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Friday
Dec172010

Best Non-Registry Gifts Ever.

The Candyman and I registered for gifts. Yes, we did. There was no way in hell we'd get away with not doing it.

And I will be perfectly honest here: I wanted to register. I know, I know. I should be all groovy and cool and hip and politically correct and say something along the lines of, "All we need is love. Don't buy us anything, we have all we need" or perhaps "Gift registries are so materialistic. I don't want that clouding our commitment of love" or maybe even " We politely request your presence, but no presents."

I call that bullshit.

I wanted to register. I wanted a new Cuisinart Blender to replace the one my parents handed down to me when I moved out of the house like in 1991. It was a lovely harvest gold color and things would start to smell funny if you blended too long. Yeah, it was time for new. I wanted a spring form pan - and I don't know why. I wanted some "good" china. I did, I wanted stuff.

And I'll be really honest again, part of me felt just a little vengeful. I mean, come ON! I got married at 38 years old. Do you even know how many weddings, bridal showers and baby showers I had to attend in my life by that time? Can you imagine the thousands of dollars I had to spend on gifts and travel? Remember that one episode of Sex and the City when someone steals Carrie's shoes at a party and it becomes this whole "thing" with the hostess and replacing her shoes and how much money Carrie had spent over the years on gifts and showers and such? By the time I'd met The Candyman, I totally felt like that. I was so over shelling out gobs and gobs of money on other people and their wedded bliss.

When it came to registering, I kinda felt like it was FINALLY my turn. Is that wrong? If it is, I really don't care. It felt good to get presents. And conversely to yesterdays post, I like getting presents. Yes, I adore giving them, but getting them when it's not your birthday or Christmas is totally bad-ass.

But I also think it was something that The Candyman and I needed to do together. That blender isn't mine. It's OURS. The dishes we got are OURS. The folding gifts we got went into our joint account. So when I hear and read about all these alternative options to giving gifts, I'm never quite sure if it's the thing a couple should do. Now, I'm not saying that alternative registries are bad. I mean, we included a charity on ours because we felt strongly about it. You might too and that's OK. But think about the gifts for a second longer. Think about what starting your married life with some new appliances, extra dough in your joint account and some plush towels from Bed, Bath and Beyond might mean. Even when you already live together, these gifts make a difference. It's weird, but they do. It's all a part of that thing that happens after your wedding day. Being married feels different. It does. So why not embrace that and start fresh in other areas of your life too?

Having said all that, we got three really super-fantastic gifts that were not on our registry.

1. The Candyman's aunt gave us the folding kind of present, but she also gave us a gift bag filled with old photos of The Candyman and his brothers as kids: school pictures, Olan Mills-esque types of photos and candids. Since The Candyman's family consists of 5 boys and their dad, family portraits were not high on their list of to-do's. I love having these photos incorporated into our home. It makes me feel like WE are representing.

2. An olive tree. Yes, that's right. Someone gave us an olive tree. Well, they adopted one for us. It's a company called Nudo. Here's what their website says about the program:

Once you've chosen and adopted a tree, the first thing you'll receive is an adoption certificate, to make you official, and your tree information booklet. Then over the course of the year you'll receive two more packages, one in the spring and one in the autumn, containing all the produce from your tree.

We say your tree but we actually collect your tree’s harvest with about 50 of its neighbours – to give us enough olives to press in one go. Think of it as being about the society rather than the individual.

Like other types of farming olive growing is becoming more and more mechanised. This is leading to soil erosion and blander, mass produced oil. We make olive oil with special care, and it’s a team effort. Your involvement will help to support small scale, artisan farming.

Honestly, it's the gift that keeps giving. We have gotten a shit-ton of olive oil from this gift and it's the most incredible oil I've ever tasted. I served it plain with chunks of a hearty grain bread at our little dinner party a few weeks ago and they guys loved it. Not only does it support small scale farming (which is all all groovy and cool and hip and politically correct, right?) it tastes freakin' fantastic. I highly recommend this gift to anyone. Want to try it on your own? They have all sorts of stuff you can buy right here.

3. The last non-registry gift we got was from my friend Abby (a regular reader and commenter on this blog) who I didn't even invite to the wedding. What's great about Abby is that she knew our budget, guest list restrictions and such and was A-OK with the reality of our situation. She sent us a little recipe card book that she had filled with her favorite recipes. It's filled with things like Baked Cheese Olives, Parmesan Tilapia (notated with *restaurant-like presentation*) and Chicken Pot Pie. My favorite recipe though is the last:

Forever Wedding Cake

Serves: All that 2 need.

Cooking time: A lifetime.

Preheat over to: HOT!

Ingredients:

3 lbs flour of love

1 lb buttered youth

3/4 lb good looks

3/4 lb sweet temper

1/2 lb self-forgetfulness

5 c powdered wits

3 T dry humour

1-1/2 t sweet arguments

2 c rippling laughter

dash of common sense

Directions: Put the flour of love, good looks and sweet temper into a well cared for home. Beat the buttered youth until smooth. Mix together self-forgetfulness, powdered wits and dry humour into sweet arguments. Combine the above and gently fold in rippling laughter and common sense. Work together until all is well blended. Bake forever.

I don't know why, but every time I read "Bake forever" it gets me all choked up. It does. I'll be innocently looking for Abby's recipe for Apple Goody or Hamburger Cookies and I'll read the Forever Wedding Cake Recipe and here come the water-works. It makes no sense at all. But I think that these are the best kinds of gifts. Gifts that are a part of your every day life that remind you of your commitment to each other. These thoughtful gifts are the ones that stand out to me, but the other gifts remind me too. Even the blender.

So what was your best off-the-registry-gift? Or, if you're just starting to register, how are you approaching it? Do tell.

P.S. Think I'm going to make those Baked Cheese Olives. I'll let you know how they turn out.....

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Reader Comments (10)

I think my best gift was actually a shower gift. My mother-in-law bought a huge wicker laundry basket (very usuable!) and filled it with canned goods and other staples to stock our first pantry. That sounds kind of ho hum, but she (a lover of puns) put a little tag on each item with a pun or a funny commnet. I left them on, so got a good chuckle each time I used one of them. I was sad when they were gone....

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMom

A dear family friend (grooms side) framed our invitation. When I opened it, I thought it was just a frame wrapped in tissue paper, but quickly realized that something was in it. When I saw our semi-handmade invitation lovingly matted and framed, I cried. Best present ever.

Second best was a small silver platter that was given to my grandparents on their wedding day by my great-uncle. My dad's sister passed it to me. Very sweet and sentimental.

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristy W

We got several non-registry gifts too! Not all of them are treasures, but the ones that are ... wow, do they make up for it! Stephen didn't want to register ... but like you, I wanted to replace some old and cheap stuff!

We received a framed print of Rose Mont Mansion (where we held our ceremony & reception) from my cousin. My mother hand pieced and had quilted a wedding quilt for us as did my grandmother. My grandmother's quilt contains pieces of dresses that I wore as a child and even a piece of my Great -great-grandmother's dress.

I'm going to blog about all of these, too. Love this post!

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLittle Spoon

The olive oil gift is amazing! I'm definitely going to have to keep that in mind for future giving.

I've never heard of the term folding gifts. From the context I'm assuming it's money. Where does it come from?

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

Oh. Oh. I got that same recipe at my recipe/kitchen shower with Jason's family in Texas and it makes me cry too.

And, um, I want to add that olive oil to our registry now too. Because that's wonderful on so many levels.

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

Boo-Yah I made the blog - woohoooooo !!!! I love that you love the recipes! And I suppose if you are going to make someone one cry - that's one way to do it :)

ab

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterabby

Workitgurl! I felt the same way about registering. It's just an old-fashioned thing that I loved. My guy was also 100% part of the process as well, but I do have to say - the KitchenAid mixer is MINE. The Jimmy Buffet margarita maker and beer kegorator are HIS. :)

Not sure what my favorite "off registry" thing is. It'd be a toss up between a traditional Scottish cup that my Nana's cousin sent me from overseas, or the few pieces of delicate lace that my grandmother MADE herself in the 60's. My mother had saved it for years and I pinned a small piece to the inside of my gown the day I got married.

Love the olive oil idea. I might have to pass that on.

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDancy

First of all - Abbie is clearly the bomb...what a sweetie to send you a wedding gift!!!

Second - LOVE the idea of the olive tree. I've never heard of that but think it's so totally brilliant!!!!

WE ended up getting lots of stuff we didn't register for. Most of it wasn't to our liking (doesn't that make me sound so horrible?!) We got a bizarre religious sculpture of a couple whose bodies formed a heart shape that had scripture written on it...we took it to the Goodwill the same day we opened it.

Probably one of the coolest gifts we got I received at my bridal shower for DANCE lessons that we could use for our first dance! That was rad.

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJes

I just stumbled on your blog and this is the first post I read- Love It! I got married at 36 and I feel the exact same way as you about ALL the showers and weddings I've been to in the past. I wanted to register so bad. My only regret was that I lived really far away from most of the people that I had known in the past so no one was really going to return the favor- Wow, I feel really terrible and really good writing that. I would never have admitted any of this to anyone.

I agree too about it being a good thing for couples to do togehter. i had to drag my fiance to the stores and it was a chore which was not what I had in mind- had I gone myself, it would have been the most awesome shopping spree ever- scan everything you could possible want and not have to pay a dine- yes, please. but he has infinately more taste than me and ended up choosing a lot of things I wouldn't have and now when I look at it, its OURS, like you said.

December 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkirafiki

LOVED the olive oil gift so much that my boyfriend bought it for his aunt for Christmas! Thanks for sharing.

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJackie O

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