gifts they might actually want

The Strategist’s Nonobvious Wedding Gift Guide

Photo-Illustration: Retailers

After a year of watching people delay or cancel weddings due to the pandemic, with things finally returning to normal, you might be taking more care than ever to find a good gift for any you’re invited to. While the process can be a beast, we here at the Strategist have honed a pretty good sense about what makes a great wedding gift. We combed through our archives, cherry-picking the best things that any newlywed would want (other than the Le Creusets, Cuisinarts, and KitchenAids you’re probably already drowning in). Think of it as the Strategist’s Greatest Hits: Wedding Edition. Whether you’re looking to give something off-registry or trying to find the just-right thing to put on your own, we’ve come up with a megalist of all of our favorite items. It’s the ultimate alt-registry. (If you’re looking for gifts to mark a wedding anniversary, we’ve got you covered, too.) To help you shop, we’ve broken the items up into the below sections; if you know the type of thing you’re looking for, you can click on any of the links below to jump straight to that category.

Bath and bedding | Pantry and kitchen | Home goods and accessories | Electronics and tech

Bath and bedding

An entire bed is a lot to ask for (or gift), but this mattress topper that we adore is the next best choice. (And if you want to go ahead and put a mattress on there, we will not judge. Here are our favorites.)

In our big roundup of the best linen sheets, Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst said these Belgian linen sheets “have this automatically lived-in look, soft and rumpled and ultraluxurious.” There are plenty of color options to choose from, too, like forest green, terra-cotta, and peacock blue.

From $180

We found that these more affordable linen sheets from West Elm held their own against some of the fancier ones. The set includes a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillowcases, making it nice and substantial.

Brooklinen Down Pillow
From $89
From $89

The gift of two fluffy down pillows will make any couple’s bed feel more like one at a fancy hotel. Alex Savy, the founder of sleep-product review website SleepingOcean, describes Brooklinen’s down pillow as a “fairly affordable option that does not sacrifice quality for the price tag.” It comes in three densities, including plush, mid-plush, and firm. Whichever you choose, Savy says they are “nicely made, with neat stitching and a 100 percent cotton cover that uses a sateen weave and feels heavenly soft and silky to the touch.”

A non-fusty coverlet, recommended by writer–slash–creative consultant Harling Ross, who put it on her own registry. “I’m just as big a fan of the brand’s home stuff, and in warmer months, this seems like a really practical alternative to a heavier comforter,” she says.

For the couple with bold style, interior designer Audrey Margarite suggests a colorful, floral duvet cover from Marimekko. This one is particularly cheerful.

One of our favorite weighted blankets to gift, the Baloo is made from breathable cotton so its weight feels soothing, not suffocating.

These large, lightweight towels are quick-drying as well as soft and cozy. According to Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson, “They actually dried me off quicker than my old towels and didn’t get wet and soggy in the process. Apparently the secret is the towel’s loose weave, which promotes air circulation.”

If you’re looking for something a little simpler, as big fans of Parachute’s bedding and linens, we can vouch for the quality of these towels, too.

These bath salts — a mix of CBD with relaxing epsom salt, Himalayan pink salt, and essential oils — are stylist Kara Welch’s “absolute fave.” We also like that the packaging looks classy and doesn’t scream CBD.

Strategist editor Alexis Swerdloff owns this bamboo bath mat and much prefers it to her formerly soggy cloth one. “No longer must I step on a sad and flattened terry-cloth bath mat,” she says, “and my bathroom suddenly feels like a spa.”

Matching bathrobes make a nice gift. These plush ones from luxury linens brand Frette come recommended by Dinah Cooke, who directs social media for the Joanna Vargas spa. “I’m absolutely in love with mine. It’s luxurious yet simple,” she says. “I wear it after taking a long bath or while I’m sheet-masking.”

Pantry and kitchen

This eye-catching bottle of olive oil will complement all of their shiny new kitchen gear. And it’s not just a pretty package: The Tuscan oil is made from olives harvested only in October (when olives are green and just starting to ripen) for the most potent flavor.

Whether the newlyweds prefer cocktails or mocktails, these bitters (which include citrus, lavender lemon, and wild mountain sage) will add depth and flavors to any drink. That they come packaged in bottles nice enough to display is a nice bonus.