When it comes to registries, all you hear about are the million things you MUST get. Formal china, crystal flutes, silver flatware, enough pots and pans for a professional kitchen, glassware and barware to serve every drink ever, plus don’t forget drawers and drawers of gadgets that serve one purpose (I’m looking at you corn kernel remover tool). But here’s the deal. Most of us A) probably don’t have a kitchen big enough to store everything on this list, B) aren’t throwing Gatsby-style cocktail parties on the reg (but if you are, heyo, send me an invite!), and C) won’t use half of this stuff after the novelty wears off.
So how DO you figure out what, if anything, you need? Luckily, this month we’ve partnered with Crate and Barrel to talk about how to really cut through the excess suggestions and get exactly what you want AND need. Since most folks are setting up a registry once they’ve already been living out on their own, or with their partner, we’re assuming you’re not starting from zero here.
So let’s start by taking stock of your current wares. Ask yourself a few basic questions:
- What are the things you really use all the time?
- What items could really use an upgrade to lifetime-together quality? (It’s a thing!)
- What stuff do you really wish you had?
- And last but not least, what are the things you know you absolutely do not want, no matter what your Auntie Linda says?
Once you’ve done that, you should have a much better idea of what your registry should include. But to help you get started, with the advice of the APW staff and their partners, I’ve gone through a list of some of the classic registry must-haves, and suggested pieces that you’ll actually get a lifetime of use out of. (No more one-use appliances!)
WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU TO GET: A juicer
What you should get: Vitamix 300 Professional Blender
I used to have a juicer and a crappy blender, which I primarily used to make smoothies, and spent more time cleaning them than actually making stuff. I got rid of both and upgraded to this Vitamix. It immediately lived up to the hype. This sucker blends everything to perfection. I even use it instead of my food processor to make salsa, sauces like pesto, or banana “ice cream.” Plus, this style fits easily on your counter under standard upper cabinets, which definitely helps me use it way more often. And this sounds nuts, but cleaning it is HONESTLY my favorite part. Fill with some hot water, add a couple squirts of dish soap, throw the lid back on and blend it up! Rinse and voila! No more taking apart the blender and never being able to get those tiny berry seeds out of the bottom.
What People tell you to get: A toaster
What you should get: Cuisinart Deluxe Convection Toaster Oven Broiler
I’m all for appliances that do many jobs, so a toaster that takes up valuable counter space while really only doing one thing is not my fave. But a toaster oven? Now that is something I’m fully invested in. In general, I use our toaster oven more than the microwave. I love that you can reheat things and still get that fresh, crispy result. It’s easy to cook a small batch of something versus using the oven. But if you’re a toaster diehard like Meg, skip the fancy tech-y toaster of the moment, and invest in a quality old school toaster like this one, which can be repaired and truly will last a lifetime. Plus, it can make you toast for twelve hours straight without overheating… in case that’s a thing you ever need.
WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU TO GET: A stand mixer or hand mixer
WHAT YOU SHOULD GET: KitchenAid Artisan Mini Mixer with Flex Edge Beater
I use my stand mixer all the time and had one long before I ever had a registry. Even if you’re not a big baker, it’s still super useful to have around for things like whipped cream or my new obsession, cloud eggs. Although hand mixers are great because they’re so compact, I always find them to be kind of a mess and annoying. I also know that most folks don’t want some giant stand mixer on their counter collecting dust or taking up cabinet space if they don’t think they’ll use it. But those of you getting married in 2017 are totally in luck, because KitchenAid just changed the game by making a whole new line of MINI mixers. These little guys are just as strong as the originals, but 20% smaller and 25% lighter. And omg they’re cute AF.
WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU TO GET: Formal china
WHAT YOU SHOULD GET: White Pearl 16-Piece Dinnerware Set
My grandma gave me this advice and it was a good: Go with white dishes in a fairly simple pattern. While formal china is beautiful, it’s expensive and typically doesn’t get used nearly as much as it should. So it sits, and sits. And though having bright-colored dishes is visually really fun, they can get dated quickly, or you just get flat out sick of them. With white dinnerware, your food will always look beautiful on it; even mac and cheese looks fancy on a crisp, white canvas. Then you can always add color through placemats or napkins if you’re missing that wow factor. Plus you can still get a set made of porcelain or bone china that is durable, dishwasher safe, and microwave safe. It’s long lasting, but isn’t as much work as fine china. Pro-tip: Get a couple sets like the one above, and then buy the rest of the dishes open stock, aka each piece separately. This way you don’t end up with twenty mugs you’ll never use, but can have exactly the right number of bowls and plates that you do typically use. Also, remember, the number of people you serve in the future may grow, so keep that in mind as you’re counting out dishes.
WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU TO GET: 30-piece pot and pan set
WHAT YOU SHOULD GET: All-Clad Stainless 5-Piece Starter Cookware Set
If you’re a kitchen freak like me, it’s hard not to get wooed by the huge cookware sets and all their shining glory. But unless you’re working the line like a pro chef in your own kitchen, you probably really just need a few options. A starter set like this is perfect. You’ve got a pot to boil water in, a fry pan for cooking up eggs, and a sauté pan that you can make sauces in. For cookware (and knives), I do really suggest going for the more expensive brands. When you invest in a professional-grade line like this, even the most novice of home cooks will have a better experience. And like that toaster Meg loves, these are meant to last a legit, take to the retirement home, pass on to your grandkids in your will lifetime. In addition to these, the other cookware you really will use is a midsize Dutch oven and a cast iron skillet. Both of these are heavy and thick so they retain heat and spread it evenly. Great for frying or making a batch of soup, and since they’re cast iron, you’ll have them forever, and then pass them on in your will.
WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU TO GET: Slow cooker
WHAT YOU SHOULD GET: Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker
Initially, I wasn’t sold on these. It seemed like another appliance I wouldn’t use. But my wife bought us one after her BFF and co-workers wouldn’t stop talking about them. And after a few uses, I was a fan. The slow cooker was great for when I planned ahead and got something cooking before I left for work, but let’s face it—that happened all of one time. So having something that I can use to speed up a lengthy cook time AFTER work, is amazing. I’ve made soups that tasted like they cooked for hours in less than thirty minutes (including prep!), cooked rice in less than ten minutes, and even a fully frozen ahi tuna loin in less than fifteen minutes.
WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU TO GET: Full set of knives and steak knives
WHAT YOU SHOULD GET: Wüsthof Gourmet 7-Piece Knife Set
Since again, most of us aren’t pro chefs (although have I mentioned that I definitely like to pretend like I’m on Chopped when I’m in the kitchen?) just a few basic knives are all you need to get the job done. And skip the big sets with steak knives included; you really don’t need them, but if you feel like you need steak knives go with this set. But if one or the other of you is really into cooking, a better plan might be to research and register for individual knives. What you really need is a chef’s knife, serrated knife, paring knife, kitchen shears, and a knife sharpener. And while the block might seem like an extra, it’s actually really important to help your knives live their best life. Knife blocks keep the blades sharp and protected (unlike just throwing them into your drawer). For most people, picking a high-quality seven-piece knife set is probably the way to go.
What they tell you to have: All the glassware
What you should get: Crescent Drinkware
Glassware is another area where the number of options is almost endless. There really is a glass for everything, and for good reason. Certain drinks are designed for certain glasses based on the amount of ice or air they need to circulate, but unless you’re a mixologist, you can probably get away with having just a couple great multipurpose glasses. For everyday glassware, go with a 12- or 16-ounce glass, and then a smaller 10-ounce glass. You can skip the flutes, since many experts say drinking sparkling wines from a regular wine glass is actually better, and then get a few red and white wine glasses. If you’re a big martini or margarita drinker you could get yourself these specific glasses, but both of these can be served in a shorter glass just fine.
What they tell you to have: Bakeware set
What you should get: USA Pan Half Baking Sheet with Cooling Rack
Skip the huge set of multiple baking sheets, loaf pans, and muffin tins, and just get yourself a really good baking sheet and a cooling rack. I have this particular baking sheet and nothing sticks to this sucker. It’s like magic. Plus having a cooling rack that fits into your baking sheet is not only great for storage but also for cooking. Think cooking bacon in the oven, or dousing frosted cookies with sprinkles. Makes for easy clean up when everything just falls into the sheet and then wipes right off.
What they tell you to have: Grind and brew coffee maker
What you should get: Delonghi Dedica Conical Burr Grinder
Coffee is a very personal process, and while I’m not a big coffee drinker, I LOVE to make it. But nothing is more annoying than those damn grind and brew makers that ALWAYS get clogged and need to be cleaned practically every time you use it. With a conical burr grinder, you can grind your beans to the exact consistency you need with handy presets, and then brew with your desired method. So we can go with French press one morning, the coffee pot for big batches, and pour over when we’re feeling fancy. No more clogs, and all the flexibility!
What were your must-have registry items, and what were some total misses? if you’re just building your registry, what are you finding the most challenging to navigate?
This post was sponsored by Crate and Barrel Wedding Registry. Crate and Barrel understands that a registry isn’t just a shopping list; it’s an opportunity to define what home means with your partner. Whether you’ve been together for years and already have most of the basics, or you’re just getting started, Crate and Barrel has registry options for every relationship. Plus, get like-price guarantee, free shipping, and exclusive pieces from Crate and Barrel’s artists and designers when you sign up for a Crate and Barrel Wedding Registry today. Click here to learn more or sign up for a live Crate and Barrel registry event near you.