Growing up, my favorite days of the year were Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha. Mostly for the spirituality and meeting friends and family and praying salah with the whole community of course. But just a tiny bit because of, you know, presents.
Until I was pretty old, I think halfway through high school, I assumed every Muslim family exchanged gifts on Eid. For me, “Eid” and “gifts” were practically synonyms. Every year that I can remember, even well into adulthood, I’ve received Eid gifts from my parents and siblings. When I found out that many of my friends had no tradition in their family of exchanging Eid presents, I was beyond horrified.
Aisha (ra) narrates that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to accept gifts and used to give something in return. (Muslim)
Exchanging or not exchanging gifts on Eid may seem like a small thing, but it’s precisely these small things which add up to create an identity. As a husband and father, it will be you who primarily shapes your family’s identity. If you don’t do this already, starting a tradition of exchanging gifts on Eid is a powerful and enjoyable way of creating an Islamic culture for your family.
There are some things to keep in mind when giving Eid gifts.
Money is not a substitute for a present
I can’t stress this point enough. Give presents not money. I’m not saying that money is bad, but there is a completely different dynamic involved with exchanging gifts instead of getting cash. Gifts require you to spend some time shopping and selecting something special for that person. Opening up a gift on Eid has a special glow to it, completely different than taking a $20 bill and putting it inside a wallet. By all means, if Eidee is a family custom you want to continue, give it. But give it in addition to a real gift, not as the gift.
Be neither extravagant nor stingy
Christmas season is well-known for its consumerism and focus on material possessions. Don’t fall into the same trap with Eid. Spend money in line with what you can afford. Don’t go into debt just to buy Eid gifts. At the same time, don’t pick the cheapest gift you can get away with just so you can say that you gave a gift.
If you have kids, give them a small sum of money to buy presents
Once your kids are old enough to grasp the concept of Eid and giving presents, give them a small sum of money ($5-$10) and take them to a dollar store. Have them pick out and buy presents for each other—and you! In addition to teaching them basic money management skills, it will get them in the habit of being givers from an early age.
Open the gifts on the last iftar of Ramadan.
The Islamic day changes at Maghrib. By choosing this time to exchange gifts, you reinforce this simple Islamic fact in your family’s mind. Also……I like getting gifts as early as possible so I like doing it as soon as Eid day begins rather than waiting after salah.
Keep them a surprise
Looking forward to the unknown is half the fun in getting an Eid gift. Keep it a surprise!
Eid ul Adha is coming up soon so try and get small presents for your immediate family. If that’s not possible this year, start saving up a little bit every week so that by Eid ul Fitr, you have enough money to buy something for your parents, spouse, siblings, and/or children.
Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ sadi: “Give gifts and you will love one another.” (Adab al-Mufrad)