Registry 101: 10 Tips for a Good Registry

After eight years helping brides register, I have some tips for what makes a registry work well, both from advice I would give brides and from the perspective of my customers/your guests. Since I worked in a cooking/dining type store, I can’t give specific advice about non-food related stuff, but here are my Top 10 for a solid registry.

  1. Register in a store. Or at least, check out your registry in a store. Some things may show up as online only when they’re available in a different configuration in a store (Place settings are online/catalog online, but the same pieces are available individually in the store; register for both ways.) And many people prefer to see what they’re picking out for you—its frustrating to show up at a store ready to check that gift off your list only to find out you can’t actually buy anything. So if you do register online, check out your registry in store ASAP (and actually, same goes for registering in a flagship location, unless all your guests will only shop in flagship locations too–sometimes they have a larger assortment).
  2. Register for how you live—a standard place setting gives everyone a cup and saucer, but not everyone will use one. I had to talk a MOB down after her brilliant daughter registered for twelve of everything—and then six each of mugs and cups/saucers. And you may want extra salad plates to use for dessert without a mid-meal dishwashing break.
  3. Think about what you’ll need for the life you hope to have in 5-10 years. Do you have enough dishes for the two of you AND three kids? Will that crockpot/food processor/roasting dish be big enough for the family?This is nothing new, but now’s your chance to upgrade.
  4. Aim for big sets (things that have lots of parts like dishes, glasses & flatware) first—things you need in many multiples. While you could ask for that set of towels for Christmas, you’ll be waiting a lot of holidays to get 12 place settings.
  5. Think about your future. You probably aren’t hosting many dinner parties now, but will you? What would you need if you hosted Thanksgiving? This is your best chance to get all of those things, so even if you’ve never used a carving set before, think about if you might want one later.
  6. In fact, plan that Thanksgiving out—do you have enough dishes? Serving pieces? Serving utensils? Gravy boat?
  7. Choose from 1-3 stores (two works well for most couples)
  8. Tis better to add than take away. Everyone wants to buy your toaster. Or the serving dish. Plates are boring, but if that’s what you need don’t add so much that people buy up everything EXCEPT your plates. So start with all the place settings and then add on the serving pieces as it looks like things will reasonably get bought. Otherwise you might end up with five picture frames, a vegetable dish, a gravy boat and some candle sticks.
  9. Register for individuals and sets—you can register for that $500 All Clad set (you never know!), but also register for the pieces. You can always return the pieces and get the discounted set. I’m not suggesting you register for stuff you plan to return, just that you register for the five pieces in the set and if you get four of them, return them all and buy the set, therefore ending up with the original four pots & pans you were gifted plus the fifth one because thats how set pricing works. And you can register for both the set and the pieces.
  10. Don’t register for the same things at three stores. Your guests will notice, and it looks grabby. (Switch them from one registry to another based on price if you must—but I’ve heard of people getting a phone call from the store saying they should put that toaster they switched to their Macy’s registry back on because the price went down.)

What are your tips for registering?


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