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Let’s Dish on Gift Registries

April 25, 2013

Spring is here. Love is in the air. Wedding season is upon us!

My very best friend in the whole entire world is getting married next summer; but it seems like I know TONS of people who are getting married in the next 12+ months (always very exciting).

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gift registries and all the things I wish I would’ve registered for (and all the things I wish I didn’t register for). It’s such an overwhelming process! You walk into that department store, they hand you that cool registry gun, and you lose all good sense in your head! Even those of us with the best of intentions lose our damn minds when it comes to registering!

Remember, the person you are today (an engaged person) is VASTLY different from the person you will be in 5 years (and that’s a good thing). Your tastes will change, so don’t box yourself in with colors, themes, and items that you will hate in 5 years. Go for timeless, sleek, and relatively eco-friendly and you can’t lose. Trust me, it kind of sucks when all these fabulous gifts that your loved ones bought you (that YOU picked out) end up in a garage sale and you’re schlepping off to Williams-Sonoma to buy what you actually need (and ultimately will use).

Here is my extensive list(s) of all the items I wish we registered for…so I wouldn’t have had to buy them later down the road:

-Stainless Steel everything! Seriously, every kitchen item that I registered for that was plastic is now broken (and we haven’t even been married for 4 years yet!). Just skip the frustration and go with stainless steel for everything. Measuring cups, measuring spoons, spatulas, colanders, mixing bowls, etc. Anything where stainless steel is an option, register for that.

-A garlic press…but like, a really heavy duty garlic press that won’t break in 3 years. Go with Stainless steel.

Stainless steel cookware. We received a teflon coated cookware set for one of our “big” wedding presents. We were thrilled with it! Sadly, after only 3 years all the pans were chipping their non-stick coating and we were eating that toxic stuff (and no, we never used metal utensils in the pans….we just cook A LOT). We bought a stainless steel cookware set for ourselves this Christmas and are totally in love with it. Skip the heartache, go for the stainless steel.

-Camping gear! We are so incredibly dumb. We didn’t even think for a second to register for camping gear…and that’s kind of our “thing”! If you have any inclination to go camping in the next 5 years register for: a tent, camp stove (and propane), camp chairs, camp cookware, a cooler that locks, canopy, anything you might need for a few days in the woods. And just register for a tent that will sleep at least 8…even if you aren’t planning on having kids right away. You’ll be grateful for the space. Seriously, I’m still kicking myself over this one. PLUS, people LOVE to buy “themed” gifts, so it’s the perfect gift idea for co-workers, college friends, or extended family to go in on together.

-Immersion blender. From soups to whipped cream…I use mine at least once a week (but I had to buy it myself because I thought “Oh, I’ll never use that”.

Enameled cast iron dutch oven. A mouthful, but hands down the most used item in my kitchen. Le Creuset is top of the line (but pricey). I own a Lodge brand one and cannot live without it.

French Onion Soup Crocks. Even if you don’t like this soup NOW….you might want to try your hand at making it in a few years. And when that time comes, it really sucks when you have to put your cooking momentum on hold because you don’t have soup crocks. I also use my soup crocks whenever we have “make your own pizza” parties (and for taco night). The perfect size to hold all sorts of toppings.

A high quality juicer. A juicer? I’m not a hippie! Neither was I! Now, I wish I had one.

-High Quality Blender. We registered for a moderately inexpensive blender (maybe $50)….and it broke within a year. Since we didn’t go with a “higher quality” blender, we also had to pay for replacement parts…usually the higher end guys will just send you the stuff for free (it’s the least they can do it you threw down a hefty chunk of change on a blender).

-High Quality Knives. You don’t need a whole knife-block set of knives. All you need is a really good chef’s knife, some really good paring knives, a bread knife, really nice kitchen shears, (and a sharpener). I still use the knife-block set that I received when I was in college…and they really don’t cut it (pun intended).

-Bicycles. Will you want to go biking in the next 5 years? Register for his and hers bikes (and helmets). Again, people love “themed” gift ideas

-Serving utensils. So simple, yet I overlooked this one. Serving spoons, ladles, salad tongs, etc. Anything you might need to have a nice, somewhat “classy” dinner party. Go for bamboo or stainless steel.

-Really nice wooden spoons and wooden handled rubber spatulas. I’ve broken every. single. plastic spoon or spatula (usually while stirring cookie dough). Always a sad moment.

-A Stainless Steel Tea Kettle (non-electric).

-A French Press. Maybe you’re not a big coffee drinker (now), but there’s a good chance you will have people over for brunch someday in the next 5 years and you might want to serve them coffee with their crepes (because you’re really polite like that). No need to have a bulky 12-cup coffee maker or even an espresso machine (unless you’re into that sort of thing). A French press is super easy to use, quick, gives the best coffee, and is pretty damn classy. We still don’t have one…and we were both baristas! It’s kind of embarrassing.

-A roasting pan. “Oh I’ll NEVER roast a turkey” said naive me. Yea, I’m a turkey roasting pro now, but I had to go out the night before Thanksgiving to buy a G-D roasting pan. Learn from my mistakes!

-Tart pans (various sizes), Spring form pans, cookie sheets, and bread pans. Go for high quality, and they’ll last you forever. And remember, steer clear of non-stick anything.

A large food processor (ours is a 12-cup). This is probably the most used appliance that we own. Once you have children and start hiding vegetables in their dinners….you will be eternally grateful that you have this tool. Get one with all the bells and whistles.

-Meat thermometers and Candy thermometers, You never know when you might want to perfectly cook a pork chop AND make some butter toffee.

-A handheld mandolin slicer. A word of caution: you can (and possibly will) slice off the tip of your fingertip. Just make sure those potato chips you’re making are worth it (they usually are).

-A high quality box grater. I’m still using one I bought when I moved into my first apartment. It’s tiny…so shredding a brick of cheese takes 3 times as long as necessary.

Now, A list of items I wish I DIDN’T Register for:

-ANYTHING plastic and kitchen-related. Like I said, they are all broken (in just over 3 years). Plus, the day might come when you don’t want anything plastic in your kitchen or around your food.

-Anything decor-related *unless you already own your home and know exactly what you want in a specific room*….but if you don’t, then skip all wall sconces, wall art, clocks, candles, decorative ANYTHING. This especially rings true if you plan on having children within the first 5 years of your marriage…as all of this stuff will most likely be broken or boxed up so it doesn’t break. Styles and tastes change, yet you aren’t going to want to get rid of X, Y, or Z because it was a wedding gift…so it’ll just take up space in your attic.

-Teflon coated cookware. I mentioned this one earlier, but it’s worth repeating. After only 3 years of *heavy* use, our entire cookware set was shot and we had to buy a new one. Plus, it’s really not good for your body (and all its systems) to use teflon that is chipping! Toxic stuff, people!

Most loved(and used) items off our registry:

A Slow Cooker

Pyrex anything

Cast iron skillet

Kitchen Aid Mixer (this technically wasn’t on our registry, but was given to us the Christmas after we got engaged). A word of caution with Kitchen-Aid mixers: choose a color that you won’t hate after a few years. I have a red one (because for whatever reason I thought red was going to be my kitchen “color”…what does that even mean? I’m not in love with the color anymore, but cannot justify buying a new one! If I had to do it all over again, I’d go with the brushed metal “color”; timeless, sleek, goes with everything.

My favorite non-registry gifts:

-Whimsical Chicken Teapot that was given to me by my grandmother as per our family’s traditions. I love it. It sits in my kitchen. It deserves its own shelf.

-Handmade quilts (one from my mother in law, and one from a very dear friend). Both are gorgeous and it was obvious that each person took the time to really think about what we would like (and what fabrics best represented us). Use them everyday. Love Love Love them.

-Handmade cutting boards. So gorgeous. So perfect. My favorite kitchen item.

-A wooden picnic basket. So simple, and I just love it so much. We use it all the time. 

**If you are getting married and already own your own home (good for you), consider the following:

-Registering at area DIY stores

-Patio furniture

-Fire pit

-A grill

-Power tools

-Garden Tools

-A Wheelbarrow

-Chainsaw

-Shovels (for winter, and digging in dirt)

-Wooden Bird feeders and birdseed.

Again, people LOVE to go in on “theme” gifts…so what could be better than a wheelbarrow full of garden tools, power tools, and maybe a firepit?!

Even if you already own some of these things…chances are they aren’t the highest quality and will inevitably break within a year.

List of items NOT to register for:

-anything with the label “as seen on TV”…even if you do it as a joke…someone will buy it for you

-fine china (where are you going to put this the other 364 days of the year when it’s not in use?….and it’s not 1963…and you aren’t going to be entertaining any member of the royal family. skip it).

-fine crystal (unless you collect it, skip it).

-anything kitschy

-anything cutesy

-anything tasteless (your grandmother, great aunt, and future relatives are going to be reading these registries…keep it classy).

A Tip on Where to Register:

-Online is great, but remember not everyone shops online….and some people like to actually go and touch items before they buy them. Pick places where people can order online AND go to the store.

-Go with Target, skip Bed, Bath, and, Beyond (total waste of money).

-Don’t forget Amazon! You can find A LOT of great things on Amazon that you can’t find in department stores (ie: camping stuff).

-Don’t forget about local places (which is nice if the majority of your guests live in a specific area).

-Register at places where there is an easy return policy.

-It may seem pricey, but Williams-Sonoma is a great choice (plus all their items have a lifetime guarantee…just keep the receipt).

-REI, EMS, Gander Mountain, Cabela’s, etc are fun places too!

-Register for inexpensive items AND big ticket items. Not everyone has a lot of dough to spend, yet there’s always that “never heard from uncle” who goes all out and buys you that ridiculously expensive item that you thought you’d never receive in a million years.

-Your friends and family want to buy you things that you’ll actually use (and won’t donate or toss after a few years), don’t be afraid to chose pricier items that you know will last you much longer than their cheap counterparts. Plus, if you have an item that lasts you are able to think lovingly of your “Darling Aunt Patty” every time you fire up your juicer for the next 15 years.

You’re welcome.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Susie April 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    That’s an awesome post! And shows the wisdom that comes only after you’ve actually had to use and find places for all those items a few years down the road. My 2-cents? Kitchen Aid box grater, and Zyliss garlic press. I also think good stainless utensils are something people usually don’t think of going for, but are really expensive for a couple to outfit themselves with after they’re married.

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