Wedding Review: Gift Registries

Friday, December 9, 2016

It turns out the corporations have discovered that the convenience of wedding registry services are a gold mine. There's one million monetary schemes and ploys for gift registries, all preying upon your guests' desires for convenience and value and expressions of support. Here's a quick overview of a few we considered:

  • Thankful Registry - Not a retailer, so you pretty much just make a list of a bunch of websites’ stuff. No completion discounts because of this. Can password protect your registry. $30/year covers credit card fees.
  • Amazon Registry - A totally legitimate option these days. Pretty straight forward for all but the Internet-avoidant. Free. Can redirect guests to different websites to buy items from other retailers. 10% completion discount on select items from registry for up to 30 days after the wedding.
  • Zola - Free, because they’re a retailer of their own items. Also lets you add stuff from external sites. Some of the lowest credit card fees on external/cash gifts (2.7%). Tells you who bought what as soon as they purchased it (it's apparently possible to send thank you cards too promptly). Also lets you decide when to ship items. Main downside is that any purchase a guest makes under $100 comes with a $10 shipping fee, although the couple can later take back that $10 and spend it how they like as Zola credits. 10% completion discount on entire site for a year (some brand exclusions).
  • Physical Stores - You can register in several physical stores and then post them all to your wedding website. Crate & Barrel (10% completion discount all store items, some brand exclusions, for 6 months), BB&B (completion discount: 10% off select registry items, 20% off all store items at in-store event), REI (10% off registry items for a year), whatever. Not many places have both lovely silverware sets, and lightweight backpacking sleeping pads, it’s okay ;)
  • Honeyfund - Be very careful with honeymoon/cash registries. It's possible to offend followers of traditional etiquette. Etiquette would suggest that if you don't want physical gifts, then don’t open a registry and pass by word-of-mouth that you're saving up for a house/teacup pig/whatever.
There's some things you need to consider when choosing a gift registry:
  1. Can grandma order something from the registry?
  2. How much does it cost?
  3. Does it allow cash gifts? If so, who pays the credit card fees? (This should NOT be your guests!)
  4. Can I put items from other stores on the registry? (If not, just list 2+ registries on your wedding website)
  5. How publicly discoverable will my registry be?
  6. Gift/Thank You tracking? (How useful is that to you?)
  7. Customizations? (i.e., add personal photos or messages to guests, ways of organizing gifts, couple determines when items ship, etc.)
  8. Restrictions on the completion discount? Both physical stores and online registries offer some sort of “completion discount”. Basically, after your wedding you are given a discount to complete your registry, and this discount often extends to everything in the store, not just what’s on your registry. The details on the restrictions is worth investigating before selecting an option.

Personalized Zola Registry
After considering these questions, we ended up with Zola. It was really nice to be able to determine when purchased items are shipped, so they did not arrive on our doorstep the week we were not at home. Unattended packages have been known to be taken hostage by porch pirates around these parts!

Yes, this means that Zola is essentially a cash registry, as when guests buy a "gift" they're actually giving the Zola credit for that gift. If you wait too long to order your items, those specific items may not even be available anymore. However, if an item is sold out there's likely a close equivalent so it all works out okay. Shipping is $10 for purchases under $100 that your guests pay, but that shipping fee can be converted into additional Zola credits if you only ship gifts when they add up to over $100. This is all rather questionable by traditional standards of etiquette, so proceed with caution.

We added images and introductory text to personalize the registry a bit. And it was really nice to be able to put a personal note on each item, so that guests could have a little back story about how the gift fills a void in our life ;)

Zola can function as a honeymoon/cash registry, allowing you to add random 'house fund' cash items and group gifting which is useful for larger items. You can also promote items from other stores, providing lots of options for your guests in one place. No need to navigate to multiple registries. You also have the option to make your registry discoverable on or not (i.e., guests would need the specific URL). So if you're a privacy nut that can be really nice.

Cross Stitch: Behold the Field In Which...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Behold the Field in Which I Grow My... Counted Cross Stitch

Just a little (i.e., ginormous) project from an etsy/HornSwoggle counted cross stitch pattern. Purchased in June and completed in September. The pattern calls for more, but it's already 12" X 14". Large enough for an adult language cross stitch.

Behold the Field in Which I Grow My... Counted Cross Stitch
Behold the Field in Which I Grow My... Counted Cross Stitch

Success: Cranberry Sauce

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cranberry Sauce
Some cranberry sauce made from the recipe on the bag of fresh cranberries. This one used brown sugar instead of white, but I don't think the flavor was noticeable. I also added the peel of a lemon during simmering, but I don't think that added much, either. Still tasty, though!

Fresh cranberry sauce is so easy to make. It's basically one step: (1) Boil the ingredients for 5 minutes.

Cranberry Sauce
Thanksgiving Dinner

Wedding Review: Making Your Own Wedding Printables

Friday, December 2, 2016

A quick search of the blog for 'wedding printables' will show you that we've assembled our own fair share of paper and graphic design elements for this ginormous event. This is just some tips and tricks for creating and designing your own printables for any event. 'Doesn't have to be a wedding.

Or you can just ignore all these tips and do whatever. Fonts aren't going to make or break a party!

  1. Start with a 'font story': Pick a FANCY-ish header typeface and a legible, plainer DETAILS typeface. Maybe one more ACCENT typeface.
    We didn't do this super consistently, but we generally used 'Century Schoolbook' for our details, Empire BT font for formal headers, Jenna Sue font for more informal headers and signatures, and MF Queen Leela for the occasional extra fancy thing. Our Save the Dates, invitations, advice cards, table tents, and escort cards all generally followed this. The exception to all this is the cookie bags in which we just did whatever the heck we wanted.

    APW has a really good collection of freely available handwriting fonts and script fonts, which are a really great start for figuring out what typefaces get you going!
    Cookie Bag Printables
  2. Etsy and Google are your inspiration friends: Rely on other people with legit graphic design skills to be your muse.
    Etsy / LarissaKayDesigns Screenshot
  3. Live Trace artwork you like in Adobe Illustrator: I don't use 'Live Trace' much, and prefer to hand-trace since I get cleaner results. But there's a pretty steep learning curve to hand-tracing, so live tracing might be a better option. Select object to trace > 'Live Trace / Tracing Options' > Make sure 'Preview' is checked > Play with 'Threshhold' slider until you get something that resembles what you want.
    Using Adobe Illustrator Live Trace
  4. If Live Trace in Adobe Illustrator isn't possible, hand-trace or use The GIMP (free): I've got a somewhat-outdated tutorial on the blog, here but you can find a slightly more coherent tutorial up on my personal website. Adobe Illustrator can be a bit pricey, so if a trial or one-month subscription isn't an option you can always try your hand at The GIMP. It's free and has a lot of the same functionality as Illustrator.
    Tracing Images in Adobe Illustrator
  5. Use free printables or templates: I've included a bunch of templates and completed printables throughout the blog, which means lots of people on the Internet likely have other designs to share.
    Table Tent Printable for Cards and Gifts
  6. If all else fails, buy on Etsy or elsewhere: Graphic design 'n stuff is a hobby around these parts. If it isn't one of yours, screw it, it's not worth it. I really like the work of etsy/ Larissa Kay Designs and the more affordable printables of etsy/WellingtonCoveDesign. But Printable Press also has tons of lovely stationary suites. Zazzle sells lots of matching template suites & prints it for you, at more affordable rates.

Why the engraver is your friend

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Engraved Gerstner Tool Box

So, it turns out that the same store that sells "#1 Participant" team soccer trophies and "Employee of the Week" plaques also engraves...everything. Like, random stuff you buy on the Internet and ask to be engraved with a certain someone's name. Metal keychains, bits of wood, an old iron rail spike, can all be laser-etched and/or sandblast-engraved by your local trophy shop. And the designs aren't limited to this very stately text in Garamond! Whatever EPS image file you can get your grubby little hands on can be permanently dug into your favorite gold bar (or popsicle stick house or whatever).

Special props to Eagle Awards for helping me out with some layout decisions and for perma-writing Jim's name into the world's tiniest oak tool chest.

Engraved Gerstner Tool Box

Success: Green Bean Casserole

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Green Bean Casserole with Cheddar Biscuit

Mixed up this classic Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions from Campbell's Soup for Thanksgiving this year. Potluck Thanksgivings are nice, because 2-3 dishes are totally manageable and stress free. Granted, a recipe from a Campbell's Soup can isn't exactly a stressful adventure! This came out exactly as expected, but could probably double the soy sauce for a little more umami.

It's super convenient to be able to purchase pre-fried onions. Making those from scratch would be one way to add excitement to your cooking routine, lol.

Green Bean Casserole with Cheddar Biscuit
Thanksgiving Dinner

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