Gift registries—whether for a wedding, new baby, or milestone birthday—are an invaluable tool for letting family and friends know what you need as you embark on a new phase in your life. But traditionally, registries have been limited to a single merchant or store.
These days, however, there are a number of options to expand your choices and manage your wish list. And, forget tedious trips to the store to pick out wedding registry gifts with that funky laser scanning gun. Now you can create your entire list online—with just the click of a mouse.
So for whatever event you’re planning, here are a few sites we recommend you check out.
Cloud 9 Living
For something a little more unusual, you could ask gift givers for specific experience gifts from the Cloud 9 Living website. The site’s unique “experiences” cover a range of categories from Air (e.g. a ride in a hot air balloon); Action and Adventure (e.g. an Illuminati Hunt); Body and Soul (e.g. a couple’s massage); Driving (e.g. a stock car ride-along); Golf (e.g. PGA national golf package); Life and Culture (e.g. private DJ lessons); Water and Snow (e.g.. a dinner cruise); and VIP (which includes things like weightless flight, dinner in the sky, and starring in your own film).
Currently, Cloud 9 offers more than 1,700 experiences in 41 cities nationwide that can cost anywhere from under $75 to well over $10,000. And, if you register for Cloud 9 gift certificates, you may pool the certificates together to purchase more expensive experiences. www.cloud9living.com
MyRegistry.com calls itself the “ultimate, universal, all purpose gift registry or wishlist.” Now that’s a mouthful. But it’s simple to use and you can add gifts to your registry from any merchant on the web. And your friends and family will appreciate how easy it is to find the items on your registry and purchase gifts.
The process is simplified in many ways—including a comprehensive search feature to help you find exactly what you’re looking for and the ability to upload your email or social networking address book to help announce your registry. For couples, it even has a feature to help you create your own wedding pages. The site also allows you to set up a cash gift portion of your registry, which gift-givers can contribute to through a PayPal account.
If you need some help picking out your stuff, you can check out its various themes such as Bridal Basics, Bride on a Budget, Adventure Bride, Posh Bride and Beyond Bridal. And, MyRegistry is not limited to Bridal registries. Other registries and themes include: Baby Shower, Lifestyle (For Him, Her, Teens, Kids, the New House), Birthday, Student (Back to School and Graduation) and a Green Registry (Green Bride, Eco Baby, Green Home). www.myregistry.com
New American Dream Alternative Gift Registry
Less is more, according to the New American Dream’s Alternative Gift Registry. The site touts the fact that it “emphasizes time spent with loved ones and de-emphasizes store-bought gifts.” The registry focuses on encouraging non-material, second-hand, homemade, and environmentally friendly gifts, and includes options that encourage and legitimize asking for help from friends and sharing time together.
New American Dream realizes that creating a registry and choosing a gift is highly personal, so though it offers many green suggestions, it also enables you to fill in your own ideas and link to products outside of the site. Categories and gift ideas include Non-material (e.g. Use of a spare bedroom to accommodate an out-of-town guest), Homemade (e.g. A book of your favorite recipes), Donations (to your charity of choice), and Green Goods (e.g. carbon offset credits toward our honeymoon travel). www.alternativegiftregistry.org
Though The Knot is a full-fledged website about weddings, it has lots of information about how to make the perfect registry. If you want to create an actual registry, however, you have to do so separately through each of their partners: Crate & Barrel, JCPenny, Macy’s, Pottery Barn, Target or Williams-Sonoma.
Flesh out your registry with the “Find Your Registry Style” tool, which helps you tackle essential questions, or read articles like “Reinvent Your Registry” for tips on where to register if you’re interested in specific themes, like Giving Back, The DIYers, The Hosts, Design Duo, Environmentalists, Food Lovers, The Beauty Queen or The Honeymooners.
Other useful tools include a bridal registry guide, examples of real registries, a product finder tool, an interactive registry checklist, trends, advice on tons of different products and tips on everything from how to tactfully ask for money to thank you note etiquette. www.theknot.com