Here in the US, spring has arrived! The trees are mating! Bugs are being born! Flowers are blooming! My wardrobe is very confused about the number of appropriate layers!
All of that aside, it’s also the start of the marathon of weddings, baby showers and other fetes.
I love weddings and celebrating new humans and going to parties! But it can also be stressful and expensive. Here are my guides for gift-giving events.
I love creating registries. It’s like all the best internet browsing, none of the credit card bills! Also, while it can feel a bit selfish to be demanding certain gifts, I find it so much more frustrating when I can’t access a registry for people. Listen, people get heart felt gifts for Christmas/Hanukkah, their birthdays and Parent Days. The rest of the time, I’m’a need you to be specific, unless you really did want more microwavable socks for your baby shower, and aside from that you’re all set. It’s not selfish. It’s considerate to help people figure out what they can do to make your life better–that’s the point of these type of gifts after all. It’s not a “I saw this sweater and thought of you” sort of moment. This is supposed to be about the village coming together to support you, but there’s more than just the one guy who makes pottery in town these days so if you want your guy to make your plates instead of my guy, you should say so pretty expressly.
In short, gift registries are awesome. You can get stuff you want, guests don’t have to wonder about what to get you, and everyone can budget what size gift they’re comfortable giving.
When creating a registry, there are three things you really want to keep in mind: accessibility of the store, price range of the items, and the availability of options.
Where to create a registry
There’s no right way to do this, but I’d recommend factoring in your guests. If everyone invited lives in the same 30 mile radius, you can absolutely create a registry at a boutique store that carries bespoke items perfect for your lifestyle! But if they live further afield, you’ll likely want to pick some place with an online option and delivery. If your guest list contains people you know to be uncomfortable making purchases online, you’ll likely also want to make sure the store has a brick and mortar location as well that they can get to.
It’s okay to have registries at multiple locations! Support local businesses, but maybe also make a quick registry at Amazon, Macy’s, Target or Babies R Us (or other store of your choice!) just to make sure you get things you want and not a pile to return.
This is another one that’s subjective. Maybe your friends are all billionaires. Maybe they’re all living more modestly. For most people, the $50-$100 range is the sweet spot, so you’ll want to focus on having about as many items as guests in this range. Then you’ll want about that many under $50 (some people like to buy lots of little things, others will appreciate having options for things they can give you that aren’t so pricey) and items over $100 could account for under one third of your total items. As people might want to join in to gift larger things for you, or maybe you have lots of really close, loving friends and family who want to shower you with bigger gifts, having good options in this range is important, too.
Side note: my rough estimate for buying gifts for people? If I’m invited and turn down, I send a less than $50 gift. If I’m invited and can’t attend but would, I send closer to a $100 gift. If I attend, it’s $50+ for an acquaintance, $100+ for a friend, $150+ for a good friend and $200+ for a close friend or family member. This is a rough estimate and is of course subject to change based on finances and in-group politics, but this is my guide, so I get to make the rules! I don’t like the “cost of your meal” guideline at weddings–it’s so subjective and doesn’t factor in travel costs, clothing, babysitters and all of the other expenses for attending a wedding, let alone being in the wedding party. Don’t invite people for quid pro quo, and don’t give something you’re uncomfortable with.
I’ve said roughly the distribution of present price points, but you’ll want to check in periodically on the registry. If you notice that all of your over $100 items have been purchased (except for that weird Swedish chair you kind of want but likely wouldn’t use) then you need to add more. There’s always more things you could want. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Obviously if you’re already settled into a house and a life, you don’t need the basics. So this is a great time for those splurge-y upgrades and less common registry goods like outdoor furniture, board games, and electronics!
Registering for your baby? Honey? Babies can always use more stuff. Let people get you stuff. If you don’t want a nursery packed with one time use onesies and various sorts of diaper changing contraptions, register for things the baby will need up through their toddler years. Get that convertible crib-to-bed. Backpacks. Whatever. Let people shower you with adorable mini-sized things and responsible-sounding equipment. But make sure there are at least double the options as guests.
On that note, don’t fall into the trap of registering for things “everyone needs” just because you think you should. If you don’t cook, you don’t need to register for the world’s best knives or an All-Clad pot set. If you aren’t already a runner, you don’t need a jogging stroller. It’s okay. Honestly, people who know you will be less judgmental if you get the toaster oven and the baby rocker than they would be if you register for expensive things they know you’ll never use. It’s your life, curate it.
Do all of this and your guests will thank you because you’ve made it possible to attend and fulfill their social obligations while still pleasing you. It is incredibly aggravating to log onto a registry and find your only options are $200 flower vases or $2 corncob holders. It’s also frustrating to actually need things and find that instead of acquiring those, people have gone off script because they couldn’t access your registry. Save everyone the hassle and plan ahead!
One last thing? If you’re overwhelmed, give this job to bestie! Is your partner really great at gifts? Do you have a sibling who knows you perfectly? A friend who’s been through all of this before and has great taste? Give them your registry info and let them go wild! I know sometimes it’s hard to balance being respectful of your guests’ generosity and having things that will be helpful in the next stage of your life, so don’t feel bad if you want to enlist help. Especially if you have a more minimalist outlook or feel like you’re being greedy, you’ll need a little push. Please let them help. Everyone will feel better for it!