Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wedding Season Gift Guide

We're about to hit major wedding season, people! I'm going to 4 or 5 in the coming months, I'm starting to loose count. There are worse problems to have, though.

I'm torn about what kind of wedding gifts to give - at our wedding (which was quite small, so not a ton of gifts), I wished that people would get stuff from our registry because I'm very particular when it comes to style choices. On the other hand, with both marriage and babies, sometimes people who are older and wiser know what you really need more than you do! I definitely asked for some kitchen tools and baby paraphernalia that I didn't end up using at all.

In the end, I almost always buy gifts for other people that I picked out, because I generally think I'm smarter than they are. ;) But seriously, aren't hand-picked gifts the BEST, when they're something you love? I think they're more personal, and in the event that your friend doesn't end up liking it, they can always return it, re-gift it, or sell it (which I shamelessly do when I receive gifts I won't use and have no space to store).

Here are some ideas for unique wedding gifts that I wish I'd gotten and/or love to give to my friends. They're mostly food related, because I really love food. And I think everyone else should love food too.

Magazine subscriptions. Bon Appetit (image) is my favorite for newlyweds - it has a great mix of beginner and more difficult recipes, each with interesting twists to take your dinners to the next level. You can't beat the beautiful photography, and at $12 for a year's worth of magazines, it's really hard to beat price wise or in terms of relevance. It keeps on being exciting for a whole year.

Cork holders. Wine is not my thing, therefore saving corks is not something I have to deal with, but some people really enjoy it, and I think these cork display cases are more sophisticated than the others I've seen.

Spice Starter Kit. At one of my bridal showers, guests each brought a spice that began with the first letter of their own name. It helped enormously in getting my spice collection off to a good start, and it wasn't outrageously expensive for any one person when everyone pitched in one bottle. If the bride/groom-to-be in your life isn't fortunate enough to take advantage of a set up like that, you could put together a handful of basic (or exotic, if they already have the basics) spices in a little basket and it would make a wonderful gift that they won't get from anyone else.

Board or Card Games. Another somewhat unconventional gift for newlyweds to help them start a collection that probably don't have yet is boxed games. Plus, giving this gift makes you "those fun people from the wedding", and that's always a good thing. Some of Jonas and my favorites are Bananagrams (image), Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity (or both, to be mixed!), Sorry! (trust me, way more fun with adults), Balderdash, Blokus, Set (card game), and Gang of Four.

Local Food Specialties. Here on the Central Coast, we have oodles of great local wines, but I think local olive oil and vinegar sets are more fun! There's a shop in SLO called We Olive that will make customized gift sets for you, and you can go in and taste the oils and vinegars before buying, too. We really like the basil olive oil and the white peach balsamic.

Pampered Chef Products. Full disclosure, I sell the Pampered Chef (feel free to buy stuff from me ;)), but in all honesty, I think a lot of their products are priceless in a new couple's kitchen. I didn't know much about the Pampered Chef before some friends threw a surprise wedding shower for Jonas and I and helped me pick out some PC basics for our kitchen. It was one of the best gifts we got! Some of my favorites to give at weddings (that are reasonably priced for youngsters such as myself) are the micro cooker (I find myself making veggies much more when I have this on hand!) and the salad dressing maker, which includes dressing recipes right on the side - all you have to do is put in each ingredient up to the fill line that's already on the bottle.

Coffee Table Books. These make every living room look a little more grown up, and there are so many available that you can easily customize your gift based on the bride and groom's interests. We used the Lonely Planet's "The Travel Book" as a guest sign-in at our wedding (photo below), and now we have it as a beautiful keepsake in our home with notes on many pages from guests who've traveled to many countries. We also have Treehouses of the World (we honeymooned in a treehouse), the gorgeous Noma cookbook, and Coffin: The Art of Vampire Hunter D (not as cheesy as it sounds) to name a few favorites.

Restaurant Registry gift cards, or other experience-oriented gifts. I'd never heard of a restaurant registry before reading this blog post, but I would have LOVED to get gift certificates to restaurants Jonas and I had chosen before getting married. This is especially great for couples who live in foodie towns - you'd have to go to Santa Barbara of SLO in our area to get quality date meals, I think. Some of my local favorites are Luna Red (SLO), the Black Cat Bistro (Cambria), Marisol at the Cliffs (Pismo), Blush (SB), and Noodle City (Goleta). For my birthday last summer, my parents gave us vouchers for a walking food tour of SLO which I absolutely loved.

Lastly, I found someone else's list of non run-of-the-mill gift ideas, including Vintage Plates, an Ice Cream Subscription (!!!) and 7 other ideas.

What were some of the best things you got at your own wedding, and what are your go-to (off-registry) gifts when you attend a wedding?

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