Don’t Be Embarassed to Ask For What You Want.

Written by    Last updated: April 24, 2011

Worried about seeming rude? Don’t worry – Confetti guides you through this etiquette minefield…

Woman wrapping present

Wedding gift list guilt

Many couples feel that sending out gift list details with their wedding invitations can seem presumptuous – that it will come across as if they’re assuming all their guests will want to buy them something. But the reality is that most of them will want to buy something.

’I feel greedy!’

‘There is nothing mean, greedy or nasty about making a list,’ says Jacqueline Llewelyn-Bowen, author of Debrett’s Wedding Guide. ‘Think of it as a guideline for guests. If you really don’t want to have a list, it’s worth putting something in the invitation to let people know that their presence is all you want. Be prepared though – most people will buy you something anyway, and you may even offend older or more traditional guests.’

‘I don’t like receiving presents’

‘Getting presents is a situation that lets all kinds of negative beliefs out of the bag,’ says psychologist Ron Bracey. ‘You may ask yourself: “Am I worthy?”’ – of course you are! You’re just as worthy as anyone else.

‘This is your chance to get home building off to a positive start, so make the most of the opportunity,’ he says. ‘Identify the negative thoughts, share them with the person-to-be and find out the basis of them – eventually you’ll discover how irrational they are and have a good laugh while you get unwrapping.’

Of course, no wedding guest is obliged to buy a present at all, list or no list – but most do, so why not give them the opportunity to get the right thing?

‘I’m uncomfortable sending out a list with my invitations’

It’s becoming the norm to send out gift lists with the invites, if only to avoid circulating lots of bits of paper, but some people don’t feel happy with it. Traditionally, guests contacted the bride’s mother for information about a list, but this can be time-consuming. If you’ve got a list with a department store, it’s very easy to include a discreet note letting guests know how they can find out about your list if they would like to.

‘I don’t want to ask for too much, so should all the items on the list be cheap?’

Not at all. Lists usually range from fairly expensive items, such as washing machines and fridges, to small ornaments and pieces of kitchen equipment. Guests will spend what they want to, and some will join together with other friends to buy a larger item.

‘What are the alternatives to a gift list?’

A modern alternative is asking guests to donate money to a charity. This can be done with a discreet note in the invitation, directing gift-givers to a website such as the British Heart Foundation.

Alternatively, you might want to ask for vouchers to a particular store. However, bear in mind with both of these options that older or more traditional guest might be offended, and will want to give you something practical for your home instead.

Top tips for different budgets

• Group together different items so that there is a range of ideas with differing costs. For example, if you choose a formal dining collection, list the separate items and ask for them individually, so people can choose to buy one item, a couple of items, or a complete set.

• Wine glasses are inexpensive and guests could add a funky transluscent bottle holder and chrome bottle stopper for a few pounds more.

• Kitchen appliances are perfect for this style of list. Many items are relatively inexpensive, yet give the impression of being substantial gifts.

• Unusual items are a good idea as most people wouldn’t know the exact price of, say, salsa dancing classes, or an archive newspaper.

• A bit of frivolity is good for the soul, so think about good value alternatives, such as a set of six shot glasses.

See more of Confetti’s great gift list articles!

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