Yeah. There are a few of you out there with save-the-dates floating around who should probably be paying attention.
Don’t get me wrong. I love weddings as much as—nay, more than—the next person. Because I, unlike many of my peers, have (so far) avoided exposure to that sickly-sweet redolence of excess that seems to be snaking through the wedding industry these days. $600 bridesmaid dresses. Destination bachelorette parties more exotic and extravagant than the honeymoons of our parents’ generation. A dozen weddings of obscure relatives in as many weeks. It’s easy to see why some—burnt out, worn down and slightly nauseous—are very much over it. But me? Nope. All of the weddings I’ve attended have been for dear friends and close family—events radiant with joy and sincerity, beautiful and meaningful and full-ful, and all of the other nice, warm, glowing, lovely, heart-achy, happy things. I love weddings.
I also—fingers crossed—have yet to be that girl at a wedding. No pounding of tequila, fistfights over the bouquet, or random groomsman hookups on my record as of yet. So you need not fear that I’ll over-enjoy your wedding either.
The problem I have (and the problem you’ll have with me) comes down to your wedding registry. See, I believe that “The Wedding Registry” (along with the convenience store gift card aisle) has ruined gift-giving forever. Ah, how convenient! I can sit at my computer, click a few buttons, and within seconds, that $125 heart-shaped cheese grater—which I can only assume will be the centerpiece of your marriage—is on its way to being gift-wrapped, shipped and dropped on your doorstep. Zero thought or effort on my part required.
Now, before you give me the benefit of the doubt and assume that there is an altruistic streak somewhere within all this ranting—she’s wants to be considerate and select something personal and meaningful!—let me assure you: there is not. “Gift-giving is an opportunity for me to tell other people what they should want.” I’ve quoted myself so many times to various friends and family, that if I were ever to cross-stitch a pillow (and let’s be real, it might happen some day), that’s what would be on it .
Yep. My aversion to gift registries boils down to this: your wedding registry was an opportunity for me to say something, and you’ve taken that away from me. You’re not the boss of me. Give me my ball, I’m going home.
And then there are the items themselves. Purchasing a slotted spoon for you doesn’t feel so far removed from, say, picking up the milk or the dry cleaning, or crossing some other mundane task off your to-do list. I get it—it’s helpful and practical. But—truth time—are you and your beloved homesteaders? Fledgling youngsters pioneering out on your own for the first time? Probs not. You’re adults—and if you haven’t already settled into a household together, then chances are you have two slotted spoons as it is.
It’s also difficult for me to think of a registry purchase as anything but a transaction. You know exactly how much everything costs, so selecting something from the list feels a bit like a test: how much do I really value our relationship? No, like, literally, in USD? I love you guys a set of mixing bowls from Macy’s, but I don’t love you a Champagne Bowl from Restoration Hardware. Sorry.
Listen, I know that most people my age just write a check anyway—which, from a certain angle, I can appreciate. It’s a transaction, but at least we’re all being honest about it. Cut out the bullshit. No pretensions. The ultimate in practicality and flexibility. But I still think that there is something to be said for the niceties: the intentionality in choosing a gift, the care and consideration in wrapping it.
I don’t want to just give you money. I don’t want to do your errands for you. I want to celebrate that something tremendous and wonderful and bright is happening.
Does a slotted spoon say that to you?
What I might do—if you’re lucky—is use your wedding registry for a jumping off point. And that is the real subject of this already tedious and unpleasant post. Still reading? Bless your heart-shaped cheese grater.
A few weeks ago, I was trying to decide what to get for my coworker and her soon-to-be husband, idly clicking through their registries. I noticed that they had selected a tall glass bottle with a built-in stopper. The type of bottle that, after a visit to France in which ordering even tap water was a struggle, I finally learned to call a “carafe d’eau.” Simple. Cheap—maybe the cheapest item on the registry. And yet, there was something about it that struck me, and I ended up basing my entire gift around that bottle: a picnic for two.
SO then I went to a craft store and bought a lined basket with handles:
Very basic. I wanted to try to turn it into something prettier. And more functional.
Carefully, with a seam ripper, I pulled the lining apart into its individual pieces. I used these pieces as a kind of pattern, cutting the same shapes out of a bright, printed canvas-y fabric.
I then did the same with some crinkly, metallic-y insulated fabric (like the kind you’d find if you cut open that lunch bag you had in 7th grade).
I reassembled the initial lining, and sewed the newly cut pattern pieces together in the same way. So I ended up with three individual fabric “buckets”: one made of the original lining, one of the floral, and one of the insulated material.
I stacked them together: Insulated bucket (right side of the fabric on the inside of the bucket) placed inside of the original lining (right side of the fabric on the outside of the bucket) inside of the floral bucket (right side of the fabric on the inside of the bucket). You with me so far?
I stitched all three layers together at the top, almost all the way around. I left an opening so that I could turn the floral fabric right-side-out. Once I had managed that, I tucked in the raw edges and stitched the opening closed (you can see where I have the opening pinned in the picture below).
I then topstitched around the entire rim. Now, this newly assembled lining was a pretty nice improvement over the original cheap lining. But there’s really no point in having an insulated picnic basket that is completely open on top. To help with climate control, I wanted to add a drawstring closure.
I made a “sleeve” out of the floral fabric, with a circumference that was slightly smaller that the rim of my lining. On one edge, I measured, folded and stitched a “track” (or casing) for a ribbon to run through as a drawstring.
I then turned my lining inside out (right side of the floral fabric on the outside of the bucket). I placed the lining inside the sleeve, right sides together, and stitched all the way around.
I used a safety pin to thread the ribbon through as a drawstring. Once it’s turned right side out again, the whole thing sits nicely down in the basket, tied to the handles.
And then I really had fun putting the rest of the gift together:
a. carafe (the only registry item I purchased)
b. picnic basket
c cheese board with built-In slicer
d. silverware roll (with silverware)
e. mason jar drinking glasses
f. melamine plates
g. lids/straws for mason jar glasses
j. hand sanitizer
k. shout stain-removal wipes
l. battery-powered tea lights
So the moral of this story is—if you are running out of room on the guest list and are really hoping for registry gifts, maybe think about giving my invite to Aunt Edna. She will probably even give you your gift at the event, so you won’t have to go for months without that sterling silver nutcracker.
Hey. Emily Post says I have a year.