Newell suggested that those late to the gift game glean the couple’s interests from their registry and then shop accordingly: “If you see that they picked out a lot of wine-related items, such as glasses or wine racks, consider getting them a decanter or tickets to a wine tasting.”
Also, consider where the couple is honeymooning. If you’ve been there before or know the hotel they’ll be staying at, give them a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant or slip spending money into a guidebook of the destination.
For guests who are stumped about how much to spend, consider all of the wedding-related events before shopping. Of your total budget, Newell suggests spending 20 percent on the engagement gift, 20 percent on the bridal shower and 60 percent on the wedding gift.
While inspired gifts are a welcome surprise, resist the urge to get overly inventive.
“Sometimes, guests spend so much time thinking outside the box that they wind up getting the couple something they simply aren’t interested in,” Newell said. “The key is to balance thoughtfulness and personalization with practicality.”
Here’s a list of go-to gifts for every aisle-bound couple this season. If an item blows your budget, remember that group wedding gifts are common. Go in on it with a friend.
Oven mitts and a cooking class
Wrap up a pair of his-and-hers oven mitts and send the couple to a cooking class. There, they can learn to create everything from baby food to homemade ice cream from expert chefs. Here’s one suggestion: Hill’s Kitchen, a cooking and housewares boutique on Capitol Hill, which offers evening classes in its basement teaching kitchen. Starting at $6.50 for mitts and $30 for classes at Hill’s Kitchen, 713 D St. SE, 202-543-1997, www.hillskitchen.com.
Williams-Sonoma Wicker Picnic Basket
Whether they’re celebrating Fourth of July on the Mall or going for a morning drive into the country, this is an indulgent item they’re not likely to buy for themselves. $249.95 at Williams-Sonoma, available at area locations or www.williams-sonoma.com.
Hand-stenciled accent pillows
These shabby-chic French pillowcases by designer Heidi Devlin are available in any monogram or message of your choice. For more handcrafted gifts, check out Etsy’s marketplace. Mr. and Mrs. Pillows, Heidi Devlin Designs, $72 at www.etsy.com/people/heididevlin.
Bookends by Timothy Richards
These bookends by British architectural sculptor Timothy Richards are works of art. Richards, who works in a small studio in Bath, England, has designed models for the queen. Pictured are two single bookend models of the homes of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Starting at $150 and available at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW, 202-272-2448, www.nbmshop.org.