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Gifts for Weddings and Wedding Showers
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My dear schoolmate has recently remarried at 50. They both have grown kids; she
also has a 14 year old still living at home. They are combining two independent
households, so are downsizing, not looking to acquire more stuff. What would be a
good wedding gift? I'd like the idea of a restaurant or spa certificate, but they
live out-of-state in a city I've never visited. Your thoughtful advice greatly
You could look on Yelp for their city and see which restaurants or spas are highly
recommended and then purchase a gift card for them.
One of my best friends got married back east in late October (about 3
weeks ago). We didn't attend the wedding for a number of
reasons...Anyway, the question I have is regarding the present. I
still have not gotten her and her new husband a present. I have been
shopping but have not seen anything I really like. They didn't
register and have been living together for a while, so I don't think
they really need any of the conventional wedding presents. I've been
looking for something a little more unique, so the search is taking a
little longer. I have a few questions - 1. How much time do I have
to get them a gift? 2. I feel really weird that I haven't gotten her
anything - should I say something like, 'your present is on the way.'
? I'm hoping to find something within the next two weekends - I'm
sort of waiting for the Berkeley Open Studios to start - so I'm hoping
to have something off to them the beginning of December.
Oh my gosh, you really shouldn't be feeling so guilty! The
etiquette books say you have a year after the wedding to get the
couple a present. And you are even picking one out yourself
rather than selecting from a registry, which is much harder! In
addition, you didn't go to the wedding, so you don't have as much
of an obligation to even get them a present. Please don't feel
guilty! I'm sure your friend isn't sitting by the door waiting
for your present to arrive and thinking bad thoughts about you.
You wouldn't be her friend if that were the case, right?
You have a year to get a gift.
You are not obligated to give a gift if you didn't attend
(technically you're not obligated to give a gift even if you did
attend, but it is customary).
There's nothing wrong with saying you're still working on their
gift or something, but it can be a bit embarassing for the couple.
You have till one year after the wedding. There is no need to
say anything to them, but when you do find the gift, include a
nice note about wanting to find them the special gift.
As a recent bride who received a number of ''unique'' gifts that
I will never use, my best advice is to just send a check or
gift card and be done with it. Surely you must know of a store
she likes. And be certain she hasn't registered. Often times
registry information is not included right in the invitation
information for etiquette reasons. Make sure to contact
whomever you would have rsvp'd for the wedding to make sure
there is no registry. If you do go for the ''unique'' gift
please include the receipt and make sure she can return it for
exchange. It's good you are thoughtful enough to ask this
question. Many people thoughtlessly re-gift and the ''present''
becomes a burden more than a joy.
I understand that it is proper to send a wedding gift at
anytime within the first year of marriage. If they already have
lots of stuff, how about some tickets to a special play, opera,
sporting event, concert that they would enjoy together or a
weekend at a special bed and breakfast in their area (within 50
miles or so) so that they could have a nice romantic little
getaway, but not have to fly or drive a huge distance.
I believe you have a year to give a wedding gift (and send a
thank you) according to Miss Manners. Why don't you ask your
friend what she'd like? I know some feel money is impersonal,
but it is ALWAYS welcome. How about a gift card to Williams
Sonoma or Crate and Barrel?
You have a year. And a note is not necessary. How thoughtful of you to want to take
the time to find the right thing. Surely they'll appreciate that!
Enjoy the search.
You have one full year from the date of the wedding to send a gift to the Bride and
Groom. The problem comes in that the longer you wait to send the gift the more likely
you are to forget to send one at all. You are actually doing quite well with your timing.
Take the time to find a good creative gift that they will love!
I have good friends that are getting married this fall. Each
of them has two children from previous marriages, ranging in
age from 4 to 14. Instead of a gift for the couple, I would
like to get a wedding gift for the whole family. Any creative
suggestions? They live in the Sacramento area.
If they like camping, buy them a family-size tent!
How about an "experience" present? Tickets to a show or sporting event
or an amusement park, zoo or museum membership,
a restaurant gift certificate. Recreational equipment
like a croquet set or badminton net or a game they can play together.
Holiday stuff - Thanksgiving turkey platter, Christmas ornament, beautiful
tablecloth and napkins. Ice cream maker or BBQ grill or outdoor umbrella
or park bench or ....
A very dear friend of mine, who is from Turkey, got married recently. I would like to
send her a gift that is both unique and special from America, but not tacky.
How about a nice coffee table book on California or the Bay Area? I get caught up in reading
these at the bookstores. Great photos and it is from the area where you live.
I was looking for something similar, also for a close friend in
Turkey, in the past. I settled on a quilt, since it is something
useful in the household and represents an American craft alive
today but also with a significant history. I had fun looking at
handmade quilts but ended up sending a department store due to
price limitations. Lands End, The Company Store, and other
online retailers have them too of course.
I recommend finding a way to insure whatever you mail of value,
since it travels through many hands between sender and recipient
Many homes I've visited in Turkey had bookshelves with a display
area for photos, trinkets, etc. so if you want to chose
something smaller it would probably be valued and displayed. I'd
just chose something of quality and not something cheaply made,
whatever it is.
Another idea would be some type of Native American craft. I've
heard there is a store on Solano that sells nice Native American
gift items, but I don't know the details. Other than that, I'd
go for a San Francisco/California theme probably - ''American'' is
just so broad. Good luck!
How much are people spending on wedding presents these days?
When I got married, 7 years ago, at age 24 (most our friends
were this age too) it seemed like the average was $40 from our
single friends. Couples maybe gave $60. These days I am
spending around $100 and sometimes more, yet I am always
wondering if I'm on the low side. The weddings we go to are
often lavish, at Flood Mansion in SF, Claremont Country Club
since they are my husbands business friends & acquaintances. I
feel as if I need to at least ''pay'' for our dinners and then
some depending on how close we are with the hosts. Just
How much you spend on a wedding gift should be determined by (1)
how close you are to the happy couple, and (2) your budget. Any
etiquette maven will tell you that in this case, what's ''proper''
is the same as what is common sense. Notice that the amount you
believe has been spent on the wedding itself is not a factor.
When I was married 7 years ago, we had a large wedding and
invited people from many different states and from England, as
well as local friends, and the adults ranged in age from early
20s to late 60s. We received gifts ranging in value or probable
cost from $20 to $150. Couples were almost as likely as singles
to give a $25 check or gift certificate, and younger people were
almost as likely as older to give a ~$100 china place setting.
So you never know.
For whatever it's worth, my husband and I typically spend $50 to
$75 on a wedding gift; a bit more for close relatives or very
good friends, and a bit less for more distant relatives or
I got married a year and a half ago. We were 34 and 43 at the
time. The majority of the gift checks that we received from
friends and relatives was $100 (usually per couple). Some of
our parents' friends gave us more ($200-250), but most people
our age gave us around $100. I don't think that the size of the
gift is supposed to correspond to the fanciness of the wedding
(because aren't those who can afford fancy wedding receptions
the least in need of big checks?).
Married Last Year
Why should you have to ''pay'' for your meals? You were invited to an event and
the hosts (be they the parents or the couple) should pay for your meals.
Weddings are occasions to celebrate the union of a (hopefully) happy couple,
and should not be occasions to pump people for money/gifts. Unfortunately,
that seems to be the way things are going these days.
You don't HAVE to give ANYTHING. Your presence at the wedding should be
gift enough and you are under no obligation, just because you were invited, to
give a gift: that is called ''extortion''. Give whatever you feel like, and
During a wedding, a couple invites someone to attend not for the
gifts they will receive but because they want to share their
happiness with you. Your choice to give a gift - of any amount -
is your decision and you are not obliged to. For young kids just
starting up, I think it is helpful to contribute something that
can really help them out - especially if they are paying for the
wedding themselves. But in the cases you referenced, I think
someone who can afford a wedding at the Claremont probably
doesn't need your help in making ends meet.
I think $40-60 is a really minimal amount to pay for wedding
gifts. But it depends on many circumstances. My personal feelings
are that the wedding is ''supposed'' to be a once in a life time
thing...so I like to splurge.It is not uncommon for me to
spend$100 on a gift. However, if you are not in a financial
position tp afford it, hopefully your friends will be considerate
of this and not expect too much. Get creative. I usally by one
thing off the registry and build a gift basket around it. It
could be as little as $50 or as much as $150. But you should feel
good about giving it.
Help! I have a good friend getting married in TWO weeks and I need to find
her a great wedding gift. Am thinking of a bread-making machine. Does
anyone know of a good brand as well as a store that carries them? I bought
one once from Bed and Bath (under $70!) but they don't seem to carry them
anymore. Thanks! Naomi
Recommendations for bread machines: http://parents.berkeley.edu/recommend/where2buy/breadmachine.html
I can't provide advice about the breadmaking machine but would like to tell
you that the one wedding gift we have found most useful over the years was
a pair of binoculars (ours are Baush and Lomb and sport-size, not clunky
with excellent optics). We've used them a lot at sporting
events(baseball/football games) and on hikes. In recent years they have
come in handy on walks with children, bird/animal watching at the house, at
the beach, etc. By far we have used them more than the relish dishes, fine
china or other various and sundry machines received(with possible exception
of the rice cooker which we use a lot.) As you consider a gift for you
friend think about the things they enjoy doing together--one friend of mine
registered for camping gear. The happy couple received tent, "Sunshower"
portable water bag/with shower attachment, camp stove and one of those
small gas Weber barbeques (about $60) which doesn't require the charcoal
and noxious lighter fluid, can be used at a moments notice, is also
portable! Hope this helps...Good luck!
Have you considered giving your friend a wedding commemorative plate?
As a "hobbyist" ceramic painter, I have done several of these for
friends who have gotten married, and they love them. Jessica Abbott,
who owns Brushstrokes Studio (a paint-it-yourself studio) in
N. Berkeley (510-528-1360), will paint one for you if you don't feel
confident enough to do one on your own (I think she charges about $75),
and she can do just about any style you want. (She has some samples on
the wall of the studio if you'd like to take a look.) Jessica will
put the name of the couple and the wedding date on the plate for you, but
I have also seen people put special messages on them. I think a
handmade gift is wonderful, and your friend could enjoy it for years
Our favorite wedding gift
(which we first received, and have given several times since) is a
well-stocked picnic basket. Shops like Pier 1 and Cost Plus sell all sorts
of baskets which you can fill with any number of goodies -- place settings,
of course, but also acrylic wine glasses, a jelly jar with a votive inside,
a checkered blanket or tablecloth, a CD of romantic or classical music, a
bottle of champagne, cheeses, crackers, dried fruits... Especially if the
couple are close friends, I prefer something creative and personal like this
over picking from a registry.
I recently remarried, and my husband and I had both been running households
for a while, so we weren't "starting from scratch" and already had most
of the basics. Here are some wedding
gifts that we really liked and still enjoy after 3 years:
a beautiful "throw" for the sofa, a serving platter for
Thanksgiving dinners, dinner for 2 at Bay Wolf restaurant, crystal wine glasses.
I've been invited to a bridal shower and am lost as to what to
give. I've looked on the web site which has recommended wedding
gifts, but those are more for the couple, as opposed to the
bride. In fact I've never been to a bridal shower before and
almost wonder if we're supposed to give ''racy'' gifts such as
lingere -- I don't know the bride that well and don't feel
comfortable doing this. Are there other traditional or
appropriate gifts to give at this occasion?
When in doubt, bath & body stuff from Body Time or the Body Shop
is always a great gift. Another idea; a gift certificate to a
nice restaurant for the happy couple (most places sell them).
I received several (mostly white) pieces of lingerie at my
engagement party several years ago- nothing too racy as they
were gifts from my parents' friends. I had 2 showers- one with
my future mother-in-law's friends and a co-ed one with our
friends. At both of these showers, the gifts were not personal
for the bride, but were mostly things we had registered for.
My sister threw me a surprise bridal shower and I got lots of
fun racey (and some obscene)lingerie. One of my favorite
gifts, however, was a set of 3 beautiful silk covered padded
hangers - something I would never buy for myself, but I have
enjoyed for almost 15 (!) years. I have also seen pretty soaps,
skin creams and other ''pamper yourself'' gifts that everyone
likes go over very well.
I think it's fine to buy something off the registry for the
bride. At my shower, I was up to my ears in lingerie that I
only wore on the honeymoon, so I much appreciated the more
useful, less racy gifts. Or if you want to get something just
for the bride, you could get something not quite as sexy as
lingerie, like a cozy but cute bathrobe or pajamas. Good luck!
First, check the invitation. Most showers have ''themes'' to
which the gifts ideally will relate (for example, ''travel''
or ''kitchen''). You may even have been ''assigned'' a letter of
the alphabet with which the name of your gift should start or a
time of day that your gift would be used.
Second, are you sure this is a shower for the bride only, or is
it for the couple? Among my friends, ''co-ed'' showers are now
the norm, and typical gifts include books, movies, games, wine,
and tools, along with the more traditional dishes and towels.
Finally, remember that even though things like mixing bowls and
picture frames are for the couple rather than for just the
bride, they are normal bridal shower gifts because traditionally
housekeeping, decorating and entertaining were the province of
women only. Brides who are traditionally minded enough that
their friends give them girls-only showers don't mind the
implications of receiving a frying pan as a bridal shower gift,
and usually prefer traditional housewares-type gifts.
Lingerie is not the expected gift unless the shower has a stated
theme of lingerie or ''personal'' items (which could also include
bath products and the like). Something relatively inexpensive
from the couple's registry -- kitchen utensils, napkin rings,
casual candlesticks -- is appropriate. More creative
possibilities exist, but in the absence of a theme and given
than you don't actually know the bride very well, that's what I
would suggest giving.
I am of the mind that the best gifts for brides-to-be are ones
that a)encourage stress reduction and/or b) celebrate the fact
that she is still an autonomous person who will bring her best
to a marriage when she can maintain a clear sense of her own
identity. Okay, so what does that look like in gift form? What
I would have appreciated is a gift certificate for a massage or
facial and/or a book on personal finance geared toward women,
married or no. I don't know the titles of any off hand, but I
know there are some out there.
not all that comfy in lingerie anyway
I like to give gifts to the bride that will benefit both bride
and groom since this is a way of respecting their new union
together. Also, men don't have these type of parties, so it's
kind of sad if the guys don't get any gifts at all.
You could give lingere if it is tasteful, and not trashy (and
this will benefit the groom as well as the bride.) The best
kind of gifts I think are for the home, particularly nice gifts
they can use and show off when entertaining, and tell their
friends that you were the one with such nice taste that gave
them such and such.
Hope this helps.
I have been to countless bridal showers (including my own),
and it seems to me that just about anything goes. Some
people stick to gifts from the wedding registry. Others do
give lingerie, ''racy'' and not. But I think the nicest gifts are
ones that are personal to the bride-to-be: candles, bath
lotions and potions, gift certificates for a facial or massage,
photo albums, camping gear, books--you name it. The only
thing I'd steer clear of is giving cash! At the most recent
bridal shower I attended, I gave the bride-to-be a gift
certificate to a local bookstore; she is an avid reader and I
knew she'd appreciate the chance to buy books for her
beach-vacation honeymoon. Have fun and don't stress too
much about it.
once a blushing bride, now a tired mom
how about bed & breakfast trays ($12 at Target) and some of your
favorite breakfast recipes (breads, smoothies, etc.).
Ask the hostess where the bride is registered. If she is registered, she has
very good idea of what she wants for a gift and I think you should get her a
gift from her list, even if her tastes don't reflect yours. If she is not
registered, then you may want to get her a massage certificate. I know that
when I was a bride, I would have loved that! Lisa
Some brides want lingerie as gifts, but don't get any if you're
not comfortable with it! Bridal shower gifts are often more
modest versions of wedding gifts. You could find out where the
couple is registered from whomever is hosting the shower and
choose something in your price range. If she's not registered
or everything is out of your price range, simple home items --
think hostess gift -- are good bets. Picture frames are good
shower gifts. If you want to get something just for the bride,
you could get aromatherapy bath items since planning and
preparing for a wedding is stressful though joyous, and I think
everyone could use some pampering.
-been to all types of bridal showers
If the bride is registered, buy her something from the registery
so you know you're getting her something the couple absolutely
wants. It's tough to buy lingerie unless you really know her
(size wise and raciness factored in!)
Otherwise, I have gotten gift certificates for a massage, or any
sort of spa treatment (manicure, pedicure, facial etc) because
these are things anyone LOVES to receive. It also a great way
to fit in time for themselves before their 'big' day! You can
try Claremont, Nordstrom, LaBelle. If the cost is too much for
a package, just give her a gift certificate that she can
supplement; I'm sure she'll love/appreciate it.
Buy something that she will enjoy over the honeymoon. My hubby
and I had a destintation wedding in Maui and one of my
girlfriends bought me a nifty Hawaiian purse full of fun stuff:
designer sunblock, sunglasses, evian spritz water, cheesy
magzines, lip blam, scarf, aloe vera, etc. It was completely
unique and I used everything. I am a bit of a penny-pincher so
it was fun to get ''girlie'' stuff. :)
Unless it's a themed shower, I typically give one of three
A ''breakfast'' basket... Muffin tins, a breakfast cookbook and
maybe a coffee pot
Christmas Ornaments (obviously, for Christians)
Baking trays, cookie cutters and a rolling pin. I sometimes
include a good recipe for cookies.
None of these are fabulously expensive, and they are always
I would not assume that the bride wants anything ''racy''...plus
that's too intimate of an item.
I would suggest PJ's from Macy's by ''French Jenny''. They're cute
but not frompy.
Also, http://www.flowerslippers.com/ sell super cute slippers
that my attendants loved!!
The bride is almost certainly registered somewhere and the person
who is organizing the shower should know where. I think the most
traditional gifts are the kitchenware/cooking ones --the shower
organizer should be able to point you in the direction of the
gifts the bride would most welcome
I recently discovered what I think is a good bridal shower gift:
cookbooks. I've been semi-seriously into cooking for 20+ years,
and if there's one thing I know it's a good cookbook! FYI, my
current favorites are ''The Best Recipe'' by the staff of
Cooks' Ilustrated magazine, and the Bruce Aidells & Denis Kelly
book on meat (I think it's something like ''The Complete Guide to
Meat''). Both are really outstanding. The Cooks Illustrated
folks take a scientific approach to recipe development: they
read as many recipes as they can find, extract what seem to be
the key variables, then experiment until they get something they
think is the best. Aidells and Kelly not only give delicious
recipes, but their stories of travels far and wide searching for
great meals are lots of fun to read. Makes me almost feel sorry
She may have already registered for her wedding find out where
and buy something off the registery- that way you know it's
soemthing she wants. Or go for something simple like a nice
leatherbound photo album for the wedding or shower. Film for
the honeymoon. One fun thing to do is to make a bridal survival
basket: you can keep it high brow or make it funny- it can
include things you always need at the wedding- bobby pins,
safety pins, extra pair of hose, hair spray, clear nail polish,
lotion, aspirin, slippers for when those wedding shoes that
were oh so cute don't feel so cute anymore, etc you get the
picture. Just some thoughts. Have fun.
As a recent bride, I loved getting gift certificates to local
spas, for facials and manicures, etc. I think that even if the
bride in question normally doesn't do these things, the first
time is always fun! I was never into this, but once I did it, I
understood why so many women love it. You can also get
gift certificates to hot tub/sauna places (the one in Albany is
nice) - this is something the couple can share. I also
enjoyed getting gift certificates to nice restaurants. The
memories from these occasions last as long, if not longer
than, as any other ''tangible'' gift.
Cookbooks are always welcome, as some are coffee table books in
addition to being useful tools. I have really enjoyed the books
by Nigella Lawson (Nigella Bites, Forever Summer, and How to Be
a Domestic Goddess) as they are often doable, and accompanied
by intersting stories about the food. Also books by Patricia
Wells. I recently went to a bridal shower where the theme
was ''Simplicity'' and asked us to bring the single most useful
kitchen or other tool we had in our kitchen, along with a
simple recipe. A NYT article proclaimed the 3 essentials of
the kitchen as this:
''As the business of the vanity kitchen boomed, though, three
small new tools - two tools and a mat, actually - were
picked up by cooks. You may own one or all of them: the
Microplane zester, the OXO vegetable peeler and the Silpat
mat. None is particularly attractive. All are simple yet
exceptional workhorses, and deserve to be regarded as new
classics of the modern kitchen - less flashy than the
Cuisinart, perhaps, but just as impossible to live without.
Each has not only subtly and stealthily improved many
cooks' lives, but changed what people cook as well. '' (June 4
NYT, A Hesser). Tongs, and an apple corer were also big hits
at the bridal shower. I.e. useful, but perhaps esoteric items
you would never buy for yourself. Email me if you'd like the
full article. Good luck!
Simple but useful
What you give at a shower can varry quite a bit. Some bridal
showers have a theme and you buy gifts to go with the theme ie:
lingere, kitchen, camping, etc. If it is a theme shower the
hostess mentions that in the invitation. Otherwise, it depends
on your relationship with the bride and your comfort level.
Personally, I only have ever bought lingere for very close
friends (room-mate, women I have known since childhood, if I had
a sister... etc.) since size and style are hard to know for
others. Other gift ideas: bubble bath/beads/lotions, candles and
holders, hobby items (like cookie cutters and a jar if the bride
or couple likes to bake). Cookbooks, kitchenware and linens are
traditional gift items for a bridal shower. Also, you can
purchase anything off the bridal registry for the shower as
this page was last updated: Nov 16, 2013
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