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7 Wedding Gifts When You Want To Go Off-Registry

It’s possible to give a unique, thoughtful wedding gift without breaking the bank or sending something so kitschy that you’ll be listed as a lame gift giver for the rest of your life.


Few things are as exciting as hearing that two people you care about are getting married. It’s exciting seeing two lives combine and a new family start. We want to celebrate with them, by attending the wedding if we can, and picking out that perfect gift to help them set up housekeeping.

While the wedding is hopefully a source of unequivocal joy, selecting gifts can unfortunately bring some stress to the situation. If you’re not prompt with shopping and ordering, nearly everything on the couple’s registry can be bought out. Some couples don’t register at all, providing no guidance on what they want or need, or nothing on their list is really what you’d like to give.

Don’t worry. It’s possible to give a unique, thoughtful wedding gift without breaking the bank or sending something so kitschy that you’ll be listed as a lame gift giver for the rest of your life. You don’t need to be a do-it-yourself diva to make this work, either. Whether you’re more of a crafter or a buyer, there’s a perfect present for any occasion.

1. Personalize Some Thank-You Notes

The practice of sending handwritten thank you notes seems to be dropping away. It’s so nice to receive an acknowledgement that what you sent was valued, though, especially with something big or expensive like a wedding gift. There are thank-you notes for every budget. Add some stamps, two nice pens, and if you’re feeling really fancy print some address labels with the new couple’s names and new address.

2. Coffee

Even if the couple themselves aren’t coffee drinkers, they’ll have guests at some point who are. Help avoid a caffeine-fueled crisis by picking a nice blend, custom-roasted on demand. Classy coffee is a warm and thoughtful addition to their pantry. Add two mugs, like this cute Mr. and Mrs. set, and you’re ready to go.

3. Wine

This one only works if you’re dealing with a couple who are older than 21, so please be advised. Pick a bottle of wine and write a card for them to read with it on their first anniversary. You can go really fancy and add a custom wine label, but that’s not a make or break here. You can add two wine glasses if you’d like to. If you’re not a wine drinker, any liquor store will be happy to help you pick a bottle that matches the situation and what you’re able to spend.

4. Make a Food Gift Basket

There’s a ton of ideas on how to combine food and a serving dish or kitchen item for a useful and unique gift. You can buy a premade one or make one on your own. My personal favorite combination is a colander with a box of pasta and a nice spaghetti sauce. Other items that work well for doubling as a gift container are large soup pots or serving platters.

5. Make a Calendar

You can do this as a surprise. With how much of our lives are online you can look at the groom and bride’s social media and pick pictures of them together to compile a calendar for their first year. This site has a ton of options and it’s quick and easy to do. This may work better for couples you’re close to, so make sure that you’re mindful of privacy and boundaries with looking at their online pictures.

6. Think Christmas and Holidays

Whether a couple is married in summer or winter, they’ll have a first Christmas together as a married couple. Pick an ornament for their tree or a nativity scene they can set up together. So many wedding gifts are focused on the immediate needs of setting up a mutual life that the need for helpful items later in the year can be overlooked. A marriage isn’t a short-term commitment, so feel free to look months into the future when planning presents.

7. Encourage Fair Play

Don’t worry, I’m not getting deep here. I’m talking about giving them a gift that keeps giving—a board or card game. Pick a game meant for two and it’s a date night at home. Or pick one meant for more, and it’s instant entertainment for when they have company over. Playing games together encourages communication and problem-solving.

You don’t need to spend more than you can afford or get upset if what you planned to give was snapped up off the registry because you chronically procrastinate. Gift-giving should bring joy to the people receiving the present, but also the people sending it. Don’t turn something that should be a joy into another thing to stress out over. Celebrate the couple, pick a present that fits their personalities and your style, and enjoy that wedding.