Its wedding season. And wedding season means wedding gifts. And for women, bridal shower and bachelorette party gifts. Most of the time, it is best to just go with the couple's registry; but there's certain times when its ok to go off the registry:
(a) When its a close friend
(b) When you know the couple and their taste
(c) If the couple has been living together for a while, and pretty much have all the kitchen ware and gadgets already.
I've gone "off registry" for a few weddings over the past few years, and here's what I've gotten them instead:
When my friends Ry and El got married, I got them a gift card to Sushi Rock. Why Sushi Rock? Because they love sushi, and it was where we went on our first double date. (Unofficial Off-Registry Rule: make sure you pick something meaningful; perhaps something that triggers a shared memory. Gift certificates are completely acceptable in these situations)
My dear friend Aneesha got married in June to her loooong term boyfriend. Aneesha and I met when we were both working in Chi-town, and bonded over our love of shoes. For her wedding, I got her a gift certificate to Zappos!
When our architect-friends got married, I got the bride an architectural bowl from Banyan Tree for her wedding shower. (Off-Registry Recommendation: take a look at the bride and groom's registry to see what they are registered for, and use those as a basis for your off-registry gifts)
Other great Off-Registry gift ideas include:
Gourmet cooking classes (at the Viking School, Sur La Table, or with Michael Symon if you can manage to get a reservation) for the foodie-couple;
Couples massage at their honeymoon destination (if you know where it is) for the stressed-out couple;
A cleaning service like Eco Maids (if, like me, the bride or groom hate cleaning);
Tickets to a sporting event for sports-fan couples;
Bacon of the Month Club (need I say more), or any ...of The Month Club, but only where its relevant to couple
Hope these suggestions help you boldly go Off-Registry where appropriate. And remember, ALWAYS get a gift receipt!!