The Gift of Giving – Top Ten Gift Ideas for Any Budget

We recently saw this post to “Dear Prudence” – a column written by Prudence, an expert in etiquette and a friend of Epicurean.  Needless to say, the art of giving has gotten a bit out of hand.  Keep reading:

Dear Prudence:
Q: Wedding Shower Etiquette: First let me say I love your column and have read all the archives.  I can’t wait to hear what kind of advice you can give me.  Here is the situation: My fiance and I are getting married in three months.  A small wedding with less than 100 guests.  We just purchased a house and have registered for things that we will need, mostly the basics like sheets, towels, cookware, and the entire gamut of kitchen utensils.  It is not a small list, but there is very little on it that is considered a “want”.  My issue now is I have two friends that would like ME to tell my bridesmaids that I want a catalog shower of their home-based businesses (think Tupperware or Mary Kay, that sort of thing).  While I like the products that these home-based businesses offer, I cannot justify the costs right now – for me or for anyone.  I would rather have the basics from my registry first, and then slowly accumulate the “goodies” from my friends’ businesses.  So I need to know, what is the best way to turn down these two friends?  What do I say?  One is a colleague and the other is a friend from college.

A: This is a twist.  Instead of the bride viewing her friends as a fully loaded ATM just awaiting a PIN number, your friends view the bride as a soft touch for their side businesses.  What you say is, “I love the stuff you sell, but I’m not going to do a Tupperware/ Mary Kay party for the shower.  Thanks.”  If they get pushy, just smile and repeat.

Nicely said, Prudence.  Sadly, situations like this are becoming more common than not.  We overheard one bride tell a friend, “Cash is fine.  In fact, cash is preferable – just FYI.”  Huh.  Gift giving can throw some people into a tailspin, so let’s get personal.  Here are our Top Ten Gift Ideas for Any Budget

1. Personalized Stationary
It’s always a treat to see your new name on some heavy linen paper – check out Horchow for various looks at different price points. ($$)

2. Something from the couple’s personal registry
They picked it so you know they like it…a safe bet with lots of options. ($ – $$$)

3. Monogrammed Napkins
The gift you didn’t know you wanted or needed until someone gives it to you!  Pottery Barn has great, inexpensive options online.  ($$)

4. Picture Frame
Silver plated preferably – simple, elegant and always in style.  ($ – $$)

5. Movie Night
The latest DVD, a bag of microwave popcorn, and a couple of boxes of candy tied up and tucked into a popcorn bowl is a cute and easy gift.  ($)

6. Wine Stopper
A beautiful wine stopper and a bottle of wine is a lovely, thoughtful gift…consider having the couple’s monogram or wedding date on a silver stopper to personalize the package.  ($$ – $$$)

7. Dinner
Arriving home from a honeymoon and finding dinner is a treat (I know, because someone did this for me and I still cherish the thought). We recommend miniature lasagna, garlic bread, gelato and a bottle of Chianti; everything except the wine can be stored in the freezer.  ($)

8. Breakfast
Same as above and just as appreciated.  French Toast is always a favorite.  Pair it with a container of fresh fruit, a bottle of Prosecco and some fresh ground coffee.  Drop a basket on the doorstep the night before so the newlyweds can enjoy a quiet morning without being disturbed.  ($$)

9. Dish Towels
Everyone (and their mother-in-law) can use pretty dish towels in their kitchen – Anthropologie is our pick for the hippest selection.  ($)

10. American Flag
We’ve said it before and we will say it again, a United States flag with the necessary poles to mount on the newlywed’s house is a great gift – if they have one, it will need to be replaced at some point and if they don’t, you’ve saved them a trip two days before the Fourth of July.  ($$)



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