Tips for creating a gift registry of kitchen items that you will actually use
I have a confession to make. If you know me and have ever gifted me with a professional-grade stand mixer, fine china, or stemware in the past, I’ve probably never used it. Although I love to cook and entertain, I’ve realized that I’m a simple hand-held mixer kinda girl who loves casual get-togethers as opposed to formal five course meals.
Leading up to my own wedding, I was so excited at the prospect of becoming the woman of the house. There were so many things that I thought I needed on my bridal registry—like gold rimmed plates that we later discovered could not go into the dishwasher or the microwave. I was so sure that I would need an industrial strength food processor, complete with six obscure attachments that would swallow up an entire kitchen cabinet compartment. And why wouldn’t I want fragile stemware that would later incite cringe-worthy reactions at the sight of my future children washing dishes? I thought I had it all figured out, but boy was I wrong!
I was heavily influenced by what I was told that I needed rather than by what I later discovered I would need. At the time, the items that I placed on my own wedding registry were definitely more style over function. It wasn’t until I actually began preparing meals and entertaining guests that I realized that I needed to revisit my kitchen supply list.
As I became more comfortable with the type of homemaker I would be, I first began by re-organizing the kitchen and dining spaces. I realized that while I wasn’t a full place-setting, linen napkin kinda girl, I did like using ceramic plates over plastic. I discovered that unmatched, “one-off” cups and mugs that we had accumulated over the years drove me insane and that I could never have enough forks, knives, spoons, plastic food storage containers, or cereal bowls. As the kitchen became more organized, I realized exactly what I needed.
I naturally gravitated towards items that were stackable and that took up very little space. I liked clean lines, monochromatic color schemes with no design patterns, and an unobstructed view of all my stuff at all times. For me to function properly, I had to have multiple colanders, large serving spoons, plain white serving platters, various types of apple slicers (I really like apples), and clear acrylic bins and a label maker to sort and separate my pantry items. Then I met the love of my life, the magical Slow Cooker- all black, no flowers, no patterns, with disposable plastic liners. And when I bought my first set of formal chafing dishes, I felt like woman!
As you can see, my household kitchen “obsession list” may be very different from what you are considering placing on your own wedding registry— and that is perfectly fine. I believe that no two couples will have the exact same items on their lists.
The purpose of this post is to help you create a list of items that will grow with you and ensure lots of great use for many meals to come.
What is a wedding registry?
A wedding or bridal registry is a list of items selected by a couple that communicates gift preferences to any attending or non-attending wedding guests, family members, coworkers, etc. The Chicago-based department store Marshall Fields is credited with starting the first bridal registry service in the 1920’s. With the changing times, wedding registries have become much less formal in solely communicating exact china, silver, and crystal patterns and have evolved into more lifestyle-based registries. Modern registries may include guest contributions to a couple’s honeymoon, home buying expenses, and even philanthropic charities.
In the past, couples may have been encouraged to limit their wedding registries to 1-3 stores max to avoid confusion and/or public ridicule for seeming “greedy”; however, modern registries can be created via a universal registry. With a universal registry, multiple store registry items and experiences can be incorporated into a single overall gift registry for guests to choose from. This type of registry allows couples more flexibility to select items from a wide variety of store types instead of limiting their choices to what one particular store offers. They can choose items from a home improvement store, a furniture/home decor store, an electronics store, and a grocery store—-all on one convenient registry. Examples of universal registries include Zola, Blueprint, My Registry.com, and even Amazon.
Our goal for this blog post is to not only assist newly engaged couples in creating a modern kitchen wedding registry, but to also give a few pointers to more established couples looking to update what they already have.
Ask an expert
I was first introduced to The Hurried Hostess lifestyle blog by one of my dear florist friends, Amanda Bowman of Amanda Bee’s Floral Designs via their numerous creative collaborations. I absolutely loved how the blog was the perfect blend of “living your best life” yumminess with casual entertaining accessibility. Stacy Anderson, author of The Hurried Hostess, began her career as a licensed family therapist and ultimately combined her love of family, food, photography, and travel into the amazing Hurried Hostess blog.
As a professional blogger, Stacy is a repeated featured guest contributor on the daytime talk show Houston Life, has been featured in multiple national and international publications, and has been named one of the Top 20 foodies of 2018 by Voyage Houston Magazine.
Stacy is a mom of two and has been married to her husband Chris for over a decade. I immediately found her Pinterest-worthy recipes paired alongside her candidness in journaling her parenting and marriage thoughts to be incredibly refreshing. I was even more so excited to find this caliber of lifestyle influence available locally.
I thought that Stacy would be the perfect person to assist me in creating the modern kitchen wedding registry. Not only is Stacy a passionate cook and hostess, brand ambassador, and successful businesswoman, but she has been blessed to be an experienced bride who can truly appreciate kitchen efficiency, especially when it relates to the ever-evolving roles in a marriage and parenthood.
In the upcoming paragraphs, you will see kitchen registry questions first broken down into 2 major categories: Cuisine and Cleanup. Within each category, you will first find a quick summary of the types of tips that are included. Each category will then have a Q&A portion in which the Hurried Hostess herself has been gracious enough to answer a few of my questions.
For simplicity, we’ve decided to create one large category entitled Cuisine. The Cuisine category includes items that aid in the creation of food, the enjoyment of food, and how food is displayed and presented. More specifically, we will be further separating food items into prep, place settings, and serveware sections.
When preparing your meals, you will may be charged with the tasks of slicing, peeling, mixing, roasting, baking, and more.
Q: In your experience, what food preparation tools do you use most frequently?
A: Bowls, knives, cutting boards, spatulas, pots/pans, and skillets.
Q: What are some habits and/or lifestyle considerations that couples should evaluate when deciding upon what food prep items they’d like to select?
A: Include registry items that you currently use frequently – not just the ones you think you will use. Just because you’re getting married, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to change who you are overnight. Evaluate the items that you currently use and add upgraded versions of those items to the list first. If there are a couple items that you’ve always dreamed of having, then of course, add them too. But for the most part, stick to what you’re already using.
Q: If any, what food prep items do you recommend that couples splurge on when selecting small appliances and cutlery?
A: Spend more on the items that you will use frequently or ones that have multiple uses. For me, that’s a good set of kitchen knives and my over-sized Breville toaster oven. I use both of these things almost every day and they’re the best purchases I’ve ever made.
Q: Do you have a preference for powered versus manual tools for the kitchen? For example, a handheld can opener versus and an electric can opener, etc.
A: Unless it’s a stand mixer, I’m all for human-powered tools instead of electric. Let’s face it, we live in Houston and can experience very unpredictable weather conditions on any given day. By having some manual kitchen appliances handy, you will still be able to perform basic kitchen tasks such as opening can goods in the event of power loss. Manual tools are also less likely to need routine replacement in comparison to electric tools.
If you’re contemplating what types of plates, glasses, and silverware that you and your guests will use when dining/entertaining at your home, this section is just for you.
Q: With the changing times, are you finding that people still use formal china, flatware, and crystal? If so, what pieces do you find most useful?
A: Honestly, I think that most people are using paper plates and plastic utensils for their large group gatherings. Now, people are not as interested in spending a majority of their time cleaning up after the party, but instead being a part of the party. However when the time comes around to host a smaller, nice, formal dinner, there is nothing more elegant than fine china and a well-set table.
Serving utensils, however, are always needed. Large spoons and platters of varying sizes are always going to be needed – no matter the size or style of your event.
Q: Do you have any personal preferences for round vs. square plates for place settings?
A: My personal taste revolves around the theme that I’m basing my dinner. I have an addiction when it comes to place setting pieces, so I have a variety of square, round, oblong, and even hexagon shaped plates. Call it a personal preference, but I love the look of round plates when I am serving circular foods like mini pizzas or sliders. I like using square plates for non-circular food items or if I’m trying to achieve a more modern look with my place setting. Round plates convey a more traditional feel.
Q: What should you look for when you are selecting plates for place settings in terms of design?
A: Always opt for a classic design. White and/or clear plates are great options because they typically don’t show their age. For my own bridal registry, I opted for a simple white china plate with a silver rim and I still love it to this day. However, I remember my parents’ china had tacky 70’s inspired orange flowers on it – just terrible! Lesson learned.
Q: Please list the individual items that you would encourage a couple to select within one complete place setting.
A: If budget is an issue and you cannot afford everything included within a full formal place setting, I would suggest purchasing a mix of items that would be utilized somewhere in between an informal and formal place setting. This would include: Dinner, salad, bread, and dessert plates; a salad bowl, coffee cup and saucer, red and white wine glasses, and a water glass; salad and dinner forks, a dinner knife and spoon, soup spoons and teaspoons.
Most likely you will not use all of these items at once, but at least everything will match when it’s time to bring it all together on the table. Even if you don’t receive all of your wedding registry gifts, some stores will offer a 10% discount on the remaining items if you decide to purchase them on your own. This perk alone makes it well worth your while to include all of your needs on your registry before your wedding date.
Q: How many complete place settings (including plates, flatware, glassware, etc.) would you recommend that a couple purchase?
A: I always recommend purchasing at least 12 place settings of plates and glassware - more than 12 sets for each piece of flatware. Somehow, flatware always ends up in the garbage and you end up missing some pieces years later. While I’m still not exactly sure how this happens, I think it’s better to purchase more pieces now as it will become increasingly more difficult to find matching pieces to your sets later on. Companies frequently discontinue collections.
Q: What are your thoughts on the use and care of linen napkins?
A: I love linen napkins – especially for entertaining! In caring for linen napkins, it’s best to put them on a gentle cycle in the washing machine or hand wash them. You’ll also want to lay them flat to dry or hang them. Dryers typically get too hot and will ruin them. Always check the tag before you wash them though – some may be dry clean only. But I do have to confess, with kids and everyday meals – a paper napkin works just fine.
You’ve done all of the behind the scenes work in preparing your meal, now it’s time to feed your guests. Whether it’s an intimate, casual meal with your sweetheart or your first large-scale Thanksgiving meal for a crowd of 20+, your serveware can definitely make your meal more appetizing. Serveware includes small-to-large platters and bowls for self-serve/family-style meals, dipping spoons and spatulas, and more.
Q: In your own words, describe what modern hosting involves in comparison to more traditional ways of entertaining? What types of meal service are typically used, i.e. plated dinner vs. buffet vs. family style meal service?
A: Modern hosting is a bit more relaxed than the traditional hosting habits of the 1950’s for example. Back then, your motivation may have been to have your husband’s boss over to impress them with your cooking skills. In today’s world, it’s more about having your closest friends over on the weekend after a long week at work. It’s less about trying to impress your guests, but on wanting them to truly have a good time. This can also involve your guests bringing a dish or two to share as well. Not all of the work has to be on you.
For modern entertaining, family style meals are the way to go! Plus, it makes for a really great centerpiece seeing all of the delicious foods you’ve prepared on the table.
Q: When hosting larger crowds, what types of serveware should you include if you really wanted to inspire your guests?
A: People love themed dinners! So if you’re having a holiday get together, make sure to purchase serveware in patterns and colors that reflect the season.
For more general entertaining, breaking out pieces found when traveling abroad can be a great way to wow your guests. Using unique, exotic serveware to present your food is a built-in conversation starter, giving you and your guests an opportunity to talk about the region where you picked up that beautiful platter or pitcher.
Q: Are traditional items like gravy boats and formal tea sets still popular in modern entertaining?
A: Gravy boats are not as popular; however, if you typically entertain guests from different cultures, serving tea may be a very important part of the meal. So just think about whether your potential guests will be expecting formal tea service and all of the appropriate accoutrements that support it.
Q: For a casual meal, what types of serveware would you typically recommend for a couple who is just starting out?
A: I love a brand like Corelle. It’s super cheap and durable. Plus, their products are microwave safe and you can find them in all sorts of patterns. We use ours for daily meals because they are kid-safe and virtually indestructible.
Pyrex also has some great baking pans that come in all shapes and sizes and are really wallet-friendly. Plus, they make for an easy one-pan dinner that can easily go from oven to tabletop to dishwasher.
Cleanup includes keeping the storage, preparation, and serving areas as germ-free, organized, and mother-in-law white glove inspection ready as possible!
Q: What should couples consider when selecting kitchen cleaning products for their homes? Do you have any favorite cleaning products that you can’t live without?
A: I tend to select my cleaning products based on scent. If I can’t stand the smell of it – it’s not happening! While I know that some people are more interested in the specific ingredients/chemicals that the cleaning product may or may not contain, the best advice that I can give is to just test out items as you go. See which products get your kitchen the cleanest and which ones you enjoy using - -well, as much as you can really enjoy cleaning.
Q: What are some habits that help you keep your food storage, preparation and serving areas organized?
A: I like to group non-edible items like plastic baggies and aluminum foil together in a container under my kitchen sink next to trash bags and dishwasher detergent.
When it comes to storing food items, I tend to have my pantry and fridge organized by function. In the pantry for example, I have my rows organized like this: baking, canned goods, grains and mixes, and beverages (liquor, tea bags, coffee, etc) in their own sections. I also have a rack that’s built into the door of the pantry that has all of my spices on it. I find that using the doors of your pantry or cabinet can really help if you don’t have a lot of space to work with.
Spaces in public view such as my kitchen countertops are limited to only the things that I use daily – knives, coffee pot, and toaster oven. Everything else is put away.
Q: What are some of your essential kitchen linen must-haves?
A: Turkish kitchen towels, everyday dish towels, dish cloths, pot holders, a general tablecloth (one you can use in every season), and linen napkins to match. As the years go on and your tastes change, getting seasonal items to mix in is a great idea as well.
Q: What is the difference between a kitchen towel, dish towel, and a dish cloth? How are each of them used and what are the best fabrics to select for each?
A: Over the last few months it has been brought to my attention that there may be a great kitchen towel vs. dish towel vs. dish cloth debate! I’ve discovered that kitchen cleaning preferences are very personal and almost everyone has their own best way of using towels and cloths for the kitchen.
For me, I typically distinguish a kitchen towel as usually being a pretty towel hung on an oven handle or a drawer that you can use for drying your hands on after you’ve washed them. A lot of the times they are solely decorative and have some sort of design on them. My favorite kitchen towels are Turkish towels that are 100% cotton.
Dish towels, however, are usually more utilitarian and are typically stored in a drawer. They are not traditionally pretty, are purchased in bulk, and are the workhorses of the kitchen. They’re used to dry wine glasses, pots and pans, and other damp kitchen items. I’ve also used dish towels to wipe down countertops and stove tops.
I’m personally more of a cleaning sponge girl. However, dish cloths are often used to wash dishes as well. Dish cloths are typically made from a similar material as dish towels, but are smaller and are easier to handle when dampened. Just think of it this way: a towel would be bigger than a cloth. Microfiber is a great option for dish towels and dish cloths because they are lint-free and won’t leave fibers on your countertops and glasses.
Most of the time I close my blog posts with my own personal reflections or recommendations. Instead, I’ve decided to hand this section back over to Stacy Anderson from The Hurried Hostess. She has such a great perspective on living vibrantly and I thought that she could provide some great words of wisdom for brides and grooms to-be.
Q: In your opinion, what should a couple’s kitchen wedding registry say about them?
A: A lot of couples go into creating their registries thinking that they should register for the most expensive items or everything that the store guide tells them to. What you should really register for is what you use on an everyday basis – along with a few items that you’d use for frequent entertaining or around the holiday season.
Your registry should reflect what items you’re going to use on a consistent basis and definitely not those “fad” items that are high on style but totally impractical. Your registry should say that as a couple you are practical, yet stylish.
Q: What is the most difficult meal that you’ve ever prepared and what lesson did you learn from it?
A: Last year I decided to make a souffle and it was SO nerve-wracking! The whole time it was baking I was hoping for it to rise. The anticipation of keeping it “lifted” until time for it to be served was ridiculous! Even though it was slightly stressful, I’d still make it again!
I have a slight spirit of adventure and resilience when it comes to cooking. I believe that new cooks (and even more seasoned cooks who are trying a new recipe) should live a little and always try something new. Even if a new recipe doesn’t come out exactly as planned I believe that it is always an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and improve. My only reservation is that you should be very strategic on when you are trying out a new recipe. Practice when you “have nothing to lose” and you have a bit wiggle room for error and time to right your wrongs. Experimenting with new recipes for a large Thanksgiving dinner or when you are expecting special guests is probably not the best time to be completely fearless in the kitchen.
Q: If you could turn back the hands of time and give advice to your younger self, what advice would you give in reference to home entertaining?
A: Don’t be afraid to invite people over because you don’t like your living situation. When my husband and I got married, we lived in my parents’ 400 square foot garage apartment and I felt like we could never entertain our friends at our place because it was so small. But as time went on, we embraced it and our friends didn’t care that we were all sitting on the floor – we just enjoyed spending time together.
Thanks for the great tips Stacy!
Need some recommendations on exactly what to put on your kitchen wedding registry? Receive a copy of the Modern Kitchen Wedding Registry checklist now! Check out our free download below.