When you search “gift registry,” all of the results assume you’re getting married or having a child. A recent tweet, however, went viral for pointing out that there are many causes worthy of gift registry that have nothing to do with weddings or babies. (Here’s the registry that inspired the tweet, by the way). Knowing that gift registries come with major savings, what’s stopping you from creating one for any and every occasion you’d like to celebrate? What’s stopping you from creating one for no reason at all, other than scoring amazing deals?
i saw someone i went to college with post a gift registry for her PhD dissertation with a line about how we shouldn't just celebrate women for babies and weddings and whewwwww— Hope Rehak (@HopeRehak) March 16, 2022
There’s no law against creating a gift registry for yourself. Gift registry sites like Zola won’t make you send in proof that you’re actually planning a wedding or expecting a baby. The only thing stopping you from creating a gift registry is the social taboo of asking for gifts for nontraditional gift-giving occasions. I’m not saying you should expect everyone in your life to shell out cash for every little thing, but there are plenty of occasions that deserve just as much — if not more — celebration and financial support compared to weddings. Earning a degree, launching a new business, welcoming someone home, making it through surgery, discovering a long-lost twin sister…the list goes on.
Here’s what to know about how gift registries work and more importantly, how you can make them work for you.
How gift registries work
If you’ve never used a gift registry before as giver or receiver, they’re fairly straightforward. A gift registry is like a master wish list. It’s a one-stop shop that lets all your friends and family easily view and purchase the specific items on said wish list. When you use a service like Zola, or sign up directly with retailers like Crate and Barrel, all your guests will be able to see how much each item costs, where it can be purchased, and what items have already been bought (so you don’t receive ten toasters).
Gift registries come with major discounts
Here’s where the life hack comes in: If you have unsold items remaining in your registry after your event, some stores will let you buy them out at a “registry-completion discount.” Rules vary by retailer, but you can typically get 15% savings off your registry within 90 days of the event (or non-event, if you’re pulling off a gift registry scam). (Even though it’s not really a scam.)
Know the terms of the registry-completion discount
Every retailer will set some sort of restrictions on what can get discounted via a gift registry. The Target 15% off registry coupon, for instance, excludes alcohol, Apple products, and Elf on the Shelf.
When you set up your registry, you’ll likely be asked to set a deadline. For example, Amazon and Kohl’s both give you 90 days after your event to claim your registry discount, while Target gives six months.
Every site will have some fine print to consider. Target requires that your registry be live for at least 14 days before you get the registry-completion discount, Kohl’s requires you to have at least one item purchased from your registry to get the discount, and so on. Read the terms of your registry when you sign up so you don’t miss out on the potential deals.
Make a gift registry work for you
Even if you’re uncomfortable publicly requesting friends and family to buy items off your registry, you can theoretically use it as a tool to get 15% off a master wish list of items you were going to buy for yourself anyway.
Still, I encourage you to think about nontraditional causes for celebration and gift-giving in your life. If one of my friends earned their doctorate after six years of hard work and student loans, I know I’d be happy to chip in on a new backpack, an Airbnb gift card, or — if I’m really feeling generous — an air fryer. Think about what your loved ones could reasonably buy for you, and push back against whatever society dictates as designated gift-giving moments.
So go ahead and make yourself a gift registry. Be prepared for some confusion from others, but as long as you’re reasonable, what’s the worst that can happen? Either you’ll get a sweet discount on something you were going to buy yourself already, or your friends and family could surprise you with their generosity.