Friday, January 17, 2014

Top 10 Wedding Gifts (& Some To Maybe Avoid)

{DISCLAIMER: This in NOT a platform to compare my favorite gifts vs. my least favorite ones. I didn't receive anything that I didn't appreciate, & my goal is not to complain or criticize. Material gifts should be viewed as coming from the heart, and having a critical attitude regarding these blessings is completely inappropriate! The purpose of this post wasn't to point out the gifts Sean and I didn't appreciate, but rather to provide some ideas for those who might be attending weddings this year and thinking of what to give a bride and groom.}

When Sean and I were engaged, I had a bridal shower in TN as well as one in MA. Then there were the wedding gifts. And even after that, we've had gifts trickling in up until last month. We have been abundantly blessed by our friends and family in terms of gifts. All of these material blessings have humbled us, and we are so gracious to everyone who blessed us in this way.

Sean and I have gone to two weddings since getting married, and we have plans to go to several more this year. While wedding gifts are only a material expression of love, it is still useful to know what gifts couples would appreciate the most. I asked some other recently married friends what some of their most memorable gifts were, and with their help I created this list of

Top 10 Wedding Gifts 

1. Personalized gifts. These could include anything from Christmas ornaments, artwork, or thermal casserole carriers. We received embroidered bath towels, custom artwork for above our mantel, and a calendar holder/organizer. These are really unique & fun gifts! You need to be careful, though, because if the couple doesn't find use for a personalized gift, they can't even return it. All the personalized gifts we received were from those who knew us really well, so keep this in mind.

2. Towels. Check the registry to get an idea of the couple's color scheme for their house & bathroom. Sean and I went with a lot of greys & deep reds. We received some towels, but we don't have enough (still!). Soft, big, bath towels are great! Make sure to get coordinating wash cloths and hand towels as well. 

3. Picture Frames. A couple is going to want to put wedding pictures up when they move into their new home. Having photos on the wall really help to make a house feel more homey. Unless they have a photo printer, it would be a good idea to purchase...

4. Shutterfly or Snapfish Gift Cards. Printing photos (especially larger prints) is expensive, and gift cards to photo websites such as these will encourage them to fill up those picture frames!

5. A Coffee Pot. Check the registry, so as to not buy a duplicate gift. Sean and I are huge coffee drinkers, and we use ours multiple times a day. Buy a good quality coffee pot, and maybe include some specialty coffee, mugs, or a glass jar to hold ground coffee next to the pot or in the pantry. 

6. Cookbooks. Okay, some people might not appreciate this in the age of online printable recipes & iPhone apps, but there's something special to me about flipping through a cookbook filled with beautiful photos. The Pioneer Woman (you can buy her cookbooks here and here) has a lot of very practical, Southern, Sean-friendly recipes & I've loved everything by her so far!

7. Board Games. It's always nice to have a stockpile of games to turn to when we have friends or family over - try Scrabble, Balderdash, Apples to Apples, or even a couple decks of cards!

8. A More Expensive Gift From Two or More People. Multiple people could chip in on an item on the registry that's a little pricier. We received a printer that was purchased by multiple people, & it has been such a blessing to us!

9. Money. No explanation needed here! Money is always great!

10. Gift Cards. I would say that gift cards were an even better gift than the cash was. Most of our wedding money went toward things like checking in luggage at the airport, taxi rides during the honeymoon, paying off our car, marriage license stuff, insurance fees, etc. With the gift cards we were able to go directly to places like Target or Khol's and buy what specific items we still needed (like sheets. and clocks. and an oven timer). 

...And Some To Maybe Avoid
(note: these are general suggestions, and some of these gifts I didn't even receive. Included are some thoughts from other couples as well.)
  • Candles. Okay, for me personally, I couldn't have received enough candles. I have 4 different ones sitting around my house right now. I LOVE having candles throughout my home. I've asked some other couples, however, and surprisingly, most couples wouldn't appreciate this gift. A lot of the times they end up sitting, unused.
  • Spatulas. A kitchen needs maybe three. Chances are there's going to be more than three people who will buy this for a bride & groom, and then their kitchen is overflowing with spatulas, when they really need a whisk, or a can opener, or refrigerator magnets. These less-than-common items are just as cheap to buy, but are less generic than a spatula.  
  • Fancy crystal bowls, decorative platters, goblets, vases, and serving tools. Some couples might appreciate these things, so I'd say they shouldn't completely be avoided. However, I'd encourage you to think about the couple. Most younger couples starting off for the first time would rather gift cards and practical kitchen/household items instead of breakable artifacts that they will most likely never use. Also, most couples don't have very much space when they first get married and wouldn't have anywhere to put these things. 
  • Gift cards for stores not listed on their registry. Sean and I had one of those online registries that combined products from several different stores, but we received gift cards in moderate amounts (around $25) for stores that we would never be able to afford. I couldn't have bought anything nice at these places unless I contributed some money as well, and there's hardly anything small to purchase that I couldn't buy much cheaper at Target. Keep this in mind.
  • Home decor. Unless you're really close with the bride & groom and know their style, don't buy them curtains, throw pillows, wall hangings, table runners, etc. if not listed on the registry. The couple will feel obligated to incorporate these gifts into their home decor, or feel trapped into decorating a certain way. 
  • Self-help or relationship books. If you haven't read the book yourself & benefited from it - don't give it as a gift! Just because it's a book you picked up in the "Marriage" section at the Christian book store doesn't mean the couple will appreciate this. A good rule is that if you give a book, make sure you've read it first or know someone who has.

What about you? If you're married, what were some of your favorite wedding gifts that you remember?

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