Nothing says “Spring is right around the corner” quite like receiving multiple baby shower, wedding, and housewarming invitations in the mail. So far, in 2014 I have a housewarming and a 1-year old’s birthday party this month, a wedding in April, a baby shower in May, and two more weddings in September and November. Apparently, I may be an adult.
Besides feeling relatively old, feelings of guilt started to creep in when thinking about the mountain of wasted wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, and of course over-priced and under-used gifts these milestones could produce. According to www.RecycleWorks.org, annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals 4 million tons! As you may have guessed by now, I took my angst to the internet and began searching for practical gifts and alternative gift ideas. To my delight, my search returned several creative gift registries! My top three choices are outlined below.
First place goes to So Kind Registry. This registry is a project of The Center for a New American Dream. This platform is pretty straightforward—“So Kind allows you to create a registry focused less on stuff and more on family, fun, and friends.” You don’t have to turn down new (or secondhand) gifts but more importantly, you can receive gifts of experience, charity, and Day-of-Event Help.
Giving homemade meals, volunteer hours to local charities, and help setting or cleaning up during a loved one’s event not only has the potential to reduce waste and consumerism, it seems like a foolproof way to strengthen your relationships with the giver or receiver. Best of all, this registry is completely free!
Second place is awarded to Honeyfund. This platform allows givers to gift you experiences too however, they’re primarily related to the recipients’ honeymoon. For example, a couple registered on Honeyfund can register for airfare, spa treatments, or maybe a private tour. While this alternative gift registry limits the personalization handmade gifts might have it still allows your guests to feel like they’re helping one of your dreams come true. Based on your destination, mode of transportation, trip length, accommodation, food, and drink style Honeyfund comes up with an amount you and your soon-to-be-spouse should aim to raise. This platform also allows givers to donate towards “big ticket items” of the newlyweds including the down payment on a house.
Many could justifiably argue that airfare, dinners, and champagne are hardly reducing the overall amount of waste our nation produces. However when you consider that according to the Greeting Card Association (yes, it exists), Americans purchase approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards a year, if these alternative registries only slightly reduce the amount of paper wasted we’d be taking a step in the right direction. There’s also the possibility that recipients are making reservations at Green Hotels (they exist too).
The third and final award goes to Hatch My House. A former colleague raved about this platform after she and her husband were expected to put down more cash on their home than they initially anticipated. While Hatch My House is the least experience related platform, they illustrate just how great of an impact your friends, family, and community support a common goal. Given the huge success of crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, I think Hatch My House will enhance the virtual house selection which is currently limited to 6 styles. The bells and whistles are minimal on this platform, but it does limit the number of useless gifts a couple may receive. If you’re still not sold, they figured that and have a page on their site that addresses Is it tacky or rude? Anyway, let’s just hope after the happy couple purchases their home they create their housewarming registry on So Kind!
As we strive towards consuming less and experiencing more we may begin to see more free/ low-cost alternative gift registries. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if any of the registries listed in this post begin to tout reducing the American carbon footprint as a “selling” point.