Five Creative and Fun Wedding Gift Ideas: Dare to Go Off-Registry

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When to Go for an Original Wedding Present, and When to Play it Safe...

I can speak from personal experience about wedding presents, and I think my memory is still fairly fresh, even though it's already been four years since I got married. We registered for everything we thought we needed, and we really appreciated having almost all of our registry items purchased - especially the plates, bowls, and silverware. If you check out a friend's registry and it is getting close to (or after!) the wedding, and they are still missing any items from a set, I would really encourage you to buy those. But if the basic items are filled, it's a fun time to get something creative! The ideas below are all taken from my personal experience, and are all things I'm so glad a friend or family member decided to get us. These are some of the most memorable items we have, and will have for many years to come.

Idea #1: Show Some Spirit - Wine or Beer of the Month Clubs

A friend of ours got us a beer of the month club with beers from local breweries in the Northwest. It was so much fun to get the packages every month, and we ended up finding some new favorite beers. My mother-in-law also got us a wine of the month club which was equally fun. Both lasted for about six months, and it was such a treat to get new wines or beers delivered right to our house!

I love this idea for a wedding gift because it's something you can guarantee will be enjoyed (obviously don't get this gift for a couple who doesn't drink!) and won't clutter up their house. It's also a fun way to 'keep the party going' long past the wedding day.

You could also buy matching beer mugs or wine glasses for your friends to go with this present. Then they have something to keep forever, but also something fun coming to their house every month for a little while. If you really want to go for it, you could get the mugs engraved.

Great for couples who:

  • already have a lot of stuff for their home
  • like to try new things
  • enjoy beer and wine (obviously!)
  • like to have friends over

If you're thinking about getting a beer of the month club, this review might help you make up your mind...

Idea #2: Do Something Sweet - Ice Cream Maker and Book

Our friends got us an ice cream maker and a beautiful book full of recipes for homemade ice creams. I'm a sucker for the paired gifts like this, and I thought it was so fun and creative. We have used it a number of times, and it's really fun (and easy) to make homemade ice cream when we're having friends over. I even tried a sorbet when we had a ton of nectarines that were about to go bad. They got us a Cuisinart model and it works great - I also know other friends who have them and swear by the Cuisinart ones.

Great for couples who:

  • love their desserts
  • like making things at home
  • like hosting parties at their house
  • live in warm climates (though really, who doesn't like ice cream?)
  • have kids

Idea #3: Dinner Out and at Home or Food Magazine

We live just north of Berkeley, and our friends gave us a gift certificate to the famous Chez Panisse restaurant, and a cookbook from Alice Waters, the founder. We were so excited to get to go to a restaurant we otherwise would not have been able to, and the added touch of having a cookbook to keep and try to make some of the same type of food (though I could never do it as well!) at home was so thoughtful. I love the idea of giving experiences (in addition to restaurant gift certificates, some people do concert tickets, wine tasting tours, etc), but I also really like giving something that will stand the test of time. A cookbook is perfect for that, and I love that it's something you can use for many years. And every time I see it on the shelf, I remember getting to go out to that special dinner.

Another related idea is to get a couple a subscription to a food magazine. If you know they love to cook, and can get some inside info secretly about what magazines they already subscribe to, this can be another gift that keeps on giving. My mom got us a subscription to Cooks Illustrated and we love it.

Great for couples who:

  • are foodies and aspiring foodies (especially those who don't have the funds to support their interest!)
  • like going out
  • like to indulge
  • but also like to try to cook at home sometimes...

I made these muffins from a Cooks Illustrated - my subscription was one of my favorite wedding presents.
I made these muffins from a Cooks Illustrated - my subscription was one of my favorite wedding presents. | Source
If I could go back and do it all again, I would make sure that I had met my husband on this beach...
If I could go back and do it all again, I would make sure that I had met my husband on this beach... | Source

Idea #4: Picture This - A Framed Picture from Their Home or College Town or Where They Met

I would say that this one is the most of a gamble, but it can work out very well, especially if the couple is from the same town or went to college together. Most historical societies or local museums have old photos you can buy and then take to a frame shop - or some may have them already framed. I like this idea because you are supporting a place that they love, and helping them recall some of their favorite memories of being together. If they met in a particularly scenic location, that would also be a nice idea (not as good for the couple who met at Arby's or in line at the DMV). It seems like a gamble just because you are deciding for another couple what to put on their walls (or wasting your money if they don't put it up!) so I think I probably wouldn't do this for friends who clearly had very refined artistic tastes. Luckily I have very few of these friends, which may have everything to do with my lack of artistic taste.

Great for couples who:

  • met somewhere scenic and beautiful
  • love their hometown
  • love their college town
  • aren't overly picky about what they put up on their walls

Idea #5: Bowl Them Over - Useful Bowls to Cook or Put Things In

We got a few very nice bowls that were not on our registry that I use all the time. We don't entertain a ton, but we like to have people over every now and then, and sometimes if you have even a few families over, and you want to have snacks out before hand, and then serve the main meal family style, I find I can never have too many bowls. And in my personal opinion, an eclectic combination of bowls looks nice - if they are all matching too perfectly, it can be a little much. So I think you can't go wrong picking out a nice bowl, or set of bowls. For a set, I think the Crate and Barrel 5 piece Parker bowl set is the best. We have bought this for other couples, and it's also really affordable. I have also gone to local stores to find handmade wooden or ceramic bowls for couples I knew would appreciate something more unique.

Great for couples who:

  • like to entertain
  • like to cook or bake
  • like to keep fruit or other food out in bowls on display

Do you think it's a good idea to get an original wedding gift not off a couple's registry?

  • Never - just get them what they said they want!
  • Depends on the circumstances
  • Definitely - it's a way to show you've really thought about what they would like
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Use Your Creativity

I know that we really appreciated the thought and creativity that went into the original, off-registry wedding gifts that our friends bought us for our wedding. I tried to give some ideas here that you might not otherwise think of, and that can spur your creative thoughts. Depending on how well you know the couple, you can get very personalized, and give them something that will be fun and memorable. I'd love to hear if others have ideas too!

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