A note on wedding gifts: I'm a bit out of practice - most of my friends are married and we don't go to 100 weddings each summer like we used to. But a few things I do know and remember - stay away from home decor items unless they're on the registry - don't go choosing the happy couple's towels, sheets, clocks, art or anything colorful for them. TRUST ME, it's annoying. Sticking to the registry is always a safe and much-appreciated way to go.
But if you feel like branching out, these ought to be winners:
1. Penzey's Spice Gift Box, any budget - Penzeys is just the best, and anyone would, and should, love to get a gift box. You can spend from $14.49 to $219.99, and if you live near a store you can go in and make your own gift box. Seriously, when you have no idea what to get someone - for any occasion - you cannot go wrong with spices.
2. Pampered Chef Classic Batter Bowl, $15 + Small Batter Bowl, $11.50 - These are in the tippy-top of my "use-the-most" kitchen items, and they are a STEAL at these prices. Easily worth twice that. The small bowl is good for beating eggs, measuring cream, etc. The classic bowl gets used for everything I need to pour, from leftover homemade stock and soup to pancake and waffle batter. And you can even use it to cook a cake in for the skirt of a doll cake, or half-ball (like baseball or soccer cake), though I haven't tried it myself yet.
3. Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Guide: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home, $30 - This could double as a great housewarming gift as well. It's the ultimate reference for all homekeeping, a room-by-room exhaustive guide to caring for everything and keeping it clean and comfortable. I've given it as a gift twice but still don't own it myself. And frankly, I could use it. I don't know if my entry floor is granite, marble or something else, and I certainly don't know how to care for it. And that's just the tip of the pathetic iceburg of my new home-ownership status. Wait, is this post about me?
4. Slow Cooker, prices vary - Speaking of me, I LOVE the slow cooker. Mine broke the week before we moved so I'm working with a loaner and dreaming of a new one, but I can definitely attest to every household needing one. A bunch of set-and-forget meals is a great way to start your new life together.
5. Collection of kitchen gadgets (metal measuring spoons/cups, rubber spatula, egg timer, brown sugar bear, garlic press, vegetable peeler, ice cream scoop, juicer, etc.), any budget
6. Dutch Oven, $80+ - There is actually a long list of kitchen staples a new family needs, but a good dutch oven stands out. It goes from stove to oven and you can cook almost anything in it. I know this particular one goes against my don't-pick-their-colors-for-them rule, but you can get a plain dark one or figure out what goes with their kitchen stuff. A smart couple would never balk at a good Dutch oven.
7. Cookbooks - Like with the spices, you can't go wrong with a cookbook, and they are all so much fun! OK so I am biased and maybe not everyone loves to cook as much as I do, but it's fun to do together - a practical, cheap shared activity. Throw in a couple of matching aprons, tasting spoons or Santoku knives and it's even cuter! A few suggestions:
Disco Mom Takes on Christmas Cookies (shameless self-promotion), $26-39
Rachael Ray's 365: No Repeats, $13
The New Best Recipe, $23
Better Homes and Gardens New Plaid Cookbook, $20
Vegetarian Planet, $16
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking, $18
Intercourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook, $20