Creative Attendant Gifting Without the Heavy Lifting
by Carolyn Gerin
You can’t go wrong—every wedding magazine in the free world has a pretty pink gift guide with a coterie of fabulously appropriate offerings for bridesmaids, much of it a mouse click away. With choices as luxurious as a spa day or a custom-beaded bag to the predictable pashmina, you’re prevented from putting even one little silk stockinged foot in the wrong direction.
But when it comes time for the groom to hand out attendants’ loot, he’s flying without radar. The standard fare—pewter flask, 30-year-aged bottle of scotch or a pair of silk boxers—is as old as yesterday’s Dow Jones Industrial Average. Yet the likelihood of him seeking out more original gifts is pathetically slim: we all know how much men love to shop. Especially on a sunny spring day when they could (pick activity): play ultimate Frisbee, surf, watch the football game, or go to the Home Depot power tools museum.
So, knowing the male species’ innate fear of the shopping mall, overall impatience with social obligations, and proclivity for procrastination, quickly forward this article and give it to him before he spends perfectly good time and money on perfectly useless gifts.
Rule of the road: look to lifestyle and the gift will follow. If the attendant surfs, then the gift given should reflect the life aquatic. Camp, trek or hike? It’s off to REI we go. A bon vivant bachelor might warm up to the polycarbonate margarita set from Williams-Sonoma. You get the picture. Your foresight in gifting appropriately, with an eye to customization and a nod to the cultivated gentility of James Bond, will win you the respect and admiration that a man of taste duly deserves. When it comes down to brass tacks, any attendant who must spend his day in a polyester rent-a-tux will look back on your wedding fondly and affectionately every time he fires up his Garmin GPS device or Jetboil camping stove.
A word on spending and gifting: ever since weddings (and pre-events such as bachelor parties) started morphing into pricey destination affairs, it upped the ante on gifts. If you plan on a Vegas bachelor party replete with a luxe hotel-dinner-drinks combo, and you’re not going to foot the bill for your attendants, consider gifts that reflect their financial commitment. It’s safe to say that another flask or pair of $50 boxers will get kicked into the bottom dresser drawer if presented as a token of appreciation. Economizing on gifts if you expect to be treated like a pasha is an etiquette don’t. If you think this is petty, think again. Having done more wedding research than most sane women would readily admit, I can say with certainty that giving inappropriate or cheap gifts (just like not serving enough booze or food at a wedding) is an egregious error in judgment. People don’t forget—especially those who have dropped sometimes close to $2,000 for the pleasure of participating in your big day.
When giving thanks, show that you mean it with gifts you yourself would love to get and use. Better yet, purchase an item you know the attendant would buy for himself as a special treat. Here’s a gift collection that any guy would be happy to add to his repertoire of toys and experiences. The best part? Most of them are available online, so you don’t have to miss the game, the surf, or the Saturday power tools summit at Home Depot.
For highbrow, low maintenance outdoor entertaining, take a look at the DuraClear polycarbonate Margarita Set ($44) from Kitchen Utensils by Williams-Sonoma. Sleek, sophisticated and designed to withstand hundreds of dishwashing cycles and retain its good looks, this revolutionary material has the sparkle of crystal, the lightness of acrylic, and avoids altogether the inevitable party foul: a broken cocktail glass, poolside.
Nothing says a “man in full” quite like a well-stocked wine cellar. The gift of the grape is a sublime and delicious present that can be enjoyed year-round.
Hahn Estates, the Monterey Coast vineyard, best known for their heady red varietals, was voted one of the top 30 U.S. wine companies in February, 2005. They offer a delightful and surprisingly affordable Wine Club—a yearlong adventure for your attendant, during which he can sip and reflect upon what a wonderful friend you are. (Quarterly wine shipments start at $28, including shipping and handling.)
Rosenblum Cellars, Alameda’s award-winning winery, offers delectable and affordable wines from their own cellars as well as other wineries around California. Wine Club members enjoy case discounts, and invitations to exclusive events and tastings of reserve wines. (Club memberships range $51-70 depending on the type of membership selected; tax and shipping are extra.) The Reidel glass gift setwith two bottles of tasty elixir is a Bacchus-worthy offering (glasses run $11 each; wine starts at $30/bottle).
The Life Aquatic
“Men who ride mountains” wear O’Neill Superfreak board shorts ($58). Made of neoprene and exclusive four-way stretch fabric in strategic places, these shorts move you seamlessly through the shooting of tubes and precision cutbacks. The O’Zone L/S Rashguard shirt ($55) protects your skin with UPF 50+ for extreme UV exposure, offering complete head, ear and neck coverage built right into the shirt.
Protect your head from UV rays in the surf and out with the Trim Brim hat ($18) by Patagonia. Designed in water repellent Supplex nylon with an adjustable neoprene strap, it won’t fly off when you catch a wave (or peruse the ladies poolside).
Some establishments understand that when it comes to weddings, it’s not always all about the bride. At Indian Wells Golf Resort, grooms and their men are indulged. If your wedding is booked there, they’ll put together golfing packages that comp the groom and father of the bride, plus reduce the per-person fee for attendants. A boxed lunch and/or reception package makes it a hole in one! Call for pricing. http://www.golfresortatindianwells.com
Beach Blanket Bachelor Pad
You know the waves are going to peak in about an hour because you just checked your Quiksilver Deep Tidewatch ($124). 15 years of built-in data gives you tide time and water height in seconds for 200 surf spots around the globe, including the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and Australia. A Surf Heat Timer, stainless steel case and 20 ATM water resistance makes this a surfer’s dream.
While you’re waiting for the swell, chill out with the Quiksilver “Beach Trip” ($92), a wonderful solution for both oral and aural fixations. A combination cooler, speaker set and amplifier, it connects to an iPod and holds your beverages du jour. Now that’s livin’ large.
Ahhh, you’ve just settled into your seat in first class, the last vestige of peace and quiet in air travel. You’re looking forward to a relaxing flight before your presentation in Hoboken in 6 hours—until the nice lady with her colicky newborn sits next to you. Don’t fret. The Sony Noise Cancelling MDR-NC50 Headphones ($200) reduce noise, stress and free-floating rage in one easy solution. You get 14dB—that’s 80%—noise reduction at 300Hz! You’ll hear more music and less environment.
The Garmin Forerunner 101 ($114) device is a personal trainer with GPS technology for accurate speed, distance and pace plus the efficiency of a wristwatch. Use it, and you won’t have to mark your path with breadcrumbs to find your way home. You’ll also be able to measure how fast and far you went a week, a month or 2 years ago. If you want to hike the trails less traveled, leave the navigation to Garmin.
Jetboil ($80) is the first in a revolutionary new line of Personal Cooking Systems that offer a fast, simple solution to cooking hot food in the outdoors, or heating up coffee or soup at midnight in the wilds of your office cubicle. Integrating burner and cookware, Jetboil’s design relies on a quick and efficient proprietary heat transfer system. This light, compact and expandable appliance is just the ticket for the guy on the go (or in leg irons at the office).
Whether you spend the day playing park ranger or wave hunter, Motorola Talkabout 2-Wave Radios ($50-100) do the job. Covering an 8-mile distance with 22 channels (8 of them weather), they’re great for camping, surf trips, or tracking your buddy down at a trade show (while looking official).
Emergency Broadcast System
With a dash of WWII charm, the L.L.Bean FR-200 AM/FM Shortwave Radio ($40) helps keep you informed without batteries. This portable crank radio includes AM/FM and a worldband tuner. It provides an hour of listening with one minute of cranking, and features an emergency light and rechargeable battery. A great gift for conspiracy theorists or those unhinged by a power outage.
About The Author: Carolyn Gerin is the creator and co-author of the bestselling Anti-Bride Guide, Anti-Bride Planner and Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide at Chronicle Books.