Unique, inexpensive wedding gifts

I have no fewer than ten good friends who will be getting married in the next two months. (This is apparently usually the case for graduating med students.)

I’d like to get them all something, but I really don’t want to break the bank, nor do I want to give them something boring. Any ideas for cool, unique, inexpensive wedding gifts?

(I’m not including what I consider “inexpensive”, mostly because I’m not sure what constitutes an average wedding gift these days.)

Dr. J

Don’t know how much time you have in your schedule. Shoping for used a.k.a. “pre-enjoyed” things at flea markets or tag sales. Little things mean alot.
Napkin rings
Salt shaker and pepper mill

I give Savings Bonds:)

Handmade pottery or blown glass. Anything made by an artist or artisan. For example, a lady at our farmer’s market makes these gorgeous hardwood cutting boards. Inexpensive, beautiful and practical.

don’t know how well this would work for ‘friends’ but the coolest thing I ever did was for my brother. 1. A set of family archival recipes and 2. I wrote up a bunch of archival stories about him growing up (which became his daughters favorite book).

My baseline for wedding gifts so far has been $50, and since it’s usually been as a part of couple, $100. But for ten weddings? That’s a lot of dough.

When one of my best friends got married, as part of her wedding gift I addressed her invitations and place cards in calligraphy, as I do calligraphy as a hobby. It took some time but saved her a bundle, and I enjoyed doing it. If you can offer your time (though yours is probably at a premium now) maybe you can come up with something.

These are med students just graduating? Oh boy.

You might consider finding a really good book about love in marriage, about finding quality time together when there’s little time to be had, things to do for cheap dates. Something like that. It may not cost a lot, but you can inscribe it with your hopes for the joy they’ll feel and your desire that their couplehood will be the salve of some tough residency times. A gift that thoughtful would mean a lot to me… and from what I understand about residency, this might end up being a pretty important and useful gift as well. You can get the same one for everyone and have it be the Special Doctor J gift

It just occurred to me that a really neat cookbook could serve the same purpose, if you inscribed it with a note about finding the time to cook together and eat together, even though that might be hard. I’ll betcha there are some good poems to be found about cooking and nourishment as a metaphor for love.

I heartily second this idea. Nobody will know what you spent on it since it is a unique item (and unfortunately, some people do care). You will be supporting your local artisans. It’s all good!

2 items that people can really use, but rarely think of registering for are serving trays and large water pitchers.

My usual wedding present for the past few years has been to get a Ticketmaster gift certificate. They come in $10, $25 and $50 increments, I believe, so you can budget based on how well you know the people.

Especially with younger couples who are just starting out in life and may not have a whole lot of extra money, this gives them an opportunity to go to a concert, or a play, or a ballgame when they normally wouldn’t. Even for those who can afford it, it’s a good prodding to a free night out at a special event. I’ve gotten tons of very positive feedback from the recipients.

I second on the cookbook idea. I have given cookbooks as wedding/shower gifts several times, and they always seem appreciated. My favorite one to give is The Best Recipe, published by the Editors of Cook’s Magazine. It’s a huge book that runs about $30, and it’s fantastic for people who are starting out and might not know much about cooking (the book goes into good, easy-to-understand instructions on how to do basic cooking techniques, and even offers explanations of the science behind cooking).

I also second on checking out local artisans and buying things from them–you’ll get beautiful and unusual things for a great price.

As an example, a woman I had worked with for several years got married, and I know she & her husband loved Mexican food. So, as their gift, I found a hand-painted glass serving plater (it had red chilis painted on it) and a copy of the cookbook, My Mexico, by Diana Kennedy. They loved the gift, and I spent about $55 altogether.

A set of rock 'em sock 'em robots is always a good choice – childhood flashback, hours of fun, and an easy way to settle whose turn it is to take out the trash!

My favorite wedding gifts to give:

A picnic basket. Empty or filled. I still use the one I got in 1979.

An old-fashioned crank ice cream freezer, with instructions to make ice cream when you’re mad at each other…just sitting down together for an hour at a task that lets you physically get out some aggression, gives you time to talk, makes you share the labor, and gives you something wonderful at the end…hmmm, it’s beginning to sound like sex…

…and the one I’m giving someone now, because I was too poor when they got married…a year of Godiva chocolate. Just two pieces a month, on their “anniversary”…sometimes a packet of cocoa, or a packet of biscuits (cookies), or a pouch of coffee. It only costs me about $3 a month, they really look forward to it, and I hope it is reminding them to cherish each other in little ways, all the time. Plus I think every month they look at each other and say, “wow, it’s been six months…seems like just yesterday”. And hopefully he will be completely trained at the end of a year, and will continue to surprise her in little ways…even if he prefers Snickers.

I always give really cool picture frames (or totally boring picture frames, depending on my assessment of the couple’s tastes).

Think about it: this is one of the two times in a person’s life when they are GUARANTEED to need picture frames (the other, of course, is right after a new baby is born). It saves me time and I know the gift isn’t going to get stuck in some closet (assuming, of course, that I haven’t totally misjudged their tastes - but that almost never happens.)

One of the best wedding presents I got was my own wedding invitation, matted and framed for us. Our friends bought a pretty (though inexpensive, I’m sure) frame, and put leaves behind our invite (our theme was autumn, so the leaves matched the invite) and reception card. It’s beautiful, and I put it up right away. It’s personal, a keepsake, and really thoughtful – I knew that they’d put some time into it.

Other ideas: gift certificate (either boughten or homemade) to a play or museum (or other “date” location); get an inexpensive teapot or kettle and fill it with assorted teabags; gift certificates for massages (this might be a little pricier, but I can guarantee the bride can use it!); depending on what they have/have asked for, a gift certificate to a furniture place, like IKEA (not too expensive); if they’re moving, buying or doing work on a house, make a little coupon book with offers of your time: “this coupon worth 1 day of helping paint,” “this coupon worth 1 day of using my truck (with me as chauffeur) to help schlep stuff” That sort of thing; a year’s subscription to a magazine they’d like, or a cooking magazine, or a beer-of-the-month club-type subscription; poetry magnets, specifically the Shakespeare or romantic or dirty set :smiley: ; books you like that you think they’d like – include a card that instructs them to read aloud to each other; if they take road trips (or are taking one for the honeymoon, at least), get them books on tape – if you can find books that have something to do with their destination, so much the better.

That’s about all I can think of right now – let us know what you decide on! Good luck…

When I was young and relatively poor and had a number of friends getting married, I discovered that giving plants as wedding gifts are a good idea.

  1. They are a living breathing thing that can symbolize a living breathing relationship.

  2. They are attractive and can go with virtually any home and decoration style.

  3. Hi Opal!

  4. They actually get used but not used up. So many gifts are either “oh, yeah, we needed a fifth toaster.” or “Oh, you gave us the gift certificate to McDonalds, did we use that?”

  5. They are cheap. For what you pay for a serving dish, you can buy a large palm tree.

Clothes hangers and lots of them!

From a group of friends I got six toasters. All identical.

It was really a Wal-mart gift certificate - they intended me to return them. I actually kept one, though, as I didn’t have a toaster.

To answer your question, though, a favorite gift of mine is two matching mugs and some gourmet coffee packaged together.

If you really like them—house-swapping!
It’s like a little vacation and if you live in a different city it’s even better. We stayed as guests of my mom’s best friend who lived about 60 miles from us. She had a little guest house that she and her husband moved into for the weekend and we never saw them at all. She left a lot of yummy food in the kitchen, lots of towels and just left us alone.

Are you crafty? You could whip up a batch of soap or a dozen or so candles for not too much money, and it would cover all your wedding gift needs. (That’s what we give all of our friends–I dunno, maybe they cringe when they see a gift from me!)
Otherwise, I think the cookbook idea is a good one. Other ideas off the top of my head:
~Magazine subscriptions, if you know what each couple might enjoy.
~Cinema gift certificates.
~Restaurant gift certificates.
~Basket of goodies: wine, cheese, gourmet crackers; microwave popcorn, movie/dvd, chocolates; board game, chips, dip mix; that sort of thing.

Good luck!

Hmmm, it occurs to me that an inscribed cookbook might not be a good idea–what if they already have that cookbook? Unless you could find out whether they already have the one that you want to get?