Pick our presents!
December 13, 2009 5:49 PM   Subscribe

We're getting married! GREAT. Now, what do we register for?

We're 25 and 31. Both out of our parents house for years but neither of us are what can be considered 'well stocked' on the housewares front.

Between us we have two lamps, two twin beds (yikes), a futon, coffee table, an oldddddd recliner that I'm afraid will NOT be joining us at our future mutual home, several TVs and limited amounts of cookware.

We know to register for all the 'regular' stuff you see on those 'suggestion' lists provided to you by the stores when you register.

We're looking for unique items you might have obtained over the years that you find to be godsend. Couldn't live without or wouldn't want to at least.

Items of any sort. We are not opposed to asking for fun stuff!

We: both like to cook, go camping, have movie marathons, read, have an appreciation for the 50s and 60s type Americana decor.

I know he'd love to be set up with a good tool set but isn't really a hand person (more would like to learn to be) so he'd like to know what are the essential things to obtain.

So - either suggestions for lesser known items. OR recommendations for brands of cookware/towels/bedding/etc thare are good quality but not too pricey. Neither of us are into the whole fancy schmancy brand stuff. We are both practical but still appreciate quality.

Thanks guys!
posted by mittenbex to Home & Garden (41 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Ask for a good set of knives. They can last damn near forever if you do your research and treat them right. I was raised on german-forged Henkels, so I'm biased, and you might find some good advice that differs from those, but fwiw, the oldest members of my mothers' set are coming up on 30 years.

Also, YMMV, but make sure there's someone can hope to afford the ones you do pick out, and be sure to say 'no substitutions'. Otherwise you might just end up with a crappy set from asia.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:54 PM on December 13, 2009

Sorry, Henckels!
posted by sunshinesky at 5:55 PM on December 13, 2009

If you do not have a stand mixer, I would register for one of those.

I use mine almost every day. And you can get them in pretty colors!
posted by mmmbacon at 5:56 PM on December 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

You like to cook?

Then ask for good cookware. You might think that what you have now works, but believe me (and I speak as someone who also loves to cook), really good cookware makes your food better and easier and more fun to prepare.

We asked for All-Clad pieces and Global knives. We got some, and they rock. Plus, we'll probably never have to buy those pieces we got again. If you're going to ask for knives, you should absolutely know what style you want.

If you have really good cookware, then disregard; but if you don't, then it is totally worth it.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:59 PM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

I use this pan constantly. I don't know how to cook without it anymore.
posted by scody at 5:59 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Really nice sheets. Probably not something you would ever spend money on yourselves, but so, so worth it.

Also, a good Dutch oven, if you don't have one.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:00 PM on December 13, 2009

What about a nice digital camera?
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:00 PM on December 13, 2009

My dude and I have a set of Pyrex storage containers, and they're great. What I really love about them is that they nest, so they don't take up too much valuable cabinet real estate.
posted by kitty teeth at 6:03 PM on December 13, 2009

seconding Henckels. Also, my family laughed at the time, but we registered for Oneida stainless steel cutlery and Corelle dishes (instead of fancy shmancy dish sets) and we use and enjoy every day.
posted by kch at 6:04 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

You can never have too much Pyrex. We got two bake n' store sets (they come with plastic lids), and we use them all the time. I also second the Calphalon pan that scody linked to. It's the only pan I can fry eggs in.
posted by lexicakes at 6:06 PM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

This is the second time in a few days that I've posted one of these, but Megan McArdle is sort of an amateur gourmet, and she has some great suggestions. See also the 2008 guide.
posted by decathecting at 6:09 PM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

The best simple kitchen investment I have ever seen anyone make is standardized Tupperware. (Or Rubbermaid, or whatever your brand of choice is.) If you've been living out of ten different mismatched sets of those quasi-disposable containers, chuck them all and get one set of the durable shit where all the lids fit on all the bowls and you don't have to root around in a drawer for half an hour to put dinner away.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:12 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Our recent registry items that we've especially loved: a decent mattress (we sleep on a futon bed and got this; it's incredibly comfortable), wedge reading pillows, an ice cream maker, decent knives and flatware, and a food processor.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:13 PM on December 13, 2009

Oh, and seconding standardized tupperware. We got a set where the lids fit everything, and it's great.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:14 PM on December 13, 2009

Oh, and I'd really recommend doing an amazon registry. It gives you much more flexibility in what you add to your list. We had that and a wists.com etsy list--but unfortunately, with the few (awesome) vintage items we got through etsy, we had to do some leg work to track down who got them for us.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:17 PM on December 13, 2009

If I were registering it would be for Heath Ceramics dishes and stuff. It's really well made without being fancy schmancy.
posted by grapesaresour at 6:20 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I will totally second the Pyrex recommendations - we registered for ours and got rid of all of our old plastic storage containers the instant we received the pyrex.

Don't be shy about registering for furniture, if only so that you can get 10% off when you buy it for yourself (we bought a beautiful steamer bar cabinet from crate and barrel that cleaned out our cupboards of barware and liquor bottles and saves us tons of space).

I recommend registering for knives individually because you don't necessarily need everything that comes in the $300 set, and you may want different types of knives from different brands (for example, we registered for the $20 cuisinart bread knife, but the $60 Wusthof chef's knife). This probably goes for pots and pans, too, although the set we wanted (Cuisinart multiclad, which is often compared to all-clad but costs much less) only came as a set.

One of our favorite gifts has been the carafe in which we store our port. But that was not off of a registry. As much as people lament guests who go off-registry, I've found that many of the gifts I like best are the unique, handmade craft items that we received (the carafe, a sake set, a vase, teapot).

Sorry so long, I think it's obvious that I just got married! :)
posted by echo0720 at 6:22 PM on December 13, 2009

I'm not married, but I cook a lot so here are my kitchen suggestions:
Good knives, including a chef's knife
Crock pot
Food processor
Stick blender (these are so handy)
Dutch oven
At least one cast iron pan
A good set of pots and pans. If you want them to last more than just a few years max, don't get nonstick.
Pyrex bake and store, like was already mentioned are awesome
A few sizes of glass (or plastic) measuring cups
posted by ishotjr at 6:24 PM on December 13, 2009

A mattress heater (like an electric blanket but it goes under you instead of over you). Pure luxury in winter and lets you keep the thermostat lower so you save energy overall.

If you have to do your own home maintenance work, a ladder is hugely useful although decidedly nonglamorous. Dunno if you can find these on any gift registries, but sooner or later every home needs a ladder. Ditto a cordless electric drill (Makita makes good ones), and a basic set of hand tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, hammer, etc). Craftsman tools are OK and come with a lifetime warranty so look into a carpentry/home repair set (as opposed to automotive maintenance - unless that's your thing too) from Sears.

I love Channel Lock (a.k.a. slipjoint) pliers because they fit my small hands, so 2 or 3 of these in a range of sizes might be good too. Nothing too fancy - you'll figure out what specialized tools you need as various crises come up, but aim to have the basics on hand in advance. (Sigh ... you'll probably both learn more about tools and home maintenance than you ever wanted to, faster than you ever wanted to!)
posted by Quietgal at 6:27 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Couldn't-live-without items for us?

Lots of lamps. I have yet to live in an apartment with good natural light.
Electric water kettle. But then, we drink tea and/or coffee (via french press) every day, YMMV.

That's about all I can think of. One other thing, though: we registered for mismatched dishes instead of like 8 identical place settings; we also registered for a couple of different silverware patterns and styles of drinking glasses. We thought it was maybe a weird thing to do, but after 3 years I still totally love it. The one gold fork makes the whole table fun.
posted by hishtafel at 6:28 PM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

I adore my Denby dinnerware. Stoneware (as opposed to the usual earthenware), so very strong, and beautiful.
posted by palliser at 6:34 PM on December 13, 2009

I'm busy updating some of our old kitchen stuff, and this Preserve colander is built like a brick, made of 100% #5 recycled plastic, and can be shipped back to the company for recycling when you finally destroy it. (Not every recycling program in the US takes #5 plastic, so being able to just send it back is nice.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:43 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Luggage sets, as well as camping gear type stuff you find at REI seems to be popular from registries I've seen -- I guess the idea is that if you can use the gear together, as a couple, it counts as a good registry item (campstove = kitchen appliance for the outdoors?) Also, I know several airlines are doing "travel registries" where you can get people to contribute to your travel fund for the honeymoon or whatever.

See if a local artsy "artisian" store does registries for handcrafted stuff. A nice way to get some decorative yet useful pieces that are unique.

Also, you might want to look into charity registries such as this.
posted by NikitaNikita at 6:44 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

If your husband really wants to get good with his hands, buy a fixer-upper. Tools are the sort of thing that you tend acquire as you need them; my parents have a pretty wide variety of tools because they spent the first 20 years of their marriage renovating our house.

Below is a list of widely useful tools. I'm probably forgetting something important, but this should get you started.

Power tools:
A cordless drill; I recommend one of the deWalt 12 volt models (if you only get one power tool, make it this one)
Dremel tool (if you only get two power tools, this should be the other one)
Skilsaw/circular saw
Handheld reciprocating saw
Orbital sander

Work area:
Butcher-block top work table
Table-mounted vise
Pegboard and pegs for hanging stuff up

Safety glasses
Basic set of drill bits
Folding utility knife
25' tape measure
At least one of : framing square, speed square, or combination square
A set of ratcheting hex drivers
Adjustable-end wrenches, large and small
Phillips and flat head screwdrivers, each in large, medium and small
Needle nose pliers
Regular pliers
Diagonal cutters
Quick-grip clamps and/or C-clamps
Hammer with curved claw
Long-handled axe, if you buy a house with a fireplace
posted by Commander Rachek at 6:47 PM on December 13, 2009 [6 favorites]

From my own registry experience:
--Martha Stewart Weddings has a checklist for registries. It's super detailed and probably way more high-end than you need, but it's nice to have all of your options in front of you. Then you can ignore the three kinds of butter knives and then plan your registry so things coordinate.
--Darker plates may look nice, but they can chip and/or make the food look a little odd. You'll get way more use out of very plain white plates, especially if you know they'll always be available in open stock (Macy's, BB&B, World Market, Pier 1, wherever). We found this out with cobalt blue Fiestaware.
--If you think you might register for something like a place setting that comes with pieces you won't use -- such as tiny teacup-and-saucer sets -- don't.
--I found it helpful to register at a general place with solid stuff (BB&B), a slightly foofier place (Pier 1) and a place that had everything else, especially if they're online (Amazon or Target -- we got a Dremel and a bunch of CDs!).
--Make sure to have some high-end things on there that people might chip in on, such as a pot/pan set. Then make sure you have multiples, so people can either buy a bunch of them or put them together with something else.

posted by Madamina at 6:47 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Congratulations to both of you! Being engaged was some of the most fun I've had in my life!
If you love camping, fill in on stuff you don't have - Thermarest mattresses, a couple of good headlamps, and a really good cookstove are some things that spring to mind. REI has a registry too.

Also, we asked for (and got) a food dehydrator (with about 20 trays!) - and have used it extensively.

If you like to bake - a marble pastry board/rolling pin.
We also registered for reasonably priced, but still kinda fancy dishes - and loved that we could set a table for eight. As Madamina points out - white is best with most food. We looked at loads of patterns, and just kept saying "What is a plate of pasta with red sauce going to look like on this plate?" and eliminated a lot of goofy designs.

Bless you for registering - it sure makes it easier for those who will be buying you presents.
posted by dbmcd at 6:51 PM on December 13, 2009

I know he'd love to be set up with a good tool set but isn't really a hand person (more would like to learn to be) so he'd like to know what are the essential things to obtain

In tools, do be prepared to go for named brands which have warranties. There's nothing more infuriating and dangerous than tools that break. In Fiasco's Enthusiastic Amateur Tool Cupboard there lies, in no particular order:

- sets of flat and Phillips head screwdrivers
- a hand-held cordless drill, with a drill bit set
- a wood saw, about the length of my forearm
- a flat or rounded steel file or two
- a sharp scriber (like the dentist uses on your teeth)
- spanner set, from 7mm up to 30mm (or the imperial equivalents)
- adjustable aka shifting spanners, big and little (only to be used in the failure of the other spanners)
- a ratchet and socket set (especially if you have a car or motorcycle)
- lots of pliers, in the following variations: flat-nosed, needle-nosed, cutting, locking (aka vise grip), and pincers. Man you can't ever have enough pliers
- measuring tape, steel ruler, right angle
- spirit level
- PVA glue for wood/fabric
- light sewing machine oil for things like squeaky door hinges
- WD40
- hammers: one big for hitting big things, one small for hitting small things
- Allen aka. hex keys
- a few grades of sandpaper, from oooh to owww
- buckets, lots of buckets
- band-aids, disinfectant (can't emphasise this one enough)
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:51 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bed Bath & Beyond has a registry checklist - good for sparking ideas.

A really good vacuum would be a great thing to register for.
posted by jgirl at 7:03 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Put some fun stuff on there, for your friends. I hate buying my good friends cookware or towels. I'd much rather get them a DVD set or a good board game that I know they'll play.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:05 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend registering on Amazon. Generally the best deals around, and it makes it so much easier to pick stuff out and doesn't require that your guests drive around looking for your gifts.

Honestly, you guys sounds a lot like us when we got married, same age, same interests, same general lack of nice cookware. Of the things we registered for, we use the following the most:

Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven - heavy duty, nonstick, good looking without being crazy expensive like Le Creuset
Calphalon Multipot - multiuse stock pot with a steamer basket and strainer; good for making pasta, chili, stews etc. nice thick bottom.
Chicago Metallic Sheet Pan - indestructible, heavy gauge sheet metal.
posted by electroboy at 8:00 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

When you register for things like silverware and glasses be sure that you handle the goods in the store. There are a lot of unergonomic silverware out there that looks good. This will be torture as you will interact with this stuff nearly every day for a long, long time.

In the realm of knives, I think the big blocks of knives are probably a waste for most people. A good quality Chef's knife, a small pairing knife and a long serrated knife is what most people need. Be sure to handle these things too because handle shape and blade length are very idiosyncratic.

Definitely register for really big fluffy bath towels. The only thing better than a hot shower is a hot shower followed up by being wrapped in a really big soft towel.

Resist the urge to get a lot of big single use kitchen items (unless you are sure you are going to use them a lot) because they take up a lot of counter/closet/cupboard space.

posted by mmascolino at 9:09 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


When we got married in 2008, we registered for things that would be an upgrade we knew we could use. We were living together and knew what we might like. I already had a set of nice china that has stayed in storage so far. We're Corelle and Oneida folks for daily use. We already had really good knives, for instance. We registered at Target and Sears and had a fun time with the little scanner gun while staying within what we considered a reasonable price range.

The things we most loved receiving were:

-- An Oster stick blender/food processor/electric knife. I got to give away my previous food processor, which had been good, but not this good. My thank you note mentioned that we'd already used it to "go all Alton Brown in the kitchen," making soups, sauces, and pesto the first week we had it. That thing is powerful, fairly easy to store, and more useful than I ever expected.

-- A Philips DVD player that plays almost everything. Our old one had been some super cheap thing that would hang on every little scratch or bit of dust. Some movies wouldn't play at all on our old player.

-- One very generous friend gave us an X-Box 360 with extra handset, headset, etc. and instructions to assemble and use it together. It was packaged in several gift bags and we dived into them right after the reception, but before the after-party a few hours later. This is something we would have never bought for ourselves or even thought to register for because we're penny-pinchers, and it was SO extravagant.

We also received gift cards and cash and checks. The money went into a joint savings account; it's nice to start a marriage with a safety net. The gift cards have come in handy for a lot of practical items, including school clothes and supplies for the kids, as well as some fun things. We still have a Lowe's card with a good-sized balance.

Not something we received as a wedding gift, but my husband loves his big cast iron skillet and dutch oven (thank you, again, MeFite who was clearing out extra stuff!) and his pressure cooker. We have a couple of Chinese-style cleavers that are great. We also recently got a small chest freezer for about $150 that's going to make a pretty big difference in our food costs, thanks to being able to buy in bulk.
posted by lilywing13 at 11:49 PM on December 13, 2009

Congratulations! Married in '08, here. There have been plenty of kitchen suggestions, so I'll skip that. How about a mattress topper (one you get rid of the twin beds, of course)? You'll be surprised how much a good night's sleep can contribute to a healthy relationship with your spouse.
posted by Gilbert at 12:39 AM on December 14, 2009

Twin bed + twin bed = king-size bed! Go try some nice mattresses, don't be afraid to hang out on them for a while. I personally recommend memory foam - Thermarest or an internet special (what we have). Also try a regular cheapo mattress with a memory foam topper. Your two twin box springs is what you'd get if you bought a whole new king-size bed anyway. Consider putting them directly on the floor until Mr. Mittenbex builds you a nice new bed frame with his new tools. (Understand this may take years if he's not handy.)

A leafed eating table - fancy or not - and extra (folding?) chairs. At first you may want to stay home alone together a lot, but eventually you may want to start having guests over - other couples, potential couples, etc - and maybe kids someday?

Put in some fun stuff from your Amazon or what-have-you wish lists - those books, gadgets, or just silly stuff that you'd kind of like to have but would probably never buy for yourself because they're not necessary.

Think about the last few times you camped. About what did you say, "I wish I had a (better/nicer/bigger/smaller/lighter/different color) one of these."? Find the one you want at REI and get someone else to buy it for you! If you don't have a membership at REI, spring for it ($20) or include it on the list. They have a seriously business-ruining return policy, it's great.

Above all, I like having cheaper things on the list for those friends and family members who want to get you something but are of lesser means (and perhaps feel obligated to stick to the registry, or are less creative). Maybe also subtly let folks know that off-registry is okay too.

One more thing - my wife and mine post-wedding plans included a six-week honeymoon in Central America, followed by a 2-3 week camping trip immediately upon our return, followed by ??? - at that point we would be homeless and jobless (and, no surprise, ended up basically broke as well). So we asked that anyone who wanted to gift us make it money - we didn't want to store a bunch of kitchen appliances etc. We ended up getting almost exactly enough cash to pay for the used car we bought the day of our wedding! We got something we wanted (and needed), and everybody got to get it for us! Do you have enough friends that they could go in on a house?
posted by attercoppe at 1:01 AM on December 14, 2009

+n on the good knives. Only I say register for great knives. World-class, kids-fight-over-them-when-you-die heirloom knives. (And the equipment to keep them nice)

We saved up and bought just three Global knives several years back -- parer, vegetable knife, and chef's knife. We love them. Have found ourselves salivating over Shun knives though.

A great knife makes a lot of difference. If you have a comfortable knife that can make short work of any mise en place, then you are more likely to eat healthy, save money by eating in, and cook together. And they'll last forever.

Same idea for greak cookware. Register for a few classic All-Clad pans -- a braiser, stock pot, saute pan, a saucier. And maybe an enameled cast iron pieces from Le Creuset.

With the advent of Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrell, and even design consciousness at Target, you will be able to afford to buy stuff that looks good and matches your decor.

I'd register for stuff that is a large initial outlay of money, but a great investment in yours and your future family's health and well-being.
posted by cross_impact at 6:02 AM on December 14, 2009

Your two twin box springs is what you'd get if you bought a whole new king-size bed anyway.

I think they would have to be twin extra-longs in order for this to be true.
posted by palliser at 6:08 AM on December 14, 2009

In terms of kitchen tools like can openers and garlic presses, I suggest you register for Oxo for whatever you decide you need. Every time I buy a non-Oxo tool, I regret and replace afterwards. They're very easy on your hands (important if you have arthritis or ever plan on getting old) and they last forever.

If you actually like to cook, register for a lot of kitchenware. But if you think you like to cook, but don't actually do that much cooking, go with basic pieces and don't get the fondue pot and so on. It will just be kitchen clutter.

Also, remember that you'll be looking at the design of plates that you choose first thing in the morning, and pick accordingly.
posted by immlass at 7:40 AM on December 14, 2009

Seconding the suggestion to register at REI.

Also, we vastly overestimated the amount of entertaining we were going to do when we registered. We really didn't need those nice wine glasses or candlesticks. If I had it to do over, I would list more fun stuff. People like to get you fun stuff. What they don't like to get you is stuff that is fancier or more expensive than anything they themselves own. It doesn't sound like you're expecting that, though. You're smart to be thinking this diversely.
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:32 AM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Our favorites:
-All-clad cookware (quite a bit of it!)
-Prepara Herb Savor (Friggin LOVE this thing!)
-Board games
-Cook's Illustrated cookbooks
-Food Processor

Note: We did an Amazon registry and we think it resulted in a LOT of people giving cash gifts instead of purchasing off of the registry. Your call as to whether that's good or bad.
posted by sdis at 2:38 PM on December 14, 2009

@palliser: That may be right (king-size requires twin extra-longs)...

But I came back in here to say what I forgot to mention - if you get a full-on memory foam mattress (rather than just a topper), consider two twins there as well. Much easier to move (even one twin needs two people for its weight and unwieldiness) and in our experience, they snug up together much better than innerspring mattresses would; we don't notice the seam. Added bonus: they will definitely fit your standard twin box springs, if you choose to use them. Second added bonus: luxurious car camping. On our move from Colorado to California, we had the mattresses accessibly strapped to the top of our pickup shell, and the tent handy. Both mattresses take up nearly the whole floor of the tent, but fit through the door since they're each only half of the total. Two nights on the road; it was well worth the trouble to unstrap, unload, schlep twice, and reload and restrap. So much nicer than even the best pad and bag combo.
posted by attercoppe at 11:02 PM on December 14, 2009

Some combination of lap desks and tray tables. We have a lap desk each in the bedroom and living room. They are awesome for laptop use, eating away from the table, writing, and a million other things. Lap desks have the edge for portability but tray tables are more useful for those parties where you have more guests than table space.

The kitchen stuff I use the most is a set of Pyrex bowls that my mom got me. They nest in the cabinet and have plastic lids with a vent. They are microwaveable and awesome.

After those bowls: my good skillet, the ancient saucepan I picked up at an estate sale that would survive a nuclear explosion, and a stock pot. Also a plastic serrated "lettuce knife" that is great for cutting certain things without tearing them up.

A corkscrew, bottle opener, and veggie peeler that are easy to use and comfy to hold.
posted by oblique red at 10:14 AM on December 16, 2009

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