Etiquette 101: Receiving Gifts

Becky commented with a gift dilemma.  She says,

My FI and I have decided not to register and we’re not asking for cash gifts either. I know the questions will come flying in as soon as the invitations are received. I know most anyone who calls is not going to accept ‘no gifts’ as a satisfactory answer. If they push for a suggestion it’d be cash or gift card but I know I’d feel really uneasy making those suggestions. Any advice on how I can make these suggestions not so rough around the edges.

The simple fact is the most guests want to give you something to celebrate.  You can’t refuse a gift, but you can gently guide a guest into choices that are best for you.  The best way is to register for something, anything, everything. There are now many choices outside of the typical department store registry; from a honeymoon, to charity or general gift cards, the choices are now unlimited. If you truly want for nothing and would like to pass on the love from your guests, I highly recommend registering at your favorite charity.  People want to give!  Why not pass it on?

After you’ve made a final decision regarding the registry, sit down together and come up with what I call the “press answer” (i.e. the polite answer that will never offend).  Never waver from this answer, no matter how many times you are asked about it.  Explain your choices carefully and clearly to your parents and shower hostesses.  They will be your voice to your guests.  With a consistent answer and support from your family and friends, the problem is easily solved.

I recognize myself in every one of these questions.  We struggled with a registry, and at the advice of friends and family, set up two.  One with our favorite charity and the other at a local bed and bath shop.  We appreciated each and every gift, but those that mattered the most came not from our registry but from the heart.  I know that sounds so cheesy, but it is true!  My mother and sister gave me a sewing machine (on top of their many many gifts and sacrifices of time and finances), knowing how badly I wanted that.  My best friend gave me a custom crafted wedding stationery set (starting what you know as Elizabeth Anne Designs), knowing how much I loved it.  My grandmother gave me the Joy of Cooking, because a love of cooking is something we share.  My in laws gave us a honeymoon to North Carolina, knowing how much we love the mountains.  From a co-worker who showed up early on the day of and helped until the very very end of the wedding to the uncles and aunts who donated their time, I could go on and on and on.  Each gift was not on our registry, but came from knowing us.  Knowing what we love, who we are, what we needed and what we wanted to be together.  My advice?  Accept each gift graciously and kindly, knowing that this person loves who you are.