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My mother is an artist, so it seemed common place growing up to have a mother who could create beautiful things so easily. As I’ve gotten older though I have developed a greater appreciation for art, particularly those beautiful creations around my house.

I started giving artwork as birthday gifts to close friends and family a few years back. I mean, here we are in our twenties…. with very naked walls.

If you have a beer brand, a pot leaf or Jim Belushi on your wall, you need to trade up…fast. Preferably to something in a frame.

(No. Jim Belushi in a frame is not ok either. Go throw that away.. now.)

But here’s the thing about giving art as gifts…it’s really, really personal. You can’t just give anyone any piece of art. When you’re looking at something you should be very sure the person or people you are gifting are going to love it. It needs to match their style and ultimately mean something to them for a very long time.

For me, art is like jewelry. I love receiving it because I admire it, but often don’t buy myself very much of it.

I have a few go to artists that I truly love, and probably always will, but there are so many beautiful options out there for a relatively affordable amount of money to give as wedding gifts.

I’ll say it again though. Art is non returnable. So be very sure what  you’re giving them is something that they will like. Especially if you’re dropping a good chunk of change on it.

Here are a few of my favorite artists. Art is totally objective. Find options that work with your world.

Storypeople is one of my favorite, favorites. I have a few framed prints and I love the note cards they have too! My roommate in college gave me one for my birthday ages ago and they have been a great go-to gift for birthdays, graduations and showers.You can purchase prints for $30 and framed prints for $35. They also have fabulous furniture, books and other gifts!

Side By Side $30- Storypeople

Side By Side $30- Storypeople

We sat side by side in the morning light & looked out at the future together.

Mr. Right - Storypeople $30

Mr. Right - Storypeople $30

He loved her for almost everything she was & she decided that was enough to let him stay for a very long time.


True Things- Storypeople $30

True Things- Storypeople $30

They came to sit & dangle their feet off the edge of the world & after awhile they forgot everything but the good & true things they would do someday.


Just F riends- Storypeople $30

Just Friends- Storypeople $30

I saw them standing there pretending to be just friends, when all the time in the world could not pry them apart.


Beginning- Storypeople $30

Beginning- Storypeople $30

he followed the sun & she followed the stars & in dreams they listened closely for the beginning of all things, for that was where they knew they’d find each other

You Make Me Happy (Green)- Ashley G & Drew Etsy Seller $20

You Make Me Happy (Green)- Ashley G & Drew Etsy Seller $20

Elephant Love- JulieAnna Etsy Seller $15

Elephant Love- JulieAnna Etsy Seller $15

( I have friends who got engaged on an elephant in Thailand. This might be cute for them.)

Come Fly With Me- Carambatack Design- Etsy Sller $20

Come Fly With Me- Carambatack Design- Etsy Seller $20

Love Tree 2 Limited Edition- Carambatack Design- Etsy Seller $22

Love Tree 2 Limited Edition- Carambatack Design- Etsy Seller $22


I’ve never had the pleasure of registering for anything. I thought about throwing myself a shower a la Carrie Bradshaw and registering at wonderful out of reach places like Saks and Manolo Blahnik but…then I woke up.

If you do find yourself standing  in a Bed Bath and Beyond with a terrified looking fiance next at your side, do yourself a favor… give him the gun. It’ll be like a real life video game, but instead of shooting aliens, he’ll be shooting china. It’s a win-win.

* DO keep a watchful eye, or you just might end up opening a new set of golf clubs or the last four seasons of Entourage on DVD at your bridal shower. Awkward.

I’m life, I’m a big fan of Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie Home, Williams-Sonoma and Target. I love Target. But Bed Bath and Beyond and Macy’s are super practical options that just about everyone has access to via the Internet if not at their local strip mall. I would suggest registering at no more than 3 places if you can help it.

Also… a little hint I picked up after a majorly shocking discovery that a friend had registered for a BED for his wedding. Yes. You get a discount on the stuff that people don’t buy you if you decide to buy it yourself. So a 20% discount on a bed…pretty major.
Go ahead and register for furniture.  Bed, Bar, Hutch…whatever your little heart desires.  Although I would avoid anything of the couch, giant appliance, dining room table realm.

Just don’t register for stuff that is going to make you look like a seriously insane person. A bed is one thing. It’s a good group gift. It’s your bed. Isn’t that nice. Years later you can say to your children…”Ten of our friends bought us our very first bed.” It turns into lore.

Anyway… below are some of my Top Picks from some Top Retailers… Under 100… because after all this is stuff you’re going to “need” right?

Target

Photo's Courtesy of Target.com

Photo's Courtesy of Target.com

From Top Left: Range Kleen Wrought Iron Oval hanging Pot Rack $59.99, Trademark Poker 650 pc Set $80.99, Folding Poker Blackjack Table $59.99, Hamilton Beach Coffeemaker $39.99, Cherry 7-pc Salad Bowls, OXO Softworks 22 pc Gadget & tool Set $49.99, EGO Ice Waterproof ipod Sound Case $99.99, KitchenAid 7-speed pink Hand mixer $69.99, Teaposy Garden Gift Set $59.99, Furitechnics Rachael Ray Bamboo Knife Set $99.99

Williams-Sonoma

Photo's Courtesy of williams-sonoma.com

Photo's Courtesy of williams-sonoma.com

From Left: Personalized Recipe Card & Embosser $69.00, Monogrammed Vic Firth Maple $65, Waring Pro-Bottle Wine Chiller $99.95,  Monogrammed Highballs & Double Old Fashioneds Set of 4 $59, Siena Glass Tumblers, Assorted Set of 24 $76, Olive Wood Salt Keeper $49, Fleur de Sel French Sea Salt $12.50, Emile Henry Ruffled Cake Stand $70

Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn

Photo's courtesy of Potterybarn.com

From Left: Glass Sphere Hurricanes $26.99- $39.99 (On Sale), Lemon Toile Serving Platter $29, Emma Cake Stand $38, Great White 3-Tier Stand $45, Lisbon Serving Bowl $39, Oblique Finger Bowls $19.99 (Sale), PB Classic Glass Caniseters $19-$44, Mercer Bathtub Caddy $59

 

Bed, Bath and Beyond

Photo's courtesy of bedbathandbeyond.com

Photo's courtesy of bedbathandbeyond.com

From Left: Pyrex® 21-Piece Bakeware Set $54.99, Hotel Collection Spa Towels 100% Egyptian Cotton $7.99 to $16.99, Waterford Ballet Ribbon Crystal Glass Collection $69.99 to $79.99, Cuisinart® Metal Classic 4-Slice Toaster $79.99, Cuisinart® Smart Power Duet™ Blender/Food Processor Combination $79.99, Copco Journey 2 1/2-Quart Tea Kettle $29.99, Lenox® Park City™ 3-Piece Salad Bowl Set $89.99, Eureka Optima Lightweight Bagless Upright Stick Vacuum $69.99

A few years ago one of my best friends got married and registered for a bed. Seriously. Mixers, toasters, place settings and a humongous sleigh bed from Pottery Barn. I think I called immediately yelling at him saying things like “You registered for a BED?!?”, “Who’s going to buy you a bed?!?!”, “Are you out of your mind?!?” and “Seriously, it’s like $1500!!”

This was my first brush with the high ticket registry item. I was accustomed only to baking sheets and blenders. I didn’t know what to do with a bed. My friend explained to me that registering for the bed was really for their own benefit. They knew no one would buy it for them. But apparently, if you register for something, no one buys it and after the party and the “i do’s” you still want it, you get it at a discount.

“Ohhhhhhhhhh.” I said, sounding half relieved and half annoyed that I was learning this from a boy and wasn’t already well versed in the tricks of the registry trade.

“But do you really think someone’s going to buy you that bed?” I asked again.

And for that wedding, someone did buy them that bed. We did. Fifteen friends of the bride & groom came together and presented the bride and groom with a card at the reception that said, “Surprise! We bought you your bed!”

I have to say it was one of the best moments I’ve ever witnessed and been a part of. So from that moment on I decided group gifts and big ticket items are totally worth it and really the way to go. The thought of someone treasuring something that big for a lifetime rather than five years, which is my hypothetical guess as to how long some a blender might last, just seems like a much better gifting plan.

For a wedding we’re attending in June, we all decided to buy the bride and groom, another set of our very dear friends, their honeymoon tickets to Puerto Rico. In my opinion it’s just more meaningful than sticking to the registry or buying single gifts.

There’s a few caveats that you should think about before you start to rally the troops though.

Give all members of the group gift plenty of time to save up money and cut you a check for their share. This should avoid any last minute excuses that include but are not limited to: “I have no money”, “I spent all my money on booze, gambling and hookers”, or my personal favorite “Wait… we’re supposed to give a gift?”

Give all members of the group extra time if they happen to be living in far away places like Japan, New Zealand and Finland… this is actually my life right now. Yes, my friends are world traveling kick ass people, by the way.

Spell it out for people, especially boys, who may not know better. (Though, I will say MOST of my guy friends are very good about the group gifts, there’s always one.)

Something like, “Put $10 away for GROOM X and BRIDE Y from now until MADE UP DATE WITH BUILT IN BUFFERS. Then you’ll have enough to give me for their INSERT AMAZING GROUP GIFT HERE,” will go a long way.

My parents got a bed from my godfather, my father’s best friend, when they got married. As the story goes they didn’t have one when they got married… I actually have no idea what they were sleeping on until then, and there’s a good chance I just made that part up … but when they returned home from their honeymoon, they had a bed. A big beautiful bed that later became mine, and is still mine on the weekends that I’m home.

A very good gift that lasted well beyond the blender’s lifespan.

I hate to disclose this and let it go mainstream… but it’s too good not to share. There are some really beautiful lines of china, glassware and tableware out there that is actually affordable, modern and really great if you’re looking to stray from the world of ice cream makers, food processors and coffee pots in the land of registries.  Juliska has some of the most beautiful tabletop items on the market today. And, in comparison to what’s in the market, it’s pretty affordable.

It looks a little bit vintage, is definitely a little bit different and makes for a really beautiful table.  It’s not your mama’s china, and it’s certainly not something you can buy all at once, but it’s a collectible line of beautiful vases, serving platters, candle sticks and glassware. I love the glassware, but they also have beautiful ceramic place settings in four different designs.  My personal favorite is the Petit Singe.  Although, I kind of feel like it’s better as a baby shower gift, it’s still so cute. The Berry & Thread line is really special too.

You can find it at specialty stores around the country, and department stores often have them on sale. Michael.C.Fina is a great place to look online for gifts too. They often carry Juliska and Mariposa on at discounted rates, as does Barneys, believe it or not. Plus they come in super cute colors like pistachio, vintage pink, butter yellow, cappuccino brown and ice blue.

Mariposa also has some really beautiful gift ideas.

Their stuff is really cute and again, pretty affordable.  There are several different lines, and the napkin weights vary from literally everything from artichokes to tennis rackets to Santa Claus.  It’s kind of great.

We’re grown ups… they say… sooner or later you’re gonna need some of this stuff.

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