While most parties are more about celebrating a special occasion—like a birthday or graduation—the main point of a bridal shower is to give a gift. After all, friends and family are gathering to help a bride-to-be prepare for life as a newlywed. Whether you're throwing a shower or attending one, here's everything you need to know about giving a gift.
Shower gifts come in two flavors: classic and contemporary.
Traditional shower gifts, like towels and cutting boards, are still wildly popular. There's a good reason: They're basic necessities for couples starting a new life adventure together. Even if the lovebirds have been living together for a few years, chances are their household goods could use some updating. Who wouldn't be happy with a new set of pots and pans, an iron, flatware, or colorful vases for the flowers he's sure to bring home some nights? But there's also a case for thinking outside the traditional box and choosing more modern gifts like mini Bluetooth speakers, a monogrammed weekend bag, or a waffle maker. Some people like to give a gift that's a one-two punch: Wineglasses for the shower and a wine rack for the wedding.
Spend what makes sense.
There's no required amount—it all depends on the guest's budget, how close she is to the bride, and the local custom. If money's tight, get creative. One idea we love is to create a kitchen utensil caddy filled with plastic spatulas, wooden spoons, tongs, and the like. If a bunch of people are thinking about giving a gift as a group—college roommates, first cousins, coworkers—they might combine their money and buy a big-ticket item like a stand mixer or lawn furniture.
The registry is all-important.
If you're the bride, how fun is it to pick out gifts you'd like with the knowledge that you'll probably get many of them? Extremely fun. Be considerate and sign up for items at various price points, from low to high. This inclusive approach will make all the guests feel that, no matter what their budget, they can buy you something you really want. So put the $359 barista-worthy coffee maker on your list, along with the $18 set of coffee mugs.
Looking greedy is not a thing.
Some brides feel uncomfortable registering because they think it's tacky to ask for presents. But that's the whole point of the party—to "shower" the bride with gifts! People understand that and won't think she's materialistic—many of them were probably brides who registered back in the day. It's better to think of it as saving guests time. Now they won't have to wander around a store hoping to see something the bride will like. That said, registering isn't mandatory. People will bring gifts anyway.
The invitation should give clues about gifts.
It's expected that a bridal shower invite will list where the bride is registered. If there's a theme (kitchen, garden), the invitation should name it, so guests will bring relevant gifts. If it's a couple's shower, guests should also be given a heads up so they bring gifts that the couple will both use, like blankets and steak knives.
The gifts get opened in front of everyone.
Either before or after food is served, it's time to open the gifts. A bridesmaid should help the bride tear wrapping paper off or lift the present out of the gift bag. Another maid should keep track of who gave what. The list will come in handy later for writing thank-you notes. It's also a good idea to have a roll of tape on hand to attach the cards to the gift boxes.