December 27 • 2010
‘Tis the season for bended knees and sparkling rings. December is the most popular month of the year for couples to get engaged, making January ripe for a fresh round of gift-giving. If you’re unsure about how to congratulate a couple of newly committed lovebirds in your life, here’s a primer.
First, is a gift required? According to manners maven Emily Post, engagement gifts aren’t expected, but it’s become common to give one if you’re attending the engagement party and/or if you’re a close friend or relative. But you don’t need to break the bank; the present should simply serve as a gesture of affection and celebration.
If the couple sets up a registry promptly after their big announcement, by all means buy them something they’ve picked out. Household appliances are typically more appropriate for the wedding shower, but home furnishings and accessories such as vases and towels make great engagement gifts.
If you’re on your own to come up with a gracious gift, consider these ideas:
Together time: Purchase a gift certificate for a couples massage at a local spa or for a dinner out at the couple’s favorite restaurant. Concert, theater or sports event tickets are a safe bet, too.
Eat, drink and be merry: If the couple enjoys wine, assemble a collection of classic vintages for them to open on their “firsts” — first house, first Thanksgiving, first anniversary, etc. You could even add a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling cider for their first child. Or give the happy couple a gift certificate for cooking classes to be sure they’re well fed during their first year together. If they’re already comfortable in the kitchen, present them with a cookbook and fun oven mitts.
For the home: The possibilities are endless — champagne flutes, candles, decorative bowls, scented soaps. For something more personal, purchase a sculpture or painting by an admired artist, or frame a photo of the bride and groom together or from when they were children.
Wedding prep: It doesn’t take long for engaged couples to get inundated with wedding planning tasks, so offer a gift that lightens their load. Consider an engraved cake serving set, a subscription to a bride’s magazine or a keepsake for their marriage mementos. Make arrangements with a local photographer for an engagement portrait session or with a dance studio for some ballroom lessons (do your homework first to avoid saddling them with a grudge instead of a gift).
Honeymoon gear: If you know where they’re headed to unwind after the wedding, hook the couple up with the appropriate equipment, like snorkeling gear, guide books or handmade luggage tags. It’ll get them off on the right foot for that other trip they’re embarking on, as husband and wife.