"Registering" For Holiday Gifts: How Do You Handle It?

"Registering" For Holiday Gifts: How Do You Handle It?

Tess Wilson
Dec 2, 2013
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

There's a good chance this will open a whole Freewheeling Discussion Of Wedding Registries-style kettle of fish and outrage, but I want to know: how do you handle it when loved ones ask what you want for the holidays? I find myself in that position for the very first time, and it is thrilling and strange...

Here's the thing: I would never, ever ask for something for the holidays. My family and friends have done so much for me, they really needn't give me gits. Also, I really like my family and friends, and their taste, so I have no doubt they'd pick out fabulous things for me if they were to get me a present. But if relatives ask, repeatedly, what I might like to receive, it would be rude not to answer and possibly make their lives easier. If there's any hecticness to their holidays, I don't want it to be because I wouldn't give them a few ideas! So I've compiled a wishlist. But I've imposed a few guidelines on myself:

1. Offer A Range Of Prices. I would love to have some glasses for Champagne (okay, Trader Joe's $4.99 Prosecco) so I picked out a few different types. Some are $1.95/glass, some are $7.50/glass, and one beautiful set is $14.95/glass. The givers then have a range of prices to work within, but they know for sure that I love them all, and would be more than happy with any of them.

2. Offer A Range Of Retailers. I could also use some wine glasses — I don't drink that much, I swear! It's just that we only have 2 wine glasses, which isn't ideal for having guests. I compiled a short list of glasses I like: some from Target (there are a few other things from Target on my list), some from Amazon (to take advantage of free shipping), and some from smaller retailers like these or these from Spartan. I figure that sharing unique shops might make it easier for gift-givers to see what else I'm into.

3. Feature An Anything-From-This-Shop Option. Speaking of unique shops, I'm listing a few that I absolutely love. If the gift-givers prefer to pick something out for me — without the risk that I won't like/need/use it — they can be confident knowing that I'd be thrilled with ANYTHING from Kaufmann Mercantile, Labour And Wait, or General Store. All of the fun of picking out a present, none of the worry!

4. List One Gift Card. I love to give and receive homemade gifts and quirky antique mall finds, but people are strapped for time during the holidays. And what if some of the things I've requested are on back order or shipping is delayed? I don't want people to stress. I might love vintage cookbooks and handblown wine glasses, but I could also really use a gift card to Sephora.

5. Be Clear: This Exact Item, Or Something Like It? To go back to the Champagne glass example, when listing the options I wrote, with links, "Something like these or these or these". In other words, "These are some styles I like, just to give you an idea — go nuts." But when it comes to things like boots or a particular tool, you might want to be explicit: "This boot, size 9 medium, brown" or "Ateco cake decorating turntable, cast iron and aluminum, 12-inch". The gift givers deserve to know which suggestions are vague guidelines and which are the exact item that will work for you.

6. Request An Experience. I'm currently looking for local ceramics classes to list as a gift idea — both because I would love to learn more and so I can meet people in my new town. I feel like a weekly class, pool membership, or opera tickets can lead to more communication: you can send the giver pictures of your wonky mugs, updates on your swimming progress, or a copy of the opera program, and they can experience the fun along with you.

If your family and/or friends always ask you for gift ideas, how do you handle it?

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