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Jun 24, 2007 08:59 AM

stumped for wedding gift....your go-to gift?

Do you have an unusual gift that never fails to delight, something off the normal gift registry radar. Something useful but not often thought of? We'd spend up to $100 but price isn't the determining factor. I"d like it to be useful and durable and timeless, so they're still using it 50 years from now.

I'd love to hear from you about your favorite gifts received or given!

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  1. My 3 favorite gifts that I received ions ago and am still using are:
    1. A large, deep, restaurant style wooden salad bowl. I've replaced the serving utensils several times, but the bowl just keeps getting better;
    2. Set of majolica salad plates - dresses up any table and salad;
    3. Large, ceramic water pitcher - Italian or Mexican Talavera style.
    Hope that this helps.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pampatz

      My mom gave me a huge maple bowl (17" diameter) that I adore. I use it for all kinds of big salads, mixing and kneading bread dough etc. Wasn't a wedding gift, but what a great suggestion.

      1. re: flourgirl

        High quality woodenware are my favorites. I still love a beautiful cutting board and bread knife I received as a present. And I love my large wooden salad bowl. I've seen very unique hand-carved salad servers as well. It's the sort of stuff that makes great presents because it seems a bit extravagant to buy for yourself.

    2. I know this doesn't meet your criteria of being timeless, but I think it could be special and unusual: How about a gift certificate (GC) to an elegant restaurant in their hometown; a GC to an upscale/ gourmet grocer or wine shoppe; or a GC to cooking classes?

      ALL of my girlfriends always say they just want things off of their registry to avoid the "weirdo" gifts that sometimes arrive.

      Me personally - I would love Le Creuset pieces or a nice oversized pan for the stove that can accommodate large amounts of the food. (You can see Michael Chiarello always cooking with these on "Easy Entertaining" on FoodTV)

      12 Replies
      1. re: Tehama

        the gc's are a great idea. Don't know their hometown too well, but I can ask their folks....

        Yes, trying to avoid the wierdo gifts as well, but can't get excited about any of the registry stuff. It's not all that durable.

        1. re: toodie jane

          Not to be contrarian, but personally I hated getting registry gifts from people I actually knew. I hate the idea of a registry anyway (anything beyond picking china/crystal patterns) and was forced into it the combined force of my mother and mother-in-law (now ex-mother-in-law). The whole process just seems to take the fun, the joy, the personal touch out of giving and receiving. But I suppose it makes sense if you're inviting a lot of people you don't know very well, another thing the dual-maternal-force insisted upon. Ah, well, if I ever get married again, I'll have the strength of my convictions and a very, very different type of wedding.

          Favorite wedding gifts I received: an excellent cutting board, a Kitchenaid mixer, a really handsome cake plate, and a huge silver platter for the Thanksgiving turkey.

          Favorite wedding gifts I've given: a dessert-themed box for a baking couple which included a Silpat sheet, alphabet cutters, ice cream bowls, pastry tips and bags, individual-sized molds, nested biscuit cutters, a really good heavy French rolling pin, and a good bottle of dessert wine, among other things. Whenever I go to their house and see a pie with the words "eat me" cut into the top crust, I smile. Another big hit was the hers and hers towel set I gave to a couple that married recently in Massachusetts.

          1. re: curiousbaker

            I agree. I was married at the age of 26 and couldn't face the idea of a huge wedding. We had 35 people to a very elegant dinner party. And I didn't register because I felt, as you do, that the people who were attending were all very close family members and friends who knew my husband and I very well and didn't need to be told what to purchase. I wasn't getting married for the gifts anyway. BTW, the wedding was beautiful and we did receive lovely gifts that we treasure to this day.

            (But I will admit to succumbing to the lure of the registry when my mother planned my baby shower. Looking back, it really wasn't necessary than either. I got conned by the baby magazines into believing that babies had to have WAAAY more stuff than they actually need, and, in a panic, registered for almost every single one of those things, many of which ended up being returned or barely used. Honestly, the best presents I received were the adorable outfits, etc. that people picked out that weren't on the registry.)

            1. re: curiousbaker

              Same here... I hate when people ask me for lists too- if you don't know what to get me, then you probably shouldn't be getting me anything. Ditto for gift certificates!

              1. re: curiousbaker

                I think the large silver platter is a great idea! It will last and will be pretty much guarenteed to be used at least once a year. My favorite wedding gift was a vintage sake with gold flecks in it (that is meant to be drunk on our 10th anniversery).

              2. re: toodie jane

                W/rare exceptions, the stuff people put on their registry is stuff they truly want and/or need, so why not give them that? You say you "can't get excited about any of the registry stuff" but frankly, the giftee is the only person who needs to get excited, not the gifter.

                1. re: JaneRI

                  I hate registries because the stuff so many people put on them is so pedestrian.
                  How can they possibly be excited about ordinary housewares destined to break in a few years, end up being given to charity or sold in garage sales when they go out of fashion or the couple simply gets tired of them or their tastes change?

                  I've still got the beautiful china, crystal and silver that I got as wedding presents more than 30 years ago from the department store registry. No, we didn't need that stuff for our simple newlywed life but our friends and relatives had faith that the marriage would last and that we'd have children and build a life in which we'd enjoy those things. We did get simple housewares as shower gifts and had no trouble setting up housekeeping.
                  OK, we got some awful klunkers as gifts too, some of which we couldn't even return. But the givers meant well. And frankly, the cost of that gift wasn't their admission fee to our wedding.

                  When my mother died, we split her wedding china, crystal, silver and many other of her wedding presents among my daughters and nieces. How much of this current registry stuff is going to be worth that?

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    I still say a gift is about the person receiving, not the person giving. And that the vast majority of brides & grooms today are long past the point of needing simple housewares...they have all that stuff from the two households they are now combining.

                    1. re: JaneRI

                      But I am talking about the registries for simple housewares. Even Home Depot has them. Power tools, wheelbarrows, pots and pans. The things you say that people have if they already have households or that they would add if they're setting them up.
                      Couples today are largely established for essentials. All the more reason to give them lovely things that they might not buy for themselves. Luxury goods for entertaining and to establish a gracious household, not just upgrades on stuff they already have.
                      If they're going to establish registries, why not do nice things rather than such ho-hum stuff? I'd much rather give them the art glass bowl they've been admiring than a new stock pot to replace one they might already have.

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        I totally agree MakingSense.....but no one here has talked about getting something the bridal couple has "been admiring" ....just what they themselves have been admiring. I personally am very picky and would think "ugh" to an art glass bowl of someone else's taste. It's no big deal to get a $20 item you're not crazy about, but I hate getting a pricey item I'm not into. I feel they wasted their money and there is so much guilt (for me) attached to the item. I keep it forever, but never get enjoyment out of it.

                        1. re: JaneRI

                          Judging from the registry lists I've seen, I don't think enough couples are giving enough thought to putting personal things on them. Too much utilitarian stuff. When they need plain baking dishes and kitchenwares, they won't feel bad about purchasing those, but they'll maybe have a hard time stretching resources to purchase lovely serving pieces or an ice bucket. It's nice to add a couple a lovely decanters to set up a nice bar. A few silver or decorative platters for entertaining. A good crystal bowl or large wooden salad bowl.

                          Art is a poor choice as a gift unless you know that it is a particular piece that the couple has put on their list or it is returnable. My daughter did put several specific pieces of glass on her list at several price points and friends did give them to her. Fortunately, nobody gave her something goofy just because they thought she liked glass in general. Maybe because she was specific.

                    2. re: MakingSense

                      I'm in agreement with you Making Sense; however, just like anything else, it's the way our affected "me society" has moved. Whatever is easiest, quickest & often times most nominal. I do hesitate to purchase "only" from a registery particularly when the couple isn't registered with a good department store, but rather a home supercenter store. When in doubt Williams-Sonoma is in store (literally) for that type of couple. If it's a couple without a registery all together, I usually order from Gumps or Tiffany - either or, one cannot go wrong! I'm very thankful for the fine china & sterling that my grandparents received for their weddings, as well as, some pieces that my Mother has parted with to date. While my grandparents are all deceased & my Father too, my Mother @ 69 is still entertaining & hasn't released all of her favorite fine treasures to my siblings & me - not just yet. It's interesting inspecting all of the fine cut glass & older more elaborate pieces from my grandparents' era & then my parent's pieces (married 1960) are much more simple & classic. It's all fun!

              3. This wasn't a wedding present, but a bridal shower gift. It was a set of Cooks Club stainless steel kitchen tools - a spatula, big spoon and slotted spoon. We've been married 15 years and I still use them. They are hefty, indestructible, wash up with ease and I LOVE them. They're one of the few wedding/shower gifts we received that I still use - and just about every single day. And I remember exactly who gave them to us and often think of them with a smile when I use these treasured tools.

                I have to say that in our neck of the woods, everyone we know who has married recently was primarily looking for cash gifts. I know, I know, but that's just the way things are around here.

                4 Replies
                1. re: flourgirl

                  ....I know what you mean about the thought and smile....I have those moments too!

                    1. re: cowgirlinthesand

                      when i was very poor one of my best friends got married, and the registry item i could afford was the good quality wooden matching salt & pepper mills for kitchen & dining table. she will continue to think of me each time she uses them, every single day! i think the every day items are the best-- big wooden cutting boards. or large serving pieces like a big pasta serving bowl that could double for salads or other uses, that large oval platter-- or set of 2 or more smaller oval, circle, square platters that match, for dinner parties and family dinners.

                      a nice set of linen or cotton napkins-- 12 pc. minimum, monogram optional.

                  1. Cookbook(s)! You can't ever have to many, and you can tailor your choice to their level.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Clarkafella

                      I often give a Magnum or Peugeot pepper mill. For someone I know better, I have given nice wooden salad bowls. I'm a bit old fashioned, but I don't have much fun shopping off a registry list.

                      1. re: Jane917

                        I feel the same way about registries, esp when I see stuff that's overpriced & under-quality for kitchen equipment. I'd rather give a smallish Le Creuset or decent All Clad pot rather than a set of cheap stuff that won't make it to the 5th anniversary! That said, cutting boards & knives & some sort of sharpener are also nice.

                    2. Count me in as another vote for high quality woodware - a nice cutting board or beautiful wooden salad bowl - I've kept all mine from our wedding and have loved them.

                      I would like to put my two cents in on not buying from the registry, however. We got married very young and were just starting out and had nothing. We selected our items carefully and they were all things we NEEDED. DESPERATELY. Pots and pans and knives and cutting boards and everyday dishes and silverware and glassware. Almost no one bought us items from our registry. Everyone seemed to want to buy us something "special". We wound up with a bunch of silver chafing dishes, silver plated pasta servers, silver trays, decorative wall sconces and other frou-frou that we had absolutely no use for and didn't match our style or taste. The kind of stuff we STILL wouldn't use, 20 years later. We wound up taking almost everything back and trying to fill in the items we'd originally registered for that we needed. It was a lot of trouble for us, and some gifts we couldn't exchange. Based on my own personal history, I usually try to find someting on the register I'd enjoy giving. Most people register for gifts because they want and/or need particular things, and you may not be doing them any favors by going off the gift registry.

                      8 Replies
                        1. re: toodie jane

                          I am a silver junkie, never to much, going into my 3rd. set of flatware....Wallace Lion, it makes me swoon. Gauge you r bride. Most stainless i received got a polte thank you note ad was either returned or donated. Nothing wrong with a nice piece of Le Creuset

                        2. re: Andiereid

                          Agreed. I ended up with a gold and silver tone place settings for 12, as well as a 12 qt tabletop roaster that needs to be run OUTSIDE so that manufacturing residue and fumes can burn off prior to use. I'm not making this up.

                          These were gifts to a couple that registered for table settings for four....

                          one of the best shower gifts that I have given was, along with pyrex off the registry, an assortment of penzey's spices. The couple really loved that.

                          1. re: Andiereid

                            I often feel like a wedding gift should have more thought going into it than picking off a list, but I also understand why the registry is there in the first place. My solution is to pick one thing off the registry and embellish. Usually, I do wine glasses and then add a bottle of wine that will mature on an important anniversary. They get what they need, plus something sentimental.

                            1. re: duckii18

                              The wine idea is a great one, duckii18. My husband and I are were just really getting into wine when we got married, and someone gave us a few wine accoutrements (the rabbit, etc) as well as five bottles of wine, specially chosen (and marked) to be "ready to open" on each our first five anniversaries. Wonderful!

                              1. re: duckii18

                                This is what I always do too. I'll pick like a mixing bowl and some spatulas from the registry, and then I'll add things like high quality chocolate chips, vanilla, cinnamon, etc. Embellish the registry items... I like that!

                                1. re: duckii18

                                  Now THAT is a wonderful idea duckii. Off the registry but jazz it up. I can't believe all the posts on here saying how much they hate buying off a registry...but then go on to describe unwanted gifts they themselves rec'd.