Most of the time, a gift registry is something you think of for a wedding, but these tips, suggestions, and common etiquette practices can apply to any type of event where registration for gifts is appropriate. Whether you’re completely lost on the registry process or simply have a question or two, follow Blue Linden’s DO’s and DON’Ts to help you on your way to a properly put-together gift registry
DO register with plenty of time
Plan on a completed registry about eight to six months before the event. If you’re having an engagement party or bridal shower, having the list done early provides more opportunities for guests to buy from it!
DON’T share registry info in your invitation
If your first thought is, “how will they know,” there are other ways of spreading the information. Common courtesy dictates not putting registries on the invites in order to keep the focus on your guests rather than the gift that you’d appreciate whether they come or not. Therefore, most people know to ask for the information. You can also include it on your event website, social media, in shower/party invitations, or save-the-dates.
DO give guests a long list to choose from
Rule of thumb is to always register for more gifts than you have guests so they have plenty of items to choose from. Just as your guests tastes varies, the types of things you include on your wishlist should vary, too.
DON’T request money
Even in today’s world it’s still quite taboo to outright ask for money. But if you and your partner have already lived together for a while or you’re both bringing quite a lot of material things to the table, there are other ways to get money without specifically asking for it. There are financial registries for stocks (SparkGift) and online honeymoon funds where guests can pay for different activities you can partake in (HoneyFund). There are even some banking programs to collect funds for a down payment on a new house.
DO take stock of what you already have
As we just touched on, you’re not really starting from nothing. Whether you’re joining two household’s things or you’ve been co-habitating for a while and have obtained many things, there are items you do and don’t need to ask for. Get rid of stuff neither of you need or want. Downsize if you have multiples of things. Then, make a list and utilize your registry to fill in the gaps.
DON’T go overboard
Pick stores for your registry that offer multiple gift ideas to choose from, like a department store, home improvement store, or similar: Macy’s, Lowe’s, Target, JCPenny’s, IKEA, Pier 1, etc. You can also choose a specialty store that mimics your personal style, but includes more than just one type of gift. Keep your guests in mind as well, registering with a place that has low-, medium-, AND high-end items.Registering only for high-ticket items may alienate some! If there are a few high-dollar items you really want, consider “group gifts,” where guests will have the ability to contribute to the present at whatever dollar amount they feel comfortable spending. Typically you shouldn’t include more than three different stores.
DO incorporate your day’s inspiration into some items
If it’s a baby shower, wedding day, or 80th birthday registry, you probably have some sort of theme or inspiration. Adding a few pieces that keep the spirit of the event in mind will help your gift-buyers feel a bit more connected to the event. You can take this even further if you receive some special gifts before the big day; were you gifted fine china that came the week before your wedding day? Use it at your head table during the reception!
DON’T focus just on material objects
Although you should always include a few material objects to keep the traditionalists happy, there are other ways to be given a gift. Tying in with the previously mentioned websites for alternative money gifting, you could request donations to your favorite charities (JustGive) or towards a “life experience” (IfOnly).
DO get everyone involved
Make a day of going into a storefront and scanning items with your besties. Have your partner sit down with you and choose items that are unique to each of you. Let your mom pitch in her thoughts on color choices and patterns. In this case, more is better.
DON’T register for personal desires
Obviously if this registry is for a milestone birthday, you want personal gifts. But if you’re here for wedding registry tips, skip the designer bags, video games, and iPad.
DO write thank-you notes
In an ideal world, you’d have a thank you note ready as soon as the gift arrives. It makes easier to remember by sending the note as soon as you open it. However, since the big event is the main focus, the thank you’s are often set on a back burner. Keep a list of gifts received, and from whom, and whenever you have a free moment, write a heartfelt thank you. Generally, these notes should be sent within three months.
DON’T forget to plan for the future
One of the most common mistakes registry-creators make is only adding things they need right now. Even though what you have right now can hold you off for a while, you should think bigger. You may have a larger home to fill, a bigger family to host for holidays, or lots of friends to host for parties.
DO sleep on it
With all the items we told you to include, and all the people we told you to elicit help from, you may want to give a day or two of wait time to that final listing. Doing this allows you to give a weighted, thoughtful approach to the items you’re asking for and leaves little room for regret for those on-the-fence items that may show up in a package at your door. Most of the time you do have the option to edit your registry at any point, but having a concise and directed vision makes your gift-giver’s lives easier.
DON’T hesitate to make returns
You can return gifts you purchase for yourself, right? Whether it doesn’t fit your style, isn’t what the description said, or you just plain changed your mind – it happens to everybody. Don’t feel any obligation to tell the gift-giver that you’ve returned or exchanged their gift. You should love what you’re being given.