Registry and Gifts

You Get What You Ask For: Registry and Gifts

Many couples use wedding registries as a way to ask their guests for the gifts they would most appreciate — but that needn’t only be spatulas and fondue sets. Today, couples in the DC area can “register” for donations, for nonmateria gifts of time, for a trip, or for carbon offsets. The trick isn’t to ask for what you imagine other couples want, or for what large retailers suggest you want, but for what you’d actually like your guests to give.

You can "register" for tzedakah/ donations:

Some couples and bar/bat mitzvah teens ask guests to make donations to designated charities in addition to or instead of purchasing material gifts:

  • The I Do Foundation allows couples to “register” for donations to causes they care about:
  • Teens or couples can create personalized donation websites for more than a million local and national organizations at JustGive and for any US non-profit at Firstgiving:,
  • For more ideas about connecting tzedakah/righteous giving to your celebration, see Leaving the 'Corners'.

You can register for a combination of services, donations & gifts

An “Alternative Gift Registry” designed by the Center for a New American Dream offers an online platform where celebrants can “register” for non-material, second-hand, homemade, Fair Trade, and green gifts, all in one place:

You can let guests know what you don't want:

Consider sharing a list of Judaica items that you already own to avoid duplication. And if you really want donations instead of material gifts, say so explicitly in your invitation materials or website. Many guests may feel that they still have to get a material gift unless you say it’s okay not to.

You can ask guests to offset the climate impact of their travel:

Sites like the Alternative Gift Registry (above) also make it possible to “register” for guests to purchase carbon offsets. Since some guests may have to fly or drive a great distance to get to your celebration, you can let them know that it would be a gift to you if they would “balance out” the climate impact of their trip. By purchasing offsets, guests help to fund projects that prevent one ton of greenhouse gases from being emitted for each ton their travel will cause.

For more ideas on minimizing the environmental impact of travel, and guidelines for selecting high-quality offsets, see Our Coming and Our Going

You can register for an experience:

The “Send Us Off” Honeymoon Registry allows customers to “register” for the costs of a honeymoon trip, divided into gift-sized increments: Guests are sent a certificate that they can include in a card, detailing the piece of the trip they are “giving” to the couple.

Couples can register for an REI Adventure outdoor trip through the REI Gift Registry: (REI trips are 100% carbon offset.)

You can register locally:

Registering for gifts from local stores helps support the local economy and cuts down on shipping gifts long distances. For example, Register Locally invites couples to register for eco-friendly and Fair Trade products, and to add items from any local store, even those that don’t have formal registries or online registries:

You can register Fair Trade:

Fair Trade is a people-powered response to global economic injustice. Registering for household goods created by Fair Trade cooperatives supports artisans who can thereby make a living wage, improve their communities, and preserve cultural craft traditions. One of the oldest and largest such businesses offers a gift registry:

  • Ten Thousand Villages offers a registry online (, with local retail stores in Bethesda, Rockville, Baltimore, and Towson, MD; and in Alexandria, VA.
  • Through, you can register at Global Exchange Fair Trade Store, which sells fairly traded handcrafts:
  • For the Fair Trade Federation, see

You can register green:

A green business is one that conducts itself in a way that solves, rather than causes, social and environmental problems. Co-op America’s National Green Pages™ is the nation’s only directory of screened green businesses. Search for green gifts at, under categories such as Furniture, Housewares, and Gifts.

These green houseware companies offer online registries:

You can register union:

Another way of directing your guests towards gifts that reflect your values is to purchase union-made products—products made in the US, usually, by workers who have a voice on the job. Visit to identify some union-made brands.

Try to “green” whatever registry you choose:

If you do register for gifts through an online retailer, try to green the process by:

  • asking if the stores where you are registered will consolidate the delivery of all gifts into only one or a few shipments.
  • asking guests not to wrap each gift. (After all, you already know what it is!)
  • encouraging guests to select ground shipping, rather than air, from a shipper such as UPS, or the Postal Service, where workers have a meaningful voice on the job. (DHL is partially union. Avoid FedEx, in particular, where manyworkers are fighting for a union; learn more at
  • reminding any guests who buy gifts online to note that they do not want to receive paper catalogs and do not want their information shared with other mailers. (If you or your guests do begin receiving any unwanted catalogs, you can cancel them for free at