When invited to a party, the invitee should not feel like they are being solicited to purchase a gift. People are invited in order to share in the celebration. The gifts that they bring are their good wishes for the couple. However, if you feel moved to express your feelings with a tangible gift, they may do so, but they should not feel like they are expected to.
With that being said there are traditional engagement gifts and more modern engagement gifts that one may consider when they have been invited to an engagement party
Traditional Engagement Gifts
Traditionally, gifts for an engagement would come from only the closest friends and family members. Others would wait and send a present for the actual wedding. Typically, the first engagement party would be a family affair and used as a time for the parents of the bride and groom to provide a family heirloom to their soon to be married child or their partner. The child would already know about the heirloom or would learn the story at the party. Even if the item did not have much value, the emphasis was on sentiment. For example, perhaps there is a brooch that was worn by your grandma, your mother, and now you.
Modern Engagement Gifts
It seems that there are fewer families who have heirlooms to pass down or perhaps families are not confident that the marriage is going to last and would rather wait to pass the heirlooms on at a different time. It may even be that parents of today know that the engaged couple is going to do what they want despite any type of sentimental value that an item may have.
The term engagement gift has taken on a whole new meaning as the giver of the gift does not even need to be a family member. Typically the gift is not an heirloom, but may have some type of sentimental value. The engagement gift does not even have to be given at the first engagement party, but can be given at any time, by any one, and can be almost anything.
It is important to remember that an engagement gift is not required.
With this in mind, you should keep in mind what the couple likes and does not like as well as their current life status when you are selecting an engagement gift. For example, a couple who did not meet until their 30s will likely have all of the kitchen appliances and other home items that they would need.
The couple may create a wedding registry in a few months, which will be helpful to send a wedding gift. However, there is not an engagement registry, which makes the buying process a bit more difficult.
When purchasing an engagement gift, the best thing to do is to think about what they might need and get it for them along with a gift receipt so they can return it if there is something else that they would like better.