The obvious solution is to opt out, but I love these people dearly and want to celebrate with them. I abhor cheapskates and now find myself becoming one. So how do I become less of one?
Cheapskate?: Budget for friends as things you want?
To me that’s the obvious solution. To see these as experiences, where the gift is your airfare.
You can also get creative on the clothing, gifts and side dishes so they cost you next to nothing. Photos and handmade or handwritten items; plant-based cooking; and wardrobe-building via thrifting, renting, sewing, repurposing (a la “Pretty in Pink”), arranging swaps with friends . . . and don’t rule out reusing. One of my closest college friends wore the same dress to every evening event for three, maybe four years, cleaning it so often it changed color, and didn’t give a fox except to think it was hilarious. There are ways.
Re: Cheapskate: I’ll go out on a limb and guess “Cheapskate” is female — since women seem to bear the brunt of bringing “appropriate” gifts or dishes when men are amazing!!! just for showing up. Here’s an idea: Treat the invitation as just that — an invitation. If you don’t want to bring a side dish, don’t. If you want to wear the same outfit — like a man wearing the same suit to every event — do it.
Out on a Limb: So your idea is for Cheapskate, (presumably) a woman, to act like a man. And it’s pretty freaking brilliant.
Re: Cheapskate: I realized I hate bridal showers and baby showers and no longer attend them. They are incredibly boring — the highlight of the party is watching someone open gifts. Often the “showered” bride/mom is uncomfortable, but if they’re delighting in it, that is weirder. And don’t get me started on the games . . . it is patently unfair that men do not have to suffer these events.
And the money! I love my friends, but I’m tired of getting them a bridal shower gift, bachelorette novelty gift, a wedding gift, a baby shower gift. I hosted my sister’s bridal shower but limited the guest list to fit in the living room. It was catered and decorated nicely. Concerned about the number of gifts she was losing out on, my sister guilt-tripped a friend into hosting a SECOND BRIDAL SHOWER potluck. So I had to bring another gift and a dish. The host provided a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses.
If I ever get married there will be no bridal shower.
You’re right about all of it; you’re within your rights to opt out; and your sister is a butt.
Pardon me: acting like one.