Gift Ideas for Weddings and Wedding Showers

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Wedding gift for 50 year old's second marriage

Jan 2013

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 appreciated! Need ideas

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. anon

Wedding gift for best friend - how long do I have to send it?

Nov 2008

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. presents

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? Alexandra

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. anon

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. crystal

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. recent bride

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. kl

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? anon

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! Anon

Wedding gift idea for blended family

August 2008

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. Thanks.

If they like camping, buy them a family-size tent! anon

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 ....

''American'' wedding gift ideas for Turkish friend

June 2006

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. Any suggestions?

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 (customs, etc).

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! - Charis

How much are people spending on wedding presents these days?

Nov 2003

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 curious. anon

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 casual friends. anon

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 nothing more. Recently Married

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. Good luck! David

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 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. anon

Wedding gift suggestions for a good friend

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:

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! Mary

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 to come. Sarah

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. Loralee

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.

What to give as a shower gift

August 2003

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? Bobbie

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). anon

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. Susan

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. showered

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. Holly

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.

signed, not all that comfy in lingerie anyway

Hi Bobbie. 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. Best Regards! Tiffany

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. eileen

Hi- 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. :) Deniene

Unless it's a themed shower, I typically give one of three presents....

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 happily received. anon

I would not assume that the bride wants anything ''racy'' 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, sell super cute slippers that my attendants loved!! wfp

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 anon

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 for vegetarians! Kathy

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. Juliette

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. anon

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! Shahana 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 well. Rose