Q: The invitations from clients' children are rolling in about now : ) ...I strive for frugality at home in our life, thrift stores, etc. It is all about other's perceptions, I know, but he likes to give cash. You can't give $5-$10 bills...the norm is $50 around here. WHAT would you do?A: I feel your pain! As much as I hate to spend more on other's children than I do on my own, I'm grateful that our tight personal budget makes generous giving possible.
I also remember what it was like to be a new bride with little money and a carefully selected registry!
I generally give a gift instead of money. I can find high value gift for half what I would give in cash: a $100 pewter tray marked down to $50, a Wusthof knife from their registry now on 75% clearance.
When all else fails, I buy a set of white sheets. I recently purchased a 500-thread count set from Dillard's (reduced from $150 to $50).
Another traditional Southern gift is a set of monogrammed linen hand towels, which I sometimes find at a fancy antique shop for around $25/pair. I have the antique shop wrap them and include their card.
For small gifts like one would bring to a shower, anything goes. I find great new kitchen items at yard sales for these and often include a recipe to go with them.