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Communication helps reduce duplicate gifts
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Couples appreciate every thoughtful gift, but some items still end up unused and in storage for years.
Friends can improve a present's chances of immediate use by consulting registries, shower hostesses and others who know the couple well.
Bobbie Shaffett, associate professor of family resource management with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said gift registries help givers select gifts couples need or want. Registries also can let friends know what others have already purchased and help avoid some duplication.
"Registries are not just available at traditional wedding shops or departments; they also are options at home improvement stores, discount stores and on many Internet sites," Shaffett said. "Couples may communicate gift ideas to shower hostesses for invited guests to get suggestions in advance."
Shaffett said stores are becoming stricter about accepting returns. Buyers may want to request a gift receipt that will make it easier for a couple to return or exchange an item without revealing the price.
"Storing gifts for extended periods has many drawbacks. Some items, like towels or linens, can deteriorate before they are used years later," Shaffett said. "Couples may want to consider sharing unreturnable duplicated items with a charity that may need them, such as a women's shelter or the Salvation Army."
To avoid giving gifts that may be less than perfect, gift cards are increasing in popularity, even for wedding and baby showers.
"Gift cards allow the couple to purchase exactly what they want, when they want it. Cards for the same store can be combined to enable couples to select more expensive items," Shaffett said. "Buyers should watch for expiration dates that may limit the time-frame newlyweds have for making purchases, which may be an issue if the couple is relocating after the wedding."
Before the wedding, gifts often end up stored at a parent's home and may be difficult to move if the couple is relocating. Gift cards and gift certificates can save space, make moves easier and provide time while the couple gets established in their new home.
Tawnya Crocket, an MSU Extension Service family resource management area agent based in Forrest County, said friends may want to select gifts with local businesses in mind.
"Gift certificates to the movies, plays or a local restaurant may encourage the newlyweds to continue dating, even after the wedding, and promote getting involved in the community," Crocket said. "Another nontraditional gift that is good when a couple is new in a city would be a subscription to the local newspaper."
Crocket said gift cards and certificates are ideal for couples who already may have many of the basics. Gift certificates for services, such as car washes, also may be appreciated.