There are several factors to consider when deciding how much money to give or to spend on a Bar/Bat-Mitzvah gift:
- How close are you to the Bar/Bat-Mitzvah boy/girl – the closer you are to the Bar/Bat-Mitzvah boy/girl, the more you should give.
- How many people are joining you to the party – you should try to at least cover the cost of the food for your party.
- The type of party (how fancy it is, who is invited, etc.) – if it is a party for kids only then the amount should be more modest, ranging from $18 to $54 depending on the relationship between the kids.
If you give a cash gift, usually the gift should be in a multiple of 18 (i.e. $18, $36, $54, etc.), as 18 symbolizes in Hebrew the word “Chai”, which means life. Place the cash in an envelop with a Bar/Bat-Mitzvah card and present it when entering the party room or hall. Put the envelop on the table gifts or give it to the Bar/Bat-Mitzvah family.
You should not bring your gift with you to the ceremony if it is held on the Friday evening or before sundown on Saturday, especially if you know the child is from a traditional Jewish household, since dealing with money is forbidden on Shabbat (Friday evening till sundown on Saturday). In any case it is preferred to give the gift at the reception/party,not at the synagogue.
To make things easier for you, SimchaBucks has a gift calculator that can quickly tell you how much money to spend on the Bar/Bat-Mitzvah gift.