A China Place Setting
What this gift says: "I'm a team player. True, a fine-dining setup for one may not make your hearts race -- but you're one step closer to service for eight thanks to me."
How to step it up: Though beautiful, a gift of formal china can feel slightly impersonal. Adding a note about the legendary dinner parties you hope they'll host (with the help of your gift) will make it more memorable.
What this gift says: "I searched for something you'd both use daily. Yeah, I'm practical, but I'm sentimental too." How to step it up:
Gifting the couple with a kitchen workhorse that's sure to get tons of use is great on its own. But to add a one-of-a-kind spin, throw in a pound of your favorite beans.
A Garlic Press
What this gift says: "I searched high and low for the least expensive item on the registry and am very proud to say that (drumroll, please) I found it!"
How to step it up: Listen, we feel you on the money thing, especially if you have multiple weddings to hit this season. But it is possible to be frugal without broadcasting it. Know anyone else attending the celebration? See if you can join forces on an affordable group gift. Throw in a spatula, a whisk and a meat mallet and you've got the makings of a cute kitchen tool kit -- way more thoughtful and fun than what you started with.
Something Not on the Registry
What this gift says: "I am a nonconformist, who is proud of my unpredictable ways…and those ways include shopping."
How to step it up: Rule of thumb: A wedding gift should not be about you and your taste but, rather, the new couple and theirs. Does your gift idea pass the smell test? If you know it's something they'll absolutely love, then, by all means, pull the trigger (that dog painting you were considering? -- that would be a fail). Not so sure? Better stick to the super-handy list of things that you know they want: i.e., the registry.
A KitchenAid Mixer
What this gift says: "As an alpha shopper, I know a rock star registry item when I see one. So I bagged the trophy gift just for you. Recognize."
How to step it up: Not that it's necessary, but throwing in Grandma's secret cookie recipe would be a cool, personal touch.