Your Presence Is Present Enough…

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Or: Why We Don’t Have a Wedding Registry

As a general rule, I’m a fan of wedding registries. I think they can be invaluable for guests who truly want to gift the bride and groom items the couple want or need. I’m happy to shop from them. I have nothing against the concept of wedding registries.

But I did not want to make one for our upcoming wedding.

Part of this is that, as an older couple, we have many years of accumulated stuff. We have a 2,000+ square foot home’s worth of stuff, to be exact, already creatively crammed into not quite enough space such that our 2-car garage will never hold even one of our cars. Stuff that, when we first moved in together, took more than a single 24′ moving truck to consolidate more than 3 years ago, and we’ve only added more stuff since then! I have a Kitchen Aid, more knives and kitchen appliances than we’ve got space for, and we’re inheriting my grandmother’s china and silver in a year or two from Dr. Aunt (she’s passing down things to the next generation early, not planning on passing away, and let us have our pick several years back).

We’ve got enough stuff, we don’t need any more. And even the idea of asking folks to help us “upgrade” some of that current stuff makes me uncomfortable.

Because that’s the other part of the no-registry coin: I dislike (almost to the level of hate) asking others for things.

The hows and whys of that particular quirk probably go back to growing up without much of anything to speak of and the dual lessons of necessary independence and the pain of being told disappointment. Mama Leadfoot was (technically still is, even though we’re now grown) the single mother of three with no family nearby and barely a high school education. I have tremendous respect for the sacrifices she made for us and the way she raised us. And while she did her best to make sure that we had everything that we absolutely needed plus what little extras when she could, I grew up knowing that it was better not to ask for some things. Because it wasn’t just the ‘no’ that stung, but the understanding of how frustrating it must have been for her to have to tell us that she just couldn’t give us what we wanted or what she wanted us to have.

Even now, decades after all of our situations have improved, when she asks for Christmas or birthday lists I still freeze up, shrug my shoulders, and have a hard time actually making requests.

Sure, we’ve been tempted a few times to start a registry just for the sake of having one, but we never pull the scanner’s trigger because it just doesn’t sit well with us. (Mr. Road Trip does have quite the aversion to ‘the ask’ that I do, but he agrees that we certainly don’t need anything enough to request it from our guests.)

So if any guests ask about it, we’ll just say that we’re happy to have them celebrating with us, and that’s gift enough.

Nice and diplomatic, right?

Of course, some guests may choose to gift us with something anyway, and we’ll happily accept it and send them a heartfelt thank-you note afterwards. We won’t be putting “no gifts” or anything like that on the invitations, because that implies we expected people to send us something in the first place (and, yes, I’m firmly on the side of NOT including registry cards or anything else of that sort in the wedding invitation), which we don’t.

For us, at this point in our lives, it’s enough that our friends and family are willing to give up a good chunk of their Saturday to spend time with us and celebrate.

How do you feel about registries? Does you opinion change if it’s not either the bride or groom’s first marriage?

Happy Birthday to Me!

Everyday Adventures

I know that many folks think after a certain age, birthdays don’t mean as much. And many women disavow all knowledge of age past a given year, but I don’t hold with that. I like celebrating my birthday as well as the birthdays of people I care about.

This morning started with some very curious monkeys wondering what was in the pink polka-dot bag sitting next to my pillow.

Monkey see?

Monkey see?

Inside was a very Star Trek-themed birthday assortment, including The Star Trek Craft Book with the most adorable Spock Monkey I’ve ever seen on the cover. (Okay, so it’s the only Spock Monkey I’ve ever seen, on the cover of a book or otherwise, but it’s still darn cute! Oh, dear, unintended sock pun!)

Phasers set to fun!

Phasers set to fun!

Of course, no birthday is quite complete without some sort of celebratory dessert, but with my recent shift to wheat-free, the usual avenues were out. Todd came up with the idea to do a gluten-free ice cream cake and I realized it really wouldn’t be too difficult to pull off.

Yummy and safe for my tummy!

Yummy and safe for my tummy!

I started with a Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix baked in a false-bottom square pan (so I could easily remove the finished cake). Once it was cool enough, I split it in half and smooshed in a layer of Breyer’s Lactose-Free Vanilla ice cream, wrapped it up and stuck it in the freezer overnight to set up. Then I made a ganache of semi-sweet chocolate chips, lactose-free milk, vanilla, and a bit of coconut oil to help the ganache set up quickly. (Did you know chocolate + coconut oil is the magic formula to making your own magic shell-type ice cream topping?)

It was really tasty!

This birthday marked not only the end of a busy month but a busy year, overall. It’s been a very good year, no question, but this last month has been exceptionally packed. I’m looking forward to things normalizing for at least a month, but I know with the wedding coming up it’ll get more hectic as the year goes on.

Still, I’m going to do my best to enjoy a relaxing weekend before getting my back to the business as usual!

Random Appetites: the Hostess Gift


What’s the first thing most of us do when we receive an invitation–even a casual one–to a friend or colleague’s home for dinner or a party?

“Can I bring anything?”

Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong in asking; I do it, too. The important thing is to listen to (not just hear) the answer. If a hostess declines your offer to contribute, by all means do not show up with a tray of something for the party. But this only counts for offers to take part in the preparations. A hostess gift–which is separate from the festivities in question–may still be appropriate.

Notice I said appropriate, not mandatory. After all, etiquette does not exist so that we can tell others how and when to act but so that we can educate ourselves on how we should behave.

That said, when is a hostess gift a good idea? Anytime you are invited to a dinner in someone’s home, certainly consider bringing a little something for you host(s) to enjoy later. Casual parties are less appropriate, but if you feel led and know “just the thing”, by all means (open houses fall into this category unless it’s a housewarming, in which case a gift is a definite should).

And then the question becomes, what to bring? Wine and flowers seem to be the most common hostess gifts given, but consider other options, as well. Wine, for instance, would not be appropriate for non-drinkers as they’re not likely to be able to enjoy it (which defeats the whole point!). Flowers often require work for the hostess–finding a vase, cutting and arranging the stems–that may actually add to her workload; again, defeating the purpose of the gift. Having them delivered earlier in the day or the day before is a nice alternative, though, if you really want to give a floral offering. Chocolates are an excellent alternative, if your host has a sweet tooth, but make sure to avoid those with nuts if your knowledge of the host’s allergies is spotty.

But if you know your hosts well, consider their tastes and maybe find something small that they enjoy from a favorite store. Keep in mind that spending a great deal is not necessary, something small and inexpensive is fine. If you enjoy baking, a loaf of bread, coffee cake or muffins are excellent options or some festive cookies or nuts. Wrap them well and try to avoid using a dish that needs to be returned, there are lots of disposable or inexpensive plates, tins and bowls out there that you can package your gift in.

What sort of gifts are not appropriate? Anything overly extravagent, jewelry, risque items in all but the most intimate of circumstances and, of course, any food item that is half-eaten (you would think that is a no-brainer, but my research shows that this is, unfortunately, not unheard of).

A final word to the host that may be presented with any sort of gift. Say a gracious and sincere thank you, a brief word about how much you (and/or your family) will enjoy it later, and then put the gift someplace out of the way. If it is wrapped, open it if there’s time but do not feel obligated to stop your party preparations or make a show of opening it in front of your other guests later (you don’t want to make anyone who didn’t bring a gift uncomfortable). Thank you notes are not required for hostess gifts.