If you’re engaged and planning to live in an apartment after the big day, creating a registry can seem like a daunting task. How are you going to find space for all those gifts? It’s easier than you might think to create a list of wedding gifts that will fit nicely into your apartment and that you both will enjoy long after you say “I do.”

Take stock before you shop

From Dutch ovens to bone china, everyone has an opinion about what you should prioritize as you and your fiance(e) create a gift list. Ultimately, though, YOU are the best expert when it comes to choosing what you’ll actually need and use on a regular basis.

To get started, spend a week or two and really pay attention to how you and your partner spend your time together. Are you both foodies who love entertaining friends and creating new meals in the kitchen? Maybe you both prefer ordering takeout instead and cuddling up on the couch catching up on the latest movie or show. Or perhaps you enjoy hobbies that take you outside of the apartment, such as nature photography, sports, travel or volunteer work. Whatever it is, begin a mental list of how you actually spend the majority your time.

Once you’ve identified some of your favorite activities, write down any items that are closely tied to those pursuits. If you love to cook and bake, consider a stand mixer, a set of nesting mixing bowls, a Dutch oven in a special-edition color, or highly-responsive copper saucepans for glazes and reductions.

For cinema buffs, a storage coffee table not only provides a flat surface for popcorn and beverages during movie night but also hides away remotes, charging cords, extra throw blankets and other accessories that need a place to live. And if you prefer to spend down time away from the apartment, a wall mounted bookshelf provides a place to showcase favorite photographs and memorabilia from your adventures, all while saving precious floor space and providing architectural interest in a small living room.

Also pay close attention to things you use every day, such as a blender to make that post-workout smoothie, a coffee maker for your morning cup of joe, a vacuum cleaner you need twice a week to clean up Fluffy or Fido’s loose fur, or even a sleeper sofa for step-kids or extended family who visit on a regular basis.

Don’t be afraid to register for larger items, such as a storage bed or a new sofa. Group gifting is becoming more popular, which makes it easier than ever for wedding guests to provide the happy couple with furniture or housewares they will love for years to come. (Just keep in mind that if you’re planning on moving to another space in the near future, you may want to hold off on furniture decisions.)


Begin with the basics

Once you’ve settled on the special items that are a reflection of you and your interests, think about the basics. When space is at a premium, it’s a good idea to keep your list limited to the everyday items that just about everyone needs. This list includes:

  • Bed linens. Register for two sets; one on the bed and one in the laundry/closet.
  • Bath towels. Select two sets for each of you. A set includes a bath sheet, hand towel and a washcloth.
  • Dinnerware. Unless you’re planning to host large holiday dinners, don’t feel obligated to register for a set of china and a set of everyday dishes. Feel free to choose just one pattern that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. If cabinet space is at a premium, stick with eight sets, not 12. If you’re concerned about needing to expand your collection in a few years once you move out of the apartment, consider registering for more than you need and then storing the extras, or choose a timeless pattern that you can easily add to in later years.
  • Drinkware. Look for drinking glasses that stack to save storage space.
  • Flatware. This is one area where you can register for 12 place settings, since forks, knives and spoons store easily. (Besides, it’s nice not to run out of clean utensils as quickly.)
  • Cutlery. A classic seven-piece set encased in a knife block is not only useful but also looks stunning on the counter.
  • Basic kitchen tools. Choose a spatula, a mixing spoon, a slotted spoon, measuring cups and spoons, a peeler, tongs, a strainer/colander, a grater, a can opener and a corkscrew.
  • Cookware set. The most basic set includes a fry pan, a stock pot and a saucepan.
  • Picture Frames. While these may not technically be a must-have item, chances are you’re going to have at least one (if not a hundred!) wedding picture you both want to display somewhere in the apartment. Registering for a gorgeous frame or gallery wall set is an easy way to enjoy the day long after the last dance.


Quality over quantity

Even if you already have some or multiples of the basic items listed above, now is the perfect time to upgrade to newer and nicer versions of these pieces. Think about which items you’d like to keep and what you’d like to upgrade. It’s okay to replace an item that still has some life left, especially if it’s part of a mismatched collection, is a little shabby, or isn’t a favorite of your future spouse (I’m looking at you, threadbare couch from college!). Remember that choosing high-quality pieces will not only reflect your combined tastes as a couple, but it will also give you the best chances of using and enjoying the pieces for many years.


Double down on dual use

Living in an apartment means you have to make the most of your space. Whenever possible, select registry items that serve multiple purposes.

  • Nesting mixing bowls featuring a statement pattern or a pop of color save cabinet space and double as serving dishes in the dining area.
  • End-grain cutting boards are durable and are pretty enough to use as serving platters.
  • Colorful storage canisters keep staples such as flour and sugar fresh and also function as countertop decor.
  • Storage ottomans provide extra seating during parties, bar carts serve as bookcases or plant stands, and sleeper sofas turn the living room into an extra bedroom when needed.


Stick to the plan

After you’ve made your list and before you go shopping, imagine where each of your new additions will live in the apartment. Walking through your space and planning for storage will help you identify any current items that may need to be sold or donated, and anything that you might choose to cross off the list. Remember that many retailers also allow you to register for gift cards of any amount, which can come in handy months or even years later should you decide to move out of the apartment into a bigger space down the road. Just make sure that you do your research regarding gift card expiration dates and other “fine print” details.


Remember, your registry is all about you

Being realistic about what you actually need and will use will go a long way towards keeping your registry tailored to the two of you. If you don’t plan to entertain for the holidays, feel free to skip that pumpkin serving dish you’d only use once a year. Love movie night each Friday? Go ahead and add that popcorn maker you’re eyeing. If you keep your primary activities front of mind and plan ahead for storing the new gifts, you’ll create a registry perfectly fit for the two of you in your cozy apartment.

Laura Love Bardell writes for Crate and Barrel, where she creates design-savvy content on the latest home-furnishing trends and registry must-haves. Laura enjoys giving tips for how to use housewares creatively for any space, big or small.


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