Friday, November 21, 2008

It begins ...

"Time to add gifts," says my Crate and Barrel registry helpfully. "There are only 7 items left on your gift registry."

"Cram it, C&B," I respond grumpily. "Just back off, we'll get to it. Someday."

Econo Boy and I recently, and very tentatively, began the process of registering for wedding gifts. 8 months out is pretty early, I think, but the process got accelerated because my maid of honor is throwing me a shower over Christmas. We're mostly doing it so we can have an excuse to bake things and play silly games, but my MOH encouraged me to build at least a small list for people who couldn't imagine showing up to a shower empty-handed. So I opened registries on and Crate and Barrel, and threw together a list of things I knew I could fit in my suitcase -- a digital meat thermometer, a couple of cookbooks, a butter dish, and an AeroLatte milk frother for making homemade lattes.
The amazing AeroLatte milk frother!

Putting together a registry, I realized, is weirdly tricky. Econo Boy and I will almost certainly be moving to a new state after the wedding. Will we have a house? Another apartment? A condo? We have no idea. Also in the "we have no idea" column: how much storage space our new kitchen will have and whether it will be easy or hard to transport wedding gifts to our new home. Econo Boy has applied to jobs all over the country -- this time next year, we could be almost anywhere! And it's more than likely that we'll be moving again a year or two after that when I start looking for jobs.*

"Milk frother? Meat thermometer? Potholders?! What is this?!" cries my C&B registry. "Where is the china? The crystal champagne flutes? The $400 KitchenAid standing mixer?" (The registry is not nearly so judgmental.)

"Give it up," I tell the registry. "In our transient state, registering for ten china place settings just doesn't make sense. Plus, we already have nice wine glasses. You'll get what we give you and be happy with it. Here, I'll add a wine decanter to make you feel better."
I decide not to tell the registry that I never wanted china in the first place. Having china just makes me nervous about breaking it. I'd rather have sturdy but affordable stoneware in pretty colors and interesting designs. And Econo Boy is opposed on principle to anything that costs more than he thinks it should. Needless to say he is not a fan of $50 plates, no matter how delicate and pretty.

The wine decanter does not appease the registry. "Why did you even bother opening me?" it asks unhappily. "If you're going to be semi-homeless wandering scholars with no use for china, why register at all?"

"We have our reasons," I tell the registry.

And, indeed, we do have our reasons. Two reasons, in fact. The first, nobler one, is to save our guests hassle. When I'm invited to a wedding, I really want to give my friends something to celebrate their union, preferably something they can use and enjoy as a couple. But I don't really want to spend an entire weekend searching every department store and cute kitchen boutique for the "perfect" gift. Registries take the guesswork out of wedding gift-giving. I can buy a coffee pot or a set of dishes for the couple knowing that it's *exactly* what they want and that they'll use it over and over again. I like that, and I know many of our guests will too.

The second reason is less noble. We want to register because we don't want people to give us things we don't want or can't use (follow the link for an advice column from Tomato Nation on this dilemma). Of course, this may happen whether or not we register for anything. Every family has some variation on Crazy Aunt Phyllis who will give you life-sized hand-decorated lawn flamingos no matter what you put on your wish list. But I think the risk that anyone will try to get us a 40-pound crystal punch bowl or a giant tie-dyed painting of jazz musicians does go down a bit if our loved ones see that our registry is small and filled with easily-transportable items.

Did you register for gifts? Was your registry tiny like ours, or bigger and more traditional? As a guest, do you prefer shopping from a registry? Or do you like selecting something more personal?

* Assuming, of course, that there are jobs, and that anyone wants to hire me. This economy is really depressing.

1 comment:

lunettes said...

Oh man! Mr. O and I registered about nine months before the big day. Now that it's five months out, I have no free time (finishing school). We have no clue what sort of dwelling we'll have but we're likely staying in the same town we're in now. Our registry is moderately big, but Mr. O's friends seem hellbent on buying him Lego instead of Le Creuset. :/