Simple, Practical Wedding and Shower Gifts

posted by Andrea | 06/12/2012
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It’s wedding season… and Dave and I have a bunch of weddings to go to.

We also have the privilege of being part of his brother’s wedding and my sister’s wedding; which means lots of showers, parties… and gifts.

And while I’m a huge fan of wedding registries because they allow guests to give gifts the bride and groom actually want, I’m also a fan of simple, practical gifts that anyone starting a new home will need.

This past weekend, Nora and I attended a shower for my sister. It was put on by my aunts and we all had so much fun!

She got lots of great gifts off her registry… but my other sister and I went in on a gift together and we deviated from the registry just a bit 🙂

We purchased one of the clothes baskets from her registry and then FILLED it to the brim with all sorts of cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, dishwasher gel, hand soap, dusting cloths, sponges, cleaning rags, rubber gloves, trash bags, etc. etc. I even lined the bottom of the basket with several rolls of paper towel and toilet paper to help the cleaning products sit up just a bit higher.

The gift looked pretty cool and I know it will go to good use when they move into their new place. Also, I like that it’s a “clutter free” gift because eventually, all the cleaning products will be used up, and she’ll never feel guilted into keeping something she doesn’t love just because her sisters gave it to her for a shower gift!

If you have a bunch of weddings and showers to go to this summer, here are a few other simple gift ideas that might not be on their registry.

1. Gift Cards

I used to be opposed to giving gift cards because I thought they were impersonal. Then I got married and realized how much we LOVED getting gift cards — so now they are my “go-to” gift, even if I’m not short on time. I’ve come up with several creative ways to give gift cards and I’ve never once had someone complain about a gift card!

2. Usable Supplies

This was what we did with the cleaning products, but you could do the same thing with all sorts of items like:

  • Car Wash Kit: bucket and supplies to wash/wax car — and coupons for oil changes or car washes
  • Home Mantinance Kit: Smoke detectors, furnace filters (if you know the right type to buy), ant traps, wasp spray, light bulbs, etc.
  • Gardening Kit: Yard tools, fertilizer, gloves, etc.

3. Food and Pantry Items

No, not perishable meals — but pantry items like spices, canned goods, baking supplies, etc. It can be expensive to stock a kitchen if you’re starting with nothing, so while these gifts might seem a bit odd, I’m positive the new couple will appreciate them once they are settled into their new home.

Also, make sure to include a few of your favorite recipes or a simple cookbook.

4. Drinks

If you know the couple enjoys alcoholic beverages, why not give them a variety of wines, exotic beers, or other items to make mixed drinks. Even if they don’t drink it all themselves, it will be nice to have a little supply when they host their first party.

5. Tree or other Plant

If the new couple owns a home, or if you know they’re planning to do a bit of yard work, consider purchasing a nice tree for them to plant in their new location. I’ve even seen it where the gift-giver ties dollar bills onto several branches and give it as a “money tree”!

6. Cash

Last, but certainly not least, cash is always a great gift for newlyweds!

What are your favorite practical gifts for weddings?

Filed under: LifeCleaning


Leave a comment


  1. Rachel


    As someone who was just married a month ago, this is such a great idea! My husband and I got many useless, impractical gifts and we would have loved to receive something like this! Trash bags, disinfecting wipes, toilet paper, cleaners, etc. are things that we buy regularly, so a thoughtful gift like this would have been so nice. I also like food themed gift baskets (Italian, Mexican, BBQ, stir-fry) for the couple who might already have a fully furnished home.


  2. Practical Gift Ideas for Moving & Housewarming — the thinking closet


    […] Laundry Basket of Cleaning Supplies | […]

  3. Lauren @ The Thinking Closet


    Love this idea! Wondered if it would okay for me to feature this post (one photo and link) in a round-up I’m doing on moving day and housewarming gifts. I think my readers would love to see this!



    Lauren @ The Thinking Closet Reply:

    Andrea, here’s the link to my round-up of practical gift ideas for moving and housewarming if you want to stop by and check out your feature! Thanks again for letting me include your laundry basket of cleaning supplies in the mix.


  4. Brooke


    This seems like an amazing idea! One of my good friends is getting married and she and her fiance have lived together for quite some time. They really didn’t need anything. They were looking at what to put on their registry and stumbled upon a few different places where they could register to have people fund their honeymoon! They registered and they picked a few various activities that they would be participating in and people could donate to specific things like a scuba diving trip. Talk about a useful gift!


  5. Laura


    My default wedding gift is a personalized Christmas ornament (I order from Bronner’s: and a bottle of champagne. Maybe not practical, but definitely personal and easy. The champagne will get used up, and it’s always nice for the couple to have a memento of their first Christmas together as a married couple (at least I think so!).


  6. Cyndi


    I love these ideas! They are great! Recently, I put together a book of recipes (that were our Grandmothers) for my cousin as well as some new baking pans. She loved it!

    The cleaning supplies are great. I really wish that someone had done that for me!


  7. Carmen


    When I got engaged one of the first things I bought was a custom return stamp, which I used for my shower and wedding thank yous, as well as my invitations and rsvps. I just put our first names on it since I wanted to use it before and after the wedding. I loved it so much that as soon as my brother-in-law was engaged I ordered one for them.

    I am planning to order one for my sister now that she is about to deliver her first baby and make a stationary (thank you card) gift box for her shower which will include address labels for all of the shower guests, thank you cards, return address stamp and postage stamps.

    I realize that including the addresses of all of the guests is easier for the person throwing the shower but you could still put together a box with everything else.


  8. Jessica Smith


    I once gave a hamper, and filled it with towels, detergent, bleach, stain/shout samples, and laundry bag.


  9. Amanda


    My favorite wedding gift to receive has turned into my favorite gift to give-a basket of goodies. I just take a simple basket and fill it with fruit, wine, and other treats. I know that for myself, my husband and I ended up at home the night of our wedding with no food whatsoever-my friend giving us a basket of fruit saved us!

    (Of course, this is a gift best given if you know the tastes and situation of the couple…not great if they are leaving that night for their honeymoon!)


  10. jerilyn


    We like to give a marriage book, so much is focused on the actual wedding that people forget marriage is work 🙂


  11. Wedding Gift Ideas


    Good ideas. this is nice. this is great to be given for wedding. thanks for sharing. 🙂


  12. Lucy Sympton


    Superb idea! 😆 I appreciate this type of idea. Love this. Andrea you are very brilliant. Thanks for this nice and practical allocation. 😆


  13. KiwiKat


    When the first of my friends got married, we gave them a plunger, some unusual coffees, nice coffee mugs, marshmallows and single serve packets of biscuits (cookies) on a tray with a couple of teatowels. The next one got a juicer, juice jug and glasses on a tray with teatowels.

    The gifts matched the friends, who both had most things already, as they had already been living away from home for a time.


  14. Jessica @ Budget For Health


    Dave & my friend works for Proctor & Gamble so he got us a a gift bag filled with products from hygiene to cleaning supplies. It was such an awesome idea and we still haven’t run out 2 years later!


  15. Elizab R. A.


    I love giving newly-weds picture frames since I know they will soon have a lot of formal portraits and snapshots from the wedding, but probably not many places to put them. I’ve had success several times buying a set of frames on super-duper sale at the local department store. Usually the sets have three or four standard-size frames, like 8×10, 5×7, etc. If you don’t know the couple’s style or preferred decorating scheme, just find something neutral or save the gift receipt. I’ve received positive feedback from couples about a gift of picture frames several times over the years.


  16. Jennifer Madigan


    This was my favorite gift that I was given when I got married. Not only was it practical but every time I pulled something out of the cupboard that I received in my basket I thought of the person that gave it to me.


  17. Liz C


    My go-to gift is a set of recipes we use and love that are easy to make, many of which tuck in the freezer for future use. From the responses I get from couples long after the wedding, I think they’re well-received. 🙂 I tend to bundle the recipe cards with a pie plate, and a cute set of measuring spoons that hold “pinch, tad, smidgen”, etc… and are pretty accurate to the amount called for in those heritage recipes that use the measures!


  18. Chelsea @ Truffles Magazine


    @ Andrea – what would you say is the average spent / average range on a gift for a bridal shower?

    @ Thea – If your looking to duplicate something similar to Andrea I highly suggest you try couponing and checking Sunday papers/circulars.

    Use a store & manufacturer coupon together. I also highly suggest you go to more than one store if your looking to maximize the savings (like Andrea did cleaning supplies, try Walgreens, Walmart, etc. just make sure to compare prices, product size and coupon discount)

    – If the couple will be moving into their own home together consider home improvement gift cards: Lowes, Home Depot, etc. and have some friends pool together to get one larger gift card- that way they can put it towards anything like appliances, garden, tools, etc)

    – If the couple getting married has lots of out of town friends / family consider helping the bride set up a wedding donation site learn more below:


  19. michelle owens


    I once received a home made first aid kit. It was such a great gift filled with things I didn’t think about needing until I actually needed it.


  20. Melissa


    Both my husband and I were in our thirties when we got married and we had both lived on our own for a long time and were in desparate need of purging items so when we had our shower and our wedding practical usable gifts were definitely appreciated. We did use our registry to list items that we owned but could use an upgrade on (coffee pot, dishes, etc). Restaurant gift cards, bottles of wine, usable items for our dog and cats, and new high quality cookie sheets were among my favorite shower presents that were not on the registry. Also we have a lot of friends who are artistically gifted and we received several paintings that our friends did for us which we’ll always cherish. My husband and I own a Wii and a friend of ours got us a new game for it for our wedding gift. We loved that and thought it was very thoughtful and fun.

    When attending weddings we frequently give cash as any couple can put that to good use regardless of what their situation is.


  21. Raquel


    Love those ideas! I agree that practical gifts are fun to give. I have given a ” Stay Healthy” basket…with cough drops, pain medication, bandaids etc,…These items go on sale often at the drug store so it helps keep the costs down.


  22. Lea Stormhammer


    I recently went to a bridal shower for a friend who is almost 30 and getting married for the first time. Her now husband is also almost 30 and has never been married before. Both lived alone for several years and had most of everything they needed. Their registry was very short.

    Some of the very cool and practical gifts they got were:

    * A very nice wooden recipe box filled with family recipes (a cousin contacte people on all sides of both families for these – the bride cried when she saw the recipes)
    * A traditional family jam recipe with special canning jars to hold the finished jam.
    * Personalized kitchen aprons (the couple love to cook, grill and enterain and didn’t own a single kitchen apron)
    * A “kitchen full” of pantry items (flour, sugar, spices, some canned goods, etc.)

    I gave them a basket filled with gourmet tea and coffee and a pair of coffee mugs along with a tea cozy and set of nice coasters. The coasters, basket, mugs and tea cozy were purchased at a thrift store – all new with the tags on them – and the tea and coffee were purchased at a local coffee shop, with a coupon for the coffee beans. I spent about $20 on the whole thing and they LOVED it. The bride drinks coffee and the groom tea, so this was perfect.

    I think I’m going to your idea, Andrea, for the next shower I have (coming up very soon). Very practical and very useful! Love that!

    Thanks for all the great ideas!


  23. Thea


    I love this idea, and have tried it before, but the cost to fill the container always seems to be too much. How do you keep the price down when you give gifts like this? I bet you will say that you fill it with things that you get for free or almost free. But what if I haven’t stocked up on things like that for gifts, any suggestions on keeping the whole gift within a reasonable budget?


    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Thea, it can be a more expensive gift — but I was planning to spend more for my sister’s shower anyway and my other sister and I went in on the gift together. We spent about $35 each — which I feel is reasonable, but I also did get many of the items for free (you know me so well!)


    Kaui @ Thrifty Military Mommy Reply:

    Instead of using a huge basket like Andrea did you could use a small mop bucket or cute trash can. Then you won’t have to put as much product in it. Just some cleaning gloves, maybe a roll of paper towels, all-purpose cleaner…whatever fits. Or you could just split the cost with someone like Andrea said she did.

    I really like this Andrea. I know when i first got married it was VERY overwhelming to spend so much money on our own cleaners, trash cans, mop buckets, and then all those other household items needed for cooking, etc. Household items get expensive quick. I love it when someone is practical like this. Next time I go to a wedding I’m gonna give a gift like this!


  24. Erika


    My sister & I always do a game basket with a popcorn bowl and then microwe popcorn. Something that we would both love to get!


  25. Diane


    As a bride to be, I Love this idea.


  26. Nena


    I got tons of food items for shower gift…. in a trash can lol… practical and useful 🙂