Graduation Etiquette for a Money Tree

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Money trees are a controversial addition to many celebratory gatherings, including graduations, anniversary parties and weddings. If you've decided to have one at your celebration, it would be in good taste to be familiar with money tree etiquette. While you might want to raise funds for your upcoming college experience or your entrance into the "real world," a good host takes into consideration guests' feelings. Don't make them feel like you invited them for their cash.

Don't ask for money

Since graduation is an occasion to celebrate the successes of a young student, it is inapproriate to make any event about money. It is best not to put anything on the invitations to imply that you expect people to bring gifts, including monetary ones.

If you truly want cash gifts for your graduation, word-of-mouth is the best way to spread the word. Tell relatives and close friends your preference and they can pass on the request when others inquire.

How to Present the Tree to Guests

Don't call attention to the money tree by making an announcement; there are more subtle ways to make its presence known. The best way is to go ahead and place bills on the tree before the party begins. This will get the point across without you having to tell anyone or make an announcement. If you must make an announcement, make it a little while after the reception has begun so people don't misunderstand your reasons for inviting them.

Keep Your Distance

To be even more proper, it would be nice to provide envelopes for the donations so amounts and donors can remain anonymous. You don't want to embarrass someone giving more than they can afford and you also don't want to encourage people to show off larger donations. Keep it private.

What To Contribute

If you find yourself with an opportunity to contribute to a money tree, do what feels right and what you can afford. It's inappropriate for anyone to discuss how much they contributed as a means of coercing others into increasing their donation amount. It is also unnecessary for you to donate out of your comfort zone. In fact, you don't have to contribute at all. Guests are invited to celebrations to enjoy the event, not to bring gifts. If you did want to give something, however, and you did not bring a gift, feel free to add to the branches of the money tree.

Family members, it is best to contribute the same amount for a child or grandchild as you did with previous children or grandchildren. If you are not family but have a close relationship, factor that in. You might want to give a friend $20 to $50, and someone you are very close to may deserve more in your book. Also think about what the graduate's immediate plans are and consider donating accordingly. Another strategy is to think about how much that person might have given you in a similar situation.

If you are attending a graduation event with a meal, consider giving enough to cover your meal and a little extra.

Don't Forget the Thank Yous

As guests leave for the evening, be sure to thank them for coming. If they donated to the money tree anonymously, you might not know how much to thank them for when you're tallying up your earnings. And even if you are sending a thank-you card after the party, you can't say thank you to many times.