giving: online gift registries.

February 9, 2016

Erin and James 1299‘Tis the season for wedding registries. I know. Never occurred to me that there was a season for this sort of thing, either. 

I write about wedding and baby registries a bit in my book (right this way in case you need a copy or ten, wink, wink), but I thought it might be nice to accompany my philosophy on the subject with a practical roundup of a few tools that help you to do some of the work of actually building an easy registry online. 

In an effort to compile a thoughtful, considered registry with an emphasis on beauty and utility and things you actually like, I’ve found it to be most helpful to go a little bit indie and a little bit tech(y). 

In lieu of feeling wedded (heh) to just one store for all of my registry needs—something, I’d argue can force you into making decisions that are good for the store, but not quite as good for you—I chose the route of building my own wedding and baby registries from scratch, online. I added a few things from here, a few things from there, and one or two little things from way over there.

In the season of my own wedding and baby-planning, I used MyRegistry. It’s a site that allows you to add goods from just about any site on the internet selling something. It was easy for me to put together and more or less painless for guests (though I wouldn’t say entirely foolproof). 

Since then, a few new sites have cropped up that offer a variation on the theme. If you’re on the hunt, here are a few that have caught my eye:

Thankful Registry: This beautifully designed option is super customizable and allows registering couples or individuals to add gifts from any online shop of their choice. Any store! So, as long as your favorite little boutique does e-commerce, you can send folks their way. Honeymoon, charity, and group gifts (say, four favorite aunts going in for a print from your favorite artist) are all available. Thankful charges a $30 fee but does not take fees on charity or cash funds. Bonus: Registries can also be totally private, so your wish list doesn’t have to be available for world-wide stalking. 

Blueprint Registry: Designed with betrothed couples in mind, Blueprint Registry, allows couples to register for gift items for every room in their house. The slick site design guides shoppers from garage to dining room to bedroom, depending on what the registering couple has opted to include. Couples can choose to include gifts from a number of partnering stores (mostly the usual contenders), but they can also add gifts from any shop on the web. Blueprint also includes an option for honeymoon funds and group gifts. They charge a 2.75% + $0.45 credit card fee for all cash gifts.

Tendr: A brilliant option for folks hoping to only encourage gifts of the cash variety. You can take a tour of the process on their site, but suffice to say it’s easy and beautiful. Instead of folks tucking checks or cash into cards, they can choose from an array of artist-designed digital cards curated on the Tendr site (current themes include wedding, baby, graduation and bar/bat mitzvahs). Recipients receive a personalized virtual card with each gift (complete with a sweet and classy animation of the envelope opening). Gift givers pay with their credit cards and funds are delivered directly to the recipients’ bank account. Tendr charges a 5% fee for all gifts.

The Good Beginning: For the most altruistic among us, The Good Beginning allows you to register with charities of your choice instead of for gifts. If you don’t have a charity in mind, you can choose from among a list of charities featured on the site. The Good Beginning charges a 9% operating and service fee.

What about you guys? Have you ever built an online gift registry? Any new sites or services that you’ve enjoyed using? 

*Gratuitous love-bird shot from Alice Gao, at our wedding

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  • Reply Melanie February 9, 2016 at 9:06 am

    I wish I knew about the Thankful registry!! That would have been great!

    I’m a big fan of now for registries. I wish I knew the range it had when I got married!

    I love the idea about the charity donation instead of gifts. I’ve been to a few weddings where in lieu of knick knacks for reception parting gifts – the couples make donations to a charity instead. =)

  • Reply Sarah February 9, 2016 at 9:24 am

    I loved SoKind, which allows physical gifts from anywhere on the Internet, plus non-physical gifts (monetary contributions, charitable donations, gifts of time or service, etc.) I highly recommend it to everyone (weddings, babies, etc.)

  • Reply Jessie February 9, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Eight years ago we settled on Amazon’s universal registry which was great because our wedding was a week before we moved across the country to start grad school. And people were generally comfortable with Amazon for shopping and it helped us by not requiring us to ship out gifts on our own. 🙂 We also love REI.

  • Reply Mary Kate February 9, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Thank you so much for this! Just starting to think about things like this and definitely prefer an electric registry rather than whatever a random store has in stock. Love the charity one, too!

  • Reply Diane Williams February 9, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Erin, what do you think is the nicest way to spread the word about a registry? The wedding guests, family, etc are far-flung making word of mouth not so practical. Guests appreciate the information, so how to let them know?

    • Reply Erin Boyle February 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      I know there’s a lot of old-fashioned etiquette around this. Something about not including it in the invite? Only including in a shower invite? I can’t remember what we did, but we did make a super simple wedding website with details about lodging and accommodations and things to do around town and I know we included a link there.

  • Reply AJ February 9, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Zola is the greatest. Allows you to pick items you truly love from any website (instead of forcing yourself to like options from one store or opening a bunch of different registries). You can choose when you want things sent to your home and virtually return items before you even receive them! My fiance and I have found that after a few years living on our own, we didn’t need all that many of the traditional registry items, so we also opened a Honeymoon Fund to which our guests can contribute.

    • Reply Mandy February 9, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      I have to second Zola. We got married this past summer and I loved using Zola — so easy for us and for our guests! It allowed us to combine the best features of so many sites (traditional items from multiple stores and experiences like a honeymoon!) for the lowest fees available anywhere. Plus, I was able to select my own images and make it beautiful. Very happy to have used them!

  • Reply Mimi February 9, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    We used Thankful for our wedding registry this past summer, and I would highly recommend it. We only had four possible gifts: donating to a charitable organization, giving to our honeymoon fund, and contributing a portion towards a “big ticket” item (new mattress and down payment for a car were ours). Both the honeymoon fund and the “big ticket” gifts went to our paypal account, but some family members were clearly happy to be buying us a gift rather than an experience, so it was good to have that option. The interface of Thankful was easy to use, and we made a simple and beautiful registry effortlessly.

    Thanks Erin for all your advice- we definitely kept your philosophies in mind when creating our registry, and we were so happy to end up with experiences we cherish and no extra Stuff to put away.

    • Reply Erin Boyle February 9, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      So glad to hear that! No extra stuff to put away sounds just right!

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