What to do with all those wedding gifts?

by Kristin Sullivan

At some point, almost everyone gets married. Eighty-eight percent of Americans get hitched at some point in their lives, according to — and that means almost all of us have to decide what to do with the dinnerware sets, bath towels, and decorative vases that suddenly come into our lives.

“Weddings are usually the largest gift occasion a person can expect in their lifetime, in terms of items for the home,” says Erin D., one-half of the Buffalo-based professional organizing team It’s Tidy Time. “It’s important to pare down when things are incoming. We gravitate to the ‘one in, one out’ rule, whereby when one new item comes into the home, a substitute item can be donated or thrown out as it’s been replaced with the newer and better version.”

This can be difficult for a few reasons:

1. Although 91 percent of couples register for wedding gifts, the parade of new home goods actually starts much earlier than the wedding reception. reports that, in 2013, couples bought $4 billion in furniture, $3 billion in housewares, and $400 million in tableware during the engagement period.

2. A 2011 study by BRIDES noted that 86 percent of women had an average of 2.3 bridal showers — that means a lot of new gifts.

3. Bed Bath & Beyond’s 20 most popular wedding gifts included china, cookware, luggage, knife sets, and juicers — all nice gifts, but storage space-consuming, as well.

Handing the influx of wedding presents

“Temporary storage may be necessary,” Sandra H., the other half of It’s Tidy Time, notes. “If you can’t find a temporary home in your basement, mother’s, or sister’s house, an interim storage unit is a great solution.”

PRO TIP: Sandra suggests keeping a list of everything you receive. Whether written out old-school with a pen and paper, snapped into your mobile phone’s gallery, tracked with an app like Evernote or Google Keep, or even saved to a charming Pinterest board, newly married couples should make note of every gift.

“This list will help you keep track of all the items and ensure that you don’t purchase things you’ve just been gifted, as you’re getting ready to nest in your new marital home,” says Sandra. It’s also helpful when it comes time to send thank-you notes.

BONUS PRO TIP: At a bridal or couples shower, assign a trustworthy sibling, cousin, or bridal party member the job of keeping track of who gave what gift using Post-It notes or index cards. Attach the note directly to the gift using tape. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of when you received a gift, and when you sent out a thank-you note.

Refer to this list as you organize your living space — you may have items in storage that you actually forgot in the dizzying rush of pre-wedding planning, the big day, and the subsequent honeymoon. And who needs to buy an extra Roomba!

Wedding graph

Self storage can save on pre- and post-wedding headaches

Keep in mind that self storage can be a huge help during the wedding run-up and the days and weeks afterwards. Consider:

  • Gifts from bridal showers can go in a storage rental until after the marriage.
  • Going on a honeymoon? Safely lock away your wedding gifts in a storage unit until you come home.
  • If you’re combining households, you can use a storage unit to stash duplicate or oversized items.
  • Affordable self storage rates are preferable to wasting space in your new home with wedding gifts you rarely use but would feel bad discarding (like that portrait from an inappropriate co-worker).

Michael Scott at a wedding

Finally – find homes for your new items in places that make sense. Consider creating a beverage station with your new Keurig, teakettle, and mugs. A utensil holder next to your oven may be handy, and save drawer space.

Store decorative items like vases or pottery on bookshelves, while keeping in mind that too many knick-knacks and tcheotchkes can make even a nice room look disheveled and jumbled.

All set? Now kick back and enjoy life with the one you love.

Header photo from


Kristin Sullivan

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