From Amazon to Zola, options are available to fit any celebration, interest or budget
An adage holds that the best gifts to give are ones you’d like to keep for yourself. Yet since there’s no accounting for personal taste, there’s the gift registry. Whether for weddings, baby showers or anniversary parties; whether at large retailers such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus or Williams-Sonoma or at singular gift boutiques such as The Lark in central Denver, the registry takes the guesswork out of buying a perfect present for a milestone event.
Gift registries save time, money and hassle—even more so now in the digital age. Registry sites and apps offer conveniences such as uploading product barcodes and photos, leaving digital notes for guests, or tactfully suggesting higher-ticket items as group gifts. Some stores—Crate & Barrel, for example—offer their own registry and also are partner stores on aggregate registries. Some registries feature buttons to add to a bookmarks bar so registrants can augment their wish list easily with a click. Others offer deep discounts on wedding website design.
Some online wedding registries, including The Knot, include a free suite of wedding planning tools. A quiz helps couples determine their wedding style. Checklists assist with planning, budgeting and finding local wedding vendors: jewelers, florists, videographers, DJs, reception venues, hotels and more.
Online or in-store, there’s a gift registry to fit any celebration, interest or budget. When gifts are shipped directly to recipients through a registry, guests need not carry a gift into a reception. Those being feted need not worry about keeping track of or hauling loads of gifts.
Registries not only simplify, they also offer enticing bonus benefits. Some department stores offer various incentives: brand reward points for gifts purchased through their registry, discounts and rebates— sometimes for both shoppers and registrants. Some stores offer completion incentives. For example, if all place settings on a registry are purchased, the store adds a set of matching mixing bowls.
With dozens of options from Amazon to Zola, online registries are proliferating and offering a lot more than housewares. Wine registries are ideal for oenophiles, whatever occasion they’re toasting. Outdoorsy, adventurous couples can register for REI gear. Registries help couples afford a romantic honeymoon or anniversary trip, a skydiving excursion, couple’s massage or cooking classes—even a down payment on a house. Registries can reflect values such as free trade. Older couples merging two already established homes may have more belongings than they need, in which case they can opt for guests to contribute to favorite causes or donate to pertinent charities by registering at sites such as justgiving.org.
Zola ranks as a popular wedding web registry, and for good reasons. Zola offers 50,000 gifts, experiences and funds in one place. Registrants can add gifts from other stores to a Zola registry and receive a discount valid for six months after the wedding date. Zola can ship all items purchased through a wedding registry free of charge. Zola charges a cash fund credit card processing fee that can be passed along to guests or absorbed by recipients.
Amazon’s universal bridal and baby registries makes sense for people familiar with Amazon and for those who’d like to register for a few things here and a few things there, rather than creating an entire registry at a few sites.
Blueprint’s registries for wedding, parenting or any other occasion is another all-inclusive option with a free platform and many benefits. With products from small shops or big-box stores, Blueprint registries also can include cash-based gifts to fund honeymoons or donate to a favorite nonprofit. To ease the thank-you-note process, Blueprint has a gift tracker. A registry concierge helps with any snags.
For guests who prefer to give money and for recipients who prefer cash to cookware, a tendr.com registry makes the monetary exchange more elegant and safer than leaving a check in a card that could get lost at a reception. The registry offers simple and safe methods to pay online.
Whatever the occasion, personalization adds a significant touch to a gift. People tend to treasure gifts engraved, embossed, embroidered or printed with their monogram or name. Frontgate’s gift registry has an array of items—everything from doormats to serving trays—with possibilities for making a gift truly personal.
Jill Livran owns The Lark, a Denver gift and home accessories store opened in 1970. Livran, now serving a third generation of Colorado brides and grooms, shared some gift registry wisdom. “If you actually put a lot of thought into your registries, your gifts will have meaning and purpose in your life,” Livran says. “And you won’t have things to return. It takes a level of stress out.” Whether choosing an online registry or a boutique, these guidelines improve any gift registry.
• Register early.
• Look toward the future. “Young people might live in an apartment, but don’t think about where you live today. You will probably evolve as a couple. Picture the way you’d like your life to be,” Livran says. “And consider family traditions. If you want to host family Thanksgiving, you’ll need more place settings and napkins and a big carving board for the turkey.”
• Include all price ranges. Livran says, “Individuals often have a dollar amount in mind.”
• Consider whether the company has a nearby bricks-and-mortar store. Returning gifts to a store can prove easier, and the 3-D experience enriches the registry process. “You’ll want to touch and feel things; and in a store, you’ll find something else you might want to pick,” Livran says.
• Find out if the store offers complimentary, private, in-person consultations with home stylists or other experts. An appointment can prove the most efficient and effective way to choose merchandise and pose questions. “We can have anything special-ordered from catalogs,” says Livran.
• Register at more than one place. Some guests might prefer to contribute to an experience funded by a registry. Others prefer a lasting, traditional gift. “People like selections,” Livran says.
• Include plenty of options. “Make sure you have enough items at a place to register,” Livran says. “It’s frustrating for consumers to find only 10 things at the store.”
• Ask if a registry comes with a cost or is provided free of charge. Some charge a percentage, a cost some couples pass along to guests. “There’s no charge for our registry or for gift-wrapping,” Livran says of The Lark.
• Look for perks: completion discounts, rebates and other registry bonuses.
• Look carefully at current registry incentives subject to change.
• Review all terms carefully when using an online registry.
• Research shipping, gift-wrapping and return policies. Livran says, “Duplicates do happen because sometimes people go online to the company rather than purchasing a gift through our store.”
• Select items that reflect your lives and taste. “Don’t fall into what your peers or others are doing,” Livran says. “A registry should be very personal and individual.”
• Mark your calendar to track expiration dates for completion discounts or other time-limited offers.
• Avoid noting your registries on save-the-date notifications or wedding invitations. Enough said. “For shower invitations, it’s appropriate,” Livran said. “Our customers learn about our bridal registries through word-of-mouth from the family or other people close to the couple.”
• Last but not least, don’t forget to send thank you notes.
Colleen Smith, an award-winning writer, publishes in many newspapers, magazines and online sites. She sees registries as a gift both to people giving and receiving presents.
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