As much as you'd like to attend the bride's shower, you can't for one reason or another—maybe it's the same day and time as your grandmother's 75th birthday party, or you'll be on vacation, or it would involve travel costs and your budget can only cover attending the wedding. No one will shower-shame you if you're not there, but you wonder: Is the etiquette to give a gift anyway? If so, who do you send it to, assuming the shower is a surprise? Should you spend as much as you would if you were attending the shower? Read on for all you need to know.
When You Should Send a Gift
If you're a close friend or relative of the bride or groom, the custom is to send something. Presumably if you're tight with the bride, you'll hear all the details of the shower at some point and, though you missed the fun, you'll feel good that you participated in the gift-giving.
Send the gift to whoever sent you the invitation—presumably, she's the hostess. Or ask a friend who's going to attend to bring your gift, too. Send your package a week or more before the shower to ensure it arrives in time. Look at her wedding registry for ideas; the info is usually mailed with the invite. How much you spend on a gift depends not on your physical proximity to the bride on the day of the shower but how close your relationship is and how much you can afford.
When You Don't Need to Send a Gift
It's custom in some areas of the country that every female on the guest list gets invited to the shower, regardless of her relationship to the bride; in some cases, the two have never met, as is often in the case of the groom's mother's friends. If you don't know the bride, there's no obligation to shower her with a gift.