Sunday, July 31, 2016
Wedding and Shower Gift Giving
Congratulations are in order for my niece who got engaged on Friday. A new family, new beginnings. Most of us thought it was going to happen at Christmas or closer to her birthday in January, so not really a surprise-perhaps to coincide with a memorial date or something. Anyway, her engagement and receiving the Save the Date card from DD1's bestie for her May wedding has me thinking on wedding registries and registries in general. I still appreciate as the shopper, having a list of what a new couple needs or would like. I know some registries have gotten over the top, but I still get to choose what I buy, or if I really think what's left is silly, just give money. I tend to be invited to weddings of practical people, so I don't recall seeing items that were overly extravagant. Young people have gotten more practical even in their choice of the finer things like dishes and glassware, choosing more useful patterns that they will incorporate into every day or semi regular use. I wish I could go back 29 years and take off the beautiful, but so fragile, Mikasa crystal wine and water goblets that I don't use often enough, grabbing my plain glass wine glasses most often. I'm happy to go in with another person/family to buy a more expensive gift, or to round out sets. A few of my sisters and I went together to purchase all the flatware for a niece. Buying in quantity as opposed to each of us buying a setting individually meant we gave her eight place settings for the price of six, plus I was able to use a 30% discount (for the weekend I ordered) with free shipping right to her house. It meant the savings was either saved, or as we each individually wanted, put towards her shower gift. The individual retail price would have been $730, but I spent $442+ tax, split four ways, it was an extravagant gift at an average wedding gift price.
I take more liberties with wedding showers, thinking about things in my life that I use the most. Picking out those practical everyday things aren't nearly as fun as picking out plates, and matching bathroom towels, so often aren't on the registry lists. My mom would keep a big box for those kind of items-bake ware, kitchen gadgets, measuring cups, spatulas and spoons etc., and then have a sort of smorgasbord goodie box for her daughters and daughter in laws for a shower present. My mother in law has a wrapping trick with dish towels that is pretty cool, and who can't use an extra dish towel! I want to do both these ideas for my own children some day. Sturdy laundry baskets (not too big) is a go to for me for shower (and actually baby shower as well) gift. I also will buy quality bath towels, regardless of color but best if a neutral, when they are on clearance, as I have found over the years as much as having matching towels is lovely, having enough towels is essential. How many times do people need to grab towels for camping trips or rainy days, or have occasion to put a few in the car? Maybe that's just my household. I think a shower gift of a laundry basket, filled with thick towels, could easily be put together if shopped right, for under $30.
As I'm sure I have a year for both weddings, I just got an idea to buy kitchen towels and potholders for the seasons. I can buy on clearance, and then tuck away, presenting a complete set for the year for just a few dollars. I know these brides to be well; they are holiday sort of people. This would not work for many brides, so going "off grid" does require understanding what would be appreciated. End of summer clearance is a planning ahead shower giving dream. Beach towels, barbecue tools, and outdoor yard/beach games make good shower gifts, and heck, if on a tight budget, off the registry wedding gifts. If they get duplicates, well they could either tuck away for future use, or as many are on tight budgets when first married, regift and save themselves the money. I see nothing wrong with regifting-never have, as long as not to the person that gifted it to you, but to be honest, if I got a gift back that I could use, I personally wouldn't be offended.
I don't believe in firm rules for wedding gift giving. Spending a minimum amount based on the amount the couple spends per wedding guest is absurd. As the guest, you have no control over what the couple spend. Do you really want to treat a niece that has a beach side wedding and and beach party reception differently than the one that held their reception with champagne fountains at the Ritz? I give as generously as I can afford, but am always looking to give something that I know will be appreciated and used. Sometimes, as in the case of a nephew who I didn't know their tastes very well, I stuck straight to the registry for the shower present and went cash (as they were needing furniture) for the wedding. Things like coolers, small appliances, and other less personal items are perfect to pick off registries early (and applying sales if possible) for weddings of people you know less intimately like a coworker, or child of a friend. In those case, I try to spend what I might spend on a nice evening our for DH and I, not because of a rule, but to help me with a range to aim towards.
DD1 has a pricey year ahead, so I hope to help her navigate the gift giving world and not break her budget. She has a great idea for her friend that won't break any budgets, but is so unique and personal, it is priceless, but I can't say anything here. How do you approach wedding and shower gift giving? Do you have budgetary rules or guidelines to help you figure out your spending? Do you go off grid, and use your own experience to guide buying or stick to a gift registry? Congrats to all the couples in the throws of planning a wedding and life together.