We commonly associate gift registries with weddings, bridal showers and baby showers, to supply newlyweds and new parents with those things they will need to begin their journey together.
Increasingly, however, the registry concept is being applied to other gift-giving occasions, from birthdays to holidays. Welcomed by some for their practicality and reviled by others as a shameless gift-grab, registries are not without controversy, especially when used for occasions outside of major life milestones such as marriages and babies.
‘Tis the season to ask the question: are gift registries ever appropriate during the holidays? The definitive answer is- it depends. Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly on the emerging trend of holiday gift registries.
Make Gift-Giving Easier
Many gift givers welcome registries for their usefulness. They take the guesswork out of finding searching and locating the perfect present. There’s a convenience factor; you can buy the presents online and ship them from your smartphone. They require little effort, and you don’t have to jump out of your pajamas. Holiday crowds can be brutal!
Eliminate Duplicate Gifts
Since registries keep track of purchased items, you can buy a gift with confidence knowing that your niece won’t get three of the same doll this Christmas.
Minimizes the Hassle of Returning Gifts
Registries list the desired items in the exact sizes and colors needed, so you know your gift will be well received. You also avoid creating more work for the recipient. Since they are getting exactly what they want, they won’t have to go back to the store or stand in line at the post office to make a return or exchange.
Provides Budget-Friendly Options
A thoughtful gift registry includes items at multiple price points. Regardless of budget, gift-givers know they’re giving something the receiver will appreciate without breaking the bank.
If you don’t want to buy from a gift registry, you are never under any obligation. They are for the sole purpose of making the process easy for those who need ideas or want to buy exactly what a loved one wants. No one is required to use a registry. In fact, no one is required to ever give a gift.
Makes You Appear Greedy
Registries convey a certain presumption that a gift is forthcoming. Getting a present is not the focal point of a celebration. Remember that the real purpose of any holiday, birthday or milestone is celebrating with friends and family, not getting “stuff.”
Some people love the idea of picking out just the right gift for a loved one. When presented with a registry, they may feel deprived of the experience of shopping for someone they love.
Spoils the Surprise
If holiday wishes are all compiled on a list, then opening presents by the tree can become an exercise in taking inventory, not discovering the unexpected treasure. What will be left for Santa to deliver and will Charlie Brown approve?
Children Miss the Lesson
If kids only get items on their wish list, they may not experience the joy of a well-chosen, unexpected present that introduces them to a new interest or hobby. They may also miss the experience of receiving a ho-hum gift, and how to behave when they don’t get what they want. There is a deep lesson in gratitude despite the itchy socks or scratchy sweater.
May Not Be Well Received
Registries are particularly helpful when buying gifts for children and teenagers, especially for friends and relatives who may not be up on the kids’ latest interests or know what they already have. However, gift registries for adults sometimes give an air of entitlement or greed. Many feel it’s the latest example of holiday commercialization, excess and entitlement.
The biggest offense with any registry is offering it up without being asked. Including registry details in an invitation or sending it to someone without specifically being asked for gift ideas gives the appearance of expectation. The only time it’s appropriate to provide registry information is if, and when, someone asks you for suggestions and specifically requests you set up a registry.
My personal feelings regarding gift registries: In general, I am not “pro” holiday gift registries for friends and family members. However, I do understand there are certain circumstances where a holiday gift registry could, and would, make sense.
Just not in my family!
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy 7 Ingredients to Hosting a Successful Holiday Gathering. Read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.