Gift lists are an inherently hateful entity. It’s basically like writing your ‘what I’d like from Santa’ letter directly to your friends. They expose the ugly commerical contract behind invites and thank you cards i.e. I buy you dinner, you buy me a gift, we end up even(ish). It says ‘I expect a present, in this price range, and yes, do feel obliged.’
Saying that, if people are going to buy you presents, they’d want to know it was somethinyou’d like.
Here’s how to deal with the minefield of obligation and expectation that is the wedding gift list:
1. ‘Your presence is gift enough’. If you’re just having a relaxed cheapo affair or are getting people to travel and pay for a weekend away, maybe you shouldn’t expect a present too. However, if you say no gifts, you have to stick to it. No hints of ‘if you insist’ as this actually just means more anxiety for guests as to if you’re really asking for presents or not.
2. No one likes to give the gravy boat. Think about what will give your guests pleasure to give. Each gift should be something they’d be proud to have bought themselves. Something complete is far more satisfying that half an expensive item, or the fifth bowl in a set of crockery.
2. The Charity gift list. There’s an aura of middle class smugness which surrounds the charity gift list. It gently reminds the guests that they failed to be as altruistic on their wedding day, and you’re a slightly better person than them. This said you can’t knock the morality of it. The Alternative gift list lets you give to a wide variety of national and international charities. Alternatively, Oxfam Unwrapped have packaged up charity-giving beautifully, so your guests can give a goat or a toilet to African villagers.
3. The Honeymoon Fund. For people who’ve got all the toasters and ceramic soap dishes they need, the honeymoon fund gives the couple something they actually want. However, guests don’t like to feel their money has fallen into a hole, and prefer to buy something tangible – a meal, a diving lesson or a night in a hotel. There’s a few honeymoon fund websites which do this: Honey Fund
4. Multi-shop gift lists mean avoiding ending up with a John Lewis catalogue house, which can only be a good thing. Bottom Drawer seems to be the best – it’s ‘hacker-safe’ and you can choose items from almost anywhere online, including every big department store, chain or big charity. It is a money contribution list, so you only buy the actual items once the list closes. This means you’re free to change your mind about presents, but it is a little more risky if it folds (as Wrapit did last year). One thing to bear in mind is that you have to pay £90 if you take the money and don’t buy the presents through the site.
Marriage gift list doesn’t seem to have any hidden charges. (Has anyone used them?)
There’s also Present Wise, thought it isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as Bottom Drawer. And yes, that does matter.
Confetti do a gift list, but they charge guests £2 per contribution as well as £15 to sign up, the cheeky blighters. Here’s an article slamming them, written by the MD of Bottom Drawer…
5. The single store gift list. Heals and its many pretty things can be turned into a gift list here. You could do John Lewis if you’re happy to be part of middle class suburbia. Or Debenhams, if you fancy getting a £50 free voucher on sign up (you don’t actually have to use the list…) Selfridges does a pledge list (a money contribution list) so you have a day out shopping and choosing presents after your wedding.
6. Guests buy your wedding. At youbuymywedding guests pay for your wedding. The downside is that everyone will know exactly what your wedding cost. And guests might think it’s outrageously cheeky.