Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Registry Lessons

We got into a chat on Twitter recently about registries and what to register for, and I thought I'd offer a few reviews about what did and didn't work for us, and what people did and didn't buy from our registry.  Also a few things we forgot to register for, because we had three registries and I thought I put them on one of them and did not.  I will say, even if we hadn't felt the need to replace everything in our kitchen (we've lived together since college and very little of what we have was new when we got it, or is particularly high quality), I would have registered.  Because to me, since I know that people in my family give gifts, not registering felt like asking for money.  And registering made me feel icky, still, but it made me feel less icky.

For starters, we registered for versatile, everyday china.  It works as both everyday and as formal china, it looks nice, and we like it.  We got the Noritake Colorwave Square in a variety of colors, and we were lucky to have enough people give it to us that we have a complete set.  I recently had a conversation about what china I would get if the President came to dinner, and I said, "I would just use the china we own and say dammit, we're Americans. Our china doesn't match."  We also registered for stemless white and red wine glasses, because we tend to break stemmed ones.  And using mugs isn't classy.  We registered for new appliances - a food processor, a crockpot that doesn't burn everything, a rice cooker, a hand mixer. (Yes, I kept the Kitchenaid too.  It's awesome.)  We also registered for some "weird" items - a suitcase, camping pads, a camping meal kit, a new bike rack, and people got us these as well.  We've also used almost all of these items and they are fantastic, so I don't feel guilty that we registered for a rice cooker that cost 6x the one I would have bought myself.  Yes, I don't need to own something that nice, but it's really nice.

Things we didn't register for?  Knives.  My dad gifted me with a set of wonderful knives, pretty much all German, all good knives, when I moved into my Courtyards apartment.  Most of them came from his own knife drawer or the stash he keeps in the basement of closeout scratch & dent knives he buys when he goes to Germany.  I'm a knife snob, I will freely admit it, and wouldn't have registered for the standard block knife set.  I did put a Shun Santoku knife on our registery, and one of my best friends got it for me, and I'm afraid to use it.  It's really nice. But when I thought about registering for knives, I realized that we did not need new knives, and our current knives were nice enough that we wouldn't just give them away to a homeless shelter.  You probably have things you feel this way about as well.  We also didn't register to replace our Pyrex baking dishes, our cutting boards, or our other baking pans, although I realized after the wedding I hadn't put loaf pans on the registry and I'd like to have some, so we bought them when we exchanged a few items.

We also didn't register for a pot set.  We got a lovely everyday pan, a new deep skillet, a french oven, a cast iron skillet, and a saucepan.  They do not match, but matching pots are, it turns out, totally unnecessary.  What is necessary is pots that serve your needs, like a pot that goes from stovetop to oven to table.  A set felt really silly, and whatever one we picked would have been prohibitively expensive.  Also, the pot that I use the most right now is a $40 pot, which didn't come with a set.

We registered for new sheets and towels, and these were one thing that people didn't get us.  I'm not complaining - we deliberately put a lot extra on our registry so that people would have freedom to choose gifts that they wanted to give.  People were also reluctant to give the more "practical" gifts - but our dish draining rack (we got the SimpleHuman one with the built in knife block which I thought was excessive but turned out to be amazing) and our laundry sorter and our new showerhead are all awesome gifts we use every day.  But these were some of the last items we received, after the china and the appliances and the other stuff had been purchased.

I know when I buy off registries, I'm also reluctant to get somebody their towels (mostly because Mark wouldn't let me monogram them with "beauty" and "beast" for our friends) or bathroom kits.  I'm not sure why, but it is what it is.  Maybe it feels less like a wedding gift, maybe it's creepy to give your friends something they wrap around their naked selves.

We registered for a number of small things - new spoons and tools for cooking, a new can opener, etc.  We got some of these items, and some of them we are simply living without.  We'll replace and upgrade our tools as necessary, but for now, we're getting by with what we had, and the new stuff.  The people who did get us small things got us a box of small things that mostly went together, or came from the same section.  I couldn't help but notice that these gifts came from recently-married friends, who I suspect know that even though you really want the $25 can opener, nobody will get it for you.

What did you register for?  What did you get?  What didn't you get?


  1. We recently put our registry together I definitely was conscious of what I like to buy people when I attend weddings and showers and what I've seen other people buy the couple.

    I have to agree — people like to give gifts they think will last a very long time and will stand out. So dishes, wine glasses, knives, good cooking and baking ware are popular. Few people want to give a can opener at a shower because these gifts are given and shown (sometimes passed around) so publicly. And with towels and sheets I'm thinking people know it is an item that will be replaced down the line so that's why they don't tend to give those.

    But I did think about a range of prices for our range of guests who come from a wide background and are in different economic levels.

  2. Did you register for the dishes through the Noritake website? I'm looking at the Noritake china too.

  3. Elaine, we registered for them through Bed Bath & Beyond - Macy's sells them as well. We really liked having a brick & mortar store for people to go through, and we didn't get very much from our web-only registries.