Santa Not Required: Registering For Gifts
I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like asking for presents. When someone says “what do you want for Christmas/your birthday/etc?”, I usually come back with “I don’t know” or “I don’t want anything”, and it’s a truthful statement. I don’t feel like I need anything, and since there’s no need, I don’t feel right when someone wants to spend money on me. This made the idea of registering for gifts sit very uncomfortably, but unlike in the previous situations, there is a legitimate need for things. These are not just gifts for fun, these are gifts that are supposed to make starting your new life together a little easier. It’s hard to cook dinner in a kitchen that’s empty or sleep on a bed with no sheets. Registering for gifts is your chance to say “between the two of us and all the crap we have, this is what we’d like to have in a house/apartment/whatever to live a comfortable life that we’re missing right now.”
Of course, you don’t have to register just for practical stuff, or even stuff at all. Couples who have been together a while or are further along in life have usually collected enough items over the years that they could easily fill a house with necessities, so a registry is a time to ask for other things they enjoy that have been pushed to the side before like camping gear or nice tools. Couples who really don’t have a need for more stuff register for honeymoons, where people who wish to give the couple a gift can either contribute to a honeymoon fund or can “gift” the couple with special activities on their honeymoon (like a zip-line adventure or scuba lessons). Whatever you do, do NOT generate a cash registry. Yes, those exist. People know that you always welcome cash, so it’s a bit on the rude side to say “no gifts, just money”. Tim and I registered for house items, so I don’t have any experience with the honeymoon fund idea. If you went that route, let me know so I can get your input on how it works! From here on I’ll be talking just about the more traditional “stuff” registries.
There are lists upon lists upon lists of recommended items to put on your registry. I could point you in the direction of one of them, or even give you my own, but the truth is everyone’s list is going to look different based on personal preference. When you’re trying to cross these different lists with each other against what you already own and what you think you actually need or not, it can get pretty daunting. After a week of floundering with the idea, Tim and I realize that a really simple 3 step process would easily fix the situation.
- Figure out what you want in your house/apartment.
- I’m assuming you live somewhere currently and not in a cardboard box. Maybe it’s your parents’ place, maybe you have an apartment, maybe you already live together, but you have a residence. Go into each room and write down everything you use that you would let someone else buy for you (and by that I mean don’t write down things like “toilet brush” or “detergent”). I mean most everything. In your bedroom, you could write sheets, pillows, comforter, laundry hamper, iron, ironing board, table lamp, etc. Do this for every room. Don’t forget to include things that may be seasonal and not in use right now (in the winter you’re less likely to remember you want to write “fan” or “window AC unit”). Add small appliance type things like a toaster, coffee maker, vacuum, anything you use. If you’ve caught yourself at any point saying “man, I wish we had ____”, write that down too. Think of things your parents had in their house that you miss being able to use. This is your time to ask for things that may not be necessary but are things you want. Think about things you might want in the future but don’t necessarily need now (like fine china).
- Take off what you already have.
- Take stock of what items you have, like silverware, dishes, etc. If those items are fine with you, take them off the list. If the items could use some replacing or updating (like your “glasses” are actually just plastic cups that have the name of a pizza place on them you picked up for free around your college campus) leave them on the list.
- Start picking stuff!
- Get an idea of which stores you want to register with (3 is a pretty standard number). Across your choices should be brick and mortar stores (for those who don’t really like internet shopping) and stores with online shopping options (for those who really do like internet shopping). Some people register with companies like Pampered Chef or Amazon. Keep an eye out for stores that offer a “completion discount”, which is where they will send you a coupon after the wedding to purchase items off your registry that no one else bought for you.
- If you feel so inclined, you can scout out the stores you’ve chosen ahead of time, but you’re just as likely to make life easier on yourself as you are to make it more difficult to make choices if you do this. We went the “just dive in” route and started at one store, and just registered for anything off our list we liked there. Then we went to the second store, and registered for anything off our list we liked there. And then the third store. The next day we went online and compared the three lists against each other for duplicates. If registered for the same type of item in more than one place, we played the “which do we like more?” game and deleted the one that lost.
- While registering, keep an eye out for any items you didn’t put on your list because you forgot about them. You’ll probably have a couple “D’OH!” moments. Add it onto the bottom of your list, register for it there if you like that particular one, and watch for that item at other stores you haven’t visited yet (and make a note to go back and check any stores you’ve already done your visit to!).
Try to pick items in a variety of price ranges. Make sure there are plenty of “lower level” gifts (under $50) for people who want to give you something but maybe can’t afford a lot. Mid range gifts ($50 to $150) are good for close friends who want to splurge on you and family members. Don’t shy away from big-ticket items! Some people will want to go in together to buy you something larger (like a group of friends or a group of coworkers). The extra bonus of registering for more expensive items is that while you may not actually think anyone would get it for you, if you’re at a store with a completion bonus, you’ll get a coupon to buy it yourself cheaper! There were a number of things Tim and I registered for that we in no way actually think we’ll get, but it’s stuff we legitimately want, so we’re planning on buying it ourselves once our 20% off coupon shows up.
Remember to keep an eye on your registry to make sure there are still plenty of things available on it as the day gets closer for people who still want to buy you a gift but haven’t done so yet. Also remember that as long as no one has bought it yet, you’re allowed to change your mind on what you want!