giving: online gift registries.

Erin and James 1299‘Tis the season for wedding registries. I know. Never occurred to me that there was a season for this sort of thing, either.

I write about wedding and baby registries a bit in my book (right this way in case you need a copy or ten, wink, wink), but I thought it might be nice to accompany my philosophy on the subject with a practical roundup of a few tools that help you to do some of the work of actually building an easy registry online.

In an effort to compile a thoughtful, considered registry with an emphasis on beauty and utility and things you actually like, I’ve found it to be most helpful to go a little bit indie and a little bit tech(y).

In lieu of feeling wedded (heh) to just one store for all of my registry needs–something, I’d argue can force you into making decisions that are good for the store, but not quite as good for you–I chose the route of building my own wedding and baby registries from scratch, online. I added a few things from here, a few things from there, and one or two little things from way over there.

In the season of my own wedding and baby-planning, I used MyRegistry. It’s a site that allows you to add goods from just about any site on the internet selling something. It was easy for me to put together and more or less painless for guests (though I wouldn’t say entirely foolproof).

Since then, a few new sites have cropped up that offer a variation on the theme. If you’re on the hunt, here are a few that have caught my eye:

Thankful Registry: This beautifully designed option is super customizable and allows registering couples or individuals to add gifts from any online shop of their choice. Any store! So, as long as your favorite little boutique does e-commerce, you can send folks their way. Honeymoon, charity, and group gifts (say, four favorite aunts going in for a print from your favorite artist) are all available. Thankful charges a $30 fee but does not take fees on charity or cash funds. Bonus: Registries can also be totally private, so your wish list doesn’t have to be available for world-wide stalking.

Blueprint Registry: Designed with betrothed couples in mind, Blueprint Registry, allows couples to register for gift items for every room in their house. The slick site design guides shoppers from garage to dining room to bedroom, depending on what the registering couple has opted to include. Couples can choose to include gifts from a number of partnering stores (mostly the usual contenders), but they can also add gifts from any shop on the web. Blueprint also includes an option for honeymoon funds and group gifts. They charge a 2.75% + $0.45 credit card fee for all cash gifts.

Tendr: A brilliant option for folks hoping to only encourage gifts of the cash variety. You can take a tour of the process on their site, but suffice to say it’s easy and beautiful. Instead of folks tucking checks or cash into cards, they can choose from an array of artist-designed digital cards curated on the Tendr site (current themes include wedding, baby, graduation and bar/bat mitzvahs). Recipients receive a personalized virtual card with each gift (complete with a sweet and classy animation of the envelope opening). Gift givers pay with their credit cards and funds are delivered directly to the recipients’ bank account. Tendr charges a 5% fee for all gifts.

The Good Beginning: For the most altruistic among us, The Good Beginning allows you to register with charities of your choice instead of for gifts. If you don’t have a charity in mind, you can choose from among a list of charities featured on the site. The Good Beginning charges a 9% operating and service fee.

What about you guys? Have you ever built an online gift registry? Any new sites or services that you’ve enjoyed using?

*Gratuitous love-bird shot from Alice Gao, at our wedding.

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