to say the least.

This comment …

This is sooooo variable, by region of the country, socioeconomic status, how close you are to the people involved. There are weddings where I’d give $100 and feel fine, and those where I’d give $1,000 (my nieces/nephew)….

… prompted this response:

I can’t imagine spending that much for anyone but my own kids.

Several factors come into play.

In addition to region of country, another factor quite simply is your income. One family’s $300 check is done without a blink of an eye, another, $300 is the grocery bill for the month!

How much do you spend on wedding gifts?


236 thoughts on “How Much To Spend On A Wedding Gift

  1. “One family’s $300 check is done without a blink of an eye, another, $300 is the grocery bill for the month!”

    Both could describe the Finns. ;)

    DW and I were in the bridal party for BIL’s wedding. At some point, the bride had told a bridesmaid or two that she wanted the pedi-cab ride with the flower arch from church to reception, and the bridesmaid said “Oh, we’ll give that to you as a gift!” Well, time comes that the bride and groom are still taking pictures and the pedi cab rider is hanging out looking to be paid. I think the bridesmaids (other than DW) had grown a little tired of all the ancillary expenses, including a $300 bridesmaid dress–which, I’ll admit, DW looked great in (Rocky’s seen a picture, she can verify) and were suddenly feeling less generous. BIL is DW’s younger brother, and SIL is a bit younger than him, and so her bridesmaids (other than DW) are younger professionals more in the “just starting out” earning and saving phase. Parents have already gone to the reception to host the guests. Bottom line, I’m apparently the only one milling around here with any cash on my person and a willingness to pay this guy. (The best man has been taken to the cleaners in his divorce.) And everyone’s whispering that we have a “situation,” but keep it quiet because we can’t let the bride find out about it. So of course it’s on me to now pay this bike rider. And when I talk to him, he can’t even quote me a straight number, it’s like “Well, I normally charge X per hour, Y per mile, but I’ve been waiting here, and then there’s a surcharge for the wedding arch…” I interrupted him by holding out a $100 bill and said “I think this will take care of it,” which he accepted. It was in the ballpark of whatever it was supposed to cost.

    BIL did find out that we paid for their bike ride, and I think DW also ended up giving them some sort of gift off their registry after the fact, but it was probably less than $100.

    For my cousin’s wedding, they did a website where you can contribute to their house fund, and different parts of the online cartoon house are at different price points. I think we bought them a window for $125.

  2. Most weddings I attended were when I was in grad school – we were barely able to give $50. I don’t know if we’ve lost friends/family members over that, but oh well. We traveled to 95% of the weddings, and just couldn’t afford more.

    The list is short for people who have been given more – DH’s little sister, when DH and I were best man/matron of honor, and my cousin. But since I’ve graduated, we haven’t been invited to many weddings. The wedding where we were best man/matron of honor killed us. We gave them $500 as a gift, plus all the pre-wedding things (dresses, dinners, showers, parties, etc. while traveling to/from NJ each time. At the end of the day, we spent over $2000 from soup to nuts).

    We are firmly planted in baby-land and divorce-land. Everyone we know is having babies, getting divorced, or both. It’s ridiculous. I’m still waiting for my wedding gift to be returned from a wedding that lasted < 6 months. {I know, don't hold my breath.}

    Related, but tangent… DS received monetary gifts for his baptism. I want to do something with that money for his college fund. Any suggestions for a college-fund vehicle?

  3. Hello everyone!

    I give between 51-101, depending on how well I know the person-if i’m closer to the person, I sometimes give more. My big problem these days are all the ancillary expenses. i’m going to a wedding in Hawaii in August (which is expensive) but then the bride wanted a bachelorette weekend at a $700 a night hotel in LA. Most of us committed to only one night and she wasn’t thrilled so changed it to Vegas. Which I said no to. It’s very common for me to spend several hundred dollars per wedding (that I’m not even in!)

  4. We’re usually around $250 for the wedding gift (not including shower gifts, travel, etc). My sister just got married six months ago and my BIL comes from a NY Italian family so the checks were often several thousand dollars (I know, because I was cataloging them for her after the wedding). I honestly think they must have gotten at least $50K all in. They are very frugal, especially my BIL, so we decided to take them to the nicest restaurant in Atlanta as their wedding present when they came to visit in March. We figured with $50K in cash they probably would appreciate more of an experience gift, since they would never have spent that much on themselves for dinner. DH brought a few bottles of expensive wine so with that and the cost of dinner, we probably spent about $1K (but since we got to enjoy the evening ourselves, I’ll call it $500).

  5. Mrs. Milo did indeed look lovely.

    Of course we spent a fortune on DSS’s wedding, but that’s to be expected. I honestly can’t remember what we spent on DH’s colleague’s weddings. $200? It’s not like we know them super-well. If one of my very dear friends were getting married, I’d probably spring for more, especially if I knew she wanted something big. One of my bff’s was widowed recently, so that’s kind of the stage we’re in now.

  6. I think it is a regional thing plus what you can afford.

    The most recent wedding that we attended was earlier this year for a cousin. We gave $500, but I know my brother gave a lot less because they couldn’t afford to give a few hundred.

    For work colleagues in NY, I think I’m up to 300 to 400. We used to give 250, but the usual remark about covering the cost of the plate came up in the discussion. That’s the main reason we raised the gift amount.
    I am currently looking at five or six places for a Sat evening party. The price per adult for a Sat night in the Spring in the burbs is ranging from 125 to 175. This just includes food and drinks. Service and tax are extra. These are fairly typical places that you would hold a wedding or mitzvah reception. Hotels, country clubs, old mansions.

    I definitely gave less money when I was single or if I already spent hundreds to be in the wedding party etc.

  7. Rhode – your state did not make the Clark Howard 529 Honor Roll, therefore you should enroll in Utah’s 529 plan on the Vanguard age-based portfolio. (That’s the same set of funds my kids’ accounts are in, although through VA, which gives me a state tax deduction on contributions).

  8. When we were getting married (and having babies), I was floored by the generosity of our parents’ friends. I truly didn’t get it – why would they spend so much $$ on us, when they hardly knew us? But now I understand – it’s a way of paying it forward (or backward). When we were in the midst of our friends being the ones getting married, we could barely scrap together $$ a bottle of wine with a ribbon, especially if we had to travel to go to the wedding. But now that some older work colleagues have kids getting married (or having babies), our practice is to find one of the most expensive things on their registry and give that. So the cycle continues (I hope).

  9. Milo – sheesh – no good deed goes unpunished! I haven’t been to a wedding in a hundred years. Am struggling with what to do with graduation announcements? I know what to do with the kids I know, but am torn by the announcement from the HS friend that I reconnected with on FB. Haven’t seen her since graduation, never met the child. Probably won’t send anything.

  10. I have given in a huge range. Last wedding was someone we don’t know well and we didn’t attend since it was 2500 miles away, so I sent a $100 check. For family members/close friends – usually $250-500. I almost always give cash unless it is a really wealthy person, in which case I try to do something experience-related. For a rich friend of my husband’s, we got them some different nice bottles of wine that they were supposed to drink on their 1 year, 5 year and 10 year anniversary. One thing I refuse to do is try to cover the cost of hosting us.

  11. My wedding was 2 weeks after college graduation in MN. I’m pretty sure that the largest gift I got from anyone was $100 – including relatives.

    We’re pretty generous about most things, but I always thought $50 to $100 was reasonable for a wedding. Am I totally cheap or is it more regional?

    I read on here and some other sites about gifts for daycare providers when our first kid was born. I gathered that a week of tuition was appropriate. We were paying $300/week 5 years ago and had 4 teacher/aides in the infant room. We gave each teacher $100 for Christmas. From their reaction and thanks, I’m pretty sure that was way way more than anyone else gave them. I talked to another mom 2 years after that and she was thinking of possibly giving $25 or a smaller physical gift. The parents are all working totebaggy jobs.

    Maybe I should ask friends how much they give at a wedding to get a better regional and peer group idea of appropriate giving. I’m feeling pretty cheap – and almost bad about it – for my wedding gifts.

    Thanks MooshiMooshi for the crock pot suggestion! It’s going on my list of items to purchase. Just bought a Vitamix and need to learn how to use it.

  12. ” But now I understand – it’s a way of paying it forward (or backward). ”

    Lark +1! I’ve started doing that. Now that we are financially more stable, I am totally paying it forward/backward. When invited to friends’ kids’ events, I give to the kids – a little fun for the kid and some for college/future.

  13. Oh, Moxie, it was fine, really. BIL realized what happened and thanked me profusely for taking care of it. I just thought it was humorous because of the bridesmaid dynamic and their rapidly waning generosity.

    Cat – I agree about the “cover your plate” mentality. I know it’s a NYish thing, but the idea seems so low-class.

  14. I try to find a balance between how close I am to the people getting married and how much I’m spending on other things like shower gifts, travel costs, bridesmaid dresses, etc. I don’t like to give cash/checks except to much younger relatives. I really like to give a set of china or flatware or related serving pieces because it’s always hard to justify buying those things for yourself but they are nice to have. If it’s someone really close and I know their taste, I’ve occasionally given a framed print of something meaningful (campus building for college friends). All of these choices are usually in the $50 – $150 range.

    I recently attended a wedding at The Biltmore in Asheville, NC. It appeared to be rather expensive, and wouldn’t know how to begin to figure the cost per guest. I don’t like the “cover your plate” rule of thumb because people come from all different circumstances and have no control over how much a family decides to spend on a wedding. Travel costs can get pretty high too, so you have to assume that the couple wants you there if they invited you and part of your gift is just getting there.

  15. Out here in flyover country, I would say $100 is about the average. I usually just look at the registry and shoot for the middle.
    And that’s another maybe regional thing– pretty much everyone goes for the registry, cash is Not Done.

  16. Milo – thanks! I need to look into it…

    A few people have mentioned covering the cost to host or the cost of the plate. Really? The bridge, groom, and their families are throwing a giant party. They are inviting you. Why should you, the guest, be coerced into covering the cost of your meal? Why is it “wrong” to give what you can, or what you are comfortable giving?

  17. I dislike the whole ‘cover your plate’ mentality. As someone who loves to throw parties, I’d hate to know my guests are speculating on how much I’m spending.

    Also, I know a lot of resentment is created about how much everything costs. As someone who has been the Maid of Honor twice and a bridesmaid once and gone to countless other weddings, my feelings towards the bride has definitely altered based on my financial outlay during the proceedings.

  18. “Am struggling with what to do with graduation announcements? I know what to do with the kids I know, but am torn by the announcement from the HS friend that I reconnected with on FB. Haven’t seen her since graduation…”

    Similar situation here…DW has stayed close with a few people from when we lived on the West Coast, 1/4 century ago, whose kids are now graduating (HS, college). For the HS kids, whom we have never met, DW sends them a check for $25.

  19. Exactly Rhode. I am not giving you a more expensive gift (or more cash) because you chose to have a more expensive wedding. I give based on my closeness to the couple.

  20. I wonder if the “cover your plate” thing is more of a NY area thing. I’ve honestly never heard of it before except for weddings I’ve been to up there.

  21. tcmama – I’m in your area and give $25 gift card for daycare teachers. Weddings are typically $100-150 in cash or equivalent (flatware, china setting). I’m not consistent with how much I give and a lot factors in to well do I know them, did I have travel costs, are they the fourth wedding of the summer.

  22. Am struggling with what to do with graduation announcements? I know what to do with the kids I know, but am torn by the announcement from the HS friend that I reconnected with on FB. Haven’t seen her since graduation, never met the child. Probably won’t send anything.

    What are you struggling with? You don’t know the kid, and you’re only FB friends with the parent. Why would you even think about sending anything?

  23. ” my feelings towards the bride has definitely altered based on my financial outlay during the proceedings.”

    lol! Yes! I’m glad to know I’m not the only person.

    I’m really glad this topic came up. Serendipitously, I was looking at a couple of pint glasses we received as favors for a wedding. The couple married in 2012, had a kid and divorced within two years. I look at those glasses and laugh. And I almost want to go look up what I gave them for their wedding. Could I get it back? The whole wedding/marriage was a farce.

  24. My Mom expressly forbade us from sending out graduation announcements. I agree that if it’s the only means by which they would know of the graduation, it’s a tasteless form of solicitation.

    I think DW and I probably collected about $10k total in cash and prizes from our wedding, and in-laws probably spent about $50k. My parents maybe spent $12k on rehearsal dinner and brunch. Obviously, “cover your plate” is not widely practiced.

  25. Rhode- yay a kindred spirit. Not everyone will admit it but here i can say it freely!

    I was in one wedding where the bride (a sorority sister) and groom met in Jan, decided to get married in Feb, got engaged in April and married in September. so a ton of stuff was crammed into that short amount of time. she specifically stated on her invitation that she wanted guests to ‘express their blessings monetarily’ and then had a bridal shower where she registered for Wi remote controls and printers. She didn’t have an open bar at the wedding (and didn’t tell the bridesmaids that so someone’s husband had to buy me a drink). Needless to say, we are not that close anymore and she will not be in my wedding.

  26. Lemon – whew! We haven’t had many wedding invites lately (maybe because we’re cheap). I’ll probably use the $100 as a guide going forward.

    I’ve continued the $100 per teacher because I worry they’ll be offended if I reduce it. And honestly I feel pretty happy knowing that they appreciate it. I’ll have to figure out what is appropriate for teachers when we start school next year.

  27. “lol! Yes! I’m glad to know I’m not the only person.”

    Oh, you’re not. Not by a country mile. DW was irrationally pissed about the $300+ bridesmaid dress. The saving grace was that she could actually pick from a variety of styles. But we had to hire a babysitter and drive to a boutique in Richmond to try different ones on, because, of course, she needs me there. Still, we had a nice lunch afterward. The saving grace was that she could actually pick from a variety of styles, because DW is a vanity size 4/6, and the rest of the bridesmaids were 24 year olds, no kids, and size 0s, probably getting them taken in.

  28. Interesting, Milo – when I said “no grad announcements” I used my nonAmerican upbringing as the reason. It seems an American phenomenon uniquely. Surprised to hear your American mother felt the same as I do.

  29. My parents would have died had we sent out graduation announcements. Same with birth announcements.

  30. We haven’t been to a wedding in quite a while…don’t even remember it. But we’re in the middle of HS graduations every year with 3 kids born ’94-99 and quickly coming up on the stage where all of our friends’ kids are going to graduate from college, get married, start having kids.

    DW is a gifter; I’m cheap. Makes for a lot of bad conversations.

    Have to actually go to the bank today to get a $50 bill for a HS grad party this wknd. We know the graduate and her family well, and they gave our kid $50 last year, so I know we’ll be in the middle of the pack for this one.

  31. I’m apparently socially tone-deaf, because when my high-school friends announced on FB that their various kids had graduated from high school or college, I did absolutely nothing except post “Congrats!!” in the comments. On the other hand, I don’t think they expected any gifts, and when I posted that my kid had finished his Ph.D., we didn’t get any checks either. I’d much rather be able to post and read announcements about the kids’ accomplishments and be genuinely happy for them without a dollar amount attached.

    But we had to hire a babysitter and drive to a boutique in Richmond to try different ones on, because, of course, she needs me there.

    Heh. DSS came out here to shop for his suit (he trusts his lawyer father to know about suits), but I took plenty of photos during the shopping sessions and texted them to the bride. She texted back about which ones she preferred. Worked pretty well. They both liked the suit (simple black Brooks Brothers suit) he wound up with.

  32. Teacher gifts – at my DD’s school the room mothers are in charge of collecting funds to Christmas(Winter) gift and end of the year gift for the teacher and aides. I give $25 each time, and at Christmas gave the teacher an extra $25 gift card. I took advice from here and at the end of the year wrote a thank you email and cc the principal. My DD is in afterschool care and a few parents collected funds for gifts for the leaders/counselors. I give $25 as well, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but the better off totebaggy families probably give a lot more. This year each fulltime leader got a $500+ gift card and parttime leaders got $250 (I think there are 10 leaders in total)

  33. I thought Moxie was saying she received a paper announcement in the mail from a FB friend.

    I think congratulating someone on FB is totally normal. No money should chnage hands.

  34. Also, kid birthday gifts are a big pain point. How much should you spend? My DD is at a birthday party at least once a month for some friend or another.

  35. We are on the low end of the northeast umc nos cited. But for years we always picked up the hotel, ancillary meals, and even some airfare for my entire immediate family for family graduations bar mitzvahs weddings.

    When we were broke in our early years we frequently didn’t attend anything not local and sent no gift.

    I grew up thinking cash was tacky. But I have been converted.

  36. If there is a registry, we’ll choose something from there. If not it is cash in the $200-$500 range. More if it is a very close relative. I tend to choose a small gift from the registry or send a gift if we are invited but not attending to say thanks for thinking of us and inviting us.
    We received an invite which said “No boxed gifts please”. What does that mean ?
    Culturally the well to do families would say “No gifts” or “Gifts in blessings only”. Also, traditionally registeries were not done, guests usually have cash or gifts of their choosing.

  37. “They both liked the suit (simple black Brooks Brothers suit) he wound up with.”

    In contrast to his bride, BIL told us that he thought renting tuxes was a waste of money, and for less than the cost of a tux rental, we were to email him our sizes and PayPal him $120. Two weeks later, we each got a package from J.C. Penney with a black suit inside. The shockingly bright pink ties were a gift to us from him that he got through an online discounter. And I *have* worn the suit again–it’s not bad! Since the best man had taken on a bunch of extra work planning the canoeing/camping trip bachelor party, and bought all the food, I just paid for his suit, also.

  38. ” I give $25 as well, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but the better off totebaggy families probably give a lot more”

    Lemon – given your next sentence, you are probably right. However, what if all the families think like you (or me, ’cause I don’t foresee spending oodles of money on teachers’ gifts)?

    Milo – your DW’s story reminds me of being involved with some friends’ weddings in RI. I always felt like the “old lady” because I knew what was going on and what to expect. I had a bridesmaid balk when I mentioned we’d be all hands on deck for the shower. She actually thought she’d just have to show up at the wedding.

  39. I typically give $100. When I was younger, mycore group of friends would typically go in on a big gift together (electronics, furniture).

    DH’s cousin got married and started divorce proceedings a few months later. It was a dry wedding on halloween and seemed like it would be a spectacle (more annoying than interesting). It was also out of town. We didn’t attend and sent them a check. When he got remarried, we didn’t attend that wedding and didn’t buy a gift. Surprisingly the second marraige stuck.

  40. Louise – what if the gift came in a bag? Is that OK?

    I don’t think I’ve ever sent a graduation announcement. My PhD announcement was a pic of my degree on FB. DS’s birth announcement was text/phone calls to a select list of people, and a FB announcement 1.5 days after his birth.

  41. Two of my 3 bridesmaids didn’t come to my shower. They were both a plane ride away as didn’t have a lot of disposable income. I guess I could have paid for them to come, but I didn’t really want to be there, so I didn’t want to force others to endure the boringness.

  42. We probably average $15 for child’s bday party gifts. The only time I felt bad was at the last one I attended. The child’s mother is Hispanic. I can say this as long as reverse racism is OK, but I think immigrants/non-whites are generally much better party hosts. I’ve gotten so used to Totebagger bday parties with their cake and pizza, with some pizza for the adults, if you’re lucky. This family reserved a park pavillion, and the mother and grandmother spent every night of the preceeding week (according to the boyfriend) cooking for this party. They had smoked ribs, smoked brisket, grilled hot dogs for the kids, several different bean dishes, several different salads, all kinds of hors devours. Various baked goods for dessert. It was absolutely incredible. I took a picture and texted it to DW to show her what she was missing out on.

  43. We received an invite which said “No boxed gifts please”. What does that mean ?

    Gift Bags only?

  44. Continuing a thread from last week – DH suggested last night we ditch the kids and go to Alaska next summer just the two of us. His reasoning is its so much more $$ to take them with us, and they’d drive us crazy by preferring to play Clash of Clans over appreciating the trip anyway. I’m tempted (and he’s neutral – he was just throwing it out there) – but aren’t we supposed to force these family vacations on them and pull them away kicking and screaming from Minecraft, and then muster up fond memories later?

  45. “Why would you even think about sending anything?”

    @Denver, because I’m a little old school (they did mail an announcement with his picture for goodness sake) and I’m a little bit of a pushover.

  46. We received an invite which said “No boxed gifts please”. What does that mean ?

    They’ll get nothing and like it! The nerve of some people.

  47. “They’ll get nothing and like it! The nerve of some people.”

    Agreed. That’s just horribly written.

    My cousin and his husband (yep) wrote something much more tactful about how they were already so fortunate to both have good employment, and they had already acquired their household needs, so any gifts were totally unnecessary, *but*, recognizing that some might still want to give something, they were saving for a house down payment and…

  48. There was another CollegeConfidential thread about “no boxed gifts” on the invitation, and IIRC it’s not uncommon in some ethnic groups.

    I think graduation announcements are a regional thing. I used to see them in the South, but I can’t recall seeing them in the NY area.

    I like the idea of paying it forward. Young people still in school usually strain their budgets for wedding gifts, so I don’t think much should be expected.

  49. Lark,

    I love dry and boring and have since I was a kid. Give me Charlie Rose interviewing Mario Draghi and I’m happy as a clam. But, even for me, the idea of being a kid on a cruise to Alaska is sheer torment. Kids! Don’t forget tomorrow is the tour of a salmon cannery! Leave the poor kids at home.

  50. I was happy to see Lauren’s comment about gifts for work colleagues in the NYC area. I think we’ve been pretty much on target, but the conversation between H and me usually involved me doubling the amount he suggested We haven’t been to a work wedding in a long time, however.

  51. Lark: If you and your DH want to go to Alaska alone, why not make it an anniversary trip?

    We enjoy traveling with our kids, as our kids have fun and are good travel companions. That said, we know a lot of people (both kids and adults) who dislike traveling and prefer to stay at home. Or they are so picky that they are not fun to travel with.

  52. Boxed gifts brought to the wedding require a security detail. Envelopes can be quickly stashed. I think that was all that was meant.

  53. Rhett – I think I’ve been there. My midshipman summer cruise on the sub (summer before junior year) brought me to Ketchikan, where the boat had to pick up a few scientists and sound specialists for a few days of testing. In the interest of freeing up bunk space and to prevent us from going out of our minds, the CO kicked us all (plus some of the crew) off in Ketchikan and told us to get hotel rooms.

    What was shocking to observe was how the town came alive whenever a cruise ship was next to the pier, with shops bustling and restaurant diners spilling onto the sidewalk, and people climbing those poles and throwing axes; and then you watch the ship leave, you turn around, and it’s like an abandoned ghost town. Everything is closed, locked, dark, shades drawn.

  54. Apparently I was wrong about no boxed gifts. It actually means cash only, which I guess is understood in home country of some cultures, but comes across differently in USA.

  55. “Boxed gifts brought to the wedding require a security detail.”

    What’s the movie where they guy goes into the wedding reception with a card and casually walks over to the table of gifts, finds the biggest one, discreetly pulls the existing card off of the box and tapes his own card in its place? I loved that.

  56. I usually buy something off the registry between $75 and $125, depending on how close we are to the couple and how much we had to spend to get there. I have only been to one in-town wedding as an adult so usually we are looking at a very long drive or flights, several nights in a hotel, and sometimes new clothes (like the black tie wedding we attended last year). Often it easily hits the $1000 mark because of travel, and we have big families. We are better off financially than most people our age, so relatives especially seem to have unrealistic expectations regarding our ability to attend cousins’ weddings in far-flung corners of the country. But we’re also still in that starting out phase so it’s tough managing expectations.

  57. For birthday parties, most people give a $10-$15 boxed Lego set among my boys. Not sure what girls do yet. I end up buying two because we have twins and each twin gives a gift.

    Regarding baby gifts, one thing I did well this time was remember which relative(s) gave which outfits and text pictures of Baby WCE when she grows into the outfit they gave, in addition to the usual handwritten thank you notes when we receive the package. We sent out announcements to close relatives and grandparents- the same type of photo cards we receive as Christmas cards. It’s mostly so they can put the card on the refrigerator and try to remember her name. We received relatively few gifts, since she’s a fourth child.

    All your weddings are way beyond any expenses I ever had. When I was back in Iowa last month, there was an announcement in the church bulletin inviting the church to celebrate with a particular couple. That felt familiar.

  58. Fred – Maybe. It could have been Vince Vaughn. He cracks me up in everything he’s in.

    “We are better off financially than most people our age, so relatives especially seem to have unrealistic expectations regarding our ability ”

    That’s why you got to keep a lid on things. :)

  59. WCE- I love when I give a baby gift and get a cute text message picture of the baby wearing the outfit or playing with the toy. I’ll take that over a formal thank you note any day, though I know people still feel obligated.

  60. Lark – My DD had a fantastic time on the Alaska cruise at age 6, and I think we made some good memories since she still talks about it. We did not tour a salmon cannery, but we did pan for gold and then enjoyed a salmon bake at a cheesy fun location that caters to cruise ships. We also took a ride behind sled dogs that was better than any roller coaster I’ve ridden, not to mention seeing the puppies adn learning all about dog-sledding. Butchart Gardens in Vancouver might not interest your boys, but I recall that my brother did some more adventurous tours at some of our stops, such as whale-watching, rock-climbing, and mountain biking.

  61. The “No boxed gifts” does come across differently. One half of the couple is from an immigrant family. I was going to look for a registry thinking that they may have one set up.
    Traditionally guests were never forbidden from gifting what they wanted. Sometimes, family would offer their decorating, cooking skills in lieu of a gift.

  62. WCE-I love when people do that. A friend texted me months after I’d given her something with her daughter in it. I cherish that picture because it’s a cute baby and also it makes me feel good that my friend remembered my gift and also thought of me to send it! It’s hard when you don’t’ see your friends after they have kids.

    Speaking of weddings: i’m going to a bridal shower on Sunday and i got this with the invite: Please provide one of your favorite recipes-she eats healthy and prefer gluten free. Anyone?

  63. How do you really keep a lid on your financial situation with your parents and inlaws? I mean, no one knows actual numbers, but they’ve seen where you live and know what company you work for. They know you take decent vacations and eat at nice restaurants. So they assume you either have an UMC income, and they know that your siblings and cousins are mostly liberal arts majors in unpaid internships and that sort of thing.

  64. We have two totally different gift backgrounds. Mine is very Midwestern Protestant, where everything is fairly low-key, cash is a horrifying idea, and even a registry seems like cheating, because you’re supposed to give something thoughtful or meaningful. One of my favorite wedding gifts we received was from my godparents, who had moved to Oregon, and who presented us with a case of wines they had chosen themselves — nothing expensive, but all things they thought we would like and designed to be drunk at different times over the next 1-10 years. That approach made it easy when I was young and broke; when one friend got married when I was in college, I bought a pack of recipe cards and wrote up a whole bunch of family recipes (she’s Mormon, I knew she’d be at home and doing a lot of cooking for her soon-to-come family), and I didn’t have to feel guilty about not being able to spend more money.

    Oh, and you’d never expect people to pay a lot to come “honor” you, or plan 17 pre-wedding events, or cover the cost of their plates, etc. It’s so freaking greedy and grasping; it turns it into all about what you can get out of people, instead of appreciating what they are already giving you by their presence and time commitment, and I totally think less of people who are that full of themselves. I was just happy my bridesmaids were able to come from halfway across the country; we did the “little black dress” for the bridesmaids so they could all pick something they already had or would wear again, and we bought the vests and little button thingys for DH’s groomsmen. I think a plane ticket and a hotel room is as much as you should ask of anybody — and I wouldn’t have been at all upset if our friends couldn’t swing that.

    On the flip side, DH is of NY Jewish extraction, where money is the best possible gift, and the amounts are at least one decimal point over from what I would expect, if not two. We got over $10K in cash from family/friends — which, considering the whole wedding cost us $14K, and my mom and dad together covered about $10K of it, put us significantly in the black and was completely unexpected. Now we’re on the flip side of that, with the b’nai mitzvahs in full roll, and we’re giving far more than I ever envisioned. But we’re also in a position to do so, and I feel completely like the comment above, that it now makes so much more sense of the gifts we got early on from people we barely knew.

    And I will say his way is soooo much easier — no trying to figure out that special, meaningful gift, or giving them the 3rd blender or whatever, it’s just what multiple of 18 given the closeness of the relationship. I have totally come around to it.

  65. lagirl- I got invited to a baby shower a few months ago that was a similar deal, where I was asked to not only bring a main dish to serve 25+ but also to make sure it was gluten free and vegetarian. I was kind of annoyed because I didn’t know the mom-to-be was even pregnant before I got the invite, and I didn’t know the friends hosting at all. I feel like if you invite a near-stranger to a shower you shouldn’t expect them to cater it in addition to bringing a gift.

  66. Rio- well this time we’re only to provide the recipe (thank god) but I have been sent a 3 page email in the past with a list of things/items the planner wanted me to do. amazingly, the guest of honor was the one I mentioned above-I had no idea how her and her best friend really were until all this happened.

  67. “How do you really keep a lid on your financial situation with your parents and inlaws?”

    Rio – Oh, you can’t, nor would you really want to. I was thinking more like second cousins. I will say, however, that I would never post anything on FB that would seem particularly expensive to the people who might see it. So a couple pictures of shared, extended family vacations at a rented lake house are fine; a long weekend with DW in a five-star hotel, NFW.

    I certainly don’t need someone on the Church Finance Committee wondering why we’re not giving more.

  68. Rio – that is just horrible. If you went, you are a better woman than I. I got invited to a baby shower of a woman I’ve known since grade school. I found out she was pregnant when I received the shower invitation. I did not go, I did not send a gift, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t RSVP (or if I did, I made sure to call when I was positive I could leave a voicemail).

    To answer your question on keeping a lid on financials – I don’t think you can realistically. But you can just pick and choose events. Sure they may expect you to come, but you have your own priorities and they will have to deal. I say this knowing that I’m like you – I’m expected to be there and therefore I’ll do my best. And I get that you’re still feeling out wrt to expectations/boundaries/far-flung family. Sometimes though you have to choose you. And remember, even with large families, these events slow down. And only crazy people would expect you to fly to the other side of the country for a baby shower.

  69. On wedding gifts the tradition in my family, is to give your godchild a bigger wedding gift. My aunt gave my cousin a wedding gift, my mother saw what it was and was surprised. My mom thought that she had given too little. Then she realized that the cousin was my aunt’s godchild. It is an honor and expense to be a godparent.

  70. When I got married, I bought the dresses for my bridesmaids (I only had two of them). I just couldn’t imagine forcing them to buy an item of clothing that they would never have bought for themselves. I did this in lieu of giving them bridesmaids gifts.

    Some of my parents’ ethnic friends actually tossed money at DH and me when we were dancing at the reception. I guess that was a custom in the Old Country. (It was symbolic, though — just coins. It’s not like we were picking up $100 bills off the floor, unfortunately.)

    Call me a scrooge, but I dislike wedding showers. If you want to go out with your girlfriends to celebrate your engagement, great! But why expect them to give you a gift at your party, when they’re going to be expected to give you another gift a few months later at the wedding?

  71. “But why expect them to give you a gift at your party, when they’re going to be expected to give you another gift a few months later at the wedding?”

    You forgot about the gift at the engagement party.

  72. I did go to the shower, because the mom-to-be was someone I was hoping might turn into a closer friend. I didn’t get a thank you note, or any acknowledgement of my gift (it was awkward when she opened it because the previous gift was the exact same item), and I haven’t heard from her since. Though I realize she may just be overwhelmed with her first baby so I haven’t written it completely off.

  73. Rio, thanks for not writing off your slow-with-the-thank-you-note friends. I think it was at least 3 months before I got thank you notes for twin gifts/suppers done, due to NICU, feeding issues, physical therapy, etc. My attitude was that people were doing this stuff because they knew I was overwhelmed, thus they would understand the delay.

  74. I’ve attended a few showers and birthday parties where you’re not supposed to bring gifts but rather a photo and memory to share about the person being honored. It’s a nice way to celebrate with friends & family, especially older & wealthier ones who really don’t want or need gifts.

  75. Has anyone been to a wedding with the dollar/money dance? This is where everyone gets in line to dance with the bride and the bridesmaids have a bag to collect money (amounts vary) before you dance. The groomsmen are waiting with shots of alcohol when you are done. This was traditional for my in-laws, but I think my mom would have died if we had it at my wedding.

  76. WCE – 3 months is well within etiquette for thank you notes. Now, if Rio’s friend’s shower was a year ago, then well, that lady needs a talking to.

    In May I received a thank you note for a bridal shower I attended in October. I ended seeing the guest of honor last weekend – and she commented that 6 months was within the acceptable amount of time to get the notes done (and then proceeded to justify the delay because of the quality of the note). I didn’t want to break her heart that Oct-May is 7 months. Part of me wanted to make her feel bad by saying “Uh, I got my baby shower and new baby thank you notes out before DS came home from the hospital. That was 9 weeks between the shower and when he came home.” But it’s not a competition. At least I got a thank you note.

  77. Traditionally, I thought you didn’t need thank you notes if you had the opportunity to thank the giver in person.

  78. Nap – I have been to a wedding with a money dance. But not since I was a kid. I thought it was so awesome back then. Now I would be clutching my pearls.

  79. Nap – pretty sure there was a dollar dance at my sister’s wedding. Very regional tradition. I escaped that fate. My sister was mortified.

  80. If it’s a family/ethnic/regional custom, and the expectation is a nominal amount, I wouldn’t clutch my pearls. Traditions are fun.

  81. My kids get thank you notes from their friends for birthday presents within a short time period. All the parents it seems follow this….

  82. 6 months for a thank you note? How hard is it to just sit down and write them? I kept a package of notes on the kitchen table in the weeks after DD was born, and just wrote them out as things showed up in the mail. Takes 2 minutes.
    DH’s cousin sent pre-printed thank yous for their engagement party and shower–yes they were delivered with in a week of the event, but included no personalization whatsoever, or even an signature. I’m sure the same will come shortly for the wedding. (I think that’s just slightly less tacky than not sending a note at all)

  83. DW is a gifter; I’m cheap. Makes for a lot of bad conversations.

    That’s us as well.

  84. It’s been a long time since I saw a dollar dance, and the ones I remember had guests pin money to the bride and groom’s clothes.

    One of my distant relatives is celebrating her upcoming wedding in a format I’ve never seen before. First a church ceremony that is presumably open to everyone, second is a reception that requires an invitation, and finally a dance party open to everyone. I suspect the dance party is NOT open bar.

  85. “DW is a gifter; I’m cheap. Makes for a lot of bad conversations.

    That’s us as well.”

    Not us. We’re both cheap. :)

  86. Large Catholic extended family + South = many weddings. I have 3 this year….I give ~$100 (list price) gifts. I usually try to go in on a larger gift with family or friends. Then, you can get a bigger gift. Also, for some reason most people I know register at Macy’s, which has great sales around every holiday on registry items. 3 people can get the Calphalon pots and pan set (originally $300 or so) marked down to $150. No one is wiser. If no big ticket items available, or I’m not particularly fond of the person, I try to make the gift as awkward as possible to write a thank you note for….(i.e., Xmas set sugar bowl). For wedding showers, Penzey’s has a great wedding shower gift box ($20) that includes several spices with symbolism for a happy marriage. Brides always love that gift. As for thank you notes, one male cousin was in charge of the notes for his friends/family…..very equitable.

  87. I am not a fan of money dances. I’ve seen it at a few weddings and I always feel super awkward about it. I don’t mind spending money on my friends, my problem is the entitlement that I should be spending the money.

    My other thing is that I know when it’s my turn it won’t be reciprocated. The same girls won’t be in my wedding and will not be willing to put in the same time/money that I put into theirs.

  88. I (should say we but I order the gifts/write the checks) give around $100 for weddings. It will go up when we are empty nesters, but I am just envisioning having to go to FL for DH’s cousins’ weddings…plane tickets and 2 hotel rooms add up fast! The CA wedding for my cousin was easily 2K in travel and we didn’t bring the kids.

  89. There was a time when we were going to many friends’ weddings, and we usually gave around $200 from both of us in our area. But when I attend family weddings in smaller towns, I give less so as not to give way more than others who would be attending. We haven’t actually been to a wedding in awhile though. There are two cousin weddings this year & we are missing both of them. I attended the showers though.

    Kid birthdays – I try to spend around $15, and I am in no way above regifting unopened, unwanted presents that were given to my own child. (unopened lego sets, etc) My standard gift is also a lego set or a board game/card game.

    Amber – I almost think that the generic note is actually MORE tacky than no note. I am still irritated at the generic photo card that we got from DH’s cousin saying “Thanks for coming to our wedding” with their photo on it. Not even hand signed or addressed! UGH. It was fodder for a lot of family gossip I guess though.

  90. Ivy- yes me too! I hate the generic pre printed note. The worst is having to address your own envelop. Talk about being lazy!

  91. My husband’s family does the dollar dance but I nixed it. My dad would have been mortified and I would have too.

  92. Lemon, I have a way of dealing with kid birthday gifts that will change your life :)

    Every year during a sale, I buy 12 sets of art supplies appropriate for kids DD’s age, and 12 sets for kids DS’s age, online from Blick. Usually I do it around a theme, so something like: watercolor pencils, watercolor set, watercolor paper, watercolor crayons, brushes. Since I’m buying quality brands during the sale – not ordinary Crayola stuff – the kids rarely already have exactly what I bought. And if they already do, well, can you ever have enough art supplies? And I can make sure that each set costs $12-15, which is my budget.

    Then rather than running around the day before the party trying to find something that so-and-so will actually like, I can just pull out my pre-assembled pack, dump it in the appropriately sized gift bag (also bought 12 at a time), slap some tissue paper in it, and call it DONE.

  93. Oh, and for wedding gifts, DH keeps a spreadsheet of prior gifts to us, so when a friend or relative gets married/has a kid/whatever, we look up what we got and add more.

    We had a registry for our wedding but it was used mostly by my side of the family, which doesn’t have the same cultural tradition of cash gifts.

  94. Laura you summed up the midwestern way perfectly!!

    As for the gluten free recipe stuff – I cannot even begin. NO ONE has a favorite gluten free recipe!

    Dollar dance – ugh did it at my brother’s wedding – cultural tradition on bride’s side. Even now I shudder at the memory. All that money just out and about! (See laura’s bit above).

  95. Our wedding thank you notes were pretty unique at the time – the cover was a collage of photos from the wedding with something written inside. All done by my photographer. We were the first couple to choose the option, so it’s probably still on his website as an example. Anyway, we wrote in the card as well and then sent them out. Some of my family went ape-sh!t because the cards took a while to come in. We married in April and didn’t get the cards out until August. I even included little cards with our new address on them. Once my family received the cards, all was well because they saw why the cards took so long. And, 9 years later, still talk about those cards.

    Sky – your husband is amazing. I have no where near that level of care or organization.

    lagirl – you are right about reciprocity. It’s non-existent. And it doesn’t change. I went out of my way for my friends’ weddings and showers. I had a friend who wanted to host a baby shower for me – she chose the exact day DS was born. She promised a make up party where everyone could meet DS. I’m pretty sure that party will never happen at this point. Oh well. I’ve given up. I’m going to continue to go all out because that’s who I am. I just know that it will not be reciprocated at all.

  96. Lagirl – is it possible that it is a “recipe shower” where you bring one of your favorite recipes to be collected and presented to the bride? And by that I mean the recipe card, not the actual food.

  97. @Sky — that birthday idea is freaking brilliant. Really wish I had thought of that before my kids aged out of the all-class parties! :-)

  98. Sky – DS got gifts like that: one family gave every birthday boy/girl a tennis racket, and another gave a chess set. It seemed like a very clever idea!

  99. Sky – in so many characteristics, you have a very purposeful, deliberate, organized, dispassionate, precise nature. You’re like a well-organized Marine Corps drill sergeant. I’m in awe.

  100. ssk-you might have a point there. we were all sent recipe cards. I’m just going to write my stuffed peppers recipe.

    Rhode- I think you’re right. that’s one thing that sucks about being the last one. A lot of people in general tend to be self involved but I think LA makes it worse.

  101. Sky – this is brilliant and I will definitely be using this in the future…starting after my run to Target this evening for yet another present. My budget has always been $15, but at my DD’s last birthday she received very nice gifts, in the $25-35 gift range, and some coming from a local boutique store, so I know they weren’t on sale or bought online.

  102. Of course when I first started going to weddings I think I would spend about $50 on a gift, and the number when up as I got older, got married, had more money, etc. We are in a place where DH’s “old” nephews and nieces have gotten married about one per year for the last 6-8 years, and I think we spend $150-200.

    In a few years we will probably start getting invited to weddings of the children of our friends – I don’t know what we will spend.

    I remember getting cash from DH’s parents and from one of my uncles with whom I had a very close relationship. We loved it! I did love getting gifts from my registry, but something about those crisp bills was great.

    On the thank-yous when the person is in the room – when I had birthday parties as a kid I thanked the giver and never sent a note. It is a little hazy for me thinking back to my own kids’ parties – I think I did for those years when they had a big party, and when they were old enough I bugged them until they did it.

    Also, at the baby or wedding showers I’ve been to, there is usually someone is in charge of writing down the gift and the gift giver. I thought it was because while the giver would get a “thank you so much, it is lovely” from the bride or mom to be, the atmosphere was so hectic that afterwards she would write a nice note afterwards with some thing nice to say about the gift.

  103. Lemon, we get gifts ranging from $15-$25, but I prefer to stay on the low end of the range.

    Most of my kids’ friends have more toys than they play with, and a frequent topic of whispered mommy conversations is how to get rid of excess toys when the kids aren’t home.

    I also do paperbacks and a small bag of candy as the goody bags at my kids’ parties, as I find I throw out most of the schlock we get within 24 hours.

  104. Milo, my kids would second the drill sergeant :)

    If they ever become marines, their superior officer will probably wonder how they got so good at ignoring or debating direct orders. Lots of practice….

  105. I think I mentioned one of my neighbors who requested kids to bring their used books and did a book swap at her kids birthday. I thought it was a great idea. Each kid came home with a new to them book and my neighbor also gave a small bag of candy to each kid.
    Another neighbor requested no gifts for her child’s birthday. DD drew a card, attached a rainbow loom bracelet and that was it.
    On reciprocating. We were like Lagirl, Rhode…..we would go all out be very generous to cousins. DH learnt that once his cousins were married they didn’t care at all and over the years we stopped calling/emailing/sending cards. It was difficult to stop trying to keep up the relationship but by cutting the cord we were not hurt by the lack of response

  106. I’ve mentioned before how I’ve seen a wide variation in wedding traditions. While weddings here are, to my knowledge, quite unique overall (when a coworker got married, to other coworkers who moved here from the mainland were totally discombobulated at the reception), I’ve also learned here of some commonalities with traditions elsewhere in the US.

    Like NoB, DW bought her bridesmaids’ dresses. I paid for the tux rentals for my groomsmen, and we bought gifts for everyone in our party, presented at our rehearsal dinner. This is typical here; DW was a bridesmaid in several weddings, and I was a groomsman a couple of times, and we never paid for our own dresses or tux rentals.

    The money dance is also very common here, although there are several variations.

    The most common gifts are cash and checks. When people do show up with boxed gifts, it is usually assumed that the givers are from elsewhere and thus not familiar with local customs.

  107. Some one got us a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant we would never go to for wedding present. We talked about that meal for years. I usually give more the younger you are. $100 to a high school grad may really mean something.

  108. OT, “cover your plate” is a rule of thumb here, not a hard and fast rule, to be considered in addition to things like ability to pay and how close you are to the couple or either family.

    E.g., for someone you don’t know very well, paying just enough to cover your plate, even if you could afford more, is, to my knowledge, considered OK.

    If covering your plate is difficult to afford, e.g., you’re a poor college student, you need to look at other circumstances. If one or both of the couple are good friends, and their parents are well off and picking up the tab, you give what you can, and pay it forward later.

  109. I also do paperbacks and a small bag of candy as the goody bags at my kids’ parties, as I find I throw out most of the schlock we get within 24 hours.

    This is why people need to just stop giving goody bags. I was on a mission to end the madness when our kids were younger but my wife insisted on spending way too much time and money to make sure the ones we gave out were better than everyone else’s.

  110. DD – I agree with you on the goody bags. At our wedding we were told by our wedding planner that we would have to spend quite a bit per favor piece if we truly wanted to give a memorable object.
    In the home country at Christian weddings favors are big. People would try to have very elaborate wedding favors. We had a collection of those at home but after some time they were discarded as newer pieces were brought home from recent weddings.

  111. Down with goody bags! I can join that movement. Our kid party days are over, but I don’t want a candle with the couple’s name or wine glasses or whatever I’ve received at weddings. Although, I did succumb to the pressure at my D’s quinceanera, trying to be a little practical with personalized playing cards and a wrist key chain.

    I also used to buy birthday presents and birthday cards in bulk. After my kids aged out of that era, I ended up with a few leftovers that I donated.

  112. I can’t stand goody bags, and my kid doesn’t really care about them either. Just more waste – they pretty much go straight to the garbage. I feel the same way about wedding/shower favors like COC. ESPECIALLY if it has the couple’s name on it.

  113. You know what’s awkward? When the goody bag items clearly cost more than the gift you gave. That’s happened to me once or twice.

  114. I can also join in on the hate for goody bags. With a fall birthday I’ve been known to give small pumpkins and mums. So far I haven’t heard of any complaints and the parents have thanked me for the anti goody bag.

  115. Overall, I think giving gifts is difficult. People are better able to make their own choices of how to value things. I also think it is a fundamental problem to have a party with the expectation of a gift attached.

  116. Our wedding favors were edible (following another cultural tradition from the Old Country).

  117. We recently received an email wedding invitation for a wedding in Thailand. The bride-to-be was one of DS’s nannies. If she was getting married in California, we would probably attend. I plan to send a gift in the pay-it-forward spirit.

    We are at $20-25 iTunes gift cards for pre-teen boy birthday gifts. The most recent party favor that we gave was a gift card for one smoothie at the favorite smoothie place. In the past we’ve given mini-mag flashlights, Lego mini-figs, or crab nets (for the fishing birthday party).

  118. That particular article is stupid, but the topic is still interesting.

  119. RMS – I was just wondering how different this conversation would have been 5 years ago before transgendered people had become suddenly acceptable.

  120. I love buying gifts and I am that person who refuses to buy off of the registry. I don’t think I have ever given cash. To be fair, I haven’t really attended many family weddings where I didn’t have a real relationship with the bride and groom, so maybe that will change.

    I gave a $100 value gift at a wedding we attended in New York (work colleague). I thought it was creative and useful. I think they were appalled that we didn’t give cash (like everyone else). Knowing what I now know about regional customs, I think we were way-outliers on the gift-giving. In the west, no one would expect more (at least in the circles I travel in).

    A hometown friend had a California wedding that included her Ivy League undergrad and grad school friends. She got a number of personal checks >$1000 from peers. I can’t even.

  121. Anyway, RMS – I would say the prime difference is the deception part of the whole thing. I suppose there are transgendered people who I have contact with that I do not know are transgendered, but I would be pissed if the president of NOW was transgendered.

  122. RMS, I think the “one drop” theory of racial classification went out of fashion at least 40 years ago. Lots of people who think they are “all” white discover they aren’t and most of them don’t suddenly consider themselves African American. My twins were in Sunday School with “multiracial” twins, one of whom looks very stereotypically African American and one of whom has light brown hair with blue eyes. I can imagine those twins identifying differently as adults because of how people respond to them.

    Race is neither a purely social nor a purely biological construct. I suppose I think both transracial and transgender people are a bit odd, but I don’t think I need to worry about how they classify themselves. I doubt that the transgender people at work are going to start hogging the lactation room.

  123. but I would be pissed if the president of NOW was transgendered.

    I would be pissed if the president of NOW hadn’t told anyone she was transgendered. I agree that there’s something to the deception element. OTOH, many transgendered people go about their days without talking about their gender of origin. See this individual:

    I went to grad school with him when he was Susan. I swear you can’t tell. He seems much happier now than he did as a woman. And if he went through his life never mentioning that he started out as Susan, I’m not sure I’d think anything of it.

    I still am puzzling through it.

  124. RMS, I’m doing laundry, putting a baby down, loading the camper and thinking about your post.
    Philosopher viewpoint: Is this person’s inner reality more masculine or feminine? Is this person’s inner reality aligned with this person’s external genitalia? What does it mean to have a masculine or feminine essence?
    Me: Is this person going to hog the lactation room?

  125. Step one is just to try to enumerate the similarities and differences, I think. I mentioned before that we tend to tiptoe around the sexual aspect of gender change. I think that’s missing from the racial example. I think. I hope. Oh dear, maybe I shouldn’t have gone there.

  126. I’ve already posted this, haven’t I? Oh well, you should have written me off by now anyway.

  127. This evening’s frustration:

    DH’s sister (the screwup one) and her youngest daughter are here for a week. The youngest daughter is our great hope, because the other 4 kids all dropped out of high school, but Youngest is doing well, has taken AP exams, has won some prizes, etc. So she tells us her boyfriend wants to go to Stanford. (He has no prayer, but that’s not important right now).

    DH and me: Why don’t you apply to Stanford? [she probably won’t get in, but why not apply?]

    Niece: We can’t possibly afford it.

    Me (knowing SIL makes less than $40K, and there are no fathers anywhere to be seen): If your household income is less than $60K, you can go for free.

    SIL and Niece: stare in amazement

    SIL: Really??

    Us: Yes.

    SIL: Any other schools do that?

    Us: Yes, lots.

    SIL: Well, I don’t want you to go to California

    Me: Silently bangs head against table

    Us: Well, how about Purdue or I.U.? (They live in Indianapolis)

    SIL: No, too far away.

    We all lapse into silence.
    Us: What?? They’re both, like, 2 hours from Indy.

  128. You know there is a theory that says that there was heavy selection pressure on the enslaved peoples of Africa when they were transported to the US (50%, 75% died en route?). Those that were genetically good and retaining water were more likely to survive the voyage and go on to pass their genetic material onto today’s African American. People connect that to the high rates of hypertension in the African Americans and the fact that they (as a population) respond well diuretics and salt restriction for blood pressure management.

  129. My nonsequiter random fact made more sense right after WCE’s.

    @RMS – very sad, and I’ve heard that song before.

  130. I read something on NPR about the transgender-transracial issue. With Caitlyn, she will forever have xy chromosomes. Rachel will always be Caucasian. But Caitlyn identified as woman and Rachel identified as African-American. Fine and dandy. Just don’t lie about it. Don’t bury your past to solidify your future. Caitlyn doesn’t act like Bruce didn’t exist and shun his life. Rachel did. I’m sure if she said “I’m white but after XZY I’ve realized I identify more with African-American culture” she’d be accepted more than she is now.

    My other question for Rachel is why? What promoted this? I guess I have the same questions for Caitlyn but People and Diane Sawyer have asked those questions for me.

  131. Purdue and IU are 1 hour from Indy. You can get a degree with either name on it from IUPUI, Indiana University-Purdue University campus at Indianapolis. Good Luck Rocky!

  132. We’ve given a lot of iTunes gift cards also. We stock up on Black Friday when Sam’s discounts them, then we don’t scramble for a gift when we find out about an invitation on short notice.

  133. Anyone want to read and discuss?

    My take on the larger economic issue is that there are essentially two “middle classes” in this country, and for most people, marriage (or, more fairly, involved fathers) is the dividing line. There’s one middle class like Rocky’s SIL, and with no paternal support, HHI will not go above $40k per year. Disney has written them off.

    The other middle class is the married middle class (or joint parenting) between the ages of 35-49, or thereabouts, that has a median household income around $80k. Those families are still able to afford a Disney World trip as an indulgence, even if they’re not staying in the $2,000-per-night Polynesian huts.

    In fairness, I don’t think that the first group was ever expecting to go to Disney in 1970, either.

  134. OTOH, the article’s point about the increasing stratification of offerings and experiences even among the people who are visiting the resort is a good observation.

  135. According to Wikipedia, 52 million people visit Disney World every year. I imagine that at least a few of them are middle class.

  136. The role that racial/ethnic/gender identify plays in college applications and other diversification initiatives is made even more absurd by this trend to accept these fluid definitions. The college Common Application only requires that you self-identify as a particular race in order to attain that classification. Maybe this lax requirement will now apply to gender. Sheesh.

  137. I have been thinking about the WDW thing a bit more. I grew up middle class. I went to Disney once some time in the late 80s. We drove to Florida, stayed at the beach in a cheap hotel for 4-5 nights then drove to Orlando. We went to the Magic Kingdom one day and Epcot another day. Stayed at an off-site hotel. Ate breakfast in our hotel room and dinner off-site. Lunch at the parks. There was no expensive bippidy boppity boutique visit or other expensive extras. I did get some plastic mouse ears. The end.

    I think most middle class families could do what we did.

  138. Wait a minute! Back In The Day, the entrance fee to Disney didn’t cover the cost of the rides. When my family went to Disneyland back in 1965, there were the famous lettered tickets, A through E, and the best rides were the E tickets. And they were pricey. Remember Weird Al’s song “Jurassic Park”? “Well this sure ain’t no E ticket, think I’ll tell them where to stick it”, etc. So the entrance cost increase is not a fair measurement.

    That said, it is really expensive if you do it all. But I agree with Cat, if you plan well, you can cut a lot of costs. That’s certainly what my family did in ’65. Offsite motel, warnings to my sister and me that we should choose our E-ticket rides carefully, etc.

  139. And we still had a blast. I remember it very fondly. I was only 5, and I thought Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was totally boss.

  140. CoC, I think that a lot of those admissions criteria are going to have to change. If we’re really going to be non-binary about everything, then they aren’t going to work.

  141. We went to Disneyworld one time when I was around 12. My mother saved for a really long time so we could go for the trip. The rest of our vacations were in places like Lake George and we would rent or share a cabin with my grandparents for five days. I never went on the type of vacations that we take now because my mother could not afford a trip that involved planes etc.
    Vacations (like kid bday parties) have become much more extravagant.

    We are going for the Disney trifecta this year. We went to WDW, cruise and we will spend one day in Disneyland later this year. The cruise was the only trip that was planned around Disney. The other two vacations involved travel to Orlando, and So Cal so we decided to include one day in each park. It seems like a complete waste of money unless you really stay all day, or get multi day passes. The parks opened before 8 AM when we there at the end of the year, and we could have stayed until 1AM.

    I do think memories are made at Disney, but the kids should be old enough to really enjoy the parks.

  142. Milo,

    In Disney’s defense, I bet they are also capturing value that once went to automobile manufacutures and airlines.

    In 1971 it was considered a miracle if a car went to 100k miles. The 2,500 miles round trip from Boston, Chicago etc was a fairly decent chunk of a car’s useful life. For those that flew,
    a ticket from Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis to Orlando probably cost $300 in 1971 and costs $300 now not adjusting for inflation.

    That said, the article is correct that Disney is also going where the money is which is the totebag class and above which are doing dramatically better than ever before economically.

  143. Rhett – Good points. I also thought earlier “they can use gasoline fracking savings to pay for the tickets.”

    The article’s author makes no attempt to hide her disdain for “Wall Street Dads.” Based on nothing, she presumes that the reason they’re willing to pay more is not because they’d prefer not to wait in lines; rather, it must be because that they hate spending time with their kids.

  144. The only way Coco and Zazu are getting their all expenses paid Nana trip to Disney World is if we can do it on a high end package. I’ve done the cheap offside motel and the lines.

    As has often been mentioned here, there has been a lot of inflation in the trappings of a middle class minimum lifestyle. Disney was much too far away to have been part of my childhood. My kids went once on our once in five years real vacation.

  145. WDW is not affordable to many in the middle class- even in the 80s. I’ve been to Epcot twice and Magic Kingdom once. I’ve also been to IOA and Universal multiple times. All of these adventures occurred as an adult. The best trip was the “free” WDW trip. We toured the parks via monorail between the hotels. We never set foot inside the parks but played at the Florida Hotel and Polynesian. Minigolf and lunch offsite. We did that in college.

    I don’t think I’ll take my kids there until they are at least tall enough to ride the rides. Otherwise it’s not worth it. And it will be a ridiculously and meticulously planned trip.

    Honestly, I’d rather give my money to Universal. I’ve always had more fun there. I’m trying to work out a trip with a friend to hit both HP parks with DH. It’s becoming more complicated with DS. Bleh.

  146. The article missed a huge point. Disney has changed the focus from “come to the park for a day” to “come to the resort for a week.” Starting at 4 days, it’s only an extra $10 a day on multi-day passes, so it’s under $50 a day on a 7 day pass, which is extremely reasonable. However, Disney is counting on people who buy 7 day passes to be staying in a Disney hotel for 7 nights at a minimum of $200 per night, plus eating all their meals on the Disney dining plan. That’s where they are making the money. Anything they get from people buying the single day passes for $100 is just gravy.

    And IMO, Disney really needs to do something to limit admissions at peak times. A lot of the magic is lost when you are spending all day fighting through crowds just to be able get on the hour-long line for the next ride. I understand the backlash they’d get if they turned people away at the gates – a bunch of tweets of “We saved for a year to take our big trip to Disney and they wouldn’t let us in the Magic Kingdom because it was full!” would be a PR nightmare. Charging higher prices at the peak times is a better way to limit attendance and shift visits to off-peak times.

  147. Also, besides Rocky’s comment about the admission not originally including the rides, they do keep adding an upgrading attractions. Even comparing to when they started including the rides, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison of what you get for the ticket.

  148. I agree with Denver Dad. We had a big trip more than a year ago, and will do another this year. We will not go off property – I appreciate the seamlessness of the Disney experience and am willing to pay a premium for it.

    I have heard a number of people say, “Oh, I was in Orlando a last year and we had a day to stay at Disney. The lines were terrible! We couldn’t eat at any of the nice restaurants – you were supposed to make a reservation 6 months ago! I don’t know what all the fuss is about – Disney’s not that great.” That is the person that Disney has stopped courting – they make the park visit so complicated that you can really best enjoy it and get you money’s worth if you do a lot of planning. (The internet is full of people who do a lot of planning and do everything on the very cheap successfully, but Disney is not interested in courting people who buy their souveniers at the dollar store in Fayetteville before driving to the park).

  149. We took DD to WDW for one day several years ago, and the only reason we were in Florida was to visit family. We had fun, but one day was enough for both me and DH. I don’t see what the big attraction is. If I want to do a theme park, I have two right here in my own state; I don’t have to travel to Florida to stand in the hot sun for a long time to ride a roller coaster. I did buy DD a few shares of Disney stock about five years ago so she could learn about the stock market. It has done really well for her. So, I want people to spend lots of money at Disney; my family just is not going to be one of them.

  150. Our experience echos Ada’s and Sheep farmer’s comments. DH and I went to Disneyland pre kids are we really enjoyed ourselves. We went to Disneyland for a day with the kids as part of a California vacation. The experience was that the park was quite crowded. My kids would like to go on the Disney cruise, as for going to WDW, they don’t seem to be keen to going to the park. They are also aging out of the younger kid experiences. American Girl Doll store is another place my DD still would like to visit but the desire to buy anything is not there.

  151. I don’t have to travel to Florida to stand in the hot sun

    The key is to stay property so you can take advantage of the early and late hours and theb spend the middle of the day at the elaborate hotel pool.

  152. I just got back from town pool, and I overheard someone talking about a guide that they paid $120 an hour to take them around WDW. It is a minimum of six hours, and the dad kept saying it was worth every penny. It sounded like their guide some how had double fast pass tickets – not sure if she had a lot of passes. It all involved fast pass, and the guide planning the route, timing and meals. It was not a Disney employee. they have younger kids, but the perfect sweet spot for the magic kingdom, 5 and 7 yo.

    There is an article in the NYT wedding section today. It immediately reminded me of the comments from rio and lagirl about the cost to participate in the entire wedding process.

  153. Louise – DD and visited the American Girl Doll store in NYC two years ago (when she was 22!!) and it was a hoot. From the little girl getting into a taxi with her doll in a special backpack to the beauty salon and “hospital”, it was so much fun. Her two dolls (she has Molly and Kit) are stored safely away with their trunks – we’ll see if her daughters play with them someday.

    On Disney, when our kids were little we would take them out of school in October or March to avoid vacation crowds, and when they couldn’t miss school we would pick them up the last day and head down to Anaheim. We occasionally saw other school families at a rest stop doing the same thing!

    I agree that Disney is no longer catering to the casual, drop in for the day visitor. If you plan ahead you will save yourself a lot of headaches.

  154. Were the $120/hour guides using disability passes?

    The “black-market Disney guides” run $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day.
    “My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” crowed one mom, who hired a disabled guide through Dream Tours Florida.
    “You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge,’’ she sniffed. “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.”
    The woman said she hired a Dream Tours guide to escort her, her husband and their 1-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter through the park in a motorized scooter with a “handicapped” sign on it. The group was sent straight to an auxiliary entrance at the front of each attraction.

    The last time I visited WDW was about ten years ago, and IIRC we bought “fast-track” passes. We took our kids twice. Once was a company-related trip, and once we used one of those deals where we had to sit through a 2-hour presentation for a timeshare. I have no desire to return.

  155. costofcollege – it is actually a clever idea. I don’t know if I could stand to go to Disneyland so often, but it would be interesting to see what that lady makes in a year.

  156. Living in So Cal gives you a different perspective on Disney. I remember one year in the early 70’s that we went to DL 5 times due to visits from different sets of cousins from back east. High School Grad Night was at DL. DS is 12 and we’ve had 3 annual passes during that time period. My DB’s family has probably had more than double that. DH’s mom lives a 10 minute walk to the front gate of DL. The last time we bought an annual pass was when DH’s father was in the hospital. We figured we would be down there a lot and could use 1-2 hour increments of escapism fantasy. It worked. DH worked for the Knott’s Berry Farm so he’s less into Disney than the rest of my family.

  157. I just texted my neighbor, and she said that they didn’t use the disability guides. It is a company that hires college educated people – generally age range from 22- 30. They guides love Disney, and the company has some sort of software that they utilize to predict crowd levels at certain times of the the day in the parks. Also, she thinks that the guides buy extra tickets because the guides are not going on the rides. They have extra fast passes because the guides enter the parks, and then they don’t go on the rides. They can get additional fast passes by having extra tickets.

  158. Lauren – that makes sense then. I remember reading about the backlash a couple years ago when the crippled and lame were selling their disabled access to one-percenters; I thought Disney had put measures in place to severely restrict that (same for the kids whose “touch of ADHD” was preventing them from waiting in line).

    But if she’s just going to buy extra Fast Pass tickets, well, there’s a market for everything. Obviously, she’s netting a lot less than $120 / hour.

  159. echo sbj’s comments. when I/we lived in LA, about 45 min from Disneyland, we’d buy an annual pass and go for an evening or an off-season weekend afternoon. And we always went when my Fortune 50 employer bought out the park for one night every November. It’s truly a magical place when all the rides are open and there are only ~5000 people in the park.
    But LA/OC is different. There are so many more people there that they can make $$ with locals at a big discount and tourists paying top dollar.

  160. We went to Disneyland pre kids, off season in November but when the Christmas lights were up. It was very pretty and the park was less crowded. We book our vacations quite last minute which doesn’t mesh with going to Disney. DH hates to lock down all the details of a trip, we go to a destination, have a general idea of what we are going do, see enough but at a relaxed pace, otherwise to DH it is not a vacation if we are on a tight schedule.

  161. LOL. I just spent some time this weekend booking our first trip to Disney – in conjunction with a family reunion. It is the 2nd week of school and the kids will miss 3 days. I paid more so that we could get non-6 am flights. All of the “good restaurants” are already full for our preferred 5:30 time (most have no availability at dinner until 8 pm or after); next time I think I will book thru Costco or small world vacations and waaaaaaaay ahead of time, so we can get the 5 or 6 day hopper pass, not have to rent a car, go in wintertime, etc.

    I am already dreading schlepping our 20 lb car seat through the airport – 4x! (connecting flight)

  162. Oh, and one of my relatives lives much closer to Disney than we do and goes all the time, so I am relying on her to make recommendations for us for rides etc. :)

  163. Just back from a perfect long weekend with my California kids. Just a glimpse for most of you of what you can look forward to in 25 years after Disney. LA DD and I met up in bay area (too busy to schedule anything with totebaggers, but next time – I visit frequently). She rented a car and drove (thank heavens). Spent 24 hrs with DS, saw him in the current play (first rate regional Equity production – not community theater). Brunch on a patio in the Santa Cruz mountains. Dinner at a tacqueria on the beach. Then 2 hr drive up to San Francisco (she got one way drop off no extra charge) and girls night out at a lounge where DD knows the bartender. (Many) custom drinks and apps. Honolulu mom, if you see this, I really enjoyed Cynar – but I really like Campari which has a similar bitter taste profile Sunday took BART to Berkeley for brunch (more liquor) on the patio at her college friends’ house (cute baby, too.), followed by 1/2 hour trek into Oakland to visit a hole in the wall mid century vintage store, where I was looking to browse. Hit the jackpot – a complete serving for 8 of mid 60s made in Germany Dansk Odin flatware – my everyday is starting to show its age and I was thinking of replacing it (had to check the backpack – I travel light- but it was Jet Blue – no charge). Back to the airport via Caltrain and the red eye home – but with three empty seats on the entire plane one was next to me. Now for my recovery nap.

    Here is the very set, but I paid far far less than the listed price

  164. Meme — You’re really making the most of your retirement! Sounds like a wonderful trip.

  165. “And IMO, Disney really needs to do something to limit admissions at peak times”
    DD – Not sure how this will actually happen, but apparently Disney is already thinking about this.

    “Every time I see Jeb! in print I think of PTM.”
    Rhett – me too! But now that I learned Jeb isn’t his name but his initials, I think it should be JEB! and he should remove Bush as his last name. As it is now, his name is John Ellis Bush Bush… that’s just weird. As much as I don’t want him to be President, I think it would be very 21st century to have a single-named Pres with an exclamation point. President JEB!

  166. I know people who just LOVE Disney World and go there every year or two, but I found it to be more like my own private hell. We went for Thanksgiving week, and the day we arrived it might as well have been July – it was 90-something & humid, and I was miserable. The best day we had was when it poured rain all morning so we just hung out at our condo watching TV, reading, and napping. Then we went to Epcot around 2 pm when it stopped raining. A cold front had come in and it was cool enough to need a jacket – and the crowds were gone, hardly any waiting! I hate heat (especially when surrounded by asphalt with very little shade), crowds, standing for long periods (because of my bad feet), and planning my schedule of meals, rides, shows, etc. 6 months in advance. I am not Disney’s ideal customer!

  167. Meme – it sounds like you had a lovely trip! I’m sorry we didn’t have a chance to meet, but your schedule was certainly very full. What a busy, yet relaxed weekend.

    On the restaurant reservations at Disneyland, we usually did not go to the nice places with our kids because 1) we didn’t make reservations in advance and 2) I would have been annoyed if the kids wouldn’t/couldn’t eat the food. I don’t know if it is still there, but the Barbecue place out near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is very good – we would always eat lunch there one day. If you are in Disneyland, the downtown disney restaurants are fine (and serve alcohol). I’m not sure if they have the equivalent at Disneyworld.

    The one reservation that we did always make was to breakfast at Goofy’s kitchen and its modern equivalent. Having the characters come walk around and visit your table was a huge hit (although I have memories of 2 year old DS being scared of the Beast – perfectly reasonable, as he was big!).

  168. planning my schedule of meals, rides, shows, etc. 6 months in advance.

    Fortunately for Disney you’re an outlier:

    Researchers from the Netherlands set out to measure the effect that vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts. They studied happiness levels among 1,530 Dutch adults, 974 of whom took a vacation during the 32-week study period.

    The study, published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.

  169. I’d venture to guess that the elaborate planning requirements of a Disney vacation are intentional? If the study is correct that the planning and anticipation provide the biggest boost to happiness then the more elaborate the planning the greater the joy provided by the entire experience.

  170. “I hate heat (especially when surrounded by asphalt with very little shade), crowds, standing for long periods (because of my bad feet)”

    You’re an ideal candidate to rent one of those motorized scooters with the shade canopy!

  171. We took our oldest to Disney when she was three and it was a great trip. Mostly because we went with another couple and they did all of the planning – like down to the time we’d be at each ride at the park. It was rushed sometimes but DH and I are not planners like that and we would have waited in line and not done half of the things we did. DS is now asking if we can go this year so I need to start thinking about it and seeing if this other couple wants to go so I don’t have to plan it myself. It’s only a 7 hour car ride from us so we can leave in the morning and be there by late afternoon.

  172. @Rhett – I would be unhappy if after all the planning, the vacation didn’t live up to my expectations. Also, I have more than enough scheduling and planning in my daily life, planning every minute of my vacation is too much. I used to not feel this way, but after kids lots of their activities and other admin type items require pre planning and I don’t want to add vacation planning on top of that. I wouldn’t mind using a travel agency to figure it all out for me.

  173. I would feel like such an a-hole with one of those scooters! I’m just disabled enough that all the standing & walking hurts but not enough that I want to put it on display, especially since it’s not visible to anyone else.

    My ideal vacation requires no planning other than booking a flight & hotel room and downloading a few books on my Kindle. The location is somewhere that has plenty of activities & restaurants that don’t require reservations more than a day in advance plus a beach or pool with umbrellas and lounge chairs.

  174. Louise,

    Isn’t your oldest like 9 now? Couldn’t they do most of the planning?

  175. Rhett – the logisitics of a multi-day, multi-park, character-breakfast/meal including, with some dinners pre-reserved at nicer places…that’s really adult work.

    I honestly don’t have a problem if Disney were to adopt an airline/Broadway Theatre/sporting event/hotel pricing model. There is an optimal attendance level at each park where there are reasonable waits for the most popular rides. On some days, and I’m sure they have all this data to predict quite accurately, attendance does not reach that level. On other days, if they let everyone in who wants to come, attendance could be 4x that optimal-experience level. Just price accordingly, and publicize it. So some days are less costly than others. So what? They do it with their on-property hotels already. Oh, and it could be dynamic as actual demand pans out for the given day. Buying today could get you a better price than waiting. Or, maybe, if your visit coincides with a cold snap in January, you might get in for $50/person.

    Or maybe that crosses a “middle-class” line too far.

  176. “Oh, and it could be dynamic as actual demand pans out for the given day.”

    This is the part you just can’t do when people are spending their entire annual vacation savings for a week at Disney. They have to know how much it’s going to cost to actually go to the park. We still personally know enough truly middle-class people to say that this would be an absolute disaster.

  177. Well, there’s planning and there’s Planning. I enjoy “planning” a vacation — reading travel guides/websites, thinking about where I want to go/what I want to do, getting recommendations for where to eat, etc.

    But planning every minute of every day six months in advance? Totally sucks the cheesy fun out of everything.

  178. Rhett – the logistics of a multi-day, multi-park, character-breakfast/meal including, with some dinners pre-reserved at nicer places…that’s really adult work.

    How will they learn if they aren’t involved? “See, AA BOS to MCO vis ORD is by far the cheapest!” “Honey, ORD = O’Hare, Rule #1: you never fly through O’Hare.”

  179. Milo – Maybe I could have worded it better. Like with an airline ticket, once you buy, your price is locked in. So everyone who wants/needs to know up front how much it’ll cost will know. Or you can take your chances and wait to buy until you get to the ticket window.

  180. Fred – I was just going to say that sounded like airline tickets. But I’m pretty sure that would still cause a lot of brains to blow up. Disney is already thinking about a tiered price schedule based on peak attendance (see my comment to DD). Which will encourage a lot of people to pull their kids out of school (and there’s another debate in there). The question would be – could I buy them like airline tickets. I know I want to fly on day X and watch prices in advance. Once I see prices drop below their average, I buy and get my seat for day X. Disney would have to do something similar, such that I am guaranteed a spot in the park for day X, even if I purchase the tickets 4 months in advance.

  181. FWIW, while there are definitely the affluent “go to Disney every year” and stay at the $600/night hotel/upgrade everything crowds that really drive the $$ for Disney, I also think there are definitely a good contingent of truly middle-class families who save & go once in their kids’ childhoods. Staying at the “value” properties or off-site (VRBO does good business in Orlando too). I see this a lot.

    But for us – Disney is not our scene. I am not going to put that much time & effort into planning an amusement park vacation – EVER. And why am I going to pay those kind of prices for a hotel/resort when I could be staying at a Four Seasons right on the ocean for the same price? And the food is completely mediocre.

    I went once as a truly middle-class kid. We also stayed off-site and ate breakfast at the hotel. I have been as an adult for a couple of work conferences – there were perks as we got to stay past closing in certain areas of the park & such, but I still would have preferred being at a nice beach resort. I went to a conference a few years ago at the Naples Ritz Carlton – that was far preferable I would be happy to never set foot in Orlando again. I also don’t care for Las Vegas. Go ahead Milo – tell me that I’m no fun. :)

  182. Ivy – I don’t disagree. I’m just outnumbered in my family, so I don’t protest.

    And I don’t really like Vegas, either. I’ve been once, for my brother’s bachelor party. We stayed at MGM Grand. I liked the pools and the lazy river, and the dinner buffet at the Bellagio was fun. I played blackjack at the cheapest tables I could find. It was fine, but unless I’m going to count cards, it’s a losing proposition. I don’t see much reason to go back (except I’d like to see the Hoover Dam someday). If I really want to gamble, I’d get into options trading.

  183. Rhode, I saw that they were talking about that in the article Milo linked to.

    On the $120/hr guides. Say they pay for four admissions (their own plus 3 extras), that’s $400 at full price. Then they use those tix to get fast passes on top of the family’s fast passes to work the system a bit. If they pay the full $100 for the four tix, and work a 10 hour day, they are still clearing $80/hr.

  184. Ivy, I understand Disney is not your scene, but is it your kid’s scene? I think few adults would say that Disney is better than the Grand Cayman Ritz. But kids under the age of 10 might have a very different view on things. I plan on hitting up Disney only once for my kids sake. The youngest has to be able to walk long longer than a city block before whining, so I’ve got a few more years. In the meantime we do Disney Cruises, which my kiddos have told me is way better than spending the day at the beach.

  185. “Once I see prices drop below their average, I buy and get my seat for day X. Disney would have to do something similar, such that I am guaranteed a spot in the park for day X, even if I purchase the tickets 4 months in advance.”

    Yeah, and they could. Hypothethically, with no data, let’s say 100,000 people in the Magic Kingdom is the optimal number. Price to ensure you get as close to 100,000 people every day. I can imagine a few days will be $500 days, some will be $50 days. Many will be clustered right around the $100 level (or whatever a 1-day admit is now).

    Of course, that’s 100,000 at any given time. They would then figure out that the parks are actually much less crowded after e.g. 730pm and could just sell evening tickets for less, thereby getting >100k people into the park on a given day.

    They’ll know exactly how many have been bought in advance, so when they get to e.g. 99,000 they can cut off advance sales and hold the remaining 1,000 tickets for day-of-attendance only purchase and price them at e.g. $200 to start. As those sell, the price could rise till all are sold.

    When you look at the calendar to plan your visit you might see come days are sold out, just like you’ll see when you go online to get Duke vs NC basketball tickets. People will deal with it and plan when there is availability at an acceptable price point.

    Think about the stubhub possibilities! (Unless Disney went to the airline model completely and only issues tickets name-by-name)

  186. Denver – And if they’re booked up for the week, so they can purchase multi-day passes…

  187. Milo, they can purchase multi-day passes even if they aren’t. You don’t need to use them on consecutive days and they don’t expire. They can buy 10 day passes at a cost of $37 a day. And they probably live local so they can buy an annual resident pass for $563 for one of their tickets.

  188. “Ivy, I understand Disney is not your scene, but is it your kid’s scene?”

    I honestly don’t know as we haven’t been, but I have my doubts. He would absolutely hate the characters – that is guaranteed, and he doesn’t really like any of the movies so a lot of the elaborate theming would be lost on him. Would he like the rides or the other attractions? Maybe. He’d probably love the ESPN area. I know he would enjoy the elaborate pools at the resorts – but we don’t need to go to Disney for that. So I am not dropping thousands of $$ on vacation to find out that he wants to spend the whole time at the hotel pool & the ESPN area. I would go to Disneyland in California as part of a SoCal vacation – that seems to require less commitment to enjoy.

  189. “They guides love Disney, and the company has some sort of software that they utilize to predict crowd levels at certain times of the the day in the parks.”

    That could totally be DS.

    We bought the software for our last two Disney trips, one to WDW and one to DL/CA. For the last trip, DS planned most of the itinerary, including using the SW to optimize our time at WDW. Since the guides don’t actually ride the rides, they could spend that time rechecking the SW (WDW has good wifi) and reoptimizing.

    The other big advantage is you don’t have to get to know the park geography, just follow the guide.

    “Rhett – the logisitics of a multi-day, multi-park, character-breakfast/meal including, with some dinners pre-reserved at nicer places…that’s really adult work.”

    I beg to differ. I offer DS as existence proof.

  190. If you’re just going for a waterpark, come to Denver and go to WaterWorld. It’s bigger and cheaper.

  191. From what I have seen here, most middle class families are able to spend at least a week at a beach. In addition to Myrtle beach there are numerous other beaches within driving distance, each with its own set of activities nearby (mini golf, small water park, golf, canoeing/kayaking). Most people rent a condo or a house with a common pool and how nice the accommodation is depends on your budget. If your budget is more in the tote bagger range you can afford to stay in a nice resort. There are decent places in the mountains as well but those are less popular.

  192. “Milo, they can purchase multi-day passes even if they aren’t. You don’t need to use them on consecutive days and they don’t expire. ”

    I know that used to be the case, but that’s not the case for multi-day passes now.

    “Tickets and any options purchased must be used within 14 days of first use. “

  193. “Disney really needs to do something to limit admissions at peak times.”

    Guy who sits next to me at work took his family to DL over winter break. He told me that during several of the days they were there, DL stopped admitting guests once they hit their limit, and after that, people were only let in as others left.

    I was wondering how that would affect people like me and my family. During our first trip there, the kids were young, so we got an off-property motel (there aren’t many on-property options at DL) right across the street, and went there for mid-day breaks for lunch and a nap.

  194. “Disney has changed the focus from “come to the park for a day” to “come to the resort for a week.””

    I think that’s true for WDW, but not for DL.

  195. “I’d rather give my money to Universal. I’ve always had more fun there. I’m trying to work out a trip with a friend to hit both HP parks with DH.”


    Universal in Orlando has something (or at least had it last summer when we went) where you pay extra for being able to cut in line; sort of like their version of FastPass. Cost for that pass was variable, depending on the date, and changed over time, although once you bought it, you were locked in regardless of future changes in price.

  196. I’m wondering if multiple trips to WDW or DL is now being looked at as a middle class norm. At current prices, they are still within middle class reach as something done once as a family.

    Didn’t the Griswolds’ trip to Wally World seem like a one-off?

  197. “Disney has changed the focus from “come to the park for a day” to “come to the resort for a week.””

    I think that’s true for WDW, but not for DL.

    That’s what I was referring to.

  198. Wow I missed this conversation- I used to work at Disneyland and currently have an annual pass.

    Also, at the bridal shower i went to yesterday-they had envelopes for us to write all of our addresses on-kind of annoying.

  199. lagirl- were the envelopes so that the bride would have your addresses for the thank you notes?

  200. Finn-that’s always what people say but the bride has all of our addresses from when we were all invited to the shower and wedding. It’s really just a way for the bride to get out of doing it herself.

  201. OK, I was thinking of how at weddings here, most people include their address on the envelopes they bring to the reception. That helps move the reception line along faster, as it obviates the need to write their addresses in the guest book.

  202. Ivy-me too! I’m going to end up spending over $1000 on this wedding- she could sit down and write a few envelopes!

    Finn- but doesn’t the bride/groom already have everyone’s addresses from when they sent out invites??

  203. Lagirl, you’re right, but I still see reception tables collecting guests’ addresses, whether in the address book or on the envelopes.

    I’ll try to remember that for when I’m next involved in planning a wedding.

  204. I see that all the time as well and always wondered why! haha I was very proud of myself for saying no to the vegas bachelorette party I have to say!

  205. Vegas is hot and ugly and all the leering ads for it suggest that the whole point is hookers and blow. Or drinking yourself into a stupor, and why can’t you drink yourself into a stupor at the corner bar?

  206. RMS: I don’t even drink! Which is one reason it’s become easier for me to say no. I do enjoy Vegas but for hanging out at the pool or seeing shows. I’m too old to wear 5 inch heels and go to the club. I did that way too much in my 20’s.

  207. The last time we went to Vegas, we stayed in a hotel with no casino. In one day we spent our quarters at the Pinball Hall of Fame – picture a grocery store sized building filled with pinball machines charging their historic rates. We visited the Mob Museum in the old court house where they actually prosecuted the mobsters. And we visited the National Atomic Testing Museum.

  208. Lagirl, you’re right, but I still see reception tables collecting guests’ addresses, whether in the address book or on the envelopes.

    I’ve never seen that. At all the weddings I’ve been to, everyone just signs their names in the guest book, nobody puts an address in. And I’ve never seen anyone bring just an envelope.

  209. “And I’ve never seen anyone bring just an envelope.”

    Another example of differing traditions across the country. Here, it is very typical to bring an envelope, albeit not just an envelope; it will typically contain money. Wedding coordinators at hotels that often host receptions will typically offer, without prompting, the use of their safes to hold all the envelopes during the reception.

    Those who bring other gifts are often non-local guests unfamiliar with local customs.

  210. Another example of differing traditions across the country. Here, it is very typical to bring an envelope, albeit not just an envelope; it will typically contain money.

    Of course I’ve seen that. I meant people bringing empty envelopes that they address to themselves for the thank you notes.

  211. OK, I misunderstood, or perhaps I didn’t make myself clear earlier. At local weddings, most guests bring envelopes containing their gifts; many people put return address stickers, or write their addresses, on those envelopes.

    I was not referring to bringing empty envelopes for TY notes; I’ve never seen that.

  212. Ah. I’ve never seen anyone put a return address on an envelope at a wedding. It’s obvious the couple has your address because they sent you the invitation.

  213. Actually, the couple doesn’t always have the home addresses of all their guests. E.g., I’ve received wedding invitations from co-workers who hand-delivered them to me at my desk. OTOH, in most of those cases, the TY notes were also similarly hand-delivered.

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